Things to do in
Banff

Surround yourself with beautiful walking trails and glistening lakes in this protected Canadian Rockies' town.

Enter your dates to find available activities

Get free cancellation up to 24 hours before your activity starts for a full refund.

Our most recommended things to do in Banff

Banff: Banff Gondola Admission Ticket

1. Banff: Banff Gondola Admission Ticket

Climb aboard this iconic 4-person gondola cabin with large windows and relax. During the 8-minute ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, take in the views of the town of Banff, Bow Valley, and six different mountain ranges. While on the mountain's peak, be amazed by 360-degree views. Explore the interactive Above Banff Interpretative Center to learn about the early explorers, wildlife, and local area. Hike across the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk to explore the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station, a National Historic Site. Then stop at the coffee shops, restaurants, and gift shops.

...
Banff: Family Friendly Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

2. Banff: Family Friendly Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

Start your tour in Banff, where you will meet a member of the riding office, who will check you in for your sleigh ride. Now it's time to climb into the sleigh and get cozy with your loved ones under a cozy wool blanket. Hear the tinkling of sleigh bells, as the horses lead you on a journey through Banff's mountain meadows. Along the way, listen to stories from your guide and soak in the spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains, while keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife, such as elk and deer. Finish your memorable excursion with a fireside warm-up stop after the ride, where you can toast a marshmallow and enjoy a warm drink back at the stables.

...
Banff: Morning or Afternoon Johnston Canyon Icewalk

3. Banff: Morning or Afternoon Johnston Canyon Icewalk

Start with pickup from Banff and travel in a modern minibus along the Bow Valley Parkway to the Canyon. On arrival at the Johnston Canyon trailhead, your guide will show you how to put on ice cleats over your winter boots, as well as give you some tips on winter hiking. From here, start the moderate 2.7 kilometer hike with 135 meter elevation to the Upper Falls. Walk along the steel catwalks built into the canyon walls which allows a spectacular view down the canyon walls to the ice and river below. Along the way you'll learn the clues to how Johnston Canyon was formed and stop at the Lower Falls, where you'll have the option to walk through a natural cave feature for a unique view. At the Upper Falls, enjoy a brief stop on the upper deck with a small refreshment break to enjoy the views. These gigantic pillars of ice are the tour highlight and ice climbers can often be seen scaling the frozen columns. Once you've finished your hot chocolate, hike back down and your guide will transport you back to Banff and drop you at your hotel.

...
Banff: Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk

4. Banff: Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk

Get picked up by your friendly guide from the meeting point in Banff, then enjoy the drive in a modern minibus. Take the Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon, a scenic drive through a wildlife-rich habitat. On arrival at the Johnston Canyon trailhead, your guide will show you how to put on ice cleats over your winter boots, as well as give you some tips on winter hiking. From here, start the easy 1.1km hike with 65m elevation gain to the lower falls, walking along the steel catwalks built into the canyon walls which allows a spectacular view down the canyon walls to the ice and river below. Along the way, your guide will highlight unique features by powerful flashlight and pause for moments of darkness and quiet to foster an appreciation for spending time in the canyon at night. At the turn around point, your guide will illuminate the expanding ice that encases the rushing water. Have the option to walk through a natural cave feature for a unique view of the lower falls while also enjoying a refreshment break with hot chocolate and a maple cookies snack. The return journey is your opportunity to travel without your headlamp (should you wish). Be amazed as to how quickly your eyes adjust to the darkness, enough for you to travel through the pine forest guided only by the ambient light of the moon and the stars above your head. At the end of the tour, your guide will then transport you back to Banff and drop you at your hotel.

...
Cochrane: Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary Tour

5. Cochrane: Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary Tour

Visit one of the largest sanctuaries in Canada and hear about the mission of this wolfdog rescue organization. Learn about wolfdogs during a 30-minute presentation and go inside one of the wolfdog enclosures behind a short barrier. An experienced staff member will safely lead you through the enclosure during the tour. Enjoy a self-guided sanctuary walk either before or after your tour.  Take photographs of one of the packs of wolfdogs from inside their enclosure and ask the wolfdog experts any questions you may have. Please note that there is no interaction with the wolfdogs on this tour.

