Things to do in Banff

About Banff

Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Banff Gondola provide stunning natural scenery, while the historic Castle in the Rockies stands as a testament to Banff's past.
Visiting the Banff Gondola, swimming in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, and interactive learning at the Banff Park Museum are top family-friendly activities.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking trails, wildlife tours, and boating on the lakes to engage with Banff's wild, untamed landscapes.
On a snowy day, visitors can frequent museums like the Whyte Museum, indulge in spa treatments, or enjoy indoor climbing at local facilities.
Scenic tours, wildlife watching expeditions, and historical walks offer plenty of options to discover Banff's breathtaking sights and rich history.
The Banff Park Museum and the Whyte Museum are cultural staples, capturing the natural and human history of the Canadian Rockies.
Explore Banff's culture and history with indoor options such as a visit to local art galleries or enjoying a wine tasting tour.
Brief historical walks through Banff's townsite and short nature trails around landmarks like Bow Falls cater to those short on time.

Best Things to Do In Banff

Explore mountain majesty and lush landscapes with coveted Banff attractions that dazzle travelers globally.

Banff: Icefields Parkway

What is it?
A stunning stretch of highway renowned as one of the world's most scenic drives.
Why you should go?
Icefields Parkway offers a journey through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. This meandering road showcases a breathtaking landscape filled with ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and emerald lakes. A drive or cycle along this route is often a highlight for sightseers due to its dramatic vistas. Exploratory stops such as the Columbia Icefield and Peyto Lake ensure this parkway is a must-do activity when visiting Banff, especially for nature and photography enthusiasts.

Banff: Norquay Via Ferrata

What is it?
An exhilarating mountain climbing experience with secured routes and professional guides.
Why you should go?
The Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay offers adventure-seekers the thrill of mountain climbing without the need for advanced skills. Couples or families with older children can enjoy the mountains from new heights by traversing steel cables, suspended bridges, and cliffside pathways. With varying levels of difficulty and the assurance of safety gear and guides, this experience is both empowering and awe-inspiring, offering one of the most unique perspectives of Banff's majesty.

Banff: Banff Pedestrian Bridge

What is it?
A picturesque footbridge over the Bow River offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Why you should go?
Connecting the tranquil Bow River Trail with central Banff, the pedestrian bridge is perfect for a leisurely walk or romantic stroll during any season. Visitors can pause to enjoy the view, watch canoeists below, or capture perfect pictures with Cascade Mountain in the background. It's an ideal spot to take a moment and immerse oneself in the natural beauty and serenity that defines Banff.

Banff: Sunshine Meadows

What is it?
One of Banff's most highly acclaimed hiking areas, known for its lush meadows and stunning views.
Why you should go?
Accessible by a scenic gondola ride, Sunshine Meadows offers some of the most exquisite alpine hiking in the Rockies. During summer, it blooms with a tapestry of wildflowers, while crystal-clear alpine lakes dot the landscape. Traversing this terrain reveals a series of lookouts, each presenting a new and spectacular angle of the iconic peaks. The area is also known for its relative ease of hiking, welcoming those of varying abilities to enjoy its splendor.

Banff: The Hoodoos

What is it?
A collection of striking spire-shaped rock formations that are a geological wonder in Banff.
Why you should go?
The Hoodoos Trail is an easy walk that leads to a viewing platform delivering incredible views of these peculiar formations. The trail provides informative displays on how hoodoos are created over centuries. Exploring this area is not just a lesson in geology, but a chance to witness the ongoing sculpting of Banff's landscape. It's a quick yet fascinating excursion, easily squeezed into any travel itinerary.

Banff: The Banff Centre

What is it?
A hub for arts, culture, and educational programming in the heart of Banff.
Why you should go?
The Banff Centre is a leader in the development and promotion of creative work in the arts, sciences, and environment, providing a collaborative space for artists and educators. Here, visitors can experience a variety of performances, exhibitions, and community events that reflect both the cultural dynamism and alpine inspiration of Banff. It offers a different pace to the adventure-led activities, allowing patrons a refined cultural immersion against the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

Banff: Minnewanka Loop

What is it?
A scenic drive offering panoramic views and various points of interest around Lake Minnewanka.
Why you should go?
For those seeking a picturesque road trip, the Minnewanka Loop is an essential experience with photo opportunities at every turn. Along the loop, one can find perfect spots for picnics, short hikes, and wildlife watching. A visit to the serene Lake Minnewanka itself presents options for boating and diving, unravelling layers of natural and historical significance beneath its surface. This loop encapsulates the immense beauty and variety of things to do in Banff.

Banff: Banff Upper Hot Springs

What is it?
A natural hot spring pool set against a backdrop of the breathtaking Canadian Rockies.
Why you should go?
For relaxation and rejuvenation amidst nature's grandeur, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are unparalleled. As one of the last remaining hot spring pools in Canada, it promises a blend of wellness and wonder. Visitors can soak in the mineral-rich waters, relax with the therapeutic warmth, and gaze out over the mountains—an indulgent pause during a day of exploration or adventure, ideal for disconnecting and relishing the tranquil alpine surroundings.

Banff: Tunnel Mountain Trail

What is it?
An easily accessible and popular hiking trail, providing sweeping views over Banff and its valley.
Why you should go?
For those looking to stretch their legs and enjoy a moderate hike, Tunnel Mountain Trail rewards trekkers with a stunning panorama from its summit. The gentle ascent makes it suitable for most fitness levels, and the trail's proximity to the town offers a perfect outing without needing to venture too far. A sunrise or sunset hike adds a layer of dramatic beauty to the experience, making it an unmissable excursion for any visit to Banff.

