25 BEST Things to Do in Banff in Summer (2023)
Looking for some of the best things to do in Banff in the summer?
Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies, is a stunning destination for nature lovers, especially during the summer when the weather is warm, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Banff and the Canadian Rockies area are beautiful year-round, but its busy tourist sightseeing season is mainly from June to September.
Summer is the only time the famous turquoise lakes in the region are not frozen, and most roads and tours/activities are open.
If you’re planning a trip to Banff in the summer, you can look forward to a variety of activities and attractions, and things to do in Banff.
Summer is the ideal time to visit some of the most beautiful lakes in the region, like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, and Lake Minnewanka. Warmer temperatures are ideal for hiking and driving the scenic Icefields Parkway.
I visited Banff as part of my Canadian Rockies road trip itinerary and explored all of these activities and attractions in Banff and the nearby regions.
➡ In a hurry? Below are some of the best recommendations for Banff?
- Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk combo tour tickets – the most popular thing to do near Banff and likely to sell out!
- Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway day tour from Banff – Includes Moraine Lake!
- Banff Gondola round trip admission ticket
- 1-hour Lake Minnewanka Cruise in Banff – get your tickets!
- 1-hour horseback riding along Bow river in Banff (beginner and family-friendly)
- Kananaskis River Rafting Adventure (beginner and family-friendly)
- Maligne Lake Cruise in Jasper with visit to Spirit Island – must-do in Jasper! Sells out fast.
Table of Contents
25 best things to do in Banff in Summer
Banff National Park is an incredible destination for summer lovers. There are so many awesome activities and sightseeing to do in Banff in summer to keep people of all ages and fitness levels occupied!
1. Ride Banff Gondola and walk the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk Trail
Visiting the Banff Gondola is an exciting way to experience the stunning beauty of Banff National Park from a unique perspective.
The Banff gondola ride takes you on a scenic journey up Sulphur Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, Banff town, and valleys.
The Banff gondola lower station is around a 12-minute drive from Banff downtown. As you ascend to the top of Sulphur Mountain, you can take in the stunning panoramic views from the glass-enclosed gondola.
Once you reach the summit, you can explore the observation decks and take in the breathtaking vistas of Banff and the surrounding areas.
You’ll also find a range of facilities, including restaurants, souvenir shops, and interpretive exhibits that offer insights into the park’s ecology, geology, and history.
One of the highlights of visiting the Banff Gondola is the around 2 miles roundtrip Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk trail that leads you to Sanson’s peak and the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site.
Time needed: Allow around 3 hours to ride the Banff Gondola and walk the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk trail. Riding the Banff Gondola is one of the most popular outdoor things to do in Banff.
➡ Check rates and availability for Banff Gondola ride tickets
2. Soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs
Visiting Banff Upper Hot Springs is a popular attraction in Banff National Park. A soak in the hot springs is an excellent way to relax and rejuvenate after a day of hiking or sightseeing. Banff hot springs are right across from the Banff Gondola.
The hot springs are a natural wonder, and the geothermally heated water contains minerals believed to have healing properties and can help ease muscle tension and relieve stress.
The mineral-rich waters, stunning views, and peaceful atmosphere make it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
The hot springs have changing rooms, showers, towel rentals, and lockers available for use, so you can bring a change of clothes and store your belongings safely. They also have a cafe onsite.
The Banff Upper hot springs can get very crowded during the evenings. Locals recommend visiting the hot springs in the early morning instead for a more serene and less crowded time.
Time needed: Allow at least 2 hours for the Banff Hot Springs. Banff Hot Springs is one of the most popular attractions in Banff in summer.
3. Visit Lake Minnewanka and take the Lake Minnewanka Cruise
Lake Minnewanka is a stunning glacial lake situated in Banff National Park. The lake’s tranquil beauty, turquoise blue waters, and majestic surroundings offer an unforgettable experience.
The lake is approximately 21 kilometers (13 miles) long, and its crystal clear waters are surrounded by majestic mountains, providing breathtaking views.
Lake Minnewanka is very popular for recreational activities in Banff in summer, like boating, hiking, biking, fishing, diving, and canoeing.
Visitors can rent a canoe or kayak at the Lake Minnewanka Boat Rentals and explore the lake’s serene waters while taking in the spectacular views.
Taking the Lake Minnewanka cruise is the main attraction of Lake Minnewanka.
The cruise is a one-hour guided tour that offers information on the history of the lake while enjoying stunning views of the mountains, alpine forests, and the lake.
➡ Check rates and availability for Lake Minnewanka cruise tickets
The boat cruise takes you near the Devil’s Gap, which is an opening between the mountain ranges.
A cool fact is that there is a submerged resort called Minnewanka Landing in the lake. The resort was flooded when the lake’s water levels were raised in the 1940s to provide hydroelectric power to the area.
Apart from the boat ride, you can enjoy a variety of activities at Lake Minnewanka, including hiking, fishing, picnicking, and boating.
The lake has several hiking trails around it, ranging from easy to challenging. The most popular is the Lake Minnewanka Lakeside Trail, which is a scenic out-and-back trail along the lake’s shore.
Time needed: Allow at least 2-3 hours for visiting lake Minnewanka and taking the 1-hour long Lake Minnewanka cruise. Plan for more time if hiking and/or picnicking at the lake. Lake Minnewanka cruise is a popular Banff summer activity.
