19 Best Things to do in Lake Louise
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Lake Louise is a small mountain village situated within the magnificent Rocky Mountains. It’s surrounded by untouched wilderness and stunning landscapes and has all the ingredients for a bucket-list place to visit. It’s no wonder that Lake Louise is one of my favorite places to visit in Canada.
To be honest though, it can be hard to know exactly what to do in Lake Louise. Before arriving, I was a little confused as to what the main attractions are, and, on my first visit, only walked the foreshore.
What a waste!
Luckily though, I moved close to the Rocky Mountains in 2020 and have since revisited Lake Louise plenty more times. Each time ticking off all the best things to do in Lake Louise. From hikes to restaurants and all of the epic Lake Louise activities, I’ve pretty much done it all!
The best part though? In this blog, I’ll share exactly what I’ve discovered to be the best things to do in Lake Louise so you can decide what you want to do, and exactly how to do it!
Lake Louise FAQs
Yes! Lake Louise is one of the most breathtaking places in the Rocky Mountains and should be on everyone’s Canadian bucket list!
Parking at Lake Louise is free, however, due to the lake’s popularity, it is often full by 9 am! You also need a national park pass to visit Lake Louise.
Banff is only 57 kilometers from Lake Louise or a 40 minute drive.
The water in Lake Louise gets its color from rock flour. As the glaciers above Lake Louise melt, fine particles of rock flour (which were created as the glacier crushed rock into a fine powder when forming) are released into the water. These fine particles reflect light and cause the water to appear blue!
Things to do in Lake Louise
1. Relax at the Lake Louise foreshore
When it comes to enjoying Lake Louise, one of the easiest and most common ways is to enjoy the views are from the Lake Louise foreshore. Within minutes of arriving, you can have a coffee in hand and stare out at mountain peaks, glaciers, and the bluest lake you’ll ever see.
The best part? This activity is for everyone! You can walk the front foreshore (which is paved for easy access) and read some of the information boards on the area while admiring the view. Be sure to snap lots of photos as this is one of the most breathtaking views in the Rockies!
2. Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House
My favorite hike in Lake Louise is the Lake Agnes Tea House trail. Starting right from the foreshore, the trail has you hiking high above Lake Louise where you can peer down and see parts of the lake from above.
After, you continue on to an interestingly shaped mountain called the Bee Hive (let’s see if you can tell how it got its name!) Then, it’s on to the main attraction, Lake Agnes!
Lake Agnes is a spectacular alpine lake surrounded by huge mountain peaks. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy some pretty spectacular views. Of course, you can also head over to Lake Agnes Tea House to enjoy tea, coffee, or a snack.
The tea house is usually jam-packed so if you don’t want to wait in line, you’d best get going early in the day. However, even without buying something from the tea house, Lake Agnes is easily one of the best things to do in Lake Louise!
Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is a 7.3-kilometer (4.5 miles) return track that climbs 400 meters in elevation. The trail is moderately difficult but not technical at all!
3. Rent a canoe and explore Lake Louise
When I think of iconic Canadian activities a few come to mind. However, one of the most relaxing and breathtaking is paddling an alpine lake in a Canadian Canoe. You can do this throughout Canada, but there aren’t many places as beautiful as Lake Louise to enjoy this activity.
Canoe rentals at Lake Louise start from $115 CAD for half an hour or $125 for a full hour. Personally, I think a full hour is needed to explore Lake Louise and paddle to the far end of the lake. From there you’ll get a whole new vantage point to enjoy this magical place. Plus, you’ll likely get some great snaps!
Canoes can be rented right from the foreshore at the shed on the lake. Bookings are not required but get there early to secure a time!
4. Visit Moraine Lake
Is there a lake more beautiful and spectacular than Lake Louise? In my opinion, there is, and it’s Moraine Lake!
Moraine Lake is located only a short 15-minute drive from Lake Louise and is a must-visit for anyone heading to the Rocky Mountains. This alpine lake might just be the only lake with more color than Lake Louise, and the best part? Its backdrop is the famous 10 Peaks!
