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21 BEST Things to do in Downtown Banff (+COMPLETE Guide in 2024)

21 BEST Things to do in Downtown Banff (+COMPLETE Guide in 2024)

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Banff National Park is a huge area with a ton of natural attractions, but there’s also a lot to do in downtown Banff! From enjoying amazing mountain views and lookout points to brewery hopping and visiting museums, the downtown area has plenty to keep you occupied. 

We’ve visited Banff countless times since we used to live just 20 minutes away in Canmore. We still come back every year and find new things to do every time! There are fantastic hotels in downtown Banff to make your stay convenient, and the town also boasts a fun atmosphere and lots of natural beauty. Trust me, you’ll want plenty of time to explore!

To make the most of your time, here are the best things to do in downtown Banff! This list will let you see the highlights, and maybe we’ll even see you there!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are our top 5 things to do in downtown Banff!

  1. Enjoy a ride on the Banff Gondola
  2. Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  3. Walk to Bow Falls Lookout
  4. Discover a darker side to the town on a ghost tour
  5. Do some sightseeing on an e-bike adventure

Things to do in Downtown Banff

1. Ride the gondola up Sulphur Mountain

Daniel and Bailey play in the snow at the top oif the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain
Even in spring, the snow hangs around!

One of the best ways to soak in Banff’s natural beauty is with a scenic ride up Sulpher Mountain on the Banff Gondola which is right in town. This is easily one of the most popular things to do in Banff, and for good reason! From the top, you get insane panoramic views of the town and multiple mountain ranges.

I first rode the Banff Gondola at Christmas and was enchanted by it – needless to say, I’ve done it several times since then! You can even read my full review of the Banff Gondola here.

It only takes 8 minutes to ride the gondola up to the top of the mountain, and at the top, there’s a cafe where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful views. Or, if you want to go all out, you can enjoy a tasty meal with views for days at the Sky Bistro

People eat at the Sky Bistro at the top of the Banff Gondola
Photo Credit – Banff Gondola by Pursuit.

There’s also wildlife to see, an interpretive center, and, best of all, a boardwalk that takes you past tons of incredible viewpoints to the old weather station. It takes about an hour to walk the entire thing and the views really are next-level. 

Try to go up the Banff Gondola on a clear day, although if the weather’s not great then there’s plenty to do in the complex at the top. But we still like visiting when it rains because it’s a lot less crowded. 

The gondola can be a rather busy experience, so it’s best to buy your tickets ahead of time. It costs between $59 to $84 CAD per adult, depending on the day you go. You can get the best rates by buying your tickets online through Viator, which also gives you the power to cancel or change your booking up to 24 hours in advance and ensure that you get the best weather. Plus, it means that you can skip the long line for tickets!

Click here to reserve your Banff Gondola tickets!

Related Read: Check out all the sightseeing gondolas available in Banff here!

2. Shop (and eat) at the Banff Farmers Market

Bailey walks through the Banff Farmers Market
Bailey walks through the Banff Farmers Market

If you’re in downtown Banff on a Wednesday during the summer months, don’t miss the Farmers Market in Banff Central Park. It’s home to a ton of stalls selling fresh local produce, artwork, and handmade crafts that make perfect souvenirs! 

One of the things I love the most about this market is that there’s live music here every week, which creates a fun, festival-like atmosphere. There are plenty of great food stalls from local restaurants, too, so you can always grab something to eat here while you enjoy the music. 

The Farmers Market is open from 10 am until 6 pm, every Wednesday between May and early October, so you can come for brunch, lunch, or an early dinner. We usually park in the west parking lot of Central Park when we drive here. Alternatively, if you’re staying at one of the hotels in downtown Banff, then it’s only a 10-minute walk to get here! 

3. Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

The Banff Upper Hot Springs on a sunny day with the mountains in the background
Visiting the Banff Upper Hot Springs is one of my favorite things to do in Banff, Canada

Banff is home to some of the best hot springs in Alberta, and they’re only a 10-minute drive from the town center. A hot pool soak is a quintessential thing to do when spending time in the mountains, and the Upper Hot Springs are super affordable at just $17.50 CAD per person. 

One of the things that we enjoy the most about the hot springs is that they offer fantastic views of Mt. Rundle. With that being said, it might be worth going after dark to enjoy the springs when they’re less busy. They’re open until 10 pm year-round and extend their hours to 11 pm during the summer, so you can enjoy a quieter soak after most visitors have left. It is first-come, first-serve and tickets are purchased at the door.

