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Banff & Lake Louise Canada are two of our favorite places in the world. With their world-class resorts, diverse topography, and infinite adventures, it’s no wonder we keep returning to Canada’s winter wonderland year after year. This was our second visit to the Canadian Rockies and it seems like every trip we take to this magical area keeps getting better and better. Banff and Lake Louise possess a unique, pristine, untouched, unpretentious, magical quality that simply cannot be replicated. Its landscape is glorious, its year-round adventures are endless, and its pristine beauty is unparalleled.

How to Travel to Banff & Lake Louise

The closest airport to Banff & Lake Louise is Calgary International Airport. From Calgary, you can either take various shuttle services such as the Banff Airporter, hire a private driver, or rent a car. We decided to rent our own car to make it easy to travel from town to town. Note: If you are driving, you’ll need to purchase a Parks Pass to enter Banff National Park.

When to Visit Banff & Lake Louise

There is really no bad time to visit Banff & Lake Louise. In the wintertime, the region transforms into a complete winter wonderland filled with endless winter adventures including skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and ice skating. We happened to visit during the Banff SnowDays festival, which is a festival that is spread across Banff & Lake Louise and includes snow sculpture exhibitions, ice carving competitions, exclusive culinary offerings,  and skijoring.

During the summer months, the snow melts and the region is filled with plenty of opportunities to hike, mountain bike, kayak, and camp. We haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the region during the summer months, but we hope to visit one day and take in the splendor of the emerald glacial fed lakes and marvelous mountains.


Best Hotels in Banff & Lake Louise

Book one of the Best hotels in Banff 

Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff: Known as the premier luxury hotel in the region of Banff & Lake Louise, the Fairmont Banff Springs is a palatial hotel that has five-star restaurants, a spa, and a legendary location right in Banff National Park. Legend has it that this hotel is haunted in certain rooms! Click here to book.

Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Bow Valley / Lake Louise: If you really want to get away from it all and enjoy the full mountain experience, you have to stay at Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Built In 1949 as an overnight stop on the Banff – Lake Louise coach road (the original TransCanada Highway), these charming log cabins are cozy, romantic, and picture perfect. Note: there is zero cell service and limited wifi connection, so this is truly the place to disconnect from the world. Click here to book.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise: This lavish hotel sits on the lovely Lake Louise and overlooks the magnificent Victoria Glacier. Built over 100 years ago, this hotel is the perfect jumping off point for year-round luxurious adventures and five-star service. In the winter months, it offers sleigh rides around the lake and it’s home to an outdoor Ice Bar that overlooks Lake Louise. Click here to book.


Log Cabin at Baker Creek Mountain Resort


The incredible views at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Post Hotel, Lake Louise: This elegant boutique hotel was voted the number one resort in Canada. This Relais & Chateau chalet-style lodge offers unspoiled beauty, a 23,000-bottle wine cellar (!), and incredibly romantic ambiance. Click here to book.

Banff Caribou Lodge, Banff: Located on Banff Avenue in downtown Banff, The Banff Caribou Lodge is only a short walk from the action of downtown Banff. It has a full-service spa and a steakhouse. Click here to book.

Royal Canadian, Banff: This hotel is located within walking distance to downtown Banff, The Royal Canadian has spacious rooms (some complete with fireplaces), an indoor pool, restaurant, and bar. Click here to book.

Where to Adventure

Skiing & Snowboarding on “Ski Big 3:” There are three main mountains in the Banff / Lake Louise Area: Mt. Norquay (Banff’s closest ski resort), Banff Sunshine, and Lake Louise.

While Scott is an advanced snowboarder, he hasn’t skied in about 20 years. We decided to take a ski lesson on Mt. Norquay together and the lesson was absolutely amazing. Our instructor, Geoff, taught us the basics of skiing on the bunny hill before taking us up the gondola to ski the real mountain. It was an amazing adventure and an incredible bonding experience for the two of us. If you need a refresher course, the coaching / teaching team at Mt. Norquay is highly skilled and amazing at what they do!

Dog sledding: Located just minutes from Lake Louise, this adventure is an absolute must when visiting Banff National Park. We headed out for an hour and a half sled tour through the Great Divide with Kingmik Dogsled Tours. Not only is it a beautiful and thrilling way to explore the national park, but as the dogs mush through the forest with no sounds or sights for miles, it is also a surprisingly peaceful experience.

Snowshoeing: There are plenty of places to snowshoe in Banff National Park, but our favorite spot was at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. We took a guided interpretative snowshoe tour high above the mountains, which not only got our hearts pumping, but taught us a great deal about the history of the entire Rocky Mountain region.

Sleigh Ride: One of the most magical parts of our entire trip to Banff & Lake Louise was a horse drawn sleigh ride around Lake Louise at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The sleigh ride was peaceful, informative, and breathtakingly beautiful. We were able to traverse the entirety of Lake Louise and take in the monolithic mountains that encircled us.


Skiing at Mt. Norquay


Dogsledding in Lake Louise

Where to Eat & Drink

Whitebark Café, Banff: We’re massive coffee snobs so before we could do anything in Banff & Lake Louise, we always had to get our fix of coffee at Whitebark café. The coffee here is absolutely delicious and the breakfast souffle is a must before heading out to the mountains.

Block Kitchen + Bar: If there is one restaurant that you have to visit in Banff, it should be Block Kitchen + Bar. This tiny restaurant is absolutely delicious. We highly recommend the pork bao buns, curry ramen, and a craft cocktail.

PARK Distillery Restaurant + Bar, Banff: This distillery and restaurant is a staple in Banff. They distill all of their spirits from the glaciers high in the Rocky Mountains while the grain is sourced from family farms in Alberta. As for the food, PARK Distillery Restaurant + Bar specializes in campfire food made from wood-fired, spit-roasted, locally sourced ingredients. We highly recommend ordering the St. Louis Ribs and the fondue.

Banff Ave Brewing Company, Banff: This brewery and restaurant uses the pure mountain water from the Canadian Rockies along with house made cultures yeast strains to create delicious fresh beer.

Lone Pine, Mt. Norquay: Located on Mt. Norquay, Lone Pine is the perfect place to enjoy a warm bowl of chili and a hot toddy after a day on the mountain. This isn’t your average snow lodge. In fact, Chef Morne has created a menu of delicious dishes with an extravagant flair.

Baker Creek Bistro, Bow Valley / Lake Louise: The Baker Creek Bistro is located at Baker Creek Lodge on the outskirts of Lake Louise. This intimate restaurant is located in a log cabin that is nestled in the pines

Fairview Bar + Restaurant, Lake Louise: Located at the prestigious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this sophisticated restaurant is framed with elegantly arched windows overlooking Lake Louise. While all of their food is delicious, we highly recommend the afternoon tea complete with a glass of champagne.


The best coffee in Banff at Whitebark Café


Beer Flights = Happy Coco