100 things to do in Banff: The Ultimate Banff Bucketlist

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100 things to do in Banff: The Ultimate Banff Bucketlist

As Banff locals, we’ve have had plenty of time to put together our highlight reel for our favourite place on Earth.

We were tempted to say, “if it ain’t on the list, it ain’t worth doing”, but even after all this time it still feels like we’re only just scratching the surface of the Rockies. Having said that, we reckon this is a great place to start if you’re planning a trip to Banff or even just looking for some new ideas: (Note: any links on this page are links to other posts we’ve written with more details!)

 

Need to find a hotel?

Check out our “Ultimate Guide to Hotels in Banff and Lake Louise

100 Things to Do in Banff:

Banff/Canmore:

1. Catch sunrise at Vermillion Lakes

2. Get an amazing view from the Norquay Chairlift

3. If you’re looking for extra thrills try the Norquay Via Ferrata

4. Get the best view of the Banff Springs Hotel at Surprise Corner

5. Do Bow Falls lookout, a quick hike above the falls

6. Catch the Northern lights from Lake Minnewanka (click the link to read our blog post) and various locations around the Park

7. Drive the Minnewanka Loop road – watch for sheep licking salt off the road!

8. Take a boat tour on Minnewanka and learn about its history

9. Check out where Banff first started at the Cave and Basin Hot Springs

10. Take a super hot dip in the Sulphur Hot Springs (bonus points for renting an old Victorian bathing suit!) (read more on natural hot springs in the Canadian Rockies)

11. Check out the Banff Film Festival

12. Go bowling with your crew at High Rollers or the Banff Springs

13. Rent a canoe and paddle up Vermilion Lakes

14. See the Hoodoos on Tunnel Mountain

15. Catch Sunset at Two Jack Lake (bring lots of bug spray!)

16. Have a BBQ at Cascade Ponds

17. Visit the Bankhead ghost town

18. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise

19. Have a picnic and watch the trains at Morant’s Curve

20. Catch the famous Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver, one of the most luxurious travel experiences ever.

21. Learn about the Banff Merman at the Banff Indian Trading Post

22. Take a carriage ride around Banff

23. Rent a Surrey Bike and cruise around Banff

24. Go mountain biking/ cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre (click the link to learn more about Banff’s winter activities)

25. Visit the Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore if you’re not scared of dark, cramped spaces

26. Check out the old swing and rope swings at Johnson Lake

27. Find all of Banff’s red chairs placed strategically at the most photogenic spots by Parks Canada

28. Take a Heli-tour over the Rockies 

29. Have a spa day at the Banff Fairmont (click the link to read more about planning a romantic trip to Banff)

30. Eat s’mores and smokies around a campfire at Two Jack Lakeside Campground

31. Try Bingo night at the Banff Legion, rowdier than your average bingo

32. Hit the clubs (Dancing Sasquatch, Hoodoo or Devil’s Gap) (click the link to learn how to party like a local)

33. Jump into a freezing Glacial Lake (Moraine, Louise, and Consolation are our favorites)

34. Play a round of golf at the famous Banff Springs Stanley Thompson golf course

35. Try some curling and skating at the Banff recreation centre

Lake Louise:

36. Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House and try their cake (Click the link to learn more about the Big Beehive Hike)

37. Rent a canoe on Lake Louise

38. Walk up to Fairview lookout for a view of the Chateau and the lake

39. Visit Moraine Lake and climb the Rock Pile

40. Canoe on Moraine Lake

A little further:

41. Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper (read our guide!)

42. Visit the Columbia Icefields, take a tour or visit the Glacier Skywalk (click the link to find out if it’s really worth it!)

43. Check out the views at Peyto and Bow Lake

44. Jump off the diving board at Herbert Lake

45. Visit Takakkaw Falls, the 2nd highest freefalling waterfall in Canada

46. Canoe on Emerald Lake, it’s like paddling on glass

47. Stop at the Natural Bridge on your way to Emerald Lake

48. Watch for trains at the Spiral Tunnels

49. Hike/camp at Lake O’Hara (if you’re really lucky!)

Need a guide?