The Banff Upper Hot Springs are super accessible from the downtown area, and if you don’t drive you can also take the ROAM bus #1 instead. They’re also just a 10-minute walk from the Banff Gondola, and part of the same bus route, so you could always go for a dip after exploring the top of Sulphur Mountain

Important info: The Banff Hot Springs close for 1-2 weeks every year for cleaning at the end of October. The exact dates can be found on their website

4. Go on a food tour

The Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park, Canada
Photo credit: The Fairmont Banff

We’ve done enough food tours to tell you that they’re always a good time, but this culinary journey through Banff’s very own castle really takes the cake! You get to eat your way through the historic and luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs and learn all of the behind-the-scenes secrets as you go. 

Make sure to join your group in the hotel lobby by 2:50 pm so you don’t miss out! You’ll start with artisanal snacks in the fancy pantry, then progress to wine and charcuterie pairings, before enjoying a delicious meal in the 1888 Chop House, which is the hotel’s signature restaurant. Then, perhaps best of all, the tour wraps up with a French dessert at the Vermillion Room – ooh la la! 

For $206 CAD, this tour covers all tastings and allows you to explore Banff’s most iconic property without having to actually stay here. You get to consume so much gourmet food and drink that you might just have to roll your way home. If you’re a foodie, then make sure to add this tour to your Banff itinerary. But just bear in mind that it usually only runs on Fridays, and select additional dates during summer. 

Click here to book your food tour, with free cancellation up to 24 hours beforehand!

5. Bow Falls Lookout

Bailey and Daniel at Bow Falls in Banff

The Bow Falls Lookout gives you fantastic views over the Bow River and waterfall, as well as the surrounding evergreen forest and Mt Rundle in the background. And better still, you don’t even need to work very hard to get to this stunning viewpoint! 

Bow Falls Lookout is only 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the center of town, so you can drive here in 5 minutes or enjoy a scenic 25-minute walk. We love grabbing a coffee from one of Banff’s many cute cafes and then walking here in the morning. You just need to follow the river downstream to get here. 

You can also access the Mt Rundle trail from the Bow Falls Lookout. It’s pretty challenging, not to mention 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) out and back, but you can just tackle a section of it if you’re not up to the entire thing. But if you’re not a hiker, then no worries because simply checking out the Bow Falls viewpoint is a quick and easy thing to do from town. 

6. Party on Banff Ave

Drinking beer and eating at Banff Ave Brewing
Nachos and beer… is there a better combo?!

Banff has natural beauty in spades, but it’s also a fun nightlife scene! At night, the hikers and skiers are replaced with partygoers, as things get going at the town’s bars, breweries, and nightclubs. 

Banff Avenue is the center of Banff’s nightlife, so if you stroll down here you won’t struggle to find somewhere that suits your vibe. There’s a lot of choice in Banff, although I do have some personal recommendations to share. 

Banff Ave Brewing Co.

The Banff Ave Brewing Co. is our first port of call whenever we’re in Banff! Not only does it have a vast selection of craft beers, but it’s also pumping at night time. We typically come here for pre-drinks before heading out to dance, but it’s usually open until midnight or 1 am. Their opening times are variable, though, so check out their website before you go. 

The Dancing Sasquatch

Once you’ve loaded up on beer, head over to the Dancing Sasquatch for a friendly atmosphere and one heck of a party. This isn’t an upmarket place but it’s perfect for meeting fellow travelers and probably bonding over some shots as you stay out until the wee hours. This place is open Thursday to Sunday nights from 9 pm to around 2 am. They also have lots of themed special events here, like throwback nights and even a glow rave! 

St. James’ Gate Irish Pub

We’re very partial to an Irish pub, and there’s something so cozy about grabbing drinks at St James’ Gate after a day of exploring Banff. There’s a convivial atmosphere here and plenty of hearty food, like their steak and Guinness pie! They’re open every day until 11 pm or later and you’ll also usually find live music and dancing later on in the night.  

7. Enjoy Banff’s best ice cream at COWS Banff

There are quite a few places to grab a sweet treat in Banff, but none of them can beat COWS Banff. You just HAVE to try their ice cream while you’re in town – and they’re located right on Banff Ave, so there’s no reason not to! You can stop by any day between 11 am and 9 pm.

