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Things to do in Banff

Things to do in  Banff

Welcome to Banff

Nestled among the soaring peaks and pines of Banff National Park in Canada, the town of Banff is an ideal base from which to explore the mighty Rockies. With Calgary 85 miles (136 kilometers) to the east and the shimmering waters of UNESCO–listed Lake Louise 36 miles (58 kilometers) to the west, Banff is a beautiful slice of Alberta. You can take in sweeping views from the Banff Gondola at Sulphur Mountain, and be on the lookout for hoodoos (tall pillars of rock_. Outdoor adventure is the name of the game, and visitors can see the sights on a guided bus tour with narrated highlights, or enjoy active pursuits ranging from horseback riding to kayaking. If you’re visiting Banff in search of adrenaline-pumping thrills, hit Kicking Horse River on a white-water rafting trip. The river swells in the summer months, providing challenging currents and exhilarating class IV and up rapids—some tours end in a barbecue lunch. Alternatively, take to the skies on a sightseeing helicopter flight for uninterrupted views over the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or tackle the heights on a via ferrata tour, in which fixed iron ropes assist climbers of all abilities. Animal lovers can trek by horseback along rugged trails through the wilderness; or spot native bears, elk, and moose on a dusk wildlife safari.

Top 10 attractions in Banff

#1
Bow Falls

Bow Falls

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The Bow Falls are located on the Bow River in Alberta's Banff National Park, within walking distance of the Banff Springs Hotel. The short, wide, cascading falls make for a popular sightseeing stop, likely because of how accessible the natural destination is—the falls can be easily enjoyed by people of all abilities and all ages. Trails for pedestrians and cyclists wind along the south shore of the Bow River and its rapids, with the walking trail climbing up to the clifftop where the falls begin (bicycles aren’t allowed at the top).The viewing areas at Bow Falls offer vistas of the river and the falls themselves, while a cement promenade located at the base of the cascade has a few benches to sit on, though most people sit on the ledge of the promenade and enjoy the views from there. At the far end of the promenade is a small, sandy beach where rafting and kayak tours often begin.More
#2
Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

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Hemmed in by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park’s glacier-fed Moraine Lake is renowned for its bright blue-green waters. The surreally vivid color results from light refracting off of tiny glacial rock particles. Stunning Lake Moraine was famously featured on the back of Canada’s $20 bill between 1969 and 1979.More
#3
Banff National Park

Banff National Park

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Within the boundaries of Banff National Park lie some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. The park, which showcases Canada’s Rocky Mountains in all their glory, offers world-class skiing, hiking, biking, and outdoor attractions. It’s a year-round haven for day-trippers from nearby Calgary and for international visitors galore.More
#4
Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka

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Just outside of Banff, Lake Minnewanka is everything a mountain lake should be: crystal clear, glacier fed, and surrounded by alpine forests and imposing peaks. A visit to Lake Minnewanka is a perfect introduction to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It’s also the only lake in Banff National Park that allows privately operated motorboats.More
#5
Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park

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The unofficial slogan for UNESCO World Heritage–listed Yoho National Park, “rock walls and waterfalls,” aptly describes the stunning Canadian Rockies scenery here. Yoho in the indigenous Cree language may not be as descriptive, but it’s more fitting—as an expression of wonder and awe, it can roughly be translated as, “Wow!”More
#6
Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola

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The Banff Gondola promises gasp-worthy views of the Canadian Rockies. After an 8-minute ride to Sulphur Mountain’s 7,500-foot (2,286-meter) summit, visitors arrive at a complex with several viewing areas, interactive exhibits, and restaurants. Also here are hiking trailheads and access to an elevated boardwalk leading to Sanson’s Peak.More
#7
Bow Lake

Bow Lake

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Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies is one of the smaller lakes in Banff National Park. It is the source of the Bow River and lies along part of the Great Continental Divide, which creates the border between Alberta and British Columbia. As with all of the lakes lining the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, Bow Lake boasts spectacularly colored water and top-notch mountain scenery. One of the most interesting features of these Rocky Mountain Lakes is their differences in color. Some are green, some are bright blue, and sometimes (after a major rain) some of them are brownish. The lake’s colors might even change with the weather. As you continue north along the Icefields Parkway, you will have several different views of the bright-blue waters of Bow Lake, as it lies quite close to the highway. The lake is a great place for a picnic and a stroll, and is especially beautiful at sunrise when the sun shines off of the water and Crowfoot Mountain.More
#8
Sulphur Mountain

Sulphur Mountain

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Named after its gushing thermal springs, Sulphur Mountain rises to a height of 8,041 feet (2,450 meters), towering over the town of Banff and Bow Valley. Banff Upper Hot Springs sit on its lower slopes, while the Banff Gondola carries you up to the summit ridge for views out across the peaks of the Canadian Rockies.More
#9
Bow River

Bow River

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What begins as a drip of water from the melting Bow Glacier turns into the stunningly beautiful Bow River, which flows slowly and steadily through the Rockies in Canada’s oldest national park. The river also flows through Banff, Canmore and Calgary, making it a constant presence on any journey through southern Alberta.The best way to appreciate the beauty of Bow River is by heading out on the wheelchair-friendly walking and cycling path in downtown Banff to complete the short trip to Bow Falls. Countless picnic tables and park benches make Bow Falls an ideal lunch spot, and float trips, in giant inflatable rafts, begin right at the base of the falls, too. Both wildlife and wildflowers are often seen along the river, where canoe trips are popular. The river is divided into three half-day canoeing sections, all of which require intermediate experience: Lake Louise to Castle Junction, Castle Junction to Banff and Bow Falls to Canmore.The Bow Valley Parkway, a scenic route between the town of Banff and Lake Louise, offers plenty of photo-worthy riverside stops, but one of the most spectacular is right where the Bow River flows beneath the towering walls of Castle Mountain, near Castle Junction.More
#10
Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

