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Banff National Park is arguably the most beautiful place to visit in all of Canada. Situated within the Canadian Rockies, both the park and town are surrounded by picture-perfect places. With stunning lakes, an abundance of wildlife, sprawling pine trees, and of course the huge mountain peaks, there are plenty of places to get amazing photos and the perfect Instagrammable shot!
Bailey and I have visited Banff multiple times and we’ve been able to get many incredible shots at some of the most famous places in Banff. Some have ended up on Instagram, and others have even been printed and framed.
It’s true though, no matter where you look in Banff National Park you’ll be able to get amazing shots. However, if you’re looking for those magical Instagram-worthy spots that should be on everyone’s Banff Itinerary, this blog is perfect for you!
So without further ado, here’s our list of the 16 most Instagrammable places to visit in Banff National Park!
Instagrammable Places to Visit in Banff
1. The Banff Pedestrian Bridge
To kick off this list of the most Instagrammable places to visit in Banff I’m starting with a few places in Banff town, and first up is the Banff Pedestrian Bridge.
Although the bridge itself isn’t the most beautiful, its perfect backdrop of Cascade Mountain makes this Instagrammable spot so amazing. With the right technique and lens, the Banff Pedestrian Bridge can be transformed into a picture-perfect location.
Bailey and I headed there one sunset to capture some amazing shots. Using our zoom on the lens to make Cascade Mountain appear not only closer but even bigger, we got what I’d call a perfect shot for Instagram.
It can be tricky to find the bridge empty like we did, but with a little patience and with the help of some nice pedestrians, we were able to get the shot.
Where and when: You can find the Banff Pedestrian Bridge from the Bow River trail that connects to Banff Central Park. This attraction is best at any time of the day, but sunset provides some great lighting.
2. Banff Ave
Banff Ave is easily one of the most photographed places in Banff National Park. Despite being the main walking street of Banff, the views of the mountains from the road are so breathtaking that Banff Ave is definitely Instagram-worthy.
The most famous view is, of course, of Cascade Mountain towering over Banff Ave (pictured above.) This iconic shot is plastered all over postcards around Canada and for any photography enthusiast, it’s a bucket-list shot.
Of course, on a busy day, it can be hard with the crowds so I personally recommend taking photos at sunrise or even at night! Regardless, Banff Ave is a great place to start your photography adventure in Banff National Park!
Where to take the shot: The best angle of Cascade Mountain can be found at the south end of Banff Ave closer to the Bow River. From here, the street aligns perfectly with Cascade Mountain!
3. Sulphur Mountain (Banff Gondola)
Next on our list is one of the most famous things to do in Banff and that’s taking the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. From the top, the views are absolutely stunning!
To me, the Banff Gondola is the most spectacular gondola ride in Canada. And even though the ride isn’t very long, the uninterrupted views from the top always blow me away.
One of the best things about taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain is the boardwalk at the top. From this short boardwalk, you can enjoy spectacular views in just about every direction. The boardwalk gradually climbs to the summit of Sulphur Mountain and finishes at an old weather station. From here, the 360-degree view is a bucket list experience that everyone should see.
The Banff Gondola isn’t a free attraction and to take the gondola to the top you’ll need to pay around $64 CAD for adults (depending on the time of day and week). The best place to buy gondola tickets, especially in the busy months of summer, is by booking your ticket online in advance.
With that said, you can also hike up if you want to save some money. The Sulphur Mountain trail is 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) each way and takes around 4 hours up and back not factoring in time at the top. This trail starts from the bottom of the gondola and zig zags up the mountain below the gondola.
4. Vermillion Lakes
If you love reflections then you simply must visit Vermillion Lakes just outside of Banff town! These large shallow lakes are pretty spectacular, however, it’s the famous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains that makes this place so special.
The entire lakes area is accessed by the Vermillion Lakes Scenic Drive and along the way, there are so many great photo opportunities. Personally, I love the far end of Vermillion Lakes Road. From here the shallow water is guarded against the winds and the still water reflects the mountains for your Instagram photo.
At sunset, you’ll usually find plenty of photographers at this spot as its close proximity to Banff make it one of the best photo opportunities nearby. If you want to avoid the crowds be sure to go at sunrise. Or, if you’ve got a DSLR camera, go at night and capture the beautiful Milky Way!
5. Mt Norquay Chairlift
One of the most surprising places I’ve visited in Banff National Park was Mt Norquay. In the winter, Mt Norquay is a famous ski hill in the Banff area, but in the summer, they open the chairlift for sightseeing so people can enjoy a meal, drink, or just the views from their restaurant Cliffhouse Bistro.