Their ice cream is just so delicious and creamy, and they’ve got a flavor range that would put Ben and Jerry to shame. From birthday cake to chocolate orange and mango sorbet, there’s every flavor you could ever dream of here! And if you want to go full Canadian, make sure to order the maple or Nanaimo bar flavor. 

8. Visit a brewery

Drinking beer at Three Bears Brewery
Three Bears Brewery is one of the places to check out!

If there’s one thing that Dan and I love, it’s craft beer, so you can bet your bottom dollar that we spend plenty of time sampling local brews when we’re in Banff. I don’t know what it is, but there’s definitely something about mountain scenery that just makes pints taste better!

We always make a beeline for Banff Ave Brewing, which has lots of great IPAs, although I also recommend asking the staff about their seasonal taps, because there’s always something creative and delicious on offer.

Meanwhile, if you feel like getting off of Banff Avenue, you can head to the Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant, which is so cozy and has some fantastic happy hour deals. They’re right on the aptly named Bear Street and open till around 9 pm. I love sampling their tea-infused beers! 

And if you’re in Banff around early December, make sure to check online and see whether the Banff Beer Festival is on. It’s a week-long celebration of craft beer and around 40 vendors from all over the Alberta province come to Banff to showcase their best brews.

9. Try spirits at Park Distillery

Bailey drinks a cocktail Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar
Cheers!

If beer is not your thing, or you just like to change it up every now and then, head to Park Distillery instead. It’s a proudly local craft distillery, and I love coming here for a drink and a meal whenever I’m in Banff. The chicken sandwich and seared BC salmon are my favorite dishes, and for cocktails, you can’t go wrong with either the Sawback or the Summit. 

On your first visit to Park Distillery, I recommend joining a free distillery tour to go behind the scenes of this fantastic operation. Tours run every day at 3:15 pm, and you can add a tasting flight for $22 CAD, which is well worth it to sample the high-quality spirits made here. 

Alternatively, if you’re traveling in a big group, you can contact the distillery and arrange an hour-long private tour and tasting experience. These are offered Sunday through Thursday around 5 pm and cost $40 CAD per person (minimum 8 people). You’ll need to make a restaurant reservation after the tour to secure your booking, but the food here is so good that I would recommend doing that anyway! 

Hot tip: drinks here can be on the pricey side, so try visiting between 3 and 4 pm from Monday to Friday to cash in on their happy hour deals.

10. Go for rooftop drinks on Banff Ave

We love the atmosphere on Banff Ave and one of the best ways to soak it all in is by having drinks on a rooftop patio. Our favorite is the Rose and Crown, which is actually Banff’s oldest pub. Couple that old-school pub vibe with live music and epic views of Cascade Mountain, and you’ve got yourself a winner! 

You also can’t go wrong with drinks (and some delicious Alberta beef) at Chuck’s Steakhouse. In addition to some of the juiciest steak in Banff, their rooftop patio offers beautiful views of two of Banff’s most famous peaks: Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. And if you’re partial to a cup of tea, make sure that you try their Mother of Earl cocktail. 

The Elk & Oarsman is also a great spot during the summer. They’ve got the most refreshing cocktails in town, and the only thing better than their spiked strawberry lemonade are the views!

If you want to have a rooftop bar crawl one evening, start with Chuck’s Steakhouse. You can grab dinner and drinks here between roughly 5 pm and 9 pm. The Elk & Oarsman is open from lunch till 11 pm and even later on weekends. Lastly, you can round out your night with the Rose and Crown, which is open daily from noon to 2 am.

11. Play a round of golf (Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course)

Aerial view of The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Golf Course
Even if you’re not into golf, who wouldn’t want to check out this course?!

Whether you’re an amateur or ready to go pro, you can enjoy a round of golf with a stunning view at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course during the summer. You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to play, but do be aware that this course is known for being challenging!

If you’re into golf, then a round at this course is a must! It’s one of the most famous courses designed by legendary course architect Stanley Thomson. But if you have no idea who that is, it doesn’t matter anyway, because you’ll be surrounded by mountains and have fairytale-worthy views of the castle-like hotel in the background. 

This course is in demand, so you’ll need to book your tee time in advance. Playing here is pricey, with a $300 CAD green fee, which includes club rental. However, this course is next-level beautiful, so it’s definitely worth treating yourself if you enjoy golf. 

Hot tip: you can bring along one non-player guest per person, so it doesn’t matter too much if your spouse or travel buddy doesn’t play!

