Banff, Canada: An Underrated Vacation Spot
I traveled to Canmore and Banff to attend a wedding over Labor Day weekend in 2019. I was shocked at how similar this place’s beauty is to the scenery in the Alps. I always reminisce about my trip of a lifetime to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and Banff really made me feel like I was back there visiting!
Wildlife I saw in Canmore:
- Rabbits were everywhere! They’re as common as squirrels.
Wildlife in Banff:
Below, I have included the itinerary from my adventure, as well as some tips. The itinerary was created based off of many months of research, and it was planned around us staying in Canmore each night.
Traveling on a Budget?
Rent an Air Bnb out in Canmore! It’s really a wonderful place to relax after a long day of hiking. You will also want to rent a car. You will be doing a lot of driving, but it is worth it financially in the long run.
Prepare for Altitude Sickness
Bring Advil or Ibuprofen just in case. I personally did not feel the effects until I woke up the morning after we arrived.
Day 1: Getting Settled
Depending on where you’re flying from, it can be a really long day for you! Plan a casual day; you will be flying into Calgary, which is a 1 hour and 13 minute drive from Canmore.
The following are some places you can explore in Canmore:
- Engine Bridge
- Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
- The Grizzly Paw Brewery
- JK Bakery Cafe
- The Wook Lounge
Day 2: Lake Minnewanka and Downtown Banff
Lake Minnewanka Boat Tour- The Explorer Cruise:
Since I was traveling with a large group, I booked this tour in advance. Even if I were to do this tour with just one other person, I would still book in advance just to be on the safe side. Check Groupon before you book with another site; you may find an excellent deal!
Price: Around $81 U.S. per person.
A national park pass can be purchased at its entrance. You need this ticket in your car window in order to go through. It’s around $10 U.S. per person.
Banff Gondola in Downtown Banff:
Explore the charming town of Banff, and grab a bite to eat! After lunch, we made our way to the Banff Gondola to purchase our tickets. It was very easy to purchase tickets on the spot, and the experience was SO worth it!
Price: Around $49 U.S. per person.
Day 3: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
We arrived close to 9:00am, and the parking lot was already packed! We luckily were able to snag one of the last few spots left. It was raining a lot, but we made the most out of it. We had to hike from the parking lot to the lake. We snapped a few pictures by the lake before running into the Fairmont Hotel to keep warm and dry. Before we knew it, the rain stopped and the clouds parted!
There was a shuttle near Lake Louise that was taking passengers every 20 minutes to Moraine Lake. The shuttle cost was very low (I don’t recall what the actual price was). This lake is a must see. The view is absolutely gorgeous! There are short trails to hike through by the lake, canoe rentals, a place to grab a bite to eat, and restrooms.
Price: Around $5 U.S. per person.
Buy Bear Spray. The odds of you coming face-to-face with a bear while you are hiking are very slim. It’s better to be safe than sorry though!
Day 4: Johnston Canyon and Banff Hot Springs
We arrived close to 9:00am, and the parking lot was already full! We had to park on the road quite a walk away. Go as early as you can. It’s an amazing hike, filled with beautiful glacier blue rivers and waterfalls.
These trails can go on for hours and hours. We turned around eventually and made it back to the entrance by lunch time. They have restrooms and a small cafe to grab a bite at.
Banff Upper Hot Springs:
Save this experience for the end of your trip after all of your hiking. You will be sore! This Hot Spring in Downtown Banff, located right next to the Banff Gondola, is man-made. To be honest, it just looks like a pool. The view, however, is incredible! Looking at the mountains and feeling the hot water on my sore muscles was the best feeling in the world!
Price: Around $11 U.S. per person.
Day 5: Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
If you are able to stay here for a night, it’s totally worth it! This regal hotel will have you exploring its ins and outs for a good portion of the day. You can even go horseback riding!
I wasn’t able to get enough time off of work, which limited the amount of places I could explore. I wish I could have seen...
- Peyto Lake
- Columbia Icefield Skywalk
- Emerald Lake
- YOHO National Park
- Johnson Lake
This small list doesn’t even cover all of the other wonder adventures the area of Banff has to offer. If you are doing this trip in 5 days, be prepared to be exhausted! You will be on the go constantly, but it will be worth it in the end and a trip you will never forget.