But it wasn’t the food or drinks that made me fall in love. Instead, it was the breathtaking views of Banff town and the surrounding mountains including Mt Rundle that had me never wanting to leave.
This amazing viewpoint has become one of my all-time favorite photography spots in Banff National Park. It’s an off-the-beaten-path experience I recommend to all.
Tickets for the Mt Norquay chairlift are available online for $45 CAD per person and when you’re comparing all the sightseeing gondolas in Banff, it’s much less busy than the Banff Gondola. The chairlift is only open for sightseeing from June to October.
6. Morant’s Curve
Moving further out of Banff takes us to the Bow Valley Parkway. This breathtaking scenic drive has many amazing viewpoints and attractions with my personal favorite being Morant’s Curve.
Located around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Banff, Morant’s Curve was made famous by Nicholas Morant who was sent to the area to discover amazing tourist attractions along the Canadian railway many years ago. Nicholas fell in love with the viewpoint and it became his favorite in Banff National Park.
The curve in the name comes from the train tracks that curve their way along the Bow River. This, along with the stunning mountain backdrop, makes it one of the most beautiful photography locations in Banff National Park.
In the summer you’ll enjoy the amazing colors of the Bow River, and in the winter, Morant’s Curve becomes a winter wonderland that’s even more photogenic! So, no matter what season you’re visiting in, add Morant’s Curve to your Banff Instagram bucket list!
7. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is without a doubt one of the most scenic lakes in all of Canada. The lake has the perfect amount of rock flour (the dust that gives alpine lakes their color) which makes Lake Louise literally shine blue. So blue in fact, every time I visit I question if what I’m seeing is real!
Lake Louise is accessed via the Lake Louise parking lot and it only takes a short 5-minute walk to enjoy the main boardwalk. From here you can get amazing photos with glaciers and mountains as a backdrop.
If you want a more unique view you can hike around the lake on the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail. The 4-kilometer return trail (2.5 miles) takes around 1 hour to complete and is relatively easy. Canoes can also be rented if you want to explore the lake and start at $135 CAD for half an hour.
One thing to note about Lake Louise is how busy it gets. Being so accessible and popular means getting parking can be almost impossible. To ensure you get a spot, arrive before 8 am! Honestly, if you arrive at lunchtime you’ll likely be turned away by staff.
Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $21.00 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2023 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.
If you don’t want to deal with fighting for a parking spot you can the stress out of things by booking this Lake Louise Small-Group Tour. It’s ideal for photographers and sightseers alike because this half-day bus tour from Banff gives you time to soak up the beauty of Lake Louise before stopping at Moraine Lake and other nearby sights. These remaining stops vary but it will either be the area’s other famous lakes, sights along the Bow Valley Parkway, or wildlife hideouts. It costs $253 CAD per person.
8. Lake Agnes Tea House
From Lake Louise, there are plenty of different hiking trail options in Banff National Park. If you only have time for one though, I’d personally recommend making it the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike. This medium-difficulty trail takes you high above Lake Louise offering breathtaking views along the way.
With that said though, the main attraction here is Lake Agnes and the cute tea house that sits on the lake. From the edge of the lake, the views are out of this world and it’s almost impossible not to get a great Instagrammable shot!
On a calm day (pictured above) the lake reflects the mountains perfectly and with a cute tea house only meters away, you can refuel with some tea made with glacier water from the lake and refuel with homemade soap and bread!
Because the trail isn’t super difficult it’s dog friendly and as you can see from the photo above, we brought our friend’s dog, Polly, along for the journey!
The Lake Agnes Tea House is a 5.4-kilometer round trip (3.4 miles) with a pretty decent elevation gain of 333 meters (1,093 feet). Despite this, it only takes around 4 hours to complete at a medium pace.
If you’re hiking this trail solo you can make things more interesting and download this narrated audio guide to your phone! It costs just $7 CAD and once connected to your phone’s GPS it will give you directions on where to go play commentary for the corresponding areas including Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise, Mirror Lake, Lake Agnes Tea House, and more!
9. Moraine Lake
Another Instagramble spot in Banff National Park located near Lake Louise is the famous Moraine Lake. Moraine Lake is arguably the most photographed lake in all of Canada and after visiting for myself, it’s not hard to see why!
Bailey and I loved Moraine Lake so much that I actually proposed to her here. There’s something about Moraine Lake that feels so romantic. So much so, it made our blog about the top things to do on a honeymoon in Banff.
