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Lake Louise is arguably one of Alberta’s most sought-out destinations … and for good reason! A true gem, Lake Louise has things to do for every length of visit and can accommodate the most laid-back to the most adventurous travelers.
Since the drive between Banff and Lake Louise is less than an hour, you really shouldn’t miss out on seeing both of these must-see places in Banff National Park. But if you don’t have your own car or don’t want to worry about the hassle of getting to Lake Louise from Banff, don’t sweat it! There are some amazing Lake Louise tours from Banff to choose from.
Whether you opt for a full-day tour, want a private VIP experience, or are after an easy hop-on hop-off bus, we’ve tested out the very best tours to get you to Lake Louise and back. For us, this is a spot that will always be worth coming back to, no matter the time of year, and we want to help you plan your own adventure.
We know that planning a trip to a new place can be a bit daunting, so read on for our 6 favorite tours to Lake Louise from Banff that can help you narrow it down. Happy exploring!
Why book a tour to Lake Louise from Banff?
Now, you may wonder why we’re just going over tours here instead of sharing the independent travel options we normally give you as well. Bear with us, though, we promise to highlight the best ways to get to Lake Louise, thinking about cost, time, and accessibility!
One of the main reasons to book a tour to Lake Louise from Banff is everyone’s least favorite word – parking. Sadly, it’s really hard to get parking at Lake Louise, and parking at Moraine Lake (one of the main attractions near Lake Louise) is now completely closed to private vehicles.
On the other hand, a tour is a perfect way to make the most of your visit without the stress of how you’ll get there and back. It’s also great if you only have a few days to spend in Banff and want to make sure you see Lake Louise and other highlights. In general, going on a tour just makes your whole adventure easier, there’s no need to do hours of research figuring out the best times to visit, what to bring, and where to go.
And how could we forget about the people who make the tours so memorable, the knowledgeable and super friendly guides? It’s the golden tips and stories they share that stick with us for years to come!
The final cherry on top is that tours are so well-priced out here, so much so that it seems almost silly to make extra work for yourself by not booking one.
Our Top Choice
Before we dive into the different tours we recommend, we want to give you our top choice for one of the best Banff tours that goes to Lake Louise. We know that it can be tricky to decide between even a few options and want to share our favorite experience with you.
There are quite a few incredible tours that suit different interests and needs, though, so stick around and check out all your options! Now, without further ado… our top choice is (drumroll please!):
The Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway full-day tour
Hands down, our number one favorite has to be this Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway sightseeing tour! It’s the perfect way to get familiar with this portion of Alberta, Canada, and while we won’t give too much away just yet, this is a tour well worth taking!
It’s 100% the most in-depth tour we’ve ever taken in Banff, and that’s something considering how many tours we’ve been on. The friendly folks organizing the tour have it down to a science, with visits to top areas like the Icefields Parkway, Lake Minnewanka, a brilliant glacier, and four more regional lakes.
Essentially, this tour hits the best, can’t-miss spots all in one fell swoop and will leave you feeling confident that you’ve experienced the gems that Alberta has to offer. And it does it all without once feeling rushed – now that’s impressive!
6 Best Lake Louise Tours from Banff
1. Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway full-day tour
…That wasn’t all you thought we’d tell you about our favorite tour, was it?
The Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway full-day tour is the embodiment of an easy yet super fun day trip around Banff’s nearby natural wonders. From your early pickup at your Banff accommodations to 6 stops at various electric blue lakes and glaciers, your day will be full of the best things in Banff National Park and you’ll make memories that will stick with you forever.
We loved that the group has an absolute maximum of 22 people and is designated for travelers 9 years of age and above. It really helped to create a fun community for the day where we could chat, take photos of each other, and explore at a similar pace.
Rob, our talented and all-around amazing driver, doubles as a tour guide, and will surely blow your mind with the sheer amount of info and trivia he knows! I swear, no question is too difficult when it comes to the Canadian Rockies! It’s no secret that travel around the Rockies can be a little difficult at times, but this tour makes the whole process so smooth! Plus, you get to sit back and enjoy the sights above all else.
