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Our 16 FAVORITE Tours in Banff (and Why We Love Them!)

Our 16 FAVORITE Tours in Banff (and Why We Love Them!)

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Looking for a more immersive experience on your upcoming trip to Banff? How about a way to learn about the area and see the best sights in a convenient day trip?

I don’t blame you! While I love exploring independently, there is something so helpful about guided tours. We actually did a ton of tours while living in the Banff area, which helped us find hidden gems and taught us all the tips and tricks local guides know. 

So we decided to compile our experiences and pick out our favorite tours in Banff, all of which were well worth our time and money. So, keep reading to find out which tours we loved and why!

Note: Lots of the tours and activities in Banff are seasonal, so their availability depends on the time of year that you visit. For that reason, we’ve grouped them into seasons so you can easily plan your trip and know what to expect when you visit.

Our Top Pick

Bailey on the edge of Lake Louise
Lake Louise is just stunning!
A grizzly Bear near Canmore, alberta
A grizzly bear near Canmore!

Our favorite tour in Banff is this full-day glacier tour! Why? Well, without a tour, you are not allowed to walk on the glacier at all, so this is one of those situations where a tour is really necessary. On this tour, we explored the Icefields Parkway and reached Athabasca Glacier, where we actually went onto the glacier, and then visited the skywalk.

This was an experience we won’t soon forget, making the price tag of $338 CAD so worth it! You can check available dates and book the tour online here.

All Year Round Tours

The tours below are not seasonal, so no matter when you’re visiting Banff, these first few tours are an excellent place to start!

1. Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway tour

Bow Lake from the Bow Lake Lookout on the Icefields Parkway
Bow Lake!
Peyto Lake Viewpoint in Banff National Park on the Icefields Parkway, Canada
The view from the Peyto Lake Lookout!

This full-day tour took us from Banff to Lake Louise and some of the best attractions on the Icefields Parkway. We didn’t have a rental car at the time, so this tour was a super convenient way to visit all of these iconic stops by ourselves!

Lake Louise is a stunning turquoise lake in the middle of a picturesque mountain valley. It’s one of the most popular areas to visit for a reason! The Icefields Parkway is widely regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world (a claim that we can emphatically back up).

We also visited Moraine Lake (which you can only access via tour these days), Peyto Lake, and Bow Lakes, as well as a viewpoint above the Crowfoot Glacier.

As a bonus, there is so much wildlife around Banff along the way such as elk, deer, mountain goats, and even some bears! We saw a few, but hopefully, you can spot even more.

We thought this tour was worthwhile as many of these places can be tricky to reach on your own, and ticking them all off independently in a single day would require a lot of planning and organization. A tour takes all of the stress out of the equation, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

What really stood out to us about this tour is that it’s operated by a family-run company, all of whom have spent their lives exploring the Rockies and sharing it with visitors. The guides are really friendly and knowledgeable, and their passion for the region is contagious!

The tour includes pickup and drop-off from Banff and Canmore, whether you’re staying at a campground, a hotel, or an Airbnb. However, if you’re staying in Canmore you will need to organize a Parks Pass to enter Banff National Park because it’s actually outside the park boundaries. You can read all the details and purchase a Parks Pass here!

There’s a maximum group size of 15, which is perfect. We don’t enjoy overcrowded tours (who does though), but this one feels nice and personal. It’s great for anyone who wants to experience the stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies, although there’s a minimum age of 7 so keep that in mind if you’re traveling with kids.

The tour costs $195 CAD per person and lasts for the whole day. It truly allowed us to experience the area’s natural beauty, and it feels a million miles away from a super commercialized tourist experience.

Overall, we think this tour is one of the very best tours in the area (hence why we listed it first!) and definitely a must-do if you’re in Banff. Because of this, it can sell out, especially in peak travel times!

Related Read: If you happen to have your own vehicle, explore the Icefields Parkway on your own! Check out our guide to the 15 best stops on the parkway before you go.

2. Lake Louise and Yoho National Park tour (including Emerald Lake!)

People canoe on Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake is stunning!

In addition to the stunningly beautiful Lake Louise, this full-day tour visits Yoho National Park and Emerald Lake! This area holds some of our favorite attractions in the Rockies and hits areas that were on my bucket list (until I took that tour, that is!).

