Are you looking for spectacular mountains, pristine snow, misty canyons or shopping til you drop into some natural hot springs? Banff is the place for you. Located in the spectacular Canadian Rockies, Banff has something for everyone – skiing, sightseeing, hiking, shopping, eating, and wildlife spotting. And if you’ve got three days, you can have it all. From thrills to spills to just gazing in wonder.
Day 1: Banff town
Before throwing yourself into the wilds of nature, get to know Banff township – then you’ll have the perfect recovery plans after the next few days out adventuring. Banff has history, culture and plenty of places to shop and eat. For starters, those mountains create the most amazing backdrop while your stroll or dine. Take a city sightseeing tour to get oriented, then ride the gondolas – the Banff Gondola takes you to the top of Sulphur Mountain for incredible views, and the Lake Louise Gondola is a slightly longer ride with amazing panoramas. Visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and learn how the national parks system began here in 1885. Hear about how people used to flock here to enjoy the healthy natural hot springs then head to the Banff Upper Hot Springs and have an outdoor soak in those beautiful steaming waters yourself.
Day 2: Wildlife and landscape
Meet the locals: grizzly bears. But best do it on a guided tour – these are wild and awesome animals. Or take an evening tour and see animals in the wild. Summer is of course the ideal time to really get out and see the natural wonders of the area: waterfalls, lakes, the Hoodoos – ancient spire-like rock formations. You can go horseback-riding, hiking, fishing, or play golf. In winter, head up to those famous ski slopes.
Day 3: Water water everywhere
Lake Louise is the jewel of the Canadian Rockies. Take the Lake Louise Gondola ride to get a good view, then head on down to the water’s edge and go kayaking or swimming. Head further afield to beautiful Moraine Lake for photographs that will stun you for years to come. If you like your water wilder, go white-water rafting on Kicking Horse River – the name tells you what to expect. And if you like your water frozen, head to Victoria Glacier at the head of Lake Louise, or Athabasca Glacier and the magnificent Columbia Icefield, one of the largest ice masses outside the Arctic Circle. In the evening, tame that ice by shaking a little up with a cocktail and enjoying Banff’s nightlife.
You’ll be stirred not shaken by Banff – no matter what season you go, that landscape is going to deliver wonders for the senses.