12. Check out the new pedestrian-friendly street

A group of people at Three Bears Brewery & Restaurant in Banff
Three Bears Brewery & Restaurant in Banff
Wild Flour Bakery dessert
Photo credit: Wild Flour Bakery

As much as we love exploring Banff Ave, it does get super busy, so it’s nice to take a break sometimes. When we need a little respite from the crowds, we head over to the pedestrian-only Bear Street, which only opened in 2021.

Just like Banff Ave, there are tons of great restaurants and shops here, as well as a craft brewery – but you don’t need to worry about traffic. Only delivery vehicles are permitted along this road and they have to give way to pedestrians so that you can wander around freely. 

One of the best things about Bear Street is that there are a ton of large patios where you can grab a beer and watch the world go by. There are also some really yummy bakeries! I love indulging in great coffee and specialty bread at Wild Flour Bakery. They’re open daily from 7 am – 4 pm, and you should definitely make sure to try the cranberry walnut bread if they have it!

And since eating poutine is practically obligatory when you’re in Banff, be sure to swing by Bear Street’s Banff Poutine to try this quintessential Canadian meal. If cheese and gravy don’t tickle your fancy, they also have sandwiches, burgers, and hotdogs. It’s open from 11:30 am – 9 pm, so you can enjoy either lunch, dinner, or just a hearty snack here.

Related Read: If you’re only in Banff for a short time, check out our ideal Banff weekend itinerary for ideas!

13. Wander the Cascade Gardens

Cascade Mountain as seen from Cascades of Time Gardens at Banff National Park with the historic Parks Canada admin building in the foreground.
I think this picture adequately shows why this activity made the list!

The Cascade Gardens are beautiful landscaped gardens on the outskirts of downtown Banff, just over the pedestrian bridge from Banff Ave. With beautiful flowers, ponds, mountain views, and even a waterfall, these gardens are the perfect place to come and hang out on a summer afternoon. The prime time to visit is between June and early September when the flowers are in full bloom, but I also love seeing the fall foliage in autumn. 

Visiting the Cascade Gardens is one of the best free activities in Banff, and there are gazebos and sitting areas where you can relax and enjoy the view, or even bring a book to read. You can also check out the Parks Canada Administrative Office on-site to see the interactive exhibits and learn about the country’s history. 

14. Tour Banff Town on an e-bike

Bow Falls in Banff
Bow Falls in Banff
Bailey at Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint over Banff National Park
The Banff hoodoos!

If you’re short on time in Banff, this guided e-bike tour is an ideal way to get to know the town. You’ll be able to cover a lot of ground in just two hours and since you’ll be riding an e-bike, you’ll glide along (almost) effortlessly! 

The tour route is 16 kilometers (10 miles) and covers downtown Banff and the iconic Fairmont Hotel, as well as natural beauty sites including Bow Falls, Surprise Corner, the Vermillion Lakes, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Banff is all hills and mountains, so having the e-bike really helps, and you get a good amount of time to appreciate each stop properly. The guides, Owen and Chris, are super friendly and share their passion for Banff with you. If the views don’t have you falling in love with the town, their stories will. 

We think that this is the perfect way to fit an entire Banff adventure into just a few hours. It’s available from mid-May to September. You’ll be in a small group of no more than 7, which makes it feel nice and personal. Tours also depart around 10 am or 2 pm from Bear Street, which makes things convenient. It costs $99-$111 CAD depending on the day and you must have two people to book.

You can book your e-bike tour here with free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

15. Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The underground pool at the Cave and Basin historic site in Banff
The Cave and Basin Historic Site in Banff.

Banff is full of natural wonders, and the Cave and Basin Historic Site is yet another one. In fact, the ancient hot springs here led to the creation of Canada’s first-ever national park – yep, you guessed it, the one and only Banff National Park. 

The springs have long been significant for Indigenous people but they were forgotten over time and then rediscovered by railway workers back in 1883. They exploded in popularity but the site is now protected so although you can’t swim in the springs, you can still visit the site to learn about their therapeutic properties, and Banff’s history. From mid-October to mid-May, the site is only open Thursday to Monday 11 am – 5 pm. The rest of the year, it’s open daily from 9:30 am – 5 pm.

This is also an ideal place for families to visit in downtown Banff. There’s an interactive museum where kids can learn about the site, and a very rare species of snail lives here, too. Entry to this historic site is only $9 CAD for adults and free for under 17s, so it’s an affordable thing to do, and there are lots of boardwalks around the area so you can all enjoy a stroll together afterward. There is also a pair of Parks Canada’s famous red Adirondack chairs here, which is a fun photo opp (one of many Instagram-worthy spots in Banff!). 

