Banff Travel Guide
We recently spent a long weekend in Canada at Banff National Park to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. YALL! This place is like Narnia. It is unlike anywhere I have ever been.
What to do:
Lake Louise: You’ve gotta go see Lake Louise! If you want, you can canoe on the lake which I highly recommend. LL is about 40 minutes from Banff so plan accordingly. We spent an entire day there. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is on the lake, so you can eat and hangout there. It’s gorgeous.
Lake Agnes Tea House: This tea house is supposedly amazing. It’s a hike up from Lake Louise. Once you get up there you can enjoy tea and lunch. Food is flown up there daily so it is fresh. Unfortunately, it was closed for the winter due to early snowfall. If you go before winter we heard from several people that this is A MUST.
Peyto Lake: We drove about 1.5 hours to Peyto Lake. The drive in and of itself is stunning. We even saw a grizzly bear on our way up! The hike is about 2 miles there and back along a very well maintained trail, so not bad at all. Definitely worth seeing. PS, once you see the wolf (or dog) in the outline of the lake you can’t unsee it.
Morraine Lake: Unfortunately, it snowed early this year and we were unable to see Morraine Lake as it was closed for the winter.
Downtown Banff: Our hotel (Fairmont Banff Springs) was right outside of downtown Banff which made exploring super easy. Downtown Banff is a cute ski town with great restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping etc. We went into town pretty much every night.
There is honestly so much to do. Just ask your hotel about the excursions and adventures the list goes on and on!
Where to stay:
Fairmont Banff Springs: We stayed here. I linked it because I didn’t take any photos that do it justice. It is a gorgeous massive castle in the mountains. Our room had an insane view. The rooms are pretty small as it is a European style hotel. The hotel has sooo many good restaurants that you wouldn’t need to leave if you didn’t want to. With how big it is I was surprised by how cozy it felt. So cozy that it was normal for people to wander the hotel in robes to get hot cookies or tea at night or spend hours enjoying drinks in comfortable furniture in one of the lounges while listening to local musicians play. LOVED THIS PLACE.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: This Fairmont hotel seemed newer than the one above. It is gorgeous and a lot of people actually do a few nights at Fairmont Banff Springs and a few nights here. The only con that we saw was that it’s about 40 minutes from downtown Banff so you’re pretty much glued to your hotel for dinner, etc.
I can’t really speak to any of the other hotels because I didn’t really see any/go to any others. Im sure there are a ton more up in the mountains but its was important to us to have easy access to downtown Banff.
What to eat:
Tooloulous: Seems odd to get cajun food in Canada but this place was amazing. It was the first place we went to right off the plane and we had to stop ourselves from going back a second time. If it was up to Joe we would have eaten here at least three times.
Coyotes Southwestern Grill: Such a good diner for breakfast and grill for lunch. We went for breakfast and loved it. Amazing French toast.
The Maple Leaf: We went here for dinner one night. Seriously everyone told us to go here. It did not disappoint. I got the trout meal and Joe got a steak. We got the cheesy lobster dip with bread… my mouth is watering as I type. They also have a great selection of local/regional beers.
High Tea at Fairmont Chatteau Lake Louise: UGH!!!!! So dreamy. You have to do this. Make a reservation. You get several little finger sandwiches and tea. So pretty and so fun!
La Terrazza: I love Italian food. We went here for dinner one night and it was AMAZING. The best authentic Italian food.
Chucks Steakhouse: We really wanted to go here but unfortunately it was booked for weeks. I would suggest getting a reservation as soon as you decide to go to Banff. haha
Eddies Burger Bar: We heard that this place had the best burgers in town… judging by the line out the door I would agree. It was too cold to wait so we didn’t try one.
Melissas Missteak: Another place that we were told was a must. Most amazing brunch. Joe is obsessed with eggs Benedict and they had sooo many options. He loved this place.
Little Wild: My fav little coffee shop that we went to.
Y’all… this is only a tiny list. There are so many restaurants for such a small downtown. We didn’t go to the brewery or bars but they all looked awesome.
General travel tips:
Getting around: You will need a car – there is no uber. Rent a car! If you are traveling in the middle of winter and planning on being out and about in the parks a lot it may be wise to get something with four wheel drive. If it is not the middle of winter or you won’t be venturing deeper into the parks than the immediate town of Banff area you will be fine with something more standard!
Weather: Summer and fall are their busy times. I would suggest not going after October 5th. We got to do most of everything we wanted but because of early snowfall some trails and parks were closed so I’d go before October 5 – we just got super lucky with the great weather! Also, I wouldn’t go in the dead of winter unless you are a total ski junkie.. only because all of the lakes freeze up so you can’t see the amazing colors.
Airport: Fly into Calgary as that is the closest airport. It’s about 1.5 hour drive to Banff from there.
Pack a lunch: if you’re driving out to Peyto Lake or Morraine even I would pack a lunch. There really isn’t any food up there. We stopped by a bakery and got the best sandwiches before we left and we were so grateful we did.
VIBE: Banff is quiet and cozy. It’s a glass of wine, a cookie, and an early bed time kinda place.
What I wore in Banff:
RUN… DONT WALK… TO BANFF.