The drive along the gorgeous Icefields Parkway was one of our personal highlights and was a huge hit with the other travelers. It’s no wonder there are some amazing tours on the Icefields Parkway dedicated to just this stretch of road.
At just $180 CAD for this 9-hour tour that touches on some of the best scenery in not just Alberta but, dare we say, all of Canada, you really get a huge bang for your buck.
We’re not the only ones who adore this tour, it’s also one of the most sought-after experiences in the area! We highly recommend you check online beforehand and get your dates booked in. After all, once-in-a-lifetime trips like these don’t come too often!
Related Read: If you get the chance to return to the Icefields Parkway, you have to spend some time visiting the one-of-a-kind Colombia Icefield Skywalk!
2. Lake Louise and Yoho National Park
When you think of an iconic duo, who do you think of? Snoopy and Charlie Brown, or maybe Shaggy and Scooby Doo? For us, nothing quite tops Lake Louise and Yoho National Park!
On this full-day tour of Lake Louise and Yoho National Park, you’ll spend the day cruising around on a scenic guided tour to some of our all-time favorite locations. Starting with a round-trip transfer from Banff (pickup at 9:35 am), the group size on this tour is a bit larger, being capped at a maximum of 50 people.
You’ll begin your day at Lake Louise (we’re already off to a flying start!), where you’ll have around two hours to explore the trail around the lake and take as many photos as you please. Be sure to snap a few shots of the incredible peaks of Mt Lefroy and Mt Victoria in the distance!
If you’re visiting Lake Louise in winter, from November to mid-April, you’re also in for a seasonal treat! As part of this tour, there’s a free, 20-minute snowshoeing experience included, which was one of our personal highlights.
Depending on what time of year it is, you’ll then head to Moraine Lake or Vermillion Lake and pass by the stunning Spiral Tunnels railroad. Believe us when we say that Moraine Lake is one of our all-time favorite places in Banff National Park, not only is it incredibly stunning with its crystal-clear waters, but we actually got engaged there too!
There really are a ton of things to do at Moraine Lake, and you’ll have about an hour to see what’s what. We personally recommend heading over to The Rockpile, which is a really scenic viewpoint that looks over the lake and the surrounding forests. To get there, take the trail next to the bathrooms in the parking lot, cross the small wooden bridge, stay to the right-hand side of the trail, and you’ll soon be up at the viewpoint.
Once you’ve spent about an hour exploring the gorgeous Moraine Lake, you’ll then move on to Yoho National Park’s Emerald Lake, whose waters really are the most wonderful turquoise color imaginable! There’s also a good chance you’ll see some local wildlife nearby, so keep an eye out for elk and other cute woodland critters who call the area home.
We adored our time on this tour, and it was a close second to the last tour we mentioned. You get a couple of fewer stops, but that does mean you get to have a more fully rounded experience at each natural wonder. Also, this trip is great for families traveling because there is no age restriction. So, bring the kids along to explore Alberta’s wonders!
The cost of this tour not only includes your national park fee, but you’ll have a bilingual tour guide, an air-conditioned vehicle, and you won’t have to worry about having cash on hand for gratuities because they’re already included. At $164 CAD per adult and $143 CAD for kids, this is a wonderful deal, too!
3. Banff National Park with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (Half-day)
Full-day tours can be a little tiring, so we were quite happy to head out on this 4-hour Banff National Park tour during one of our more recent visits to the park. The sights are still plentiful, and you’ll have time for more activities (or downtime) during your day.
This half-day Banff tour takes you to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake for stunning views, wildlife sightings, and some delicious maple cookies! You’ll get to experience a variety of terrains on this tour, from forests and meadows to rivers and lakes, so it’s great if you want to see a bit of everything while still having time to visit two of Banff’s most iconic lakes.
