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There are so many reasons why Banff is one of the most incredible places to see in Alberta. With breathtaking scenery, world-class skiing, and plenty of activities to enjoy all year round, it’s no surprise that this charming mountain town is a top destination for travelers.
Banff is also situated right in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, which means that some of the most incredible outdoor adventures that Canada has to offer are nearby.
Lots of the best things to do in Banff can be done independently and don’t require a tour, but in our experience, there are also some activities that either need a tour or are made much easier and more enjoyable with one. One of the main ones is wildlife tours in Banff – it’s so helpful to have a guide who knows where to go and can point out animals for you to see!
We lived in Canmore, which is just a 20-minute drive from Banff, for a long time, so we spent a LOT of time exploring the area. We did a ton of Rocky Mountain tours in Banff, both by ourselves and with friends and family who came to visit. We had some incredible experiences and learned so much more about the area than we would have by ourselves, which is why we’ve decided to share our top picks with you.
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 that you can easily plan your trip and know what to expect when you visit.
- Our Top Picks for Tours in Banff
- The BEST Tours in Banff All Year Round
- The Best Tours in Banff in the Summer
- The Best Tours in Banff in the Winter
- Where to Stay in Banff, Canada
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car in Alberta
Our Top Picks for Tours in Banff
Best summer tour:
It may seem a bit of a head-scratcher – how can this full-day glacier tour be our top pick in the summer? Well, I’m glad you asked! Not only can you walk on a very real glacier no matter the time of the year, but this tour also has stellar reviews and you also have the chance to walk on the incredible Icefield Skywalk.
This really is an experience you’ll never forget, making the price tag of $322 CAD so worth it! You can check available dates and book the tour online here.
Best small-group tour:
I might be a bit biased, but I really have a soft spot for Banff’s iconic lakes – Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are just out of this world! This half-day tour takes the top spot for us in this category thanks to its carefully crafted itinerary that didn’t feel rushed at all. You can purchase tickets online for this tour for just $104 CAD per person.
Best wildlife tour:
Wildlife tours are a bit of a fine art, you never really know what animals you’ll see and when you’ll see them! Grizzly bears are also famously elusive, but this full-day tour guarantees an encounter with a rescued grizzly, and our tour guide was one of the friendliest we met in Banff.
The BEST Tours in Banff All Year Round
1. Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway tour
This full-day tour will take you to some of the most beautiful and far-flung places in the Canadian Rockies.
Of course, this includes Lake Louise, a stunning turquoise lake situated in the middle of a picturesque mountain valley, and the vast Icefields Parkway corridor. The Icefields Parkway is widely regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world (a claim that we can emphatically back up) and this tour will take you on an unforgettable journey through breathtaking mountain vistas.
You’ll also visit Moraine, Peyto Lake, and Bow Lakes and head to a viewpoint above the Crowfoot Glacier. You’re likely to spot plenty of the wildlife around Banff along the way such as elk, deer, mountain goats, and possibly even some bears!
We think this tour is really worth doing because a lot 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.
There’s a maximum group size of 15, which is perfect. We really don’t enjoy overcrowded tours, but this one feels really personal. It’s great for literally anyone who wants to experience the stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies, although there’s a minimum age of 9 so keep that in mind if you’re traveling with kids.
The tour costs $180 CAD per person and lasts for the whole day. It really allows you to experience the natural beauty that the area has to offer, and it feels a million miles away from a super commercialized tourist experience.
Overall, we think this tour is one of the BEST tours in Banff (hence why we listed it first!) and definitely a must-do if you’re in the area. Because of this, it can sell out, especially in peak travel times, so make sure you book online here once you know your travel dates!
Related Read: Check out our recommendations for where to stay along the Icefields Parkway so you can easily get to some of the most beautiful sights in the Rockies!
2. Lake Louise and Yoho National Park tour
In addition to the stunningly beautiful Lake Louise, this tour takes you to Yoho National Park to see some of the most spectacular natural sights in Canada. You’ll visit Emerald Lake, which is surrounded by the President Mountain Range and forested banks.
The 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.
Although the tour runs all year round, the itinerary does vary according to season. For example, the tour takes you to Moraine Lake between June and October, but to Vermillion Lakes for the rest of the year. You also get 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. This tour takes you off the beaten path and allows you to explore some of the quieter areas and enjoy the views in peace, which is something that 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.
You’ll be picked up from a communal meeting point rather than your hotel, and there’s a maximum group size of 50 travelers, and participants of all ages are welcome, so this is also a good choice for families. It costs $165 CAD for adults or $144 for children aged 6-15 and can be easily booked online.
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!
3. Sunset and stars
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 really is the perfect place to admire the constellations.
This evening tour meets in the parking lot at the Cave and Basin national historic site and takes you for a 5 km (3 mile) hike, during which you’ll watch a gorgeous mountain sunset and then watch the stars appear in the night sky.