Emerald Lake is famed for its brilliant green hue, which is at its most vibrant during the summer months. That’s when the glacier melt deposits a fine, ground rock into the lake which causes the water to reflect the bright green hue of the surrounding vegetation.

The tour runs all year round and might be even more stunning in the winter, but the itinerary does vary according to season. For example, the tour goes to Moraine Lake between June and October, but to Vermillion Lakes for the rest of the year. It also includes 20 minutes of snowshoeing in the winter!

We loved visiting Yoho National Park because it’s way less crowded than Banff National Park, as fewer tourists tend to visit. Although, I’m not sure why – it’s just as beautiful! This tour took us off the beaten path and let us explore some of the quieter areas to enjoy the views in peace, which we always really appreciate.

We think that this tour is a great option for nature lovers and anyone interested in seeing a lesser-known (but still gorgeous) part of the Canadian Rockies.

The tour departs from a designated meeting point, rather than offering hotel pickup, and there’s a maximum group size of 50 travelers. So while it’s a bigger group, we didn’t feel like it was overwhelmingly big – Yoho National Park is great to spread out in! It includes your national park fees and transportation for $160 CAD.

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.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • 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.

3. Sunset and stars

Stargazing in Banff National Park, Canada
This is an Astro lover’s dream!

Stargazing in Banff National Park is a really magical experience. There’s very little light pollution which makes the stars appear bright and clear in the night sky, so Banff is the perfect place to admire the constellations. I had so much fun practicing astrophotography on this sunsets and stars tour!

We met up with this evening tour in the parking lot at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Our wonderful guide, Jacob, led us on a 5 km (3 mile) hike, where we caught a memorable sunset over the mountains.

Hiking at this time of day can be risky in Banff National Park, especially because of bears, but the guides are experts and made us feel safe the entire way. They carry bear spray and other equipment to keep you safe, and you’ll have headlamps, lanterns, and ice cleats to help you navigate the terrain by night.

It’s much safer to take a tour when exploring at sunset and after dark, so we highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to experience the beauty of Banff by night. We love to hike independently, but this is definitely one of those times when it’s worth joining a group.

Seeing the stars from the mountains in Banff truly was an awe-inspiring experience. Looking up at the vast night sky was one of those times that made me remember how huge the universe is and how small I am in comparison. You can even see the Milky Way if it’s a particularly clear night, which is really beautiful and humbling.

Another thing that we really loved about this tour was that the guides were so knowledgeable and regaled us with lots of stories about the area, which made the evening even more special.

This tour starts at $74 CAD per person and there’s a minimum age of 8. There won’t be more than 10 people in your group, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and it feels like a really private experience. We highly recommend booking this tour if you enjoy hiking and adventure, as it’s a rare opportunity to see Banff’s night sky in all its glory while exploring the mountains after dark.

4. Fairmont Banff food tour

Food at Fairmont Banff Springs Banff
Photo credit: Fairmont Banff Springs

There’s never a bad time of year for a food tour – trust me we’ve been on dozens! However, this Fairmont Banff Springs food tour was one of the best. It’s basically a castle, so it made for a memorable (and tasty) food tour!

We’d been to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel before, but never this in-depth. We ate our way through the mountain resort, visiting four of its restaurants to sample top-quality, gourmet dishes, all of which are made with locally sourced ingredients. Not only did we learn about the food and stories behind the dishes we were tasting, but also the history of this iconic property itself!

There are also special drink pairings included in the price of the tour, but these are all non-alcoholic due to Alberta licensing laws. We opted to buy an alcoholic beverage to accompany your tastings, but you’ll feel like royalty regardless.

The food was honestly amazing and this tour was a super indulgent experience. It also means that we could experience a day at this gorgeous property even though we don’t quite have room in the budget to stay here. This kind of hotel is more than just a bed for the night – it’s a whole destination in itself, so this tour really is a great way to experience the luxury of one of Banff’s best hotels without breaking the bank.

The tour costs $206 CAD and is only for participants aged 14 or over since it’s a more sophisticated experience and is not necessarily designed for families. There’s a maximum group size of 15, so it feels intimate and was a fun way to get to know fellow travelers. We liked that the group was so small as we didn’t feel like we were being herded around the hotel like sheep!

Basically, this tour is perfect for anyone who wants to feel like royalty for a day and stuff themselves full of delicious food – which is virtually everyone, right?

