How to Make the Most of Your Trip to Banff

Icon Share


Advisor - Sally Hadley
Curated By

Sally Hadley

  • Canada

  • Outdoor & Nature

  • Active Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Hiking

  • Mountains

  • Local Food

A picture of waterfalls flanked by rocks and a mountain in the background.
Curator’s statement

Banff National Park is a truly exceptional destination that offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. The park, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, boasts awe-inspiring mountain peaks, crystal-clear turquoise lakes and lush alpine meadows that create a picturesque and serene environment.

The Fora Difference

Book with Sally to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

[object Object]
Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

[object Object]
Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

[object Object]
Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Alberta, Canada

Unlock perks by contacting Sally to book your trip.

Things to do in Alberta, Canada

Blue water

For first time visitors, download the GuideAlong app. A great audio tour in your car that’s a perfect addition to your road trip along the scenic drive. The guide “Icefields Parkway” and “Lake, Louise, Moraine Lake and Yoho National Park” provides highlights of the best things to see or do, with commentary playing automatically along the routes.

A day exploring The Icefields Parkway

This drive from Banff to Jasper is an incredible scenic drive that will be the highlight of your trip to Banff. This is one of the most scenic drives in the world, taking you past glaciers, turquoise lakes and towering peaks. There are many must-do stops along the way, places to explore, best view, and iconic stops. Insider tip: Best to start early because it literally is an all-day event, so bring your hiking shoes, camera, extra clothing for layering, umbrella/raincoat, packed lunch, snacks and water.

A day exploring Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Yoho National Park

Some highlights include Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Spiral Train Tunnel, Takakkaw Falls, Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake (one of my favorite stops), Bow Valley Parkway and Johnston Canyon.

Lake Louise is an iconic, popular stop for tourists, and can be very busy. Insider tip: Parking is limited at Lake Louise so it’s best to arrive by 7:30 am for a parking spot, but be prepared to pay about $25 for parking that expires around 7:00pm.

Explore Lake Louise

Marvel at the breathtaking views and beauty of Lake Louise, with its stunning turquoise waters reflecting the surrounding mountains. Rent a canoe for a serene paddle (rental cost is around $90 for 1 hour) or hike around the lake. My suggestion is to hike up to the Lake Louise Tea House. It’s a gradual, scenic hike (4.4 mile round trip) to The Tea House where you will find a charming cabin tea house nestled amid the stunning surroundings and Lake Agnes. You can enjoy a well-deserved break, indulge in some freshly brewed tea and savor homemade treats.

Emeral Lake

Emerald Lake, is another stunning gem (not to be missed) within the Rockies, located in Yoho National Park. This beautiful lake is known for its vivid turquoise waters, which is created by glacial silt suspended in the water. It’s a great spot for photographs, leisurely walks, and even canoeing (rental cost is around $90 for 1 hour). Insider tip: Take the trail up to the Emerald Lake Lodge and sit down in the Lodge Lounge for a gourmet snack and refresher to bypass the tourists standing in line for a drink and snack down at Emerald Lake.

Hike Johnston Canyon

Follow the well-maintained trails to witness the beauty of Johnston Canyon's waterfalls and marvel at the natural rock formations along the way.

If you're an avid hiker, you'll be spoiled for choice with a multitude of trails catering to various skill levels. From easy strolls to challenging hikes, you can explore dense forests, discover hidden waterfalls and even trek up to panoramic viewpoints that offer breathtaking vistas.

Soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs

Relax in the warm mineral-rich waters of these hot springs while enjoying a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. A perfect place to soothe those feet and aching muscles after hiking. And also, grab a cold beer and snack from their shop on the upper level.

Explore the Town of Banff

Wander the charming streets of Banff town, explore shops, galleries and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants. Insider tip: parking is limited downtown, so take advantage of the town bus.

Day Trip

Take the Banff Gondola: Ride the gondola (best on a clear day) to the top of Sulphur Mountain for incredible panoramic views of the town of Banff and surrounding area.

Places to eat & drink in Alberta, Canada

Bowl of fries with toppings on wooden table


The Keg Steakhouse and Bar at Banff Caribou Lodge offers a breakfast buffet for about $24/person and an a la carte menu.


Pacini, located in the Banff Ptarmigan Inn, is a nice, casual Italian restaurant.

The Keg Steakhouse and Bar at Banff Caribou Lodge is a nice place for dinner offering a great range of food and drinks.

Shoku Izakaya, located downtown Banff offers delicious Japanese food and cocktails.

Indian Curry House offers delicious, authentic Indian food with friendly staff.

Three Bears Brewery & Restaurant offers a great craft beer menu, open roof and a casual atmosphere.

The Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar offers a nice menu but also great for appetizers and drinks.


Cows is a great spot to stop for a taste of one of the 34 unique flavors of premium ice cream in their handmade ice cream waffle cones.

Need to Know

Looking for more outdoor adventures? Check out Fora Advisor Carlie Lee's guide, Checking Banff off the Bucket List.

Advisor - Sally Hadley

Travel Advisor

Sally Hadley

Get in touch with Sally

Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.

You can normally expect a response from Sally within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Canada.