...
Canadian Rockies: Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles Helicopter Tour

6. Canadian Rockies: Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles Helicopter Tour

Start the day at the base with a hearty hot buffet that might include stew, chili or soup with freshly made bread, dessert and a side salad, veggies or fruit. Then, embark on your helicopter flight over Abraham Lake. Fly over the Canadian Rockies to Landslide Lake for breathtaking views and an experience you will never forget. Admire the impressive fierceness of the massive mountains as you fly close to them. Pass over 6 different astonishing glaciers surrounded by frozen lakes and waterfalls.  After landing at Landslide Lake, go on a guided snowshoe tour with complimentary hot chocolate and Irish cream. Then, head back to base by Helicopter taking a different route back with equally spectacular views of the Rockies and valleys. When you return to base, take a seat around a fire to warm up your toes. Roast some marshmallows as you enjoy complimentary coffee or tea. Finally, take a guided tour of the Bubbles on Abraham Lake. Marvel at this natural phenomenon of methane gas getting trapped in the ice, a mesmerizing sight that makes for great pictures and attracts a lot of attention on social media platforms.

...
From Banff: Columbia Icefield Tour with Glacier Skywalk

7. From Banff: Columbia Icefield Tour with Glacier Skywalk

Begin the tour with hotel pickup in Banff and embark on an unforgettable experience. On the way to the Athabasca Glacier, listen as your guide shares stories and facts about the wildlife, geology, culture, and how glaciers have shaped the landscape of the area.  Enjoy spectacular vistas over the Canadian Rockies, turquoise lakes, and numerous glaciers. Stop at Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake to capture a perfect picture. The Athabasca Glacier is one of the "six toes" of the Columbia Icefield, and where you’ll have the unique opportunity to walk on a glacier and to sip from its virgin streams. Board a massive Ice Explorer and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure as you ride directly onto the glacier. Afterwards, spend approximately 20 minutes walking on the extremely thick, 25,000-year-old ice. After a delicious hot lunch at Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, take a short ride to the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. Perched on a cliff on the side of the Sunwapta Valley, this glass-floored platform stretches out for astonishing views. Stride boldly out for a thrilling adventure and enjoy the views of the mountains and glaciers around you, as well as Sunwapta River with its waterfalls and crystal-clear water below. The tour will end with hotel drop-off in Banff.

...
Banff: Winter Wildlife and Sightseeing Minibus Tour

8. Banff: Winter Wildlife and Sightseeing Minibus Tour

Get ready to explore the best of Banff, as you discover the history of the Bow Valley. Be picked up from your hotel in a modern minibus by your guide, and start your 3-hour experience. Learn about local wildlife while you keep watch for elk, deer, and bighorn sheep.  Visit frozen Bow Falls, where many iconic movies from the 1950s were filmed. See the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, known as the Castle of the Rockies. Stop at Lake Minnewanka, and learn the importance of wildlife management practices from your expert guide. Be amazed by iconic views from Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos Lookout. There will be plenty of stops along the route for you to enjoy the sights, snap photos, and walk to incredible viewpoints. At the end of your tour you'll be dropped off back in Banff.

...
Banff: Romantic Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

9. Banff: Romantic Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

Start your tour in Banff where you will meet a member of the riding office who will check you in for your sleigh ride. Now it's time to climb into the sleigh and get cozy with your loved one under the authentic buffalo robe. Hear the tinkling of sleigh bells as the horse begins your journey through Banff's mountain meadows. Along the way, listen to stories from your guide and see some of Banff's most iconic mountain peaks including Rundle Mountain and Cascade Mountain. Soak in the spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains while keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife such as elk and deer. Enjoy a delicious alcoholic beverage and chocolates to enjoy at your leisure along the ride. Stop to warm up beside a fire after the ride where you can toast a marshmallow and enjoy a warm drink back at the stables.

...
From Banff: Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Full-Day Tour

10. From Banff: Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Full-Day Tour

Discover soaring mountains, emerald lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls on a full-day tour of the Canadian Rockies. Visit the most spectacular places in Banff and Yoho National Parks to explore the awe-inspiring scenery. Travel through the Canadian Rockies in a comfortable bus, as you learn about the area from your knowledgeable guide. The tour will take you to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Emerald Lake to admire the incredible landscape. Enjoy some free time at each of the lakes to stroll along the shore, or sit by the water and soak it all in. From October to June, when the road to Takakkaw Falls and Moraine Lake is closed due to snow, alternative stops will be made. These might include the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon, Marble Canyon, or the Natural Rock Bridge. During the tour you’ll stop for lunch at the historic lodge in Yoho National Park.

...

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Banff

Mayuri is the founder of ToSomePlaceNew, which covers European destinations and cultural travel. A history graduate and an MBA by qualification, she found her true calling in digging a city’s past and discovering their unique nuances. She is based in Canada, and travels with her husband. Find more on her blog about Banff.

What should I do on my first trip to Banff?