Our Favorite Summer Tours

5. Athabasca Glacier Tour

Daniel hangs out the door of an Ice Explorer all-terrain vehicle on the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield, Canada
Be prepared for the cold! Even on a summer’s day, the glacier is freezing – no pun intended!

Walking on the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had, not just in Banff but anywhere in the world! It’s truly a must-do while you’re here. Plus, you can do this during summer in Banff, so it’s a fun way to cool off!

We joined this super popular glacier tour, which took us along the gorgeous Icefields Parkway. Once we got to the Columbia Icefield, we boarded the huge Ice Explorer vehicle, which has been modified to safely drive on the glacier – so up we went! We drove right to the top of the Athabasca Glacier where we got out to gawk at its size, walk on the ancient ice, and even drink fresh water from its streams!

It’s honestly a surreal experience that you can only have in very few parts of the world, so we highly recommend taking advantage of your proximity to the glacier while you’re in Banff! This tour was easily one of our favorite experiences in the Canadian Rockies and ranks high on our list of the best tours to see the Icefields Parkway.

After exploring the glacier, we also get to walk along the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, which is a walkway that gives you incredible views of the Columbia Icefield and its many glaciers. The walkway itself is suspended 280 meters (918 feet) above the Sunwapta Valley and the views are just incredible (and a little nerve-wracking to stand on the platform!).

We also got a mountain picnic lunch and the tour stopped at the Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake so we could take in the views there, too.

The pickup and drop-off point for this tour is the Mount Royal Hotel in downtown Banff, and it’s a small group experience with a maximum of 24 participants, so it doesn’t feel overcrowded. It costs $338 CAD per person, so while it isn’t cheap, we really do think it’s worth paying a bit extra to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I recommend booking this tour in advance. We didn’t the first time we went and ended up waiting for hours before we could get on a tour. Don’t make the same mistake we did! Before you take off to walk on the icefield, check out our guide on 15 things to know before visiting the Athabasca glacier so you’re well prepared!

Related Read: For more options to get here, check out our complete guide on getting to the Columbia Icefield from Banff!

6. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake tour

Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
The stunning Moraine Lake!
A lady sits on a rock at Lake Louise looking out over the water at the glacier and mountains
The water really is that blue at Lake Louise!

Lake Louise is one of our favorite lakes in all of Canada, and we actually got engaged at Moraine Lake so obviously, it’s a very special place for us. This Banff tour takes you to both lakes with a small group of 24 travelers (or less) and offers half a day of stunning views, wildlife sightings, and some delicious maple cookies!

We loved experiencing a variety on this tour. We saw forests and unique flora, rivers, meadows, and lakes, so it was a great way to see a little bit of everything – including the two most iconic lakes in Banff. It’s not an overly long tour so it isn’t exhausting by the end, but I felt like we had the perfect amount of time at each lake.

Visiting these lakes on an organized tour from Banff is handy as parking is difficult at Lake Louise and no longer allowed at Moraine Lake. A tour is one of the easiest ways to get to Moraine Lake! Trust me when I tell you, this is the best option if you’re looking for a stress-free visit to the lakes (I know from personal experience!).

There’s no hotel pickup and drop-off at this tour, but it leaves from the parking lot behind the Mount Royal Hotel in the middle of Banff, which is still convenient – plus, we didn’t waste time collecting people from other hotels.

This tour costs $113 CAD per person and has multiple departure times throughout the day. I recommend going on the earliest tour possible, or else you’ll run into a lot of people later in the day. It operates from June to mid-October, as Moraine Lake is closed during the winter due to avalanche risk.

Overall, we loved our experience on this tour and think it’s perfect for anyone who wants to experience two of Banff’s most iconic lakes. I especially recommend it if this is your first visit, as it takes the hassle out of visiting and we learned so much from our guide.

Related Read: If you do want to visit either of these lakes on your own, read up on our parking guide for Lake Louise and parking alternatives at Moraine Lake first!

7. Whitewater rafting tour

Whiste water rafting in Canmore, Alberta
Hard to wipe the smile off your face after that adventure!

We are HUGE fans of whitewater adventure and we had the best time on this rafting tour in Banff!

The Kananaskis River is one of the most beautiful rivers in Canada, and this tour took us on Class 1-3 rapids. It was a great way to soak up the gorgeous scenery while simultaneously enjoying an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

We had a small group of 9 (the tour’s max) and also our experienced guide, who not only made us feel safe but was also cracking jokes the whole time! It’s definitely a really exciting activity, but it’s also not very dangerous and participants over the age of 5 are welcome, so you could even take part as a family.

