The default location for a honeymoon is on a warm tropical beach, right? Not for us! Berty and I love the outdoors and seeing incredible places, so we quickly decided that road tripping to the Rocky Mountains was a must for our first few weeks as husband and wife. We decided on Banff and Glacier National Park for their natural beauty and because it was a new experience for both of us! Banff has gotten a reputation in Canada for incredible hikes and gorgeous mountain views. Before our wedding plans were even settled, we started researching things to do in Banff!
Canada is also celebrating their 150th anniversary this year by giving everyone in the freaking world a free national parks pass! Go to this link here and snag your free park pass! (Seriously, this is too good to be true.)
Here’s What You Need To Know About Banff, Canada:
- Banff is the highest town (4,547ft above sea level) in Canada
- The National Park alone has over 1,000 miles of hiking trails
- Peak Tourism Season in June-August
- Banff National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Average temps in July are 60 degrees and all the way down to 12 degrees F in January
- Nearest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YYC) and a 1.5 hour drive to get to Banff
- Have a very reliable car (you’ll be doing a lot of driving)
- Pack lots of snacks
- Wear warm clothes year round (we went in June and it was pretty dang cold)
- Best time to go – Anytime not between June-Sept.
- Save $$ by cooking breakfast in your hotel/packing own lunches
Read More: Clever Ways To Save Money While Traveling
What To Pack:
- Warm clothes (Find our PNW Packing List in this post!)
- Layers for hiking
- Outerwear like gloves, hat, scarves. It can get super cold, even in June!
- Sturdy hiking boots
20 Things To Do In Banff, Canada
This place left a wonderful lasting impression on us. Not only did our room have jaw-dropping views of the mountains, we were also lucky to have a full kitchen, living room, and access to a pool and spa! The Stoneridge Resort goes above and beyond when it comes to service and accommodating requests. This resort is located just outside of Banff in the city of Canmore. This means it’s much cheaper to stay here vs. Banff, but you don’t sacrifice any proximity to the park. Win win!
2. Admire The Blue Water of Lake Louise
If you don’t see ANYTHING else, go to this lake. Its iconic view of Banff will leave a lasting impression with the magical blue water and gorgeous mountains. We recommend going early in the morning or right after sunset. Mid-day can sometimes bring harsh sunlight and ALWAYS deliver large crowds. These pictures (seen below) were taken around 9:30pm (it’s still light in Canada at this time.) Lake Louise turned out to be our very first and our very last stop in Banff!
3. Visit The Shimmering Moraine Lake
A short drive away from Lake Louise, this glacial-fed lake is glowing with blue green water and stunning views of the Valley of Ten Peaks. There is a boulder nearby where you can climb and get the best views of this lake. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a dip in the water (but it’s going to be verrrrrry cold). We recommend coming here for sunrise so you can see the light play on the mountain peaks!
4. Take A Cruise On Lake Minnewanka Cruise
This cruise was probably the highlight of our latest trip. We were able to learn from a charismatic tour guide about why the water is so blue (spoiler: it’s the minerals in the water), the kinds of wildlife that live in the area, and the history of how these mountains and lakes formed! The tour was about 1.5 hours, and we were pleased to be informed on lots of things to do Banff!
Read More: How To Save Money While Traveling
5. Ride The Banff Gondola
This gondola will take you up to the Sulphur Mountain Viewpoint. From here you can see the whole town of Banff, and get stunning 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains. There is also an option to hike instead of taking the gondola. Hiking is free, but it’s a super challenging hike: almost 2,200 feet elevation gain, 3.4 miles, and will take you about 3.5 hours to finish!
6. Capture The Reflection At Vermillion Lakes
We had forgotten that the sun sets MUCH later here (it sets around 10pm in June), so we hung out at Vermillion Lakes until about 10:30pm so we could take sunset pictures. We were able to watch wildlife, watch the sky turn colors, and chat with other photographers waiting to catch the sunset too. 🙂
Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
7. Be Awestruck By Mt. Rundle
This is actually the mountain you will admire when you go to Vermillion Lakes! Mount Rundle overlooks to towns of Banff and and Canmore, giving you spectacular views all day. Come at sunrise or sunset to catch it in its full glory.
8. Walk Around Banff Avenue
Walking around the city center was a fun way to get to know Banff and pick up a few souvenirs. I (Emily) was a total dummy and forgot a properly warm coat, so we were relived to find a Patagonia on the main avenue to pick up a warm layer. This place is for shoppers, foodies, and adventure-lovers alike. You can find lots of companies that will help you plan trips out to see famous sites!
9. Explore Around Johnson Lake
One of the quieter attractions in Banff National Park, Johnson Lake is the perfect pit stop for a lunch break or (very cold) swim. You can hike around the lake on a loop trail, seeing tons of wildlife and breathing in the fresh mountain air.
What’s Left On Our List?
While we did a lot of research of things to do in Banff, we didn’t have enough time to experience everything (we were only there for 3 days!). Here are some other suggestions of beautiful places to check out with your time in Banff, Canada:
10. Teahouse Hike
11. Peyto Lake (Jasper NP)
12. Upper Hot Springs
13. Icefields Parkway
14. Cave & Basin National Historic Site
15. Bow Valley Parkway
16. Johnston Canyon
17. Parker Ridge Trail
18. Stay at the Banff Springs Hotel
19. Mt. Norquay
20. Banff Park Museum
What are some other things to do in Banff? Have you beTell us in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE TO READ:
Want more travel inspiration? Follow our many boards on Pinterest to get loads of destination ideas!
Want to find the best places in the PNW?
Stop searching through internet noise and download our curated list just for you.
Enter your email below and we'll send you your PNW Bucket List!