Banff: Banff Avenue

What is it?
The primary thoroughfare in Banff, lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and vibrant street life.
Why you should go?
Bustling Banff Avenue is the lifeblood of Banff town, offering an array of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Framed by the impressive silhouettes of Cascade and Tunnel Mountains, the street is perfect for leisurely strolls, souvenir hunting, or savoring local and international cuisine. In winter, twinkling lights and snow-lined paths add magic to the atmosphere, while summer welcomes street performers and a lively patio scene. Banff Avenue is the essence of town life amidst the splendor of the Canadian Rockies.

TOP-5 tours in Banff for first time visitors

  • Dive into the "Banff Discovery Tour," introducing the key hotspots, from the majestic Bow Falls to the historic Banff Springs Hotel, for a comprehensive orientation.
  • "Banff Wildlife Safari" is an audio journey guiding travelers through natural habitats to potentially spot elk, bears, and other native wildlife.
  • The "Lake Louise Reflections" audio tour narrates the geological and human history surrounding the iconic, emerald-hued waters.
  • Embark on the "Banff Townsite Tour," which weaves through the charming streets, detailing the cultural fabric and alpine influences of the town.
  • Experience the "Banff Explorer's Circuit," encompassing the dynamic range of activities, from gondola rides to hot springs, perfect for adventure seekers.

Fun things to do in Banff with kids

Banff is a wonderland for kids, filled with exciting and educational outdoor experiences. The Banff Gondola stands out as a thrilling ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, where families can enjoy panoramic views and interactive exhibits at the summit. At the base, the Upper Hot Springs pool awaits for a splash of fun in naturally heated waters. For a more grounded adventure, the Banff Park Museum is an excellent spot where children can learn about the local wildlife and natural history of the Canadian Rockies through engaging exhibits. And for little adventurers eager for a treasure hunt, the Fenland Trail is a gentle loop through enchanting forests and along a river's edge, perfect for nature-spotting and maybe a whimsical fairy tale or two. These dynamic attractions offer activities that provide both fun and fond memories for families visiting Banff.

Things to do in Banff with family

Families venturing to Banff will find a wealth of activities that cater to all ages, providing a perfect blend of fun and discovery. Embarking on a family-friendly hike, such as the one to Johnston Canyon, offers an up-close view of cascading waterfalls and fascinating rock formations along a safe and well-maintained trail. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the Banff Lake Cruise, where an informative boat ride on the serene Lake Minnewanka provides educational commentary on the area’s rich history and chances for spotting local fauna. For a bit of relaxation, the shores of Bow Lake offer a tranquil setting for a picnic, with crystal-clear waters and picture-perfect views that are just a short drive from Banff townsite. Each of these family-friendly attractions combines the beauty of the Canadian Rockies with engaging experiences that are sure to delight and inspire visitors of all ages.

Free things to do in Banff

Banff's breathtaking beauty offers an array of complimentary pleasures for nature lovers and culture seekers alike. First, immerse in the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies by trekking along the plethora of trails at your disposal, such as the picturesque Fenland Trail, enveloped in the serenity of verdant woodlands and rich wildlife. Another cost-free gem is the iconic Bow Falls; moments here are graced with the sounds of rushing water and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, a perfect spot for memorable photo opportunities. For a dose of culture, step into the Banff Park Museum, which periodically offers free admission days allowing visitors to marvel at the natural history collections housed within this national historic site. These attractions showcase the diverse experiences available in Banff that require nothing more than the spirit of adventure and curiosity.

Cheap things to do in Banff

Banff is a treasure trove of affordable attractions that don't skimp on the experience. Engaging with nature is easy with a visit to Vermilion Lakes; a series of stunningly beautiful water bodies just a stone's throw from the town, ideal for watching wildlife or capturing the perfect reflection of Mount Rundle in the still waters. Another cost-effective activity is visiting the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where for a nominal entry fee, visitors can explore the birthplace of Canada's national parks and marvel at the natural thermal mineral springs inside the cave. For a small rental fee, bicycles are available to follow the legacy trail, which weaves through breathtaking vistas and points of interest along the way, including scenic picnic spots. These cost-conscious options allow visitors to relish the natural splendor and historical significance of Banff, ensuring a fulfilling adventure without a hefty price tag.

Things to do in Banff for couples

Couples seeking romance and adventure will find Banff to be an idyllic retreat. Wander hand-in-hand along the shores of Two Jack Lake, where the tranquil waters and mountain backdrop set the stage for a peaceful escape or an intimate picnic. For an unforgettable experience, a soak at Banff Upper Hot Springs under the stars offers both warmth and unparalleled views of the night sky; it's a mixture of relaxation and natural splendor that couples won't soon forget. End your day with a stroll through downtown Banff, where local eateries and charming boutiques create an inviting atmosphere for lovebirds to explore. The town's lively yet cozy ambiance makes it a perfect spot for couples to indulge in whimsy and delight.

Things to do in Banff at night

Evenings in Banff illuminate with activities that provide memorable experiences against the nocturnal mountainous backdrop. Engage in stargazing at the renowned Banff Gondola, where the sweeping vista from Sulphur Mountain at night offers a glittering sky unobstructed by city lights, perfect for astronomy enthusiasts or a romantic night out. The bustling streets of downtown Banff transform with live music and local cuisine; explore the vibrant energy of the town's bars and restaurants, which serve as cultural hotspots for visitors and locals alike. Lastly, embark on an evening wildlife tour—many animals are more active at dusk, providing a unique opportunity for observing Banff's natural inhabitants in their element. Banff after dark unveils a side of the town that's both enchanting and full of life, catering to those looking for both tranquility and excitement.