Banff is the perfect town to visit if you’re a fan of the great outdoors. A resort town, Banff is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. The town itself is situated inside Banff National Park, which is located in the Rocky Mountains and features forests, ice fields, and glaciers. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, including biking, hiking, and skiing. You can also go fishing and boating on nearby lakes. And of course, with this being one of Canada’s most visited spots, there are plenty of indoor attractions to enjoy as well, including museums and restaurants. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite things to do in Banff, so keep on reading to explore the options.
Let’s start our list off with a tour of Banff National Park, which will give you a great overview of the area. On this four-hour tour, your guide will take you to two lakes: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. During your stops at each lake, you’ll learn about the area’s history while taking in the mountainous surroundings and turquoise hues of the lakes. There will, of course, be plenty of opportunities to snap some pictures of the stunning surroundings. Round-trip transportation is included, and the group is limited to 24 people.
Banff National Park Tour with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Duration: 4 hours 15 minutes
If you’re a history buff who likes to learn about the heritage of places you visit, then a trip to Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is an excellent choice. The museum’s exhibitions share information about life surrounded by this famous mountain range. The museum is on the smaller size, but it’s well organized and packed with plenty of information. And when you’ve finished looking at the galleries, you can spend some time perusing the artisanal items in the gift shop.
Skip the Line: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies General Admission Ticket
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
3. Relax in Banff Upper Hot Springs
If you like to be pampered while traveling—and who doesn’t?—then a trip to the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a must. These hot springs were discovered back in 1883, and today, more than 300,000 visitors a year love to soak in the warm waters. These hot springs are one of nine hot springs in the Banff area, and they are also the highest hot spring in the country. From the Banff Upper Hot Springs, you can look out onto Mount Rundle. Warm, relaxing water and a beautiful view—what more could you want?
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Address: 1 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1KU, Canada
Website: Banff Upper Hot Springs
Opening hours: 9am - 11pm (daily)
4. Admire works of arts by local artists at Canada House Gallery
Canada House Gallery opened its doors in 1974 and it showcases contemporary art made by local, national, and international artists. They also boast a large collection of Inuit art made in the Canadian Arctic. And don’t worry about feeling too casual in the gallery—it’s a very relaxed space and they welcome visitors in their hiking gear and cowboy hats! Their exhibitions change regularly, so you never know what will be on. Keep up to date by visiting the gallery’s website, or keep it a surprise and just drop by.
Canada House Gallery
Address: 201 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1B5, Canada
Website: Canada House Gallery
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9:30am - 6pm; Fri - Sat: 9:30am - 7pm
5. Go skiing and tubing on Mount Norquay
Mount Norquay is a mountain and one of three ski resorts in the Banff area. It’s got slopes for beginners up to advanced skiers and it is a family-friendly place, so everyone can enjoy themselves while on the mountain. And if skiing isn’t your thing, you can ride down the mountain on a tube. During the winter months, Mount Norquay is the only ski resort to offer night skiing and tubing, from 5 to 9pm, so you can enjoy the slopes and snow by moonlight. The resort also offers equipment rentals, private lessons, and a cafe where you can warm up with a hot drink.
Address: #2 Mt Norquay Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, Canada
Website: Mount Norquay
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
A great way to explore this area is by taking a tour of Banff National Park on horseback. On this one-hour tour, you’ll experience the landscape and terrain of the area, riding through it much like the early settlers would have on horseback. Your guide will, of course, get you comfortable on the horse, and will share information about the area during your trip. You have two options to choose from: a ride along Bow River, which provides you with views of Mt. Norquay and Cascade Mountain, or a ride along Spray River, which brings you past Bow Falls. Either way, you’ll have beautiful views of the area!
1 Hour Bow River Ride
Duration: 1 hour
7. Learn the history of indigenous Canadians at Buffalo Nations Museum
A great way to explore the history of an area is to look at the ways indigenous people lived. You can do just that at the Buffalo Nations Museum in Banff. The museum’s mission is to share the cultures, values, and traditions of First Nations people. Their exhibitions explore how indigenous people lived on these lands before Europeans arrived, and how they adapted to life after the arrival of European culture. There’s a wide range of items on display, including textiles, photographs, dioramas, and videos. And of course, there’s a gift shop to explore.
Buffalo Nations Museum
Address: 1 Birch Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A8, Canada
Website: Buffalo Nations Museum
Opening hours: 10am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 10 USD
8. Hike the Sulphur Mountain
Sulphur Mountain is one of the mountains which make up the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Situated on its lower slopes are hot springs, which give the mountain its name. Not surprisingly, the mountain offers visitors plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. There are two trails you can hike: one which takes you near the Bow River and one which goes under the gondola. You can also ride the gondola, which will take you to the summit ridge where you’ll find two restaurants and observation decks. And you can also relax in the hot springs. A visit to Sulphur Mountain is certainly a nice way to spend the day.