Visiting these lakes on an organized tour is super handy, as parking is difficult (or impossible!) at both lakes. So, a tour really is one of the easiest ways to get to Moraine Lake! Plus, there’s a maximum group size of 24, so it never feels too crowded, and you won’t have to compete with other tourists for the best views.
We also love that the tour company is carbon-neutral and locally owned and operated, so you get a much deeper insight into the area and experience Banff National Park like a local rather than a regular tourist. The guides bring the tour to life with all their stories and knowledge!
There’s no hotel pickup and drop-off for this tour, but it leaves from the parking lot behind the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff, which is still super convenient – plus, you don’t waste time collecting people from other hotels.
This tour costs $104 CAD for adults and $53 CAD for kids, and it runs from June through September, which is perfect since Banff is incredible in the summer.
We think this is an excellent tour for anyone who wants to enjoy the incredible beauty and serenity of two of Banff’s most iconic lakes! Travelers of all ages are welcome, and you don’t need to be a pro hiker or anything like that – it’s quite an easy tour, so make sure you book your spot online.
Related Read: Have some extra time on your hands? For an experience with views unlike any other, you’ve got to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise!
4. Banff, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake (Small group)
We’ve highlighted the small group sizes of some other tours, but this Banff, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake small group adventure tour takes this principle to heart by capping at just 14 participants.
By the end of the 8-hour tour, you’ll be feeling tired (in a good way) from all the activities, and like you’ve got a small new group of travel friends. We had an amazing time canoeing on Lake Louise and then hiking around Moraine Lake.
Pickup is just outside the Banff Train Station at 8:30 am, plenty of time for us to grab a coffee at one of the cute cafes in Banff and get our booster for the day – which with all the amazing activities planned, we were definitely going to need! This tour has loads of optional activities available for those with an adventurous spirit, from kayaking and canoeing to trekking up the lakeside trails.
In the past, we’ve been on tours that felt super rushed, as if the organizers wanted to fit three days worth of activities into one! So we think it’s great that the organizers of this tour focus on two incredible locations – although you will have another 1-3 stops depending on factors like recent wildlife sightings or other tour schedules. No matter what the other stops are, the whole experience was so lighthearted and fun.
The kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding options are an extra cost, but it felt well worth it for us. We just contacted the tour company ahead of time, so they could get our names down.
At $244 CAD per person, we got to avoid lines with expedited access to the lakes and their activities, which made a world of difference while enjoying these highly popular sites! You can grab your tickets for this personalized experience online here.
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!
5. Hop-on and hop-off Banff bus
While we love our guided tours, there’s nothing wrong with a nice hop-on hop-off bus experience! We love how much you can personalize your trip, choosing where and when you get off to explore. It’s easily one of the best Banff bus tours you can choose!
With 48 seats per bus, groups aren’t necessarily tiny, but they also aren’t overwhelming. The last time we hopped aboard the school bus (yup, the classic yellow one!), our friendly guides told us some awesome tips and info about each destination we visited – it really was a win-win trip!
As for where you’ll visit, there are stops at Banff town, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Samson Mall, and the Lake Louise Gondola. We think it’s a pretty good variety, whether you’d like to get your hiking boots on for Johnston Canyon or stop to take in the views at Lake Louise (or both!).
The earlier you begin with this one, the more you’ll be able to make the most of your day! We joined the early crew right at the start (7:45 am) from the Moose Hotel and Suites on Banff Avenue, getting to spend a lot of time in places we wanted to visit, before hopping on the last bus to arrive in Banff around 6 pm.
You’ve got a few options when it comes to hopping on at Banff, with departure times at the Moose Hotel and Suites at 7:45 am, 9:30 am, and 12:15 pm, as well as from the Banff Train Station at 7:50 am, 9:35 am, and 12:15 pm.
We talked to people who began in the afternoon and felt it was plenty of time. Personally, we were so glad to have given ourselves a full day to do some of the hikes around Banff, enjoy lunch near Lake Louise, and ride up the Lake Louise Gondola to see the area from above!
