Nestled within Banff National Park itself, Banff town is the epitome of Canadian culture. It’s surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, trailing with turquoise glacial water and filled with the smell of pine. Oh and you’ll likely come across wildlife on your daily commute!
I jumped on the chance to visit the town, even if it was a short one, and for work.
The drive to Banff is an easy 2 hour ride. It’s also the perfect way to set the tone for the rest of the trip, as the mountain ranges get larger and larger the closer you get. It’s a breathtaking drive!
This is the busy main street running through the heart of town, filled with shops and restaurants. I’ll have to admit, I avoided most of this area. None of the shops were particularly unique – think Starbucks and the lot. It was way more touristy than I thought it would be. Be warned!
Hot springs, who doesn’t like them? There’s the Upper Hot Springs Pool, which for about $7 per adult, you can stay as long as you want. The Fairmount Springs Hotel also has a hot spring pool on its property, but you’ll need to be a guest to access this.
Because there’s only one hot springs facility the public can access in the town itself, it did get extremely crowded. If I’d do it again, I’d probably go earlier or later in the day. Not my type of thing to be in a pool with 100 other people!
Banff Gondola Sulphur Mountain
Usually I’d hike up a mountain, but because time was of the essence, I decided to take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain instead. If you’re interested, the trail is about 5.5km. It’s well marked, but can be fairly steep.
At $40 per adult, the cost of the gondola ride was pretty steep too. Aside from just a gondola ride, you can also combine it with other activities, such as the Glacier Skywalk, boat tours, icefield glacier tours, etc. Of course, the more you combine, the more you’ll pay.
But the view at the top makes it all worth it!
I’d suggest checking this out early, as there’s only one path you can go, and it’s shared with people going up and down. By the time I was heading down around noon, loads of tour buses had arrived.
Also, from the couple days I was there, I noticed the weather often turned overcast and drizzly by the afternoon.
Canoe or Kayak
I had to squeeze in a canoe ride before my time in Banff was up. Because I was with canoe virgins, we opted to do a group tour. The Banff Canoe Club is the only company that offers water activity rentals in the main town. They also offer horseback rides, white water rafting and bike rentals.
We went on the Voyageur Canoe Tour. It was $45 per adult and about 1.5 hours on the Bow River. It was like living out of a postcard the whole tour! Completely surreal!
Things I would’ve liked to see:
Being on the icefields
Cave and Basin National Historic site
- Having access to a car is necessary. Taxis are pricey and buses take a very long time.
- Dress warmly. 20 degrees in Banff is not the same as 20 degrees in Calgary. It’s a lot colder!