Hiking at this time of day can be risky in Banff National Park, especially due to the risk of bears, but your guide will keep you safe. The guides 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.
When exploring Banff’s trails at sunset and after dark, it’s much safer to go with a tour like this one than by yourself, 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 is an awe-inspiring experience. Looking up at the vast night sky here is one of those times that you remember how huge the universe is and how small you are 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 costs $69 CAD per person and there’s a minimum age of 13. You won’t have more than 15 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 for your trip 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.
Related Read: Night owls will also love the stargazing program offered on the Banff Gondola!
4. Banff food tour – Eat the Castle
There’s never a bad time of year for a food tour, and this one will have you feeling like royalty. The whole thing takes place at the Fairmont Banff Springs which is honestly one of the most beautiful hotels we’ve ever seen!
The tour takes you around this palatial mountain resort as you quite literally eat your way through it, visiting four of its restaurants to sample top quality, gourmet dishes, all of which are made with locally sourced ingredients. You get to learn not only about the food and the stories behind the dishes you’re 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. However, you can always opt to buy an alcoholic beverage to accompany your tastings, but you’ll feel like royalty regardless.
The food is honestly amazing and this tour is a super indulgent experience. It also means that you get to experience a day at this gorgeous property even if you don’t have room in your 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 really designed for families. There’s a maximum group size of 15, so it feels really intimate and you’ll be able to get to know your 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? Grab your spot on this luxurious experience by booking online now!
Related Read: For more lowkey dining options, we love these cafes and coffee shops in Banff. It’s all about coffee with a view around here!
The Best Tours in Banff in the Summer
5. Athabasca Glacier Tour
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!
This glacier tour takes you along the gorgeous Icefields Parkway, where you’ll board a huge Ice Explorer vehicle and head right onto the Athabasca Glacier. You can not only walk on the glacier but also have the chance to 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, you’ll 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.
You’ll also get a mountain picnic lunch and the tour will also stop at the Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake so that you can take in the views there, too.
The pickup and drop-off point for this tour is the Mount Royal Hotel, and it’s a small group experience with a maximum of 24 participants, so it doesn’t feel overcrowded. It costs $322 CAD per adult or $164 for kids aged 6-12, 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.
This tour is designed for anyone who wants to experience the grandeur of Banff’s glaciers and majestic mountain views. If you love nature and outdoor adventures as much as we do, then you don’t want to miss booking a spot on this tour.
6. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake tour
Lake Louise is one of our favorite lakes in the whole 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 of them with a small group of 24 travelers (or less) and offers you half a day of stunning views, wildlife sightings, and some delicious maple cookies!
You’ll get to experience a variety of different 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 from Banff is super handy as parking is super difficult at Lake Louise and no longer allowed at Moraine Lake. So a tour is one of the easiest ways to get to Moraine Lake! This really does save you so much time and hassle by joining this tour. Plus, there’s a maximum group size of 24 so it never feels too crowded and you won’t have to compete with other people for the best views.
We also love the fact that the tour company is carbon-neutral and locally owned and operated, so you get a much deeper insight into the area and get to experience Banff National Park like a local rather than a regular tourist. The guides really do bring the tour to life with their stories and knowledge.
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 super convenient – plus, you don’t waste time collecting people from other hotels.
This tour costs $105 CAD for adults and $53 CAD for kids, and you can choose to leave at either 9 am or 1 pm, so you can tailor it to suit your schedule. It runs from April to November, although Moraine Lake tours only run from May to mid-October when the road is open, so try to go then if you can.
Overall, this is a great tour for anyone who wants to take in 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 really quite an easy tour. Make sure you book your spot online!
7. Whitewater rafting tour
The Kananaskis River is one of the most beautiful rivers in Canada, and this tour takes you on its Class 1-3 rapids. It’s a great way to soak up the gorgeous scenery while simultaneously enjoying an adrenaline-pumping adventure.
You’ll go down the river in a small group of no more than 7 people with an experienced guide who will make sure that you stay safe and have fun. It’s definitely a really exciting thing to do, 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.
You start off in the most challenging part of the river, so you get to experience the best part of the tour right away, and then the difficulty gradually decreases as you move 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 you don’t just get an exciting adventure, you’ll also have a chance to learn more about the Kananaskis River and the surrounding natural landscape.
As well as all of the necessary equipment and your guide, the price of the tour includes some free photos of your experience at the end. It’s really cool to see some in-action photos of your experience since you can’t bring your own camera along!
All in all, we had an absolute blast on this tour and would highly recommend booking this tour for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush in Banff!
8. 1-Hour horseback riding tour
If you’re not that into hiking but still want to explore the incredible beauty of Banff National Park, then a horseback riding tour in Banff is a perfect alternative. I mean, 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 ride is perfect for beginners because if you’ve never ridden a horse before, committing to a half- or full-day tour is probably a bit daunting. You’ll travel in a small group with a maximum of 12 participants, and the guides are super patient and will make you feel very safe.