Website: Sulphur Mountain
9. Have fun at Eureka Banff Escape Room Adventures
For those who like to solve puzzles, a visit to Eureka Banff Escape Room Adventures is a must. So what happens when you go to an escape room? You’ll be a member of a team that is locked in a room, and you’re tasked with solving puzzles and riddles to eventually make your escape. Eureka Banff Escape Room Adventures has two themed rooms which you can choose from: Marv’s Diner Deluxe which will have you fighting to take over a retro diner franchise, and Warden’s Cabin, which has you searching the last known whereabouts of reclusive Warden Perry. You will have one hour to complete your adventure. And don’t worry, if you get stuck you can ask for hints.
Eureka Banff Escape Room Adventures
Address: 229 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1C3, Canada
Website: Eureka Banff Escape Room Adventures
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 2pm - 9pm; Fri - Sun: 11am - 11pm
Price: 30 USD
10. Admire the scenic views from Surprise Corner Viewpoint
If you’re the sort of person who’d rather look at the Sulphur Mountain than hike on it, you can simply head to Surprise Corner Viewpoint. This viewpoint offers iconic views of the mountain as well as the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which is known as the Castle of the Rockies. It’s about a half-hour walk from town or a five-minute drive. There is space to park your car as well as a viewing platform. Postcards feature pictures of this stunning view, so why not take the opportunity to take your own postcard-worthy shots?
Surprise Corner Viewpoint
Address: Buffalo St, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
Website: Surprise Corner Viewpoint
11. Hike the Tunnel Mountain Trail
Tunnel Mountain Trail is one of the oldest trails in Banff National Park, having been around since the park’s early days. It’s a great trail to take if you’re looking to get to know the terrain and see some of the best views of the area. You’ll start in a forest, and then begin walking up a hill. Once you reach the top, you’ll have lovely views of the town and of Mount Rundle. The trail is well-maintained and will take you two to three hours to complete. It’s an easy trail to walk, so even if you’re not a seasoned hiker, you can make the journey.
Tunnel Mountain Trail
Website: Tunnel Mountain Trail
12. Visit Willock & Sax Gallery
Willock & Sax Gallery opened in 1998, and since then, it has been committed to showcasing works by both contemporary and historical artists. They also have a selection of sculptures by indigenous artists. They share these artworks with the Banff community through solo and group exhibitions. Their exhibitions change all the time, so do keep and eye on their website to see what’s on. And of course, if you feel like adding to your art collection, many pieces are for sale and they do ship worldwide!
Willock & Sax Gallery
Address: 210 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1C2, Canada
Website: Willock & Sax Gallery
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
13. Explore the exhibits in the Historic Luxton Home Museum
The Historic Luxton Home Museum is a house museum that tells the story of the Luxton family. The home was built in the early 1900s for a pioneer family in Banff. Travel through the rooms of the house where you’ll encounter artifacts telling the story of Norman, Georgina, and Eleanor Luxton. The furniture, paintings, China, and photographs tell the story of the family and of Banff over the years. In the summer months, there’s also a garden with lilac trees and flowers to enjoy. This is a great spot to learn about Banff’s history through the stories of one family.
Historic Luxton Home Museum
Address: 206 Beaver St, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, Canada
Website: Historic Luxton Home Museum
Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Wed)
14. Take your pooch to Banff Off-Leash Dog Park
If you’re traveling to Banff with a pup, he or she will definitely appreciate getting some fresh air and exercise at Banff Off-Leash Dog Park. Dogs have 1.5 acres (0.6 ha) to roam, and owners can rest easy knowing the park is fenced in. And with its plentiful trees and walking paths, it’s not too bad for humans either! The park asks that you keep your dog under voice and sight control during your visit, and please be sure to pick up after your pet.
Banff Off-Leash Dog Park
Address: Hawk Ave, Banff, AB, Canada
Website: Banff Off-Leash Dog Park
Opening hours: 7am - 8pm (daily)
15. Enjoy a meal at The Bison Restaurant
After all this exploring of Banff, you’re bound to get hungry, so why not stop at The Bison Restaurant? This restaurant has a farm-to-table approach, serving up seasonal Canadian eats. At the time of writing, their menu offers bison short ribs, miso chicken, and smoked eggplant. Live music plays on Thursday evenings and during Sunday brunch. They’ve also got a terrace with views of the mountains.