16. Go on a ghost walk

Banff may be beautiful, but this ghost walk will show you a different side of this seemingly idyllic town. The historic streets certainly hold some secrets and your guide will share haunting tales about unsolved murders and paranormal sightings. Yikes! 

We always find ghost walks so much fun, and Banff’s towering mountains and dense forests definitely make this tour feel much more atmospheric. It’s also a great way to get off the beaten track in Banff and peel back the layers of its history beyond the typical tourist attractions. 

This tour runs between May and October, so it’s a great activity for a summer evening in Banff, and it costs $38 CAD per person. You’ll meet your guide at Good Earth Coffeehouse at 7 pm and spend roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes walking about town. The guides are actually all part of a local theater group, so you can expect top-notch storytelling skills. They definitely take their jobs very seriously!

Click here to reserve your spot with free cancellation!

17. Stuff your face at Banff’s Mountain Chocolates

If you’ve ever dreamed of eating your way through a chocolate factory, now’s your chance! Banff’s Mountain Chocolates is a quaint candy store on Banff Ave where you can indulge your sweet tooth and find every kind of chocolate known to man. From chocolate bear paws to caramel apples and all different flavors of fudge, their handmade sweet treats are just too good to resist.

I’m a huge sweet tooth so this place is like Disneyland to me. And even if you’re more inclined towards savory snacks, the smell of this place will still have you drooling. Your sugar rush awaits! 

18. Go bowling

Bailey bowls at High Rollers in Banff
This is such a fun bowling alley!
bailey with a beer at High Rollers in Banff
What’s bowling without beer?

For a fun evening in Banff, head to High Rollers for pins, pints, and pizza (as per their motto)! Yup, this place is about more than just knocking over pins, because they’ve got a massive bar with almost 50 different craft beers on tap, delicious pizza slices, and 3 pool tables. So on a rainy afternoon or after a day of exploring, this place makes for the perfect downtown hangout. 

This place gets busy all year round, and the bowling lanes usually get booked out in advance, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation ahead of time. Luckily, they’re open from the afternoon till 2 am daily.

A lane costs $59 CAD per hour, and online bookings are non-refundable, so do bear that in mind. Shoe rental is also available at $6 CAD per person, and you can also buy socks on-site for $2.50 CAD a pair if necessary. There’s often live music and DJ sets to enjoy, so it’s worth checking out what’s on before you go, and keep an eye on their daily specials for discounts on drinks and pizza.

19. Learn history and culture at Buffalo Nations Museum

A display of the Buffalo Nations people in a tent at the Buffalo Nations Museum in Banff
A display at the Buffalo Nations Museum in Banff

I’ll admit that I’m not a huge museum fan, so the Buffalo Nations Museum wasn’t on the top of my Banff wish list, but I’m so glad I went. I wanted to learn more about Indigenous Canadians and this museum showed me a totally different side of Banff’s history and heritage. It takes around an hour to get through the whole museum, and it’s right next to the Cascade Gardens, so you can always couple up these two downtown activities. 

The museum dates back to the 1950s and is dedicated to the First Nations people of Banff. There are lots of visual exhibits that teach you about the history and culture of the traditional owners of Banff, and I was completely fascinated. This is definitely not a stuffy museum, and it takes a really fresh approach to sharing Indigenous history and culture. Plus, for $12 CAD per person, it’s also an affordable thing to do and a great way to wait out bad weather. 

20. Visit more museums

The Buffalo Nations Museum was a real standout for me but there are even more museums to check out downtown. We can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy day in Banff.

For wildlife lovers, the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is home to taxidermied plants and animals from all over Banff National Park. It’s a fantastic way to learn about the area’s ecology! Dan and I enjoyed checking this place out and we think it would be a cool activity for families. Besides, entry only costs $4.25 CAD per adult and is free for under 17s, so you can’t go wrong. Just make sure to check their opening hours since they change seasonally.

If you enjoy admiring art, make sure to pay a visit to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. It’s a small museum but it’s all about quality over quantity here. You get to see a wonderful mixture of First Nations artifacts, local artworks, and letters and photographs that tell the story of Banff. I must admit, we weren’t expecting to learn so much from this place, but in the end, we were so glad that we visited. It was totally worth the $10 CAD entrance fee and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

21. Enjoy one of Banff’s best cafes

Whitebark Cafe Coffee in Banff
Food and soup at Whitebark Cafe in Banff

No mountain town is complete without some first-class coffee to fuel your adventures. Luckily, Banff has great cafes in spades, and we love indulging in coffee and baked goods at the charming spots around town. 