The route takes you through forest landscapes and to see the beautiful Bow Falls, so you’re guaranteed some incredible views. You’ll also be able to lead your horse across Spray River and learn all about the history and wildlife of the area. It’s so much fun, and the horses are so gentle and well-trained that they really are a pleasure to ride.
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 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
This is such a unique and exciting way to experience Banff National Park. 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.
9. Canoe of the Bow tour
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 guided tour is an awesome way to enjoy a sightseeing adventure on the water.
The tour also lets you get pretty deep in the park without having to go on an hours-long hike (we do 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, your guide is responsible for the steering so there’s no need to worry about crashing into the river banks or getting tangled up in the foliage.
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 $67 CAD for adults, or $33 CAD for kids aged 6-12 and can be booked online. There’s a maximum of 24 travelers and you cultivate a real sense of teamwork as you get going along the river!
10. Hop-on hop-off bus tour
We love a good hop-on hop-off bus tour because it lets you explore a destination at your own pace, without having to worry about arranging your own 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 you can glean some cool facts about the area and understand more about what you’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 $80 CAD for adults or $65 CAD for children, and under 5s go for free. 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.
If you’re looking for more flexibility on your Banff adventures, definitely book a hop-on hop-off bus ticket online before you go.
11. Grizzly bears, Yoho, and Golden tour
If you’ve ever wanted to spot a grizzly bear, then this tour is a fantastic opportunity to see some of Canada’s most fearsome and fascinating creatures. You’ll visit the town of Golden, BC, and its grizzly bear sanctuary where you can meet Boo, an orphaned bear who was rescued by the sanctuary as a baby.
Plus, you’ll also get to dine at Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. This is Canada’s highest restaurant, where you can chow down on delicious dishes like smoked bison burgers, poutine, or a brisket-stuffed yorkshire pudding while you soak in amazing views over the Rocky Mountain Trench and the town of Golden. We never pass up a chance to enjoy a good meal atop a mountain, and dining at Eagle’s Eye really is something special! In fact, we definitely rate the views from here as some of the best we’ve ever seen in Canada.
The tour also takes you to the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint, a popular spot where you can observe two railway tunnels that circle around each other, plus Yoho National Park, where you’ll get to see the magnificent Emerald Lake, and Takakkaw Falls, which are 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 if you don’t have time to actually go and stay there. 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 $275 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, either.
12. Lake Minnewanka cruise
Lake Minnewanka is the biggest lake in Banff National Park and you can cruise across it like a VIP on this tour. Keep an eye out for wildlife like eagles and coyotes, soak up gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains, and listen to stories about the Indigenous people who used to inhabit the area.
Culture, great views, and time on the water – really, does anything say “vacation” more than this?
The cruise costs $67 CAD for adults or $50 CAD for kids, and we think that it’s by far the best way to explore Lake Minnewanka. It lasts for around an hour, and includes transport from Banff, which is 14 km (8.6 miles) away.
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! Book your ticket here today so you can enjoy some time on the water.
The Best Tours in Banff in the Winter
13. Horse-drawn sleigh ride
Just hear those sleigh bells jingling… It really is lovely weather for a sleigh ride together during winter in Banff.
You can snuggle under a wooly blanket as you cozy up in the sleigh and clip-clop your way through the snow, taking in the majestic views of the Canadian Rockies as you go. It’s a truly 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 here for $47 CAD for adults or $37 CAD for kids, and honestly, we thought it was worth every penny.
Related Read: For more great date ideas, check out our guide to planning a romantic honeymoon in Banff and Lake Louise!
14. Johnston Canyon icewalk
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. You also get to warm up with hot chocolate and maple cookies afterward – and trust us, you’ll definitely appreciate these after the 4-hour walk!
The tour costs $96 CAD for adults or $60 CAD for kids aged 8-12. 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.
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 tour lets you go snowshoeing on top of the world!
The $140 CAD price tag includes your snowshoes and poles, plus a gondola ride in Banff up to the snow-covered hills. You’ll then snowshoe 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, plus 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! Make sure you book this snowshoeing tour online before it sells out!
Related Read: Snowshowing is also one of the best things to do in the Kananaskis!
16. Grotto Canyon Icewalk
Anyone interested in learning about the Indigenous history of Banff should definitely take part in the Grotto Canyon Icewalk, which will take you to explore a spectacular canyon that has been around for thousands of years.
Your guide will lead you through this breathtaking area, teaching you all about the geological and human history of the area. You’ll get to explore natural ice sculptures, stand inside a frozen waterfall, and learn 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 $95 CAD for adults and $60 CAD for kids. There’s a minimum age of 8 and you will need a decent fitness level to enjoy this tour properly. You’ll cover 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) and be walking 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
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 – Budget-backpacker Hostel
A great budget hostel with dorm rooms. 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, this hotel 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
This 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: 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 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!
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!