We started in the most challenging part of the river, so we got to experience the best part of the tour right away, and then the difficulty gradually decreased as we moved downstream. At the end, there’s even a chance to go swimming in the calmest part of the river although be warned, the water is very cold!

One of the best things about this tour – besides the awesome adrenaline rush you get – is how enthusiastic the guides are and how much they know about the area. So it’s not just an exciting adventure, but you’ll also have a chance to learn more about the Kananaskis River and the surrounding natural landscape.

The tour provided all of the necessary equipment and the guide (no BYOR – bring your own raft), as well as photos of the experience! We loved laughing at the pictures at the end, it made for a great souvenir for our trip. This tour is $140 CAD for a 3-hour experience, which leaves time for other epic (or relaxing) activities in the day!

8. 1-Hour horseback riding tour

Horse riding in banff National Park, Canada
If you don’t want to walk, let the horses do the work for you! Photo Credit – Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Paul Zizka Photography

We love hiking, but sometimes it’s nice to change up the pace! Horseback riding is a great alternative, as you still get to be out in the open air and enjoy the stunning views and landscapes, but you can do it in comfort on the back of a horse while still getting a bit of an adrenaline fix.

This one-hour Spray River ride is perfect for beginners like us, as we could still have a fun experience without committing to a half or full-day tour. We traveled in a small group with a maximum of 12 participants, and the guides were super patient and made us all feel very safe.

We wove through forest landscapes to the beautiful Bow Falls and had incredible views for nearly the entire ride. The most exciting part was leading our horses across the Spray River – I am shocked at how strong they are! All the while, our guides pointed out important mountain peaks and taught us about the history of the landscape, so it was a unique experience!

Kids over the age of 8 are welcome on this tour, but they’ll need to ride their own horse rather than share with an adult. There’s also a maximum weight limit of 230 lbs (104 kg), and participants under the age of 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

It’s a great way to get up close and personal with nature without having to do too much strenuous exercise, and the tour company has been around since the 1960s, so they’ll give you a real insight into cowboy culture in the Rockies. This tour runs from May to early October and can be booked for $107 CAD.

9. Canoe of the Bow tour

The Banff Canoe Club tour in Banff
Photo credit: The Banff Canoe Club

The Bow River is a beautiful turquoise river that runs through Alberta, carving its way past the stunning Rocky Mountains. We absolutely love canoeing, so this 1.5-hour guided tour is an awesome way to enjoy a sightseeing adventure on the water.

This tour was a unique way to get pretty deep in the park without having to go on an hours-long hike. Don’t get me wrong, we love hiking in Banff, but sometimes it’s just nice to take an easier option, right?

The trails and viewpoints along the Bow River can also get very busy during the summer months, so we found that canoeing was an amazing way to beat the crowds and spend a tranquil couple of hours exploring. Plus, the guide is responsible for the steering so there’s we didn’t need to worry about crashing into the river banks or getting tangled up in the foliage – hooray!

Canoeing is one of our favorite ways to explore a new place, and this tour is perfect for adventurous souls who want to see the beautiful Bow River and all of its glorious wildlife from a different perspective.

The tour starts and ends at the Banff Canoe Club, and the experience takes around 1.5 hours in total, with several departures throughout the day. It costs $76 CAD per person and there’s a maximum of 24 travelers, so you cultivate a real sense of teamwork as you get going along the river!

10. Hop-on hop-off bus tour

view of a bridge and waterfall at Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is one of the best stops!

We love a good hop-on hop-off bus tour because it lets us explore a destination at our own pace, without having to worry about arranging transport – you truly get the best of both worlds!

The Banff hop-on hop-off bus tour goes between Banff, Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Gondola, Moraine Lake, Samson Mall, and Johnston Canyon, so you can tailor your itinerary to suit your own interests. So say you’ve already been to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the tour we mentioned earlier, you can skip those stops and spend more time where you want to.

Another thing we really enjoy about hop-on hop-off bus tours in Banff is that there’s always some pretty entertaining commentary along the way, so we always glean some new facts about the area and understand more about what we’re seeing. Plus, the bus for this tour is a classic yellow school bus, which we think is such a fun throwback!