Are you visiting Banff this year? Are you hoping to check out some of the best sites/hikes but would prefer to have a guide? Drop us an email and let’s see how we can help!

Summer:

50. Float down the Bow River into Banff

51. Go for a float at Johnson Lake

52. Cycle from Banff to Canmore (downhill) or Canmore to Banff (uphill!)

53. Check out the Canada Day Parade

54. Participate in or watch the famous Banff triathlon

55. Watch ‘Performance in the Park’ in June

(bring a raincoat)

Winter:

56. Cross Country ski up the Moraine Lake Road

57. Snowshoe across Lake Louise

58. Ski touring to Skoki Hut at Lake Louise

59.  Dogsledding at Lake Louise or in Canmore (check out our dogsledding experience in Revelstoke)

60. Go tubing at Norquay

61. Go night Skiing at Norquay

62. Ice skating at the Fairmont Lake Louise

63. Ice skating on Vermillion Lakes

64. Ski touring to the ACC backcountry huts

65. Try ice climbing at the HI hostel (or one one of the many frozen waterfalls!)

66. Ski at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay

67. Go frozen bubble hunting near Nordegg (click link to find out how)

68.  Check out Ice Magic and the ice sculptures at Lake Louise

69. Go Heliskiing/ cat skiing

70. New Years Eve street party in Banff

Beginner Hikes:

71. Tunnel Mountain (Banff) (read more about the Tunnel Mountain Hike here)

72. Grassi Lakes (Canmore)

73. Sulphur Mountain

74. Bow Glacier Falls

75. Scramble up Cascade Falls

76. Consolation Lakes (Lake Louise)

77. Hike Larch Valley in Larch Season

Harder Hikes/Scrambles:

78. EEOR (hike)

79. Sarrail Ridge (hike/scramble)

80. Eiffel Peak (hard scramble)

81. Sentinel Pass (easy hike)

82. Ha Ling Peak (hike)

83. Mount Lady MacDonald ( hike)

84. Lake O’Hara

85. Mount Yamnuska (scramble)

86. Big Beehive and Devil’s Thumb at Lake Louise (hike/scramble)

87. Scramble up the Tower of Babel

Food and Drink:

88. Go for Fondue at the Grizzly House or Waldhaus

89. Try real French Canadian poutine at ‘La Belle Patate’ (Canmore)

90. Try a Canadian Beaver Tail (pastry not actual Beaver!)

91. Stock up on candy at the ‘Banff Sweet Shoppe’

92. Go line dancing at Buffalo Bills

93. Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont in Banff or Lake Louise

94. Sunday brunch buffet at the Fairmont, Banff Park Lodge or the Post Hotel

95. Grab a Reuben at the Trailhead Cafe in Lake Louise

96. Try Canadian CampFire cuisine at the Park distillery

97. Go for a lobster buffet at the Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino

98. Try the Surf & Turf at Mel’s Steakhouse

99. Try the home made ice-cream at Deer Lodge (Lake Louise)

100. Try some local beers from the Banff Brew Co. or the Grizzly Brewery in Canmore

Hope you enjoyed our list! If we’ve forgotten anything, we’d love to hear from you about it! We’ll keep adding links as we add more posts, so keep checking for updates!

Every single item on the list is something we’ve experienced ourselves and would wholeheartedly recommend. All opinions are our own. Feel free to get in touch with suggestions or questions!

 

You might also like:

5 incredible hikes from Moraine Lake

Top 5 Hikes near Banff

Cheap Accommodation in Banff

Seeing the Northern Lights in Banff

Where to go when Banff is full: The Kootenays

The Ultimate Lake O’Hara Guide

The best places to see fall colours in Banff

 

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100 THINGS TO DO IN BANFF

 

14 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    I would love to get to visit someday. Growing up hiking and visiting National Parks, this seems right up my alley.