Moraine Lake offers many amazing views, however, few compare to the magnificent view from the Rockpile. The Rockpile is a short hike from the parking lot that takes you to a vantage point overlooking the lake. From here, you can truly see just how amazing the lake and surrounding mountains are.
You’ll need to plan ahead though and find alternatives to parking at Moraine Lake since the access road and parking lot are closed to personal vehicle traffic (except those with disability parking permits). You try to book the Park and Ride shuttle in advance or grab public transit. Another good option is joining one of the tours to Moraine Lake like this hop-on-hop-off bus that includes stops at Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon!
If you want to visit Moraine Lake at the most beautiful time of day, then you need to get there for sunrise! The way the morning light hits the mountains and the lake is magic! Luckily, there’s this Sunrise Shuttle to Moraine Lake that leaves at either 4 am or 5 am and gets you there for that magical time of day. You’ll need to book online here to secure your spot.
The only other way to visit this year (since the road has closed to personal vehicles) is to go on this organized tour. The tour begins at 4 am in Banff, and because they are a licensed tour operator, they can access Moraine Lake for sunrise. The tour costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/ shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning on visiting Banff in the fall, be sure to hike the Larch Valley Trail from Lake Moraine – it’s absolutely stunning during this time of year!
10. Lake Minnewanka
The lakes in Banff National Park are really some of the most beautiful places to visit. Lake Minnewanka is no different and everyone who comes to Banff to get amazing photos should visit.
Lake Minnewanka is located only 15 minutes from Banff town and is most famous for the Lake Minnewanka cruise. I’ve personally done the cruise and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Lasting for around one hour, the cruise takes you to the other side of the lake while your guide explains all about Lake Minnewanka’s history and some other interesting facts. Of course, the cruise on Lake Minnewanka is only available in summer as the lake freezes in winter! Expect to pay around $67 CAD for this experience.
With that said, you don’t need to do the cruise to enjoy the views. From the edge of the lake, you can stare out at the surrounding mountains and even take a short hike. If you want to really stretch your legs and get some great photos then consider hiking the Lake Minnewanka Lakeside Trail. The trail is 16 kilometers out and back (9.7 miles) and is a great free way to enjoy spectacular views without paying for the cruise.
11. Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the world by National Geographic. It’s not only one of the most Instagrammable places in Canada but also a bucket list experience you just have to do!
There are plenty of amazing places to stop along the Icefields Parkway with some of the best including Big Bend, Athabasca Glacier, Waterfowl Lakes, and Athabasca Falls. Below I’ve specifically mentioned two places I love. With that said though, I personally find the best photo opportunities aren’t actual attractions, and like the photo above, are simply taken along the road with the huge mountain backdrops.
This scenic drive travels between Banff and Jasper National Park and takes around 2.5 hours to drive without stopping. With that said, you’ll need an entire day if you want to truly explore this spectacular stretch of road.
If you plan on driving the Icefields Parkway then don’t go without checking out our 1 day Icefields Parkway itinerary first! It includes 15 stops you can visit in just one day! Or join an Icefields Parkway tour to see some of the highlights without having to drive.
In particular, this full-day tour takes you to some of the most beautiful and far-flung places in the Canadian Rockies. We love this tour because you get to see some of the highlights along the Icefields Parkway along with some neat extras.
First off, you’ll have an hour to spend at the incredible Lake Louise, a spot that is beautiful in all seasons! Then, hit Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, and Bow Lake and head to a viewpoint above the Crowfoot Glacier. These places are also key areas for spotting wildlife so have your camera ready!
The tour costs $180 CAD per person and lasts for the whole day but it can sell out, especially during peak travel times, so make sure you book online here once you know your travel dates!
12. Peyto Lake
I mentioned some of the best stops of the Icefields Parkway above, however, two of the best stops will be getting their own special mention. And the first is Peyto Lake Viewpoint!
This Instagrammable lake sits in a deep valley surrounded by mountain peaks and literally glows blue. The viewpoint, which overlooks the lake, is the perfect vantage point to get that picture-perfect Instagram shot.
One of the things that make Peyto Lake so amazing is the fact that you can drive right to the viewpoint. No long hike up through the mountains is required. Because of this, Peyto Lake can be visited at sunset, sunrise, and even at night to get amazing astro shots.
Peyto Lake provides a very unique opportunity to get some great photos without having to hike!
13. Bow Lake
My next favorite Instagrammable spot in Banff National Park is also located on the Icefields Parkway – Bow Lake! Bow Lake is one of the closest attractions along the Icefields Parkway to Banff and it’s truly spectacular.