When we were living in Canmore, we would always recommend hop-on hop-off bus tours to our friends and family because it gives such a great overview of the area.

A single-day ticket is $85 CAD per person. There are 48 seats on each bus, so you can travel solo, with friends, or as a family – it’s suitable for pretty much everyone. Plus, it’s a fantastic alternative to parking at some of the busy Banff attractions, so it saves quite a headache!

11. Grizzly bears, Yoho, and Golden tour

A grizzly bear in Canada
Such a cool thing to see!

Have you ever wanted to spot a grizzly bear? Me too – but from a safe distance of course! This grizzly bear tour actually makes seeing this iconic animal a reality by visiting the quaint town of Golden, BC. Here, you’ll find a grizzly bear sanctuary where you can meet Boo, an orphaned bear who was rescued by the sanctuary as a baby.

Even though Boo is a giant grizzly, he is as cute as he sounds!

There’s a lot more to this experience though. When we went we stopped at the highest restaurant in Canada, Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Of course, we had some poutine (a Canadian classic!) but the views were the truly memorable part. We rate the views from here as some of the best we’ve ever seen in Canada!

Afterward, we visited the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint, a popular spot where two railway tunnels circle around each other. We finished it off by visiting Yoho National Park, where we got to see the magnificent Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls – it was pretty darn majestic.

The tour lasts about 10 hours in total, so it’s a long day, but it’s a great way to experience the highlights of Golden and Yoho National Park. We think it’s perfect for anyone who wants to see the beauty and amazing wildlife of the Canadian Rockies but without a lot of hiking or strenuous activity.

It costs $312 CAD in total, which includes your gondola ride up to Kicking Horse mountain top, lunch at Eagle’s Eye, admission and a chairlift ride to the Bear Refuge, and return transport from the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff. So although it’s one of the more expensive tours on this list, there’s a lot included in the price. There’s also a maximum of 24 travelers, so it’s not a super crowded and overwhelming experience.

12. Lake Minnewanka cruise

The views of the mountains on a Lake Minnewanka Cruise near Banff
The views of the mountains on a Lake Minnewanka Cruise near Banff

Lake Minnewanka is the biggest lake in Banff National Park and we had so much fun cruising across it like a VIP on this hour long tour. Not only did we get incredible views of the Rocky Mountains, but we also got to see eagles and coyotes while learning about its important Indigenous history.

Dan and I have taken this cruise (read our review here!) and the incredible views and time on the water were well worth it. I mean, really, does anything say “vacation” more than this?

The cruise costs $69 CAD and we think that it’s by far the best way to explore Lake Minnewanka. It lasts for around an hour and is only 20 minutes from Banff.

It’s a very family-friendly excursion and a must for nature lovers, but it’s suitable for pretty much anyone who wants to spend an hour or so on a gorgeous boat ride!

Our Favorite Winter Tours

13. Horse-drawn sleigh ride

people riding on a horse drawn sleigh in Banff when it's snowing
What a fun activity in the snow!

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling … It really is lovely weather for a sleigh ride together during winter in Banff.

Especially if you’re visiting Banff during the holidays, you’ll see the whole town transform into a festive winter wonderland, and what better way to take it all in than a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride?

We loved snuggling under a wooly blanket and cozying up in the sleigh as we clip-clopped our way through the snow, taking in the majestic views of the Canadian Rockies as you go. It’s a special experience for anyone, but it’s especially romantic for couples or truly magic for families with kids! Honestly, if you’re in Banff around Christmas time, then we can’t recommend a sleigh ride enough.

This tour company takes exceptionally good care of their horses, which is yet another reason why we love this tour so much. Plus, our driver was so friendly, which made us feel even more like we were right in the middle of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

The tour can be easily booked online for $47 CAD for adults or $37 CAD for kids, and honestly, we thought it was worth every penny.

Related Read: For more snow-filled activities, check out our guide to the best things to do in Banff in the winter!

14. Johnston Canyon icewalk

Johnston Canyon in the winter
Johnston Canyon is such a neat place to explore in the winter.

Enter a whole new (icy) world on a Johnston Canyon Icewalk tour. Honestly, hiking past frozen waterfalls, ice pillars, and the “Cathedral of Ice” is a totally surreal experience that will make you super glad you came to Banff during the winter. It was so beautiful that we got chills – and no, it wasn’t just because it was so cold outside!