  2. Michelle says:

    You gave a great list of things to do in an area that I’m not that familiar with, Now I know more about it, thanks

  3. Prerna Garg says:

    What a great list of things to do in Banff. I mean it has everything for everyone and all seasons! Pinning it so I know what to do if and when I visit!

  4. RM says:

    Wow there’s so much to do here! I’d love to visit one day!

  5. yukti says:

    Great Itinerary with all details. Your itinerary tempted me to book tickets to Banff

  6. Lucy says:

    I love your blog and want to nominate you for the Liebster Award 2017.

    Read my post to find out what you need to do 🙂 https://atravellersfootsteps.com/nominated-liebster-award-2017/

    PS How amazing is Banff, I lived in Lake Louise for two years so know the area well.

    • Robin Tuck says:

      Hey, thanks for the nomination and for reaching out, these awards are an awesome idea!

      Oh nice you lived there? That’s awesome! How could you ever bring yourself leave!? Yeah we’re loving life here right now while the weather’s warm and the sun’s out! Give us a shout if you’re ever back in the area!

      Rob

  7. Megan says:

    Hey! When would you recommend as the best time to go?? I was going to wait until next summer as I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather unless I’m snowboarding (very amateur level) as I’ve mainly lived in SC and Phoenix. However, your list is making me wonder if it might actually be a great trip even in winter. I hike and such frequently, but I haven’t done anything in icy or snowy conditions. I’m assuming the list prior to stating specific seasons could be done anytime?? If there is any specialized gear needed for the listed hikes, are there reasonable rentals nearby?

    • Robin Tuck says:

      Winter is stunning in the mountains and A LOT of fun but a lot of people are not prepared for the cold that comes with it. If you’re interested in milder winter temperatures I would recommend March as a good time to visit. There are plenty of rental options in the Banff area 🙂

  8. Lisa says:

    My friend and I are finishing up hiking the white mountains in NH and wanted to take a hiking adventure trip. I have found myself obsessed with Banff! In a perfect world, we’d love to rent a teardrop trailer and explore from a centralized location (with a rental car). Where would be a good location for this? I am just starting my research and your outline has been a great help. Any other hiking specific details would be great. We are 4 season hikers, and I’d like to think that New England winters in the mountains have prepared us at least somewhat. But I am not sure what your definition of a mild winter is! LOL

    • Robin Tuck says:

      Hi Lisa, when are you planning to visit? Obviously hiking recommendations will depend on the time of year you’re planning to visit! How far afield are you planning to travel? Banff is fairly centralised if you’re only exploring locally, but if you’re going further afield then you might need to look at other options as a base. A mild winter is probably around 0 to minus 10 (centigrade), but it can drop to minus 30 on a cold day! Maybe if you could get back to me with some more details about what you’re thinking, I can give you some more specific advice! Thanks, Rob

  9. Debi says:

    Will be going to Banff and Jasper National Parks the first part of September 2018 for 12 days with my husband. We are interested in doing a lot of hiking in these areas but there will only be 2 of us. Are there any real safety issues in hiking most of the marked trails with just 2 of us?

    • Robin Tuck says:

      Hi Debi,

      You should be fine! There’s always a slight risk of wildlife but if you carry bear spray and make lots of noise, that should be enough. I’ve only ever come across a bear once after hundreds of hikes and it simply turned around and walked away when it saw us coming. We’re just not in their food chain and most animals will walk away if they hear you coming. Also the government goes to great lengths to haze the animals that come near humans, so they tend to be fairly scared of us. If you were going into the backcountry then perhaps you’d have cause to be more wary, but anything closer to civilisation shouldn’t be an issue.

      If you’re seriously concerned about wildlife risk then I would suggest trying to join a bigger group (of 4 or more ideally) and avoid areas with the most bear activity (Lake Louise, Waterton).

      Thanks,

      Robin

  10. Debi says:

    Many thanks for your reply and advise, Robin!
    Looking most forward to doing a lot of hiking but didn’t want to be stupid!

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