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Jutting out from the side of a Jasper National Park cliff, the elevated, glass-bottomed Columbia Icefield Skywalk, also known as Glacier Skywalk, is an exhilarating—if somewhat unnerving—way to experience the epic, untouched landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. From this vantage point, the view of the park’s ice-hatted peaks and glacial valleys is nothing short of spectacular.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Banff

How to Spend 1 Day in Banff

How to Spend 2 Days in Banff

How to Spend 2 Days in Banff

Top activities in Banff

Banff Gondola Ride Admission

Banff Gondola Ride Admission

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Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway - Full-Day Tour
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Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk
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Lake Louise 60 Minute Mountain Portrait Experience
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Private Tour of Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway for up to 13 guests
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Snowshoeing Tour to the Paint Pots
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1 Hour Spray River Ride

1 Hour Spray River Ride

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Winter Tour: Banff and Its Wildlife
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Day Hike in Lake Louise

Day Hike in Lake Louise

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Discover Grizzly Bears from Banff

Discover Grizzly Bears from Banff

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Discover Lake Louise & Snowshoeing
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Recent reviews from experiences in Banff

star-5
Exercise & relax @ same as sightseeing
Dwight_S, Jul 2021
eBike and Hike Banff to Johnston Canyon small group guided program
A great way to see hidden treasures of the Banff area & get just enough moderate exercise for a relaxing vacation.
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Great evening to look for wildlife
Uttam_B, Jul 2021
Evening Wildlife Safari
We managed to see some group of elks and deer but no bears - it was still a lot of fun and a lot of nice spots for pictures around Banff national park.
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Highlight of my trip
Uttam_B, Jul 2021
Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway - Full-Day Tour
It was a hot day and Robbie went extra mile and included an extra stop for us to cool off under a beautiful waterfall.
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A fun evening out
Angela_R, Sep 2020
Banff Ghost Walks
It was a great way to see a different side of Banff.
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Max was a great tour guide!!
Cole_D, Aug 2020
Banff Ghost Walks
Its a great little tour to see banff and some amazing stories about banff history.
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Do this tour your first day in Banff!
Jim_H, Sep 2019
Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway - Full-Day Tour
You get to see so much.
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Wonderful Day
Gerald_N, Jul 2019
Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day Trip from Banff
We really enjoyed our tour of the beautiful mountain lakes and waterfalls from Banff.
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Highly recommended
Raquel_L, Jun 2019
Banff Gondola Ride Admission
Although it was a terrifying ride and experience for me I did enjoy the amazing views of the town of Banff, Fairmont Banff Springs Resort and the beautiful mountains and lakes.
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Great Way to see Banff
jasminevminor, Sep 2018
Evening Wildlife Safari
This tour was a fantastic way to see Banff and we highly recommend it!
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Just Do It
Marilyn_N, Jul 2018
Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus
Several options to see & spend time in the places you are most interested.
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Fantastic!
Alexandra_C, Jul 2018
Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus
It was so easy to see all of the sights without having to deal with parking.
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Fantastic tour and a fantastic...
Megan V, Oct 2017
Banff National Park Tour with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Stunning places to visit.
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The view is unreal! We were able to...
Scarlette B, Jul 2017
Banff Gondola Ride Admission
We were able to see the entire town of Banff as well as Lake Minnewanka.
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Great way to see the glacier...
Dennis C, Sep 2017
Columbia Icefield Tour including the Glacier Skywalk from Banff
Great way to see the glacier.
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We had a wonderful experience with...
Robert K, Oct 2016
Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day Trip from Banff
We had a wonderful experience with the Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day trip from Banff - our driver and our tour guide Nicole were outstanding.
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Great guiding and beautiful views...
Malka_C, Jul 2016
Banff to Jasper One-Way Tour
Best way to get from Banff to Jasper and stop to see the sights if you dont have a car.
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Great way to see the sights of Banff...
Britney J, Sep 2012
Summer Tour: Banff and its Wildlife
Great way to see the sights of Banff and learn about its history.
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For those without their own...
Alan J, Jun 2011
Athabasca Glacier Snow Trip from Banff
For those without their own transportation, good way to see the sights and hear a lot of information about the area between Banff and the glacier.
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It was a good overview of things to do...
Doreen H, Apr 2009
Winter Tour: Banff and Its Wildlife
It was a good overview of things to do in Banff.
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Introduction to Banff and its Wildlife
Mary_P, Oct 2019
Summer Tour: Banff and its Wildlife
We went to Bow Falls, saw the magnificent Banff Fairmont Hotel and learned about rebuilding of the hotel.

All about Banff

When to visit

Located amid the snowcapped peaks and extraordinary scenery of the Canadian Rockies, the town of Banff (and the UNESCO-listed national park of the same name) number among Canada’s top ski and snow destinations. That said, Banff is also popular among summer hikers and outdoorsy types.

Frequently Asked Questions
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