Visiting Bow Lake can be done in minutes as there is a pullover bay on the side of the road for cars to stop at. From here, the views are pretty nice, however, to see the full magic of the Bow Lake you need to continue up the road further and turn left just after the lake towards the Bow Lake car parking lot.
From this parking lot, you can take a short hike to the shoreline and enjoy even more spectacular views. What I love particularly about this spot is the views down the Bow Lake through the valley that you miss from the road. This section of the mountains is truly impressive and easily one of the best Instagrammable spots in Banff National Park!
14. Policeman’s Creek
Ok, so this next Instagrammable spot isn’t technically in Banff National Park, but it’s definitely worth a mention! Policeman’s Creek is not only one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever shot, but it’s only a stone’s throw away from Banff in Canmore.
Located a short hike from the dog park in Canmore, the Policeman’s Creek viewpoint of the Three Sisters Mountain Range is the perfect place to get the perfect photo! What makes this viewpoint so famous is the reflections of the Three Sisters you get on the calm waters. On a clear and calm day, this spot is truly out of this world!
Finding the exact spot can be hard, however, we outline exactly where you can find it in our blog on the best attractions in Canmore.
Related Read: If you want a really epic view in Canmore, check out the Heart Mountain Hike, it’s a challenging but beautiful trail!
15. Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Last but certainly not least on our list of Instagrammable places to visit in Banff is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. I know what you’re thinking, really, a hotel? Well if you’ve never been to the Fairmont Banff Hotel you won’t know just how Instagrammable this place really is.
The hotel could be a museum and the architecture is truly out of this world. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has preserved the hotel’s history and they’ve done a great job at it.
The best part though is that you don’t have to stay at the hotel to visit the grounds. Simply head to the front desk and they’ll give you a self-guided map to visit some of the most beautiful places. After, enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes or spoil yourself at their spa and wellness center.
The best part is that even if it’s raining in Banff or very cold, this is one beautiful place that’s actually indoors – bonus!
The hotel also looks like a castle from the outside. Head to Surprise Corner for an epic view of the hotel and its surroundings (pictured above.)
To put it simply, if you want some great photos in an elegant setting you simply must visit the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Related Read: Visiting Banff from Calgary? Read our guide to driving from Calgary to Banff for an epic road trip itinerary!
16. Native wildlife
So obviously this is not one particular location but Banff National Park as a whole is teaming with wildlife! To name a few, there are moose, elk, foxes, wolves, mountain goats, coyotes, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, beavers, black bears, and the oh-so-mighty grizzly bear.
Who wouldn’t want to share some epic photos of these beautiful creatures on Instagram!?
The issue with spotting and photographing animals is that they operate on their own timelines and shy away from humans. Plus, encounters with certain animals like a mother elk being protective of her babies or a grizzly bear can be dangerous (I sure wouldn’t be pulling out my camera if I was alone with one)!
However, Banff has some incredible wildlife tours you can join with a skilled professional who can greatly increase your chance of spotting rare animals in a safe way.
The types of tours you can join vary greatly so here’s a look at a few of the most popular wildlife tours in Banff.
- Wildlife Highlights Tour – By far the TOP tour in Banff for spotting animals! You’ll head out to the most happening spots for wildlife in Banff National Park. Stops on the tour include Lake Minnewanka, Bow Falls, Mount Norquay, Vermillion Lakes, Surprise Corner, and Hoodoos Trail. The price for your guide, transport, and water is $138 CAD per person.
- Bow Canoe Wildlife Tour – As you and your group row down Bow River, your guide will help point out elk, bald eagles, beavers, and more. Not to mention the route itself is very scenic! This tour is great for adventure lovers who always want to be doing something but it’s also perfect for those who are a bit more apprehensive about getting too close to wild animals as there is a water barrier between you and the land. This tour runs for $69 CAD and last around an hour and a half.
- Grizzly Bear Discovery Tour – This tour is not as much about hunting in the wild for wildlife as it is about visiting the Bear Sanctuary in Golden to see Boo the 600-pound grizzly bear in Golden. To do this you also get to enjoy a gondola ride at Kicking Horse Resort. On the way, there are a few stops at scenic viewpoints where it is possible to see more animals in the wild. It is a long 10-hour tour with a lot of driving involved so I recommend this if you want a high chance (there is a small chance he could be hiding on the covered part of the property) of seeing a bear while in Banff. It cost $271 CAD per person.
Other Things to do While You’re in Banff
Looking for wildlife is just one of many things to do in Banff. But with so much to choose from, it might feel overwhelming. So below, I’ve picked some of my other favorite activities in the area to help you out!