All in all, this is a great, budget-friendly option at just $80 CAD per adult and $64 CAD per child (6-17) for up to 8 hours touring the Banff area. You can select your dates and book your tickets here through Viator.
Related Read: We love riding on the Lake Louise Gondola, but did you know there are actually four Banff gondolas with amazing views?
6. Private tour of Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway
Of course, if a small group of 14 still feels like too much, or if you’ve got a large group of your own, you can always book your very own private tour of Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway.
We always have a wonderful time when traveling with friends and family, but we sure know how tricky it can be to get transport and parking sorted when you’re in a bigger group. A personalized tour wipes all of those worries away and, better yet, you get an awesome tour guide who’s there to make sure your group has the best time possible!
On this full-day tour, you and your buddies will hop aboard a minibus for a day of action-packed sightseeing adventure, with an incredible 10 stops (yup, 10!). The folks over there really have the day down to an art, as you’ll hit all of the best spots, which just so happen to be some of our favorites, like Lake Minnewanka and Bow Lake.
For the wildlife lovers out there, there’s a huge chance you’ll see some of Banff National Park’s incredible animals. Not only is there a huge elk population at Two Jack Lake, but there’s also a part of the tour where you’ll check out the bighorn sheep at Lake Minnewanka!
Don’t forget your camera either, as this tour has some stops at some real big-hitting viewpoints, like Mount Norquay with its epic views of Banff, and Crowfoot Glacier on the Icefields Parkway.
While there are a bunch of incredible stops scheduled for the day, the beauty of a personalized tour is that you can decide whether you want to skip a stop, spend more time at another, or just go with the flow. Regardless of how you spend your time, we know you’ll be happy you’ve taken the time to see some of Banff’s most famous lakes, mountains, and more.
We think a personal tour is perfect for a family reunion trip, a trip among friends, or even doing what we did and round up enough hostel neighbors to join you for a fun day around Banff!
The cost is a flat rate of about $1,350 CAD with a maximum of 12 guests per group. If you make the most of that capacity, you’ll only be spending about $112 CAD per person for 8 to 9 hours of your very own private tour – now that’s a sweet deal!
Ready to explore some of the best locations Banff and the Icefields Parkway has to offer with your buddies by your side? You can check your dates and secure your booking online here.
Where to Stay in Banff
Along with booking a tour to Lake Louise, finding a place to stay is one of the most important parts of your trip to the Banff area. 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 – Budget-backpacker Hostel
A great budget hostel with dorm rooms. The Samesun Banff Hostel is perfect for those on a tight budget who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. This is only a backpacker place though, as there are no private rooms available. Dorms can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Banff Inn – Budget-friendly Hotel
The Banff Inn is the perfect mix of comfort and affordability. It has a budget-friendly price tag but also comes with lots of luxuries. The hotel is located right on Banff Ave and all rooms are air-conditioned. In the hotel, you’ll find a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar. You should book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – Mid-range Hotel
Pushing up into the mid-range budget, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has a swimming pool, hot tub, gym, and all the rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens. It is the perfect place for families since two and three-bedroom units are also on offer. The location is peaceful on Tunnel Mountain but yet only a 5-minute drive from Banff town. You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.
Fairmont Banff Springs – Luxury Hotel
The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. It’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! Inside the hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more. It’s a luxury resort-like stay and the only one of its kind in Banff. If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon then this should be the hotel you choose! You can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.
Important info: Because of how popular Banff is, I 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!
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 $45 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!
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!
Thanks for reading!
Lake Louise isn’t just one of our favorite places in Banff National Park, we really think visiting here is one of the best things you can do in all of Alberta! We’re sure you’ll have a blast taking a tour to Lake Louise from Banff, whether you decide to go for a full-day private tour or embrace the hop-on hop-off experience.
We hope you have a fantastic time exploring this incredible part of Canada! Make sure to check out our other Banff blogs before you go and if you’re up for earning a little extra credit, here are three more blogs we think you’ll love.