I have already mentioned it in this blog but, at the risk of repeating myself, I really do love Wild Flour Bakery. It’s our favorite breakfast spot in Banff, and their breakfast frittata sandwich is the ultimate way to fuel up before a day of exploring. You can also grab one of their sandwiches to go and take it on a hike in Banff National Park.

Meanwhile, the Whitebark Cafe is an award-winning coffee shop known for its sausage rolls and sweet treats. Personally, I can’t get enough of their banana mango vegan muffins! 

I also have to give a shout-out to Evelyn’s Coffee Bar, and not just because of their great coffee. The view from their outdoor seating area is fantastic, and this coffee spot is ideally located on Banff Ave, right next to my beloved Park Distillery, so you can always grab a caffeine fix before you start on the cocktails.

Related Read: If you’re driving between Jasper and Banff, check out our favorite stops along the Icefields Parkway!

Where to Stay in Banff, Canada

The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff
The gorgeous Rimrock Resort Hotel! Photo credit: The Rimrock Resort

After a day exploring downtown Banff, you’ll need a place to rest your head – and honestly, the selection can be a little overwhelming! There are plenty of great hotels in downtown Banff to consider, as well as some in the local area. Here are a few of our favorites:

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

When it comes to experiencing the best of the best in Banff, Fairmont Banff Springs stands above the rest – it’s easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff! Rooms here aren’t cheap, which is to be expected when your hotel has 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more! Whether you’re staying here on your honeymoon, or are looking to treat yourself to something truly special, then this hotel ticks all the boxes.

Rooms at the Fairmont start from $670 CAD, but can rise further when availability is low. You can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

Located just a 5-minute drive from downtown Banff, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort combines the best of both worlds – a relaxing nature experience while being so close to all the action in town. As a mid-range hotel on our list, it’s also got plenty of fantastic amenities, such as its very own hot tub, a fully equipped gym, and an outdoor swimming pool that’s fun to use even when it’s raining!

Rooms here start at $188 CAD and come with their own kitchenettes or full kitchens – perfect for preparing a nice dinner in or a tasty picnic lunch. You can check your dates and book your room online here.

Banff Inn – $$

If you’re traveling on a budget, but still want your own private room, then the Banff Inn would be one of the best options for you. It’s still cheap but comes with lots of the luxuries that you can expect from a modern hotel, including a hot tub, sauna, steam room, as well as an on-site restaurant.

Situated right in town, rooms here start at $229 CAD per night, and it’s a good idea to book your room at the Banff Inn well in advance, as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

We’ve stayed at hostels all over Canada and definitely know a bad one from a good one! Believe us then when we say that the friendly folks over at Samesun Banff Hostel go above and beyond to make your stay amazing. Finding great budget accommodation can be difficult in Banff, and after plenty of searching, we put this hostel at the #1 spot when it comes to a bed on a budget!

Samesun is conveniently located downtown on Banff Ave. However, they also have their very own on-site restaurant and bar, and you even get breakfast included in your rate too! While there are no private rooms available, there are plenty of dorms to choose from, either mixed or single-gender.

You can expect a bed in a comfortable dorm here to start at $62 CAD per night, which can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Important info: Accommodation in Banff can be tricky. For starters, you need to book well in advance if you want to have a large selection. In the peaks of winter and summer, Banff often books out months in advance. For this reason, I highly suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great because lots of hotels offer free cancellation, so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie ith drinks on a rooftop bar in Banff, Canada
Thanks for reading!

As you can see, there is plenty to keep you busy in Banff’s downtown area. While you will certainly visit the mountain peaks and waterfalls, be sure to have some fun downtown too! With great restaurants, cafes, museums, and viewpoints, you can enjoy another side of Banff’s beauty.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope that this blog has proved helpful for planning your trip. If it has, be sure to check out our other Canada travel guides – and below, I’ve linked to some of my favorites!

33 Absolute BEST Things to do in Jasper, Alberta (2024 Guide)

13 Best Stops on the Drive from Lake Louise to Banff

Lake Louise Gondola VS Banff Gondola: Which one is Better?!

Ron

Sunday 17th of March 2024

Awesome guide! Thank you so much.