What’s awesome about this tour is that you don’t just get to take in the incredible beauty of the icewalk, you also get to learn about the history and geology of the area, too, so you get a lot of context to what you’re seeing. Our guide was kind enough to bring hot chocolate and cookies afterward – and trust us, you’ll definitely appreciate these after the 4-hour walk!

The tour costs $101 CAD per person and is available from mid-November through March. This includes all of the equipment you’ll need, like ice cleats and hiking poles, plus round-trip transportation from the Mount Royal Hotel (which, as you’ve probably noticed by now, is a common pickup spot for a lot of the tours in Banff!).

You do need a moderate level of fitness to take part in this tour, but if you’re a keen hiker or outdoor explorer then you really can’t miss booking this insane experience. We found it absolutely magical, and it’s honestly one of our favorite memories from Banff.

15. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing in Banff National Park
So cool!

Snowshoeing is always a great way to explore the wilderness in the wintertime, and Banff National Park is no exception. There’s so much beauty to take in here, and this half-day tour lets you go snowshoeing on top of the world!

The $145 CAD price tag includes snowshoes and poles, plus a gondola ride in Banff up to the snow-covered hills. When we took this tour, we snowshoed across the hills for around 3.5 hours while enjoying postcard-perfect views of the Rocky Mountains, before finishing up with some hot chocolate and homemade cookies.

Snowshoeing is such a quintessentially Canadian winter activity. It’s pretty much the only way to enjoy hiking in the winter, and I always say that you haven’t experienced a true Canadian winter until you’ve done it! We love strapping on a pair of snowshoes and hitting the trails because there’s something so fresh and rewarding about a winter hike.

There’s a maximum of 11 travelers per group, which we think is perfect because it means you can get to know your guide and the other travelers, it allows our guides to answer any questions that you might have, and there’s no need to worry about getting left behind!

We always get a lot more out of small group tours than large ones, which is another reason why we think this tour is the creme-de-la-creme of snowshoeing experiences!

16. Grotto Canyon Icewalk

Hiking through a the frozen Grotto Canyon in winter
Seeing Grotto Canyon in the winter is magical!

Anyone interested in learning about the Indigenous history of Banff should take part in the Grotto Canyon Icewalk. This will take you to explore a spectacular canyon that has been around for thousands of years – I am always blown away when I go!

I highly recommend booking a tour, even if you’ve done icewalks before. It is simply safer! Even as a Canadian myself, I book tours for icewalks.

Our guide led us through this breathtaking canyon and taught us all about the geological and human history of the area – there are some astounding things to learn! We explored natural ice sculptures, stood inside a frozen waterfall, and learned about the significance of this place to the local Indigenous people.

The tour includes round-trip transportation from the Mount Royal Hotel, plus all of the necessary gear like ice cleats and hiking poles. One of the best things about this tour for us was our guide, who really brought the stories to life and made us feel like we were really connected to this place.

The tour costs $98 CAD per person and you will need a decent fitness level to enjoy this tour properly. We covered 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) and walked for about 2.5 hours in total, so it’s not exactly a marathon but you’ll definitely have earned your complimentary hot chocolate at the end, put it that way!

Where to Stay in Banff, Canada

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

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:

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

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! Rooms range from $550 CAD to over $1,000 CAD (or more) during peak summer for a night.

You can check prices and room availability for the Fairmont online here.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

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 stay for a night for about $120 CAD in the low season and around $500 CAD during summer.

You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.

Banff Inn – $$

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. Rooms range from $143 CAD to about $440 CAD.

You should book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.

Samesun Banff 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. Dorm rooms start around $40 CAD and can get to $120 CAD.

Dorms can be booked on either or Hostelworld.

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.

I still suggest booking a place ASAP! Using 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 $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 play in the snow at the top oif the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, this guide to all the best tours in Banff has helped you pick out a few tours for your trip! No matter what season you’re visiting, there’s a tour that makes a fantastic addition to any Banff itinerary. This list compiles all the ones that stood out for us. Leave us a comment below on which tour was your favorite!

If you’re up for more exploring, take a look at our other blogs about traveling in Canada. We have tons of activities, destination guides, dining recommendations, road trip ideas, and more. We’re like your personal guides to planning an amazing trip in Canada!

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22 Ideas to Enjoy Banff at Night

ULTIMATE Guide to Enjoying Banff in the Fall