These huge mountains tower above the lake providing the ultimate view that’s now famous all around the world.
When you get to Moraine Lake there’s plenty to do and places to explore. Below, I’ve mentioned two of my favorite hikes at Moraine Lake, but other things to do including visiting the Rock Pile (for that famous view) or walking the Lakeshore Trail for a nice leisurely stroll.
Regardless of what you do, Moraine Lake lives up to its reputation as Canada’s most beautiful lake!
Important: Read about parking at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. This is very important before going!
5. Hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House
Lake Agnes Tea House isn’t the only tea house in the mountains around Lake Louise. In fact, the Plain of Six Glaciers is not only another great tea house to visit but it also only attracts a fraction of the people.
This, along with the tea house’s more remote and rugged location, makes it the perfect option for those who like to get off-the-beaten-path and into the wilderness.
From Lake Louise, it’s a 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) hike one way to the tea house with a 400-meter elevation gain. The trail takes around 4 hours to complete if you hike up and back down the way you came.
For those who love to hike, you can actually join the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House hike with the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail. This track is a 14.6-kilometer loop taking around 6 hours to complete with stops. It’s an epic trail that visits two beautiful tea houses in Lake Louise!
6. Drive the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is known as one of the most scenic highways in Canada. In my opinion, it deserves that title.
The highway starts in Lake Louise and finishes in Jasper to the north driving through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, it passes so many beautiful viewpoints, hikes, and natural attractions. Honestly, there are so many highlights you’d need a few days to see them all.
However, for those with little time, you can see some of the highlights of the Icefields Parkway in a day. In fact, from Lake Louise, you can visit the Bow Lake Viewpoint, Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake, and even the Athabasca Glacier. After, you can drive back to Lake Louise or continue on to Jasper.
I’ve been lucky enough to drive the highway a few times and came up with the perfect 1 day Icefields Parkway Itinerary that visits 15 amazing places along this spectacular stretch of highway!
Related Read: If you’re heading to Jasper, check out all of the amazing things to do in Jasper!
7. Lake Louise Lakefront Trail
The views from the Lake Louise foreshore are spectacular, but that is only one point of view. For another, head out on the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail and hike to the far end of the lake. From here, you can look back and enjoy a view of Lake Louise many don’t get to see.
The Lakefront Trail is super easy and flat! From the foreshore, it’s a 4 kilometer (2.5-mile) out and back hike and takes around an hour to complete. As I said, it’s flat and super easy!
The Lake Louise Lakefront Trail is actually the start of the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House hike, so if you’re planning on doing that trail you’ll get to do both.
8. Stay at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise
What’s the one thing I haven’t done on this list but really want to? Stay at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise! Our budget never includes money for super fancy hotels, which kind of sucks! However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this once in a lifetime hotel.
In fact, for those on a short trip, I’d say go for it and spoil yourself a little!
The Fairmont Château Lake Louise is arguably the nicest hotel in Banff National Park only rivaled by its sister hotel Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff town. But if the location is everything, then Fairmont Château Lake Louise takes the cake.
From your room, you can stare out at the stunning Lake Louise and have all the amazing things to do at Lake Louise at your doorstep. No worries about parking (which is a nightmare and I mention that below), and you can enjoy Lake Louise at every time of the day (including at night when the stars are amazing!)
If you can afford the $500 + a night, why not stay in paradise!
9. Day trip to Banff
If you decided to stay in Lake Louise (which I highly recommend as there are a ton of awesome things to do in Lake Louise) then you should at the very least make a day trip to Banff.
Banff is a bustling mountain town, something Lake Louise isn’t. And although many of the best things to do in Banff are actually out of town and include many of the places closest to Lake Louise, Banff town is still a great place to enjoy and explore.
Some of the coolest things to do in Banff town include visiting Vermilion Lakes, getting a beer at the brewery in Banff, taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain, and relaxing in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
If you’re on a Canadian road trip then I highly suggest spending a few nights in Banff and a few nights in Lake Louise. Although they’re close, there’s so much to do in each town that it pays to stay in both!
