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Top 10 Most Beautiful & Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park

Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park

Banff National Park is one of Canada’s greatest national treasures, attracting millions of visitors each year. The park includes beautiful turquoise lakes reflecting snow-capped peaks, as well as part of the Rocky Mountains with glaciers and forests. It has been included in the UNESCO list of protected natural and cultural monuments since 1985.

The picturesque town of Banff is the only town in the park and the main activity center. The Icefields Parkway winds 230 kilometers from the 3,000-foot mountains connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks to the north.

The main highlights of this impressive ride along the Parkway are the world-famous Lake Louise, the aristocratic Canadian Pacific Hotel Lake Louise Castle, and the massive Columbia Icefield. You also have the chance to see some of Canada’s wildlife. The park is home to numerous black bears, elk, reindeer, wolves, beavers, and grizzly bears.

Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park and make your trip enjoyable.

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park

Here are the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park:

1. Banff

Surrounded by mountains at the southern end of Banff National Park, this small town is one of Alberta’s main tourist attractions. Dedicated to tourism, it offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from casual to high-end, quirky shops and restaurants.

In the summer, the streets are packed with tourists from all over the world who come to see the Canadian Rockies, while in the winter the town provides a lively atmosphere as skiers descend to Banff to enjoy the nearby slopes.
Banff Springs Hotel: One of Banff’s highlights is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Built in 1888, this historic hotel is today a Banff landmark. Once planned to be the world’s largest hotel complex, this traditionally designed castle-like grand hotel still retains the charm of early rail travel. In those days, only wealthy travelers could afford a trip to the then still remote Canadian Rockies.

The hotel enjoys an independent location in a wooded area with stunning views of the surroundings. Beneath the Banff Springs Hotel, an easy walk from downtown Banff, the Bow River rolls at cliff-like heights.
Sulfur Mountain: One of the best places to visit in Banff for stunning views of Banff town and the entire valley is Sulfur Mountain. Riding the Sulfur Mountain cable car is one of the most popular summer activities. Parking is just 2.5 miles from Banff.

On a clear day there are stunning views from the three terrace decks and the overhead restaurant. At the top are several hiking options, including the Canadian Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site and the Banff Skywalk (Vista Trail), an easy one-mile hike to Sanson Peak Weather Station.

2. Lake Louise

The jewel of Banff National Park is Lake Louise, a shimmering turquoise lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains up to 3,000 feet. Even though the water is too cold for swimming, it is perfect for canoeing. At the western end of Lake Louise, Mount Victoria (3,469 meters) is majestic.

You can enjoy stunning views from the famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise or the shoreline in front of the hotel. This is one of the best resorts in Alberta. One of the best places to eat even if you don’t live here. From the property is a paved path along the water’s edge with beautiful views of the lake, mountains, glaciers and castle.

If you live in Banff and want to easily visit some of the beautiful surrounding lakes, including Lake Louise, the Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour is a great option. This 4-hour, 15-minute small-group guided tour will take you on a tour of all the highlights of both regions. It also saves you the hassle of finding parking and booking a shuttle bus.

A very important note regarding parking: If the parking lot is full, the parking service will block the road and you will have to use the bus. Lake Louise has only limited parking, and the park has recently installed shuttle buses to reduce traffic congestion. Buses run every 15 minutes from 8am to 6:30pm from Lake Louise Park and the Ride Center along the Trans-Canada Highway, 6km from the town of Lake Louise. Reservation is required and available from 1 April each year.

Your Lake Louise ticket also includes a connection service to Moraine Lake.

Lake Louise Castle: This iconic hotel is part of the Lake Louise landscape and is a great place for lunch overlooking the lake. In 1890, the Canadian Pacific Railroad built the first Lake Louise Fortress on the moraine at the end of the lake. Easily accessible by rail, Lake Louise and the surrounding countryside quickly turned into a tourist destination. From here the expedition began exploring the rocky area on horseback. Climbers from England and the United States climbed unknown peaks.