- Hike Johnston Canyon – There are tons of amazing hikes in and around Banff, but I especially loved hiking Johnston Canyon and seeing its spectacular waterfalls. You can drive to the trailhead on your own or book a tour. This e-bike and hiking tour is excellent for those who want to combine both activities. Or if you just want transport, take the hop-on-hop-off bus that stops here. If you visit Johnston Canyon in winter, this Icewalk tour will show you ice formations and frozen falls!
- Party the night away – Banff is without a doubt a super lively place and has an amazing nightlife scene. Some crowd favorites to start your night at are Tommy’s Neighborhood Pub and Banff Ave Brewing. Afterward, everyone heads to the Dancing Sasquatch, Banff’s top nightclub, to dance the night away.
- Go whitewater rafting – One of my favorite adventure activities is whitewater rafting. It is so scenic but also gets the adrenaline pumping with all of the excitement! For $129 CAD this 2-hour whitewater rafting tour takes you along the Kanaskasis River. The rapids are exciting but not too dangerous and suitable for anyone over the age of 5. You’ll get completely geared up before you start and finish the excitement with a calm float where you can also opt for a swim!
- Ride the Banff Gondola – If you want the best vantage point in town, ride up the Banff Gondola! You’ll climb 698 meters (2,292 feet) to the top of Sulphur Mountain where you’ll have a view of six different mountain ranges. Tickets do sell out in the busy season, so make sure to purchase yours ahead of time!
- Explore Banff town – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a Farmers Market every Wednesday in the summertime.
Where to Stay in Banff, Canada
This is one of the most important parts of your trip, and in Banff, the selection can be overwhelming and expensive. There are lots of different areas to consider when it comes to deciding where to stay in Banff National Park. There are also plenty of great hotels in Banff town to consider. Below are some amazing hotels we recommend:
Samesun Banff Hostel (Low Budget)
A great budget hostel with dorm rooms. Perfect for those on a tight budget. Expect to pay around $55 CAD for a bed in a mixed dorm room. It’s located right in the middle of town and just a short walk to bars and hotels. A free breakfast is also included every morning and there is fast wifi!
High Country Inn (Low Budget)
While the High Country Inn is still a budget range where you can get a private queen hotel room for as low as $139 CAD there is also the option for upgrades like a king room with a jet tub or a one-bedroom suite with a balcony.
A fridge and tea and coffee maker are part of each room. The property offers an indoor pool, a cedar sauna, and a hot tub for your enjoyment.
You can book the High County Inn on Booking.com.
Banff Inn (Moderate Budget)
The Banff Inn is in the perfect price and luxury range. It’s still affordable but also comes with lots of luxuries, the first being the location and the mountains right behind the hotel.
The rooms are spacious, clean, and modern. Expect to pay around $350 CAD or more during peak season. There is an on-site restaurant that serves things like pizza and burgers and a bar and lounge where you can wind down with a glass of wine in the evenings.
You can book the Banff Inn on Booking.com.
Banff Rocky Mountian Resort (Moderate Budget)
Pushing up into the mid-range budget this hotel is sure to please. It is located just 2 miles from town so you are close by for convenience but not right in all the noise. All the rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, each has either a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The price for summer per night will be a minimum of at least $300 CAD.
This beautiful property has an indoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor hot tub, gym, tennis courts, and more! You can dine right at the Alpha Bistro which is located in the main building.
You can book the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort on Booking.com.
Fairmont Banff Springs (Luxury)
This is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. If you’re saving by doing free things in Banff so you can splurge a little more on your accommodation, this is the spot to do it! It’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible (pictured above)! The mountain views and stunning grounds are just the beginning.
The rooms are very comfortable some of them offering mountain views. The price per night begins at an average of $1,200 CAD but it varies on the season and type of room. If you like to eat and shop there are 11 different restaurants and 14 shops to explore. Then go bowling, pamper yourself in the spa, relax in the hot tub, or go for a swim in the pool.
Expect the staff to go above and beyond to make you feel like royalty. If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon, then this should be the hotel you choose!
You can book the Fairmont Banff Springs on Booking.com.
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 too 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 $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 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.)
- $21.00 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) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 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.
Renting a Car in Alberta
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!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!
Bear bells: These are a must, and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $9 CAD and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
When it comes to Instagrammable places to visit in Canada, Banff truly is one of the best. It’s safe to say you won’t be short on epic photos from your trip and I hope this blog has helped you get a few more!
Thanks so much for reading! Bailey and I hope you found this blog helpful. If you did, be sure to check out all our Canada blogs or these related articles below!
How to spend Christmas in Banff