Related Read: If you’re spending a couple of nights in Banff, then check out our recommendations on the best hotels in Banff!
10. Ride the Lake Louise sightseeing gondola
Lake Louise is one of the most popular ski fields in Canada but that doesn’t mean you should limit visiting to the winter months. In fact, during summer, the chairlift opens up for sightseeing.
Without hiking, you can head up into the mountains and enjoy some pretty spectacular scenery and also spot wildlife. In fact, Lake Louise ski hill is a very common area to spot grizzly bears in the summer months. So common that they actually fence the sightseeing area off to protect both the bears and visitors.
Unfortunately the day we went we didn’t see any. With that said, it’s a regular occurrence and at any one time, there can be multiple bears within viewing distance.
The sightseeing chairlift costs $37.95 CAD for adults and takes you up to a restaurant and a small museum. At the top, you can walk around (within the fenced area) and enjoy the views. Overall, it’s a great activity to do in Lake Louise during the summer!
11. Hike the Larch Valley Trail
Fall in Banff is a beautiful time of the year. One of the most breathtaking hikes you can do during that time is the Larch Valley Trail. This epic hike starts at Moraine Lake and finishes in the Larch Valley.
In summer, the valley is filled with wildflowers, and in fall, an array of orange and yellow from the Larch trees. Although it’s most popular to hike the trail is fall, it’s a hike to add to your bucket-list any time of the year. In fact, I love the views of the famous Ten Peaks from the Larch Valley the most and guess what? You can see them all year round!
The trail is easy to moderately difficult and it takes around 5 hours to complete the 8.6-kilometers (5.3 miles) with an elevation gain of 535 meters. There is an optional add-on to the trail up to Sentinel Pass that takes another hour. You can find this trail at the end of the Larch Valley.
Related Read: For other easy day hikes in the area, check out our blog about the best easy hikes in and around Canmore. Canmore is only 40 minutes from Lake Louise and as such, all hikes are easily accessible.
12. Go snowshoeing
Visiting Lake Louise in winter is just as much fun as in summer. Although many places such as Moraine Lake are closed, you can still enjoy some pretty cool activities. One of the best is snowshoeing.
You can rent snowshoes in Lake Louise at Wilson Mountain Sports and head off and explore some local trails. Rentals here start at only $10 for snowshoes which make this an awesome cheap activity in Lake Louise.
To find some trails check out Parks Canada’s winter hiking routes. They have recommendations both in and around Lake Louise and Banff National Park. However, a place I recommend is just around the lake in Lake Louise itslef! The perimeter is 4 kilometers and makes for a fun winter hike!
13. Hike to Consolation Lakes
Consolation Lakes Trail is one of the easiest trails in the Lake Louise area. Unlike most on this list, it actually doesn’t involve climbing high into the mountains (which is a nice break for your legs!)
The trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking lot and makes a very gradual climb to Consolation Lakes along a 2.9-kilometer (1.8-mile) trail. Although not the most spectacular hike, it can be completed in under 2 hours at a steady pace.
Once at the lakes, you can simply admire the views and even keep an eye out for bears on the hillsides.
14. Visit the historic train station for lunch
You have to eat on your trip to Lake Louise so I couldn’t have a list of the best things to do without some great food stops. I’ve been to Lake Louise a few times and one place I love to go for lunch is the Station Restaurant.
The restaurant is located at the old train station and is actually a heritage site you can walk around and explore – kids love it! However, what I really come for is the food and service.
Every meal I’ve had here is delicious but my favorite is the beef stew (pictured above!) It’s thick, filled with rustic style veggies, and huge chunks of Alberta Beef. On top of that, the service is second to none so it’s always a pleasure.
There aren’t many options for great places to eat in Lake Louise, but The Station is one!
15. Skiing and snowboarding
One of the best things to do in Lake Louise is to hit the slopes and with Canada’s best ski field at your doorstep, you’d be crazy not to go.