The current Lake Louise Castle was built in 1924 after a fire destroyed its smaller wooden predecessor. At first, horse-drawn carriages, later taken by trams, carried guests from the train station in the valley to the hotel, six kilometers away.

A road was built from Banff to Lake Louise in the 1920s. In Bow Valley, the Lake Louise Resort was developed with approximately 400 permanent residents.

Lake Louise Hike: Known from many photos and postcards, Lake Louise is the starting point for some rewarding hiking trails, perhaps the best of which is the Plain of Six Glaciers.

Another very popular hike leads up to Lake Agnes (365m elevation difference) in a picturesque location between two circular hills known as the Beehive. A grueling climb to the top of one of the beehives offers stunning views of the entire area. During the summer, the Lake Agnes Teahouse caters to hikers.

3. Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) is one of Canada’s most scenic highways. It covers northern Banff National Park and southern Jasper National Park and forms the link between Trans-Canada Route 1 and Yellowhead Route 16. Unlike the busy Trans-Canada Highway, Icefield Drive is a pure and simple sightseeing route through stunning mountain scenery.

From Lake Louise to Jasper, the road follows a narrow north-south valley for 230 kilometers between the glacial peaks of the main Rocky Mountains. Often overlooked parking spaces offer the opportunity to enjoy stunning views, and interpretive signs fill the context of the landscape and local history.

One of the highlights along Icefield Drive is the Columbia Icefield. At this point, the Athabasca Glacier descends from a height, allowing you to reach your toes.

Bighorn sheep and goats – on the roadside or on the mountaintop – romantic waterfalls, shimmering turquoise waters in mountain lakes, ice fields appearing on the horizon and snow-capped peaks all offer you an endless variety of journeys.

You can drive your own or if you want someone else to do all the driving and understand your surroundings, consider taking the Columbia Icefields Tour from Banff. This full-day tour covers all the highlights along the way, including a trip to the glacier surface and the option to walk on the ice.

4. Trails in Banff National Park

Hiking in Banff National Park can take you to some of the most amazing places in the park. Your hike is sure to see one or all of the following: turquoise lakes, towering peaks, giant glaciers, wildlife, tumbling waterfalls, and deep valleys with fast-flowing rivers.

The most popular hikes in Banff National Park are Lake Agnes, the Great Beehive Trail, and the Six Glacial Plains, all located in the Lake Louise area. Along the Icefields Parkway are Wilcox Pass and Parker Ridge, both of which have beautiful glacial views. If you’re looking for a longer hike, you might consider Bow Falls or Sentinel Pass.

You can choose your own trail or join a classic hike like the Banff Tour. A knowledgeable guide will take you on one of four legendary hikes in the area and gain insight into the history, flora and fauna you will see. Hotel pickup and drop-off and packed lunches are included.

5. Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Ski Area is the most famous ski area in Alberta and one of the best in Canada. Offers all levels of skiing ability, including open bowls, regular runs, and tree skiing. The run on the slope is visible from the lake and Lake Louise Castle.

Lake Louise Ski Resort recently added a new lift, the Summit Quad, making it easy to access the new 480 acres. Skiers will rejoice in all this new terrain, previously only accessible via the old (and brutal to ride) Poma lifts.

In the summer, the Lake Louise Scenic Cable Car provides an easy way to access mountain scenery. The cable car, which rises to 2,088 meters, here is an opportunity to take a little hike or short hike or just enjoy a good meal.

Lunch and breakfast are served at the top of the scenic gondola at the Whitehorn Bistro, located more than 2,000 meters above sea level. This restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining with views of the surrounding forest and the turquoise waters of Lake Louise.