For your very first trip to Banff, consider booking a centrally located hotel - maybe a suite with mountain views. Do check out the town centre, and thereafter ride the Banff Sightseeing Gondola to soak the entire valley, and its iconic landmarks from an elevation of 2,281 m (7,486 feet) above sea level. From Banff, embark on hikes, or enjoy a canoe ride on Vermillion Lakes, or the picturesque Lake Louise. Don’t miss out on a sightseeing cruise on Lake Minnewanka.

What are some hidden gems to see in Banff?

Banff is all about the iconic views, but you can make it unique. Like you can soak in mountain views from Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel whilst enjoying an afternoon tea or castle food experience. Another favorite attraction in Banff town that often gets missed is the Cascade of Time Gardens. These beautifully manicured gardens are located just a few minutes away from the town centre, and it is a stunning place to admire the mountains and greenery (and it's all for free!)

How much time should I spend in Banff?

A weekend is perfect to enjoy the highlights of Banff National Park. Set aside a day to wander the town centre, cultural sites like museums and walking trails nearby. On the second day, go hiking. There are a lot of easy to challenging hikes near Banff to choose from. If you are not into hiking, enjoy a day of lakes and explore Minnewanka, Two Jack and Lake Louise on a quick day trip from Banff!

What food is Banff known for?

You must try a good steak or bison when you visit Banff National Park. You can easily order Alberta steak in any of the restaurants at the town centre. For drinks, try a local brewery such as Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar. There are a lot of cafes and bistros inside the national park to enjoy coffee, bagel and cakes.

What is the best way to get around Banff?

The best way to explore Banff is by car. Rental cars can be picked up at the Calgary International Airport (nearest airport), and then you can drive to Banff. There are transit buses (called ROAM buses) that you can use to get to various attractions inside the national park. One way tickets start at $2 CAD for adults.

What are the best months to visit Banff?

Summer and fall are the best times to visit Banff National Park. In the summer months, all the outdoorsy activities are open from camping, canoeing, hiking to easy road tripping. Only thing to be mindful of is that Banff gets super busy in the summers - so plan ahead to make reservations. Visiting Banff in the fall is also perfect as you can go on hikes and see all the fall foliage, minus the crowds and expensive accommodation!

What is Banff Avenue known for?

Banff Avenue is the central hub of the national park. This is where you will find restaurants, resorts and hotels, shops, and tour agencies. Many of the iconic photo spots are located in Banff town - you won’t have to try too hard to get a glimpse of the mountains!

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

The best place for food in Banff is in the Main Street neighbourhood. This area is home to local breweries, amazing bistros, restaurants and shops. For restaurants with mountain views, reserve a table at the Banff Gondola - Sky Bistro or the Juniper Bistro & Hotel. For those who love to check local produce and crafts, plan to visit the Banff Mountain Market, which is held in the summer months in the heart of Banff town.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Banff Avenue is the Main Street for all things souvenir and essential shopping. Banff Avenue is lined with athletics, fashion, local crafts, and souvenir shops.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Banff?

For quick access to amenities and sightseeing, staying at the main street of Banff is a good idea. During summers, it can be a little expensive to find accommodation inside the National Park. In that case choose to stay in Canmore, which is located 20 minutes outside of Banff or in Calgary - situated 1 hour’s drive away.

Frequently asked questions about Banff

Other Sightseeing Options in Banff

Want to discover all there is to do in Banff? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Banff

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 297 reviews

We really enjoyed this day! Obviously exciting going up to the top of the mountain in a gondola, but all the extra fun Christmas things they had was amazing! Santa was there, cookie decorating and ornament making. Cool Christmas cartoon and frozen maple treats. We walked the boardwalk and went all the way up to the top of Samson Peak. Breath taking views! My husband and both daughters (aged 9 & 15) really enjoyed this day. Amazing gift shop and also Starbucks service was great. Staff was very welcoming. Totally worth it!

What a wonderful way to start our morning! There was 5 of us which included to 16 year olds and an 18 year old and they also loved it! Andrew was our guide and what an asset to that team he is funny, informative and made the tour even better! Definitely suggest booking this, and the morning as it’s much quieter.

Our guide Gina is the best! Interesting and fun bus trip to location with helpful tips and instruction on what to expect. Beautiful nature under a dark night sky. Hot chocolate and maple leaf cookies at half-point of walk. You even get to keep your cool headlamp.

There was a delay with the extreme cold. However, when they got going, we were guaranteed first priority for boarding according to our booked time.

Amazing views and wonderful staff, definitely worth it and will go again!