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The BEST Place to Buy Banff Gondola Tickets

The BEST Place to Buy Banff Gondola Tickets

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If you are looking for some of the best views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, you are going to want to take a trip up the Banff Gondola. Not only is riding the gondola a fun family-friendly activity, but you will be rewarded with stunning views of six different mountain ranges and the incredible Bow Valley.  

We’ve done the Banff Gondola more times than I can count, visiting in just about every season of the year because it’s open year-round. It’s even spectacular during winter in Banff. Taking a gondola ride is a staple for us when friends come to visit!

Before you go, we have some tips about the best way to purchase your Banff Gondola tickets, so that you can save time when you arrive and simply enjoy your experience! Let’s get into it!

About the Banff Gondola

Cable cars travel up the Banff Gondola
Up we go on the Banff Gondola!
Scenic view of Banff National Park as seen from the Banff Gondola
Bring your camera!

Transporting visitors high above Banff to the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Banff Gondola is one of the best ways to experience some truly breathtaking views. While there are actually four gondolas in the Banff area, this is the main one and the most popular. Personally, it’s our top choice and you can read our full Banff Gondola review right here.

While hiking up the mountain can be incredibly rewarding, there’s nothing quite like sitting back and taking in the scenery as you travel up high in a gondola. At 1,560 meters (5,120 feet) long, the gondola ride lasts around eight minutes each way.

There’s space for 4 riders in each of the 40 gondola cabins – as well as any little ones who can sit on laps!

When you reach the top of Sulphur Mountain, there’s a whole world of restaurants, cafés, and even a multisensory theater waiting for you. The 4-story complex has everything you could want to relax as you take in the amazing scenery.

Related Read: Traveling to Banff during the ski season? Here are our top places to stay in Banff for skiing.

How much does the Banff Gondola cost?

The top support of the Banff Gondola in Banff National Park, Canada
Those in a wheelchair can also enjoy the Banff Gondola!

Tickets for the Banff Gondola can vary depending on which day you choose to visit, how far in advance you book, demand, and season. Here is a simple breakdown of the cost.

Adult (16+) tickets cost between $59-$63 CAD

Tickets for 6-15-year-olds cost between $37-$40 CAD

Kids under 6 years old can ride for free, so there’s no need to buy a ticket for them.

To get the cheaper tickets, we recommend going on a weekday rather than a weekend, avoiding going on holidays, and booking further in advance. You may notice when browsing the official website that tickets seem slightly cheaper than on Viator, which is our preferred way of booking tickets. However, the official website actually doesn’t include tax in the total until you proceed to book – so it ends up being the same price and you can have the convenience of securing them ahead of time!

The Banff Gondola is weather-dependent, so if you purchase tickets ahead of time and it’s canceled due to conditions, you will receive a full refund.

Related Read: Don’t let bad weather get you down. There are still plenty of things to do in Banff when it rains!

Where to buy Banff Gondola tickets

fours cars some up the cable of the Banff Gondola with mountain views
The Banff Gondola is in the most beautiful of locations!
Sanson Peak Weather station on Sulphur Mountain at the top of the Banff Gondola
Sanson Peak Weather Station on Sulphur Mountain at the top of the Banff Gondola.

While you can buy tickets to the Banff Gondola in person, this is one of the top tourist destinations in the Rockies. There is usually quite a long line to simply purchase tickets, and tickets often get sold out in peak season. After waiting in the ridiculously long line once, we said never again and just booked our tickets online ahead of time – it saves so much time (and frustration!).

We always prefer booking tickets with Viator, especially when visiting popular places like this. Booking your Banff Gondola tickets online here includes taxes and fees, whereas booking through their website does not.

As an added bonus, booking your tickets this way lets you skip the lines. You’ll be thankful for this later!

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.

How long is the Banff Gondola Ride?

the bottom of the banff gonda
The Banff Gondola is quite the operation. Photo Credit: bornin54 on Deposit Photos

A trip up the Banff Gondola is about eight minutes each way, just enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun the whole ride up. The scenery changes dramatically throughout the seasons, more than enough reason to make a return trip (or two!) especially to see the trees change during the Fall season in Banff.

Moving at around 4 meters (13 feet) per second, the cable car ride is super smooth, transporting around 650 passengers each way every hour.

Related Read: If you’re itching to see as much nature as possible, here are some fantastic wildlife tours in Banff National Park.

What are the best things to do at the top of the Banff Gondola?

Bailey walks down the boardwalk at the top of the Banff Gondola at th top of Sulphur Mountain
Walking the boardwalk!

There’s so much to see and do at the top of Banff Gondola – take it from us that you’ll be spoiled for choice when you get there! That’s what I love about this destination, it’s full of fun activities, especially when compared to the Lake Louise Gondola. It’s so easy to spend a few hours taking in the sights and checking out the gondola complex.

Explore the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak and the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station

Take a step outside the complex, and you’ll find several trails that will lead you out and around the mountaintop. However, our favorite route is the walk to Sanson’s Peak, a popular boardwalk route that’s just around 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) long.

Along the way, feel free to stop, take in the views, and snap more than a few photos! While there are quite a few steps along the way, they are very shallow and easy to walk along. At the end of the boardwalk, you’ll find the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station (try saying that three times), as well as the Weather Observatory, which was built in 1903 to monitor the climate of the Rockies.