Official website:

6. Moraine Lake

As you can see, Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is as impressive as Lake Louise but attracts fewer tourists. Picturesque turquoise waters are surrounded by ten peaks, each exceeding 3000 meters, and the Unkhelmna glacier. The lake is located outside of Lake Louise, and the 13-kilometer trail from Lake Louise to Moraine offers panoramic views of endless beauty.

A 1.5 km long hiking trail runs along the northwest coast near the parking lot. A flat and easy walk. The most scenic hikes include a short climb along the Rockpile Trail for the best view of the lake and the most common sight on posters and postcards. It only takes about 20 minutes, but most people get stuck in the perspective. It’s a popular but strenuous day hike from the lake to Sentinel Pass, one of the highest passes in Banff National Park.

Like Lake Louise, Moraine has very limited parking, and on most days of the peak season parking is usually full at sunrise. Take the shuttle bus from Lake Louise Park and the Ride Center on the Trans-Canada Highway, 6 km from Lake Louise.

Buses run every 15 minutes from 8 am to 5 pm and less frequently outside these hours. The service starts at 6 am and ends at 19:35. Reservation is required and available from 1 April each year.

Your Moraine Lake ticket also includes a connection service to Lake Louise.

7. Sunshine Village Ski Resort

Just a short drive from the town of Banff, Sunshine Village is one of Alberta’s two best ski resorts, along with Lake Louise. The resort offers a variety of trails and runs for beginners and advanced skiers.

Sunshine Village now operates its gondolas during the summer months. Gone are the long journeys on winding, dusty roads on old-school buses. Now you can easily get on the gondolas and watch the scenery as you go up the hill.

From the base area, multiple walks offer spectacular views. Highlights of these hikes are the open meadows filled with spring and summer flowers, wildlife encounters, and some of the best views in the park. A less strenuous option is to take the Standish Express high-speed four-person cable car to the top of the Continental Divide.

It’s easy to go out in the sun. Either drive yourself to the parking lot or take the free shuttle from the town of Banff.

Official website:

8. Peyto Lake

Located at 2,068 meters above sea level, Bow Pass is the highest mountain pass in Banff National Park and the watershed between the North and South Saskatchewan River systems. A shorter glide path leads to the stunning Peyto Lake Lookout, about a kilometer from the parking lot, and another excellent viewpoint on foot.

Peyto Lake is a distinctive turquoise color among the region’s many glacial lakes and is especially beautiful in mid to late summer when the alpine meadows of Bow Peak are covered with wildflowers.

From Bow Pass, it’s a long, steep trail that descends 2.5 kilometers to Peyto Lake, named after Bill Peto, a mountain guide who began exploring the area in 1894 and went to the summit of Bow.

Note that the Park Service is working on a $2.9 million upgrade to this lookout area, including new roads, better parking spaces, and new restrooms. Construction is expected to take place in the summer of 2021 and the observation deck will be closed until further notice. Check the park website for the latest updates.

9. Bow Valley Parkway

The 48-mile Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise offers an alternative route to the busy Trans-Canada Highway. Along this route, there are many viewing points, as well as camping and picnic areas. The towering green mountain is the 2728-meter-high Eisenhower peak.

The Bow Valley Parkway also provides a great opportunity to see the park’s wildlife. One of the most popular stops along the park trail is Johnston Canyon. When planning your trip, please note that the Bow Valley Parkway is closed from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM from March 1 to June 25. The route has a speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour and is strictly enforced.

10. Johnston Canyon

About 26 kilometers along the Bow Valley Parkway is the entrance to Johnston Canyon and its two waterfalls. A path passes through the canyon with bridges over the steep rocky walls. The trail continues for about six kilometers on the other side of the canyon to Ink Pots, a group of springs. Two of these are particularly striking because of the blue-green color of the water.

While most tourists simply stay at the lower levels, those with more time and energy will need to hike the inkwell more strenuously. Johnston Canyon is an impressive destination both in summer and winter, although there are very few tourists outside of the summer.


Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Banff National Park. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Banff National Park, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.

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