The Banff Must Do List
Putting together the Banff Must Do List is probably the most useful thing we can do for any traveller to Banff. This list of experiences and activities are, in our opinion, absolute "must-dos" for any trip to Banff, especially if it is your first time. This list is a suggested itinerary for Banff in a way, although we would not presume to tell you an exact order in which you should do things: we'll let your own good judgment, mood, and the weather dictate that! The list is geared towards sightseers and Banff-experience seekers and therefore does not focus on listing out the numerous day-long hikes one could do, although those who choose to spend their days in Banff hiking will truly not be disappointed.
HERE IS THE BANFF MUST DO LIST:
1. Do Banff Avenue.
The best way to do this is to follow the path we set out on our Banff Shopping page.
2. Ride the Sulphur Mountain gondola to get a bird's eye view of Banff and the Bow Valley.
Follow the directions to the Banff Hot Springs and continue following the signs to the gondola.
View of Banff and the Bow Valley from the top of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola. Photo by Kim Barron.
3. Take a dip in the Upper Hot Springs. Click the link above for more information.
4. Drive to Lake Louise. There are few places more beautiful on the earth. While you are there, tour the Chateau Lake Louise, rent a canoe to paddle in the turquoise waters of the Lake, or take a hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House or the tea house located next to the Plain of the Six Glaciers. Make sure you are prepared with water, warm clothing, and sturdy footwear.
5. Experience some of the local cuisine at any of the fine
6. Spend an hour or two at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Walk through the lobby, tour the grounds, check out the numerous restaurants, and steep yourself in the Hotel's past and present grandeur. Could there be a more beautiful hotel on a more beautiful spot?
7. In winter, if you are able, spend a day skiing at Sunshine Village or Lake Louise ski resorts. If nothing else, these hills are Banff Must Dos just for seeing the different views of the mountains from the chairlifts, the summits, and the slopes. Norquay is a smaller hill, but is good if all you have is an afternoon and don't want to drive very far.
Click here for info on the ski hills and renting gear.
8. In summer, take a hike in or around Banff. Visit the Parks Canada Information Centre on Banff Avenue or the Travel Alberta Information Centre in Canmore for information on hikes and for "bear-in-area" alerts. For a truly phenomenal experience and a relatively easy hike, do the Sunshine Meadows hike. Drive to the Sunshine Village parking lot and buy a ticket to Sunshine Meadows. A bus will do most of the climbing for you and you can make the most of an afternoon hike through the alpine meadows, lakes, and wildlowers.
One of the lakes on the Banff Sunshine Meadows hike.
9. Go to Canmore to experience another mountain town that is a better mix of locals and tourists than Banff. We realize it is strange to suggest a visit to a place outside of Banff National Park on the Banff Must Do List, but they really are complementary towns.
10. Savor a four-inch wide gingersnap cookie at
Evelyn's. This is an absolute Banff Must Do (assuming you are not allergic to anything in the cookie or on a strict "no fun food" diet).
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