The Bison Restaurant
Address: 211 Bear St # 213, Banff, AB T1L 1E4, Canada
Website: The Bison Restaurant
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 5pm - 10pm; Sun: 10am - 2pm, 5pm - 10pm
16. Get a massage at Mountain Spa
If you want to indulge in some pampering during your visit, look no further than Mountain Spa. It’s located in the heart of downtown Banff, surrounded by the mountains. So you can enjoy beautiful views while relaxing. There are plenty of treatments to choose from, including Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. You can keep your skin looking healthy with a facial, or exfoliate with a body scrub. If beauty treatments are more your thing, you can get a manicure or pedicure. They’ve also got a lovely terrace which looks out to the mountains—the perfect spot to enjoy a drink and take in the view.
Address: 111 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A2, Canada
Website: Mountain Spa
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 8pm; Sun: 9:30am - 4pm
17. Enjoy a few drinks at The Beaver Bar
When you’re feeling like you want to kick back and relax, a great place to go is The Beaver Bar. The bar is set inside the Samesun Backpackers hostel, making it an excellent place to go and chat with fellow travelers. There’s a happy hour each afternoon, so you can drink on a budget. They also offer plenty of events and specials, including karaoke, bingo, and Taco Tuesdays.
The Beaver Bar
Address: 433 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, Canada
Website: The Beaver Bar
Opening hours: 4pm - 2am (daily)
18. Catch a movie at Lux Cinema Banff
If you feel like relaxing for a couple of hours, you could go catch a movie at Lux Cinema Banff. It’s a small theatre with a retro vibe, but it boasts a cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. There are four screens, and they offer tickets and food combos, which is a great option if you plan to get food and want to save some money. They show current hit films, so really you can’t go wrong if you want to kick back and relax for a couple of hours.
Lux Cinema Banff
Address: 229 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1H8, Canada
Website: Lux Cinema Banff
19. Play ice hockey at The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre
The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre offers sports facilities, making it a great place to go if you like to be active and want to get some exercise in during your trip. And, of course, ice hockey is a great sport to try when in Canada. The recreation centre boasts two ice hockey rinks and four curling sheets. There are also concession areas, a lounge, and meeting rooms. They also have a shop where you can purchase skating gear or get your skates sharpened.
The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre
Address: 100 Mt Norquay Rd, Banff, AB, Canada
Website: The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre
Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 8:30am - 8:30pm; Sat: 9am - 8:30pm
Price: 6 USD
20. Shop at Sundance Mall
We’ll finish our list up with Sundance Mall, the perfect place to go if you’ve got some money to spend. The mall has around 20 shops and restaurants, including souvenir shops, a pub, and a fudge shop that gets rave reviews. Visitors love that the mall doesn’t just have standard mall stores, and boasts independent shops as well. The mall is an especially nice place to visit on a cold winter day; walk into a warm store and do some shopping!
Address: 215 Banff Ave, Banff, AB, Canada
Website: Sundance Mall
Opening hours: 9am - 11pm (daily)
If that first tour didn’t satisfy you, why not join a tour of Jasper National Park? This six-hour tour starts at Maligne Canyon where you walk across two bridges over a deep gorge, bringing you to a waterfall. The next stops are Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake, where you get to decide between a boat ride to Spirit Island or a walk along the banks of the lake. Your guide will, of course, share the history of the area, and there are plenty of opportunities to take some photos and keep an eye out for wildlife.
Jasper National Park Tour: Maligne Valley and Medicine Lake
Duration: 6 hours
The thrill-seekers out there might enjoy this climbing tour of the Rockies. Even if you’re not an experienced climber, you can enjoy this tour. The type of climbing is called Via Ferrata, which is Italian for the iron road. You’ll climb using a series of iron ladders and cables, which is a safe way to climb. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views across Banff National Park. There are two options to choose from: a 2.5-hour introductory tour on lower climbing areas, or a 4-hour climb which is more challenging. And of course, an experienced guide will be with you the whole time.
Banff Via Ferrata Climbing Adventure
23. Be one with nature at Cascades of Time Garden
For extra calm and tranquility during your trip to Banff, you can pay a visit to the Cascades of Time Garden. This garden is set within the hillside and offers plenty to explore. Walk along the pathways, gaze at the flowerbeds, or sit and relax in a gazebo. It’s an especially nice place to visit in the summer, when the flowers are in bloom, washing the garden in vibrant colors. These tucked-away gardens are a calm oasis that most tourists miss, so do make the effort to find them if you’re after a bit of relaxation.
Cascades of Time Garden
Address: Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
Opening hours: 8am - 11pm (daily)
So much to experience in Banff
The beautiful town of Banff offers its visitors plenty of things to do. Of course, you can explore the natural surroundings, including hiking the Tunnel Mountain Trail. Or you can enjoy art and history at one of the many galleries and museums. Or simply relax with a massage at Mountain Spa. So, pick your favorite activities and start planning your trip to Banff today.
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