Guides

What to See and Do in Banff – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

Hotel search

The Rocky Mountains town of Banff enjoys a prime spot in the heart of Alberta’s Banff National Park. Surrounded by swathes of sublime countryside, complete with deep blue lakes and natural hot springs, it’s a favorite with adventurous types looking to explore the great outdoors. The town also enjoys quick access to excellent skiing and is dotted with historic architecture and relics from its intriguing past.
The Cave and Basin

 

 

Referred to by many as the birthplace of Banff National Park, Cave and Basin National Historic Site encompasses hot, bubbling natural springs were discovered way back in the 1880s, having been known to natives for thousands of years beforehand. The government quickly established Banff as Canada’s first national park as a means of preserving the springs. The site now runs as a popular museum, where you can visit the original cave, the outdoor pool – which is no longer open to bathers– and even go on an atmospheric evening lantern tour of this subterranean world.

 

Lake Minnewanka

 

 

Its name means Lake of the Water Spirits, and Minnewanka is certainly an ethereal spot of postcard perfection. A popular hunting ground with the indigenous Stoney people for centuries, the shores are now a delight for picnickers and active nature-lovers alike. You can explore the sparkling waters on a tranquil cruise that will give all the historical background you could possibly want, plus plenty of info on the area’s fascinating geology. A series of hiking trails skirt the lake, offering staggering mountain views, while fishing, swimming, and sailing opportunities are all available.

 

Banff Gondola

 

 

For stunning views across the lush and somewhat mystical Banff landscape in both summer and winter, the Banff Gondola is just the ticket. Crawling to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, this relaxing trip ends with an extraordinary vantage over 6 mountain ranges. From the site’s many observation decks, you can catch a good glimpse of the Bow River Valley and Banff town itself. While you’re up there, you can drop in at a selection of restaurants and perhaps pick up a souvenir at the gift shop.

 

Whyte Museum

 

Any history buffs visiting Banff will not want to miss this gem of a museum. In operation since 1966 and named after its dedicated patrons, artists Peter and Catharine Whyte, the organization preserves and celebrates the culture of the great Canadian Rockies. In the business of trading knowledge and ideas, the museum hosts a varied array of exhibitions, with some beautiful landscapes and folk art on display. The core collection delves into the lives of the native people who long ago made the mountains their home.