In the winter Lake Louise Ski Resort is a hugely popular place to ski. It’s famous for being one of the largest ski resorts in Canada and after visiting for myself, I was blown away by just far the chairlifts take you up the mountain (spoiler, it’s much further than the ski hills I’m used to in New Zealand!)
Although the ski field attracts large crowds, the sheer size of the ski field means you can always find some fresh powder or a unique backcountry run.
Honestly, if you’re in Lake Louise in winter go check out Lake Louise Ski Resort.
16. Go ice skating on Lake Louise
Lake Louise is the color of the sky in summer and that color has made the lake famous. But in the winter, the cold temperatures completely freeze the lake over and it now becomes an ice-skating dream!
This is one activity in Lake Louise that is completely free if you bring your own skates! But if not, you can rent them from the Fairmont Hotel. Rentals start at only $13 for children for half the day and they even supply a heated shelter to warm up in.
Ice skating on Lake Louise usually opens in mid-December and is available until mid-April. Obviously this is dependent on the weather and how cold it is!
17. Have dinner and drinks at Bill Peyto’s Cafe
On a recent trip to Lake Louise, I stayed at the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center (a great budget hotel option.) During that stay, I wanted to see what the hype was all about and decided to check out the onsite restaurant, Bill Peyto’s Cafe.
As it turns out, this place is actually a local favorite and every night I stayed there it was packed both with visitors, the local police, and park rangers.
After eating there for mysely I can totally see why – the food is amazing!
Bailey and I shared a burger and a pasta dish and loved them both! I was actually annoyed that we ate there on our last night in Lake Louise – I would have been there every night if I knew it was that good!
I will warn you though, go early! This place literally has a line out the door some nights!
18. Explore Johnston Canyon
Visiting in summer? Winter? It doesn’t matter! Johnston Canyon can be explored at any time of the year. Each season offers a unique experience completely different from the other.
In the summer, hiking through Johnston Canyon is about exploring waterfalls and enjoying the warm weather on a short but sweet hike.
In the winter, the experience completely changes and it’s now a winter wonderland about frozen waterfalls, ice climbing, and snowshoeing.
In both winter and summer, Johnston Canyon is completely free to explore. The canyon has a 2.7-kilometer (1.7-mile) boardwalk through the middle of it that leads to two waterfalls. You can choose to hike to the end or turn back at the first waterfall (1.7 kilometers in.)
Regardless, Johnston Canyon is a must visit!
19. Enjoy a morning coffee and breakfast at the Trailhead Café
Starting your day right is super important. For me, it always starts with a coffee and a bite to eat. There are two cafes in Lake Louise Village and my favorite is the Trailhead Café.
There’s not much to say, but the coffee is delicious and the food is also. This place can get busy first thing in the morning but it’s worth the wait.
Trust me, Trailhead is much better than the cafes up at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, so get a coffee before you go!
Parking at Lake Louise
One very important thing you need to know about visiting Lake Louise is the parking problem. To put it simply, you need to arrive early if you want to get a parking spot.
By early, I mean before 9 am! After that, it becomes almost impossible to snag a parking spot and you will instead need to take the shuttle from the overflow parking lot along the main highway.
The same goes for Moraine Lake, however, it’s even worse! If you want to know more, check out our guide to parking at Moraine Lake – it’s a must-read before you go!
Where to Stay in Lake Louise
For budget travelers, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff.
The Lake Louise Inn is still a budget option but a little fancier than the above hostel. The hotel features an indoor pool, onsite restaurant and bar, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups.
For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket-list!
Before you go…
Lake Louise is one of my favorite places in Canada both in winter and summer. Every chance I get, I tick off more and more things to do in this small mountain village in hopes to keep adding to this list of amazing things to do in Lake Louise!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this guide to Lake Louise has helped plan and inspire your upcoming trip. If you loved this blog then check out all our Canada Blogs or these related articles below!
November 27, 2020