Banff has been on my list since the dawn of Instagram – when, with the scroll of a finger, I could become completely mesmerized by the turquoise waters of Lake Louise or the foggy mountain tops of the Canadian Rockies. I never doubted that I would one day venture to Alberta to see the town for myself but I did underestimate just how captivated I would be with it’s beauty and infectious zest for the outdoors.
While I hear that Banff is just as breathtaking in the summer, I’d argue that there’s something undeniably enchanting about a mountain town in the winter.
Struggling to narrow things down, I’ve put together 10 big adventures to add to your itinerary while planning your visit to Banff – trust me, you won’t want to skip any! Or, perhaps, Banff hasn’t ever even been on your radar. If that’s the case, don’t waste any more time before jumping in and reading all about why Banff should, in fact, be on your list (and at the top, at that).
- Snowshoe the Canadian Rockies
There are only a few things I’ve done in my life that have left me completely speechless, and snowshoeing the Canadian Rockies was – without a doubt – one of those moments. In every direction we were surrounded by white peaks that appeared to stretch on, endlessly. Thanks to a perfect bluebird day in Sunshine Village we felt as though we were walking on the moon. Hiking just shy of 8,000ft, this experience is sure to not disappoint. We booked through White Mountain Adventures and can not recommend them enough!
2. Ski Sunshine Village
Speaking of Sunshine Village…you could spend every day here and not get bored of it, I swear. Easily coming in at one of the top 10 most beautiful places I have ever stepped foot, Sunshine Village is bursting with big adventure. Offering 3,300 skiable acres and 145 runs, skiing here is a must do for skiers, and snowboarders, of all ages and levels!
3. Hike Around Lake Louise (And More!)
While Lake Louise is undeniably gorgeous in the summer months, the lake provides a whole other source of inspiration when it’s frozen over. We spent hours strolling along the ice, exploring trails & looking up in awe at the towering mountains. On the far side of the lake you can even find a frozen waterfall and, if you’re lucky, fearless ice-climbers scaling it. Go early before the sun heats up and experience the ice on skates or rent some microspikes from the Fairmont Lake Louise and complete the 3.5 miles to the Plain Of Six Glaciers Tea house.
Not up for hiking? That’s fine too! Grab a glass of wine from the Lakeview Lounge, sit back, and soak up the tantalizing views.
4. Have Drinks at the Top of Sulphur Mountain
Possibly my favorite night of the entire trip was spent sipping wine at the top of Sulphur Mountain – an activity not originally even on my list! While taking the Gondola to the top was stunning, the views do not even compare to those you’ll be greeted with at the summit! Even better, during the months of February – April the Alpenglow festival is in full swing. Every Friday and Saturday night from 4:00 – 8:00 pm you can listen to local artists, cosy up by the outdoor fire pits, and roast complimentary s’mores. The best part? It’s free with your Banff Gondola Admissions ticket!
Oh, and whatever you do, make sure to walk the boardwalk just as the sun begins to set.
5. Catch a Sunset at Surprise Corner
Another stop not originally on our list was visiting Surprise Corner. In fact, we wouldn’t have even known it was there had we not spotted two others sitting in this exact spot. We scrambled up here not sure what to expect and ended up staying longer than we planned. With no one around, and located just far enough out of town, the simplicity of this spot wins you over almost immediately. Offering views you can’t see from anywhere else in Banff, Surprise Corner is the perfect spot to snuggle up with a blanket and watch the sun make its farewell.
6. Stroll the Bow Falls Trail
Easily accessible from town, the Bow Falls trail winds you down along the Bow River for about 25 minutes. It’s more of a walk than a hike and can be accessed by everyone of all fitness levels. Most of the falls will be frozen over, as well as the river, but that doesn’t take away from the serenity of this trail. Go early, take your coffee and, most importantly, take your time.
7. Enjoy Dinner on a Roof Top
We were lucky in that things warmed up a bit while we were visiting Banff. Scattered all about the mountain town are restaurants boasting epic rooftop seating. I’d rather bundle up any day and sit outside than be cozy and trapped indoors. Some of our favorite spots to grab a local beer and watch the sunset were Banff Ave Brewing, Elk and Oarsman, and Bison Restaurant and Terrace. Go early, these places fill up fast!
8. Wander Around Banff Town
I can probably count on one hand the towns that have won me over instantly the way Banff did. The street view image of the town is iconic, driving people to wonder whether or not it’s photoshopped. Well, for all you skeptics out there (like myself) I’m here to tell you that the photo is in fact not photoshopped and honestly doesn’t even begin to do the view justice! Every night we’d stroll around this town popping in an out of stores just to get a view of the mountains – trust me it never gets old.
Side note – when in town, make sure to stop in at the Banff Tea Co. for a huge array of creative, locally mixed teas.
9. Snowmobile Paradise Basin
There are just not enough ways to experience the Canadian Rockies, and seeing them via snowmobile is a must! We’ve been on more than one snowmobile tour and I can easily say that this was the best yet. Traversing trails to reach 8,000 ft elevation is just the half of it! Once at the top, you get free rein to play around in the bowl, while the coziest of cabins stocked with hot chocolate awaits you. Barbecue lunch at the summit? Yes, please!
10. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
This one we did not actually do; however, if and when we go back I can promise you that we will splurge on a spa day at Willow Stream Spa. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a spectacle in itself, sitting perched above the trees – castle-like – transporting you to another time. If you can afford to stay here during your trip, even better! But, if you’re like us, don’t worry you can still experience the magic of the Fairmont as a visitor.
Everything about our time in Banff – from where we stayed to what we did – was incredible. Have any favorite spots in Banff? I’d love to hear your favorite memories and experiences while traveling around Banff or any advice for other mountain towns we should add to our bucket lists. Comment below!
As always, keep adventuring x
KEEP BELIEVING. KEEP EXPLORING. AND, KEEP RELENTLESSLY TELLING THE UNIVERSE ALL IT IS YOU PLAN TO DO.