The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was built in 1956 and dismantled in 1981. It played a big part in Canada’s study of cosmic rays. You’ll still find lots of information here about all the important work that took place, which makes for a fascinating read!

Even if you’re not so interested in the science side of things, it’s still worth walking down the boardwalk for the views alone. We love visiting in the winter when the mountains are blanketed in undisturbed snow.

Go stargazing

If you’re blessed with clear skies on a night trip up the Banff Gondola, you’ll be blown away by the cosmic jamboree taking place up above. Being so high up with so little light pollution, it’s easy to spot stars, galaxies, as well as a shooting star or two!

The Banff Gondola Stargazing program runs at certain times throughout the year on Friday and Saturday nights. As part of this program, you can look through high-powered telescopes into the wonders of the universe. This is truly such a unique experience, when we went we asked the experienced astronomers so many questions and just scratched the surface of what we could see.

Grab a coffee with a view

With two amazing cafés where you can grab your favorite hot drink, you can sip away while walking down the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak, or simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

Before you head up the mountain in the Gondola, you’ll find a great Starbucks (which is actually the highest Starbucks in Canada). We highly recommend getting a coffee before heading up, it’ll also help keep you warm during the journey!

At the Gondola complex at the top of the mountain, Castle Mountain Coffee has you covered. Not only is it one of my favorite cafés in Banff, but it also serves delicious treats that will keep you full of energy as you explore.

Check out the famous red chairs

As you travel around the mountain, you’ll come across several red chairs dotted around at unique and interesting locations. Put in place by Parks Canada, these chairs are made out of 100% recycled plastic from Canadian landfills and are designed to encourage passersby to take a moment to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Ever since they were first put in place, these chairs have been loved by locals and tourists alike, so it would be rude not to get a photo or two of yourself snug and comfortable sitting in one!

Visit the Above Banff Interpretive Centre

If you love visiting museums or are simply interested in learning more about the history of Sulphur Mountain, then the Above Banff Interpretive Centre has you covered! This is a fun little adventure, especially for families, with lots of interactive exhibits to try your hand at.

Immerse yourself at the Above Banff Theater

Entrance to the Above Banff Theater is included with your ticket, and we recommend checking it out! Here you can see a short, immersive film that shows you Sulphur Mountain like you’ve never seen it before.

Is the Banff Gondola worth it?

Daniel and Bailey play in the snow at the top oif the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain
Even in spring, the snow hangs around!

Yes! We absolutely loved our time on the Banff Gondola, and we’re sure you’ll love it too.

Exploring the Rocky Mountains by gondola is an experience like no other, and we were pleasantly surprised by just how much there was to do atop Sulphur Mountain. Once again, you’ll have the best experience if you go on a clear day – the flexibility that Viator gives you in moving around your booking is essential.

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake!

Taking a ride up the Banff gondola is just one of many things to do in Banff. But with so much to choose from, it might feel overwhelming. So below, I’ve picked some of my other favorite activities in the area to help you out!

  • Visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake – If you want to see more stunning lakes in the area, check out these two! You can rent canoes, go hiking, and enjoy the goregous turquoise lakes at both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Be sure to get to Lake Louise early to find parking, and you’ll need to book a shuttle to Moraine Lake (as parking is no longer available here). But – they are totally worth a visit!
  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some pretty incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
  • Explore Banff town – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a Farmers Market every Wednesday in the summertime.

Where to Stay in Banff

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, in front of the Fairmont in Banff.

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 stay around Banff National Park, whether you want to be in nature or right in the action. There are also plenty of great hotels in Banff town to consider!

Below are some amazing hotels we recommend with options for all budgets:

Fairmont Banff Springs – Luxury Hotel

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!

Depending on the season, you can find rooms for as low as $450 CAD – although they cost more in the summertime. You can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – Mid-range Hotel

The Banff Rocky Mountain Resort is a mid-range hotel with a swimming pool, hot tub, and gym. Plus, all the rooms have either kitchenettes or full kitchens. It’s the perfect place for families since two and three-bedroom units are also on offer.

The location is peacefully located on Tunnel Mountain, yet only a 5-minute drive from Banff town. With prices starting at $129 CAD, this hotel is a great deal. You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.

Samesun Banff Hostel – Budget-backpacker Hostel

Samesun Banff Hostel is a great budget choice with dorm rooms. Perfect for those who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. The rooms are modern and clean, and breakfast is included. This is only a backpacker place though, as there are no private rooms available.

Prices start at $47 CAD, and if you’re on a tight budget in Banff, you’ll want to book this option ahead of time! So check availability and book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com now!

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 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 $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.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

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!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on the Banff Gondola
Thanks for reading!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the Banff Gondola and the best way to secure tickets. We highly recommend purchasing Banff Gondola tickets before you go to save you time and the hassle of waiting in line. Otherwise, you’ll have a fantastic time enjoying the views and all the fun activities at the top of Sulphur Mountain.

If you need help planning your trip, make sure to browse around our other Banff blogs. It’s an incredible part of Canada to explore!

How to Get from Jasper to Banff +21 Fun Road Trip Stops

ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Banff this Summer +Top Activites

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