4. Hike Johnston Canyon to lower and upper waterfalls
If you have time to do only one hike in Banff, hike the natural Johnston Canyon and see the lower and upper waterfalls. Johnston Canyon is a popular and beautiful canyon with hiking trails leading to stunning waterfalls.
Johnston Canyon is around 30 minutes drive from Banff downtown. Alternatively, you can also use the Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus to travel between Banff, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake.
➡ Check rates and availability for this 4-hour eBike and Hike from Banff to Johnston Canyon, return via shuttle
The canyon is carved into the limestone rocks by Johnston Creek, which flows through the canyon and creates picturesque cascades and pools.
The trail through the canyon is well-maintained and easy to navigate, with wooden catwalks and bridges that allow you to get up close to the waterfalls and enjoy the scenery.
Hiking the Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular things to do in Banff.
The Johnston Canyon hike has three levels – Lower Falls, Upper Falls, and Ink Pots.
Johnston Canyon trail to the Lower Falls is approximately 1.1 km (0.7 miles) one way from the parking lot, with 344 feet elevation, and takes about 30 minutes to hike. The Lower Falls are beautiful, with water cascading into a pool below.
There is a bridge and a cave here that provides an excellent viewpoint to take pictures, admire the falls, or soak up the mist from the falls!
Continuing up the canyon, the trail leads to the Upper Falls, approximately 2.7 km (1.7 miles) from the parking lot, with 500 feet of elevation, and take about 1 hour to reach.
The trail to the upper falls is slightly more challenging and requires climbing stairs and hiking up a steep incline. However, the views of the canyon and the falls are well worth the effort.
The Upper Falls are even more impressive than the Lower Falls, with water cascading into Johnston Creek below.
After the upper falls, you can continue further along to the Ink Pots. This part of the hike is very strenuous, with another 4 miles and around 1100 feet elevation.
Time needed: You will need an hour to hike up to the lower falls. To hike the upper falls, you will need around 2 hours. Plan for 4 to 5 hours if you are hiking all the way to the Ink Pots.
5. Try Stand-up paddle boarding at Johnson Lake or Two Jack Lake
Stand-up paddle boarding, also known as SUP, is a water sport that involves standing on a large, stable board and using a paddle to propel oneself through the water.
It’s a fun and easy activity that is suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced paddlers.
During Summer, the glacial lakes in Banff, like Johnson Lake and Two Jack Lake, are excellent for trying your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or SUP.
➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated 1.5-hour Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding at Johnson Lake, led by a Paddle Canada Certified SUP Guide
Both Johnson Lake and Two Jake Lake are convenient stops on the way to the more popular Minnewanka Lake. Two Jake Lake is a stunning lake with amazing reflections of Mount Rundle in the lake at sunrise or sunset.
If you want a peaceful, relaxing picnic area away from the crowds, then Two Jake Lake is an ideal place. Two Jack Lake has picnic areas, restrooms, campgrounds, and plenty of parking.
Tow Jack Lake is famous for water sports like kayaking and canoeing but is especially known for stand-up paddle boarding. Swimming and hiking are other activities enjoyed here.
It has a small beach area which is more rocky than sandy. You can sometimes spot wildlife like elk and big horn sheep when driving to the lake.
Time needed: Depends on the activities you plan to do at these lakes.
6. Experience Canoeing on the Bow River
Canoeing on the Bow River in Banff is a tranquil and scenic way to explore the natural beauty of Banff National Park.
The Bow River is a glacier-fed river that flows through the heart of the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and wildlife.
If you are a beginner, you can take a Big Canoe tour, or you can rent canoes from several locations in Banff, including the Bow River Canoe Club, and launch from one of the many access points along the river.
➡ Check rates and availability for this family-friendly, 1.5-hour Big Canoe Tour on Bow River – great for beginners!
As you paddle down the river, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including Cascade Mountain, Mount Rundle, and Sulphur Mountain.
The calmness of the river creates a serene and peaceful atmosphere, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park.
The Bow River is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including beavers, otters, and various species of birds. Keep an eye out for these animals as you paddle down the river, but remember to keep a safe distance and not disturb their natural habitats.
Canoeing on the Bow River is an activity that can be enjoyed at any time of day, but it is particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.
The colors of the sky reflect on the water, creating a stunning and peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for a relaxing paddle.
7. Go Horseback Riding along the Bow river
Summer in Banff is a great time to enjoy horseback riding on the scenic trails along the Bow River.
Several outfitters in Banff offer guided horseback rides along the Bow River, ranging from one-hour rides to full-day excursions.
The outfitters provide well-trained horses and experienced guides, making it a safe and enjoyable activity for all skill levels.
Most horseback rides are one-hour rides along the scenic Bow River. The horses walk nose to tail in a line. This is a fun experience, especially if you haven’t tried horse riding before, as it is very beginner friendly.
You can also enjoy a unique experience riding along the Bow River on horseback or in a covered wagon and indulging in a Western-style barbeque cook-out picnic.
➡ Check rates and availability for this 1-hour horseback ride along Bow River in Banff (beginner and family-friendly)
➡ Check rates and availability for this 1-hour horseback ride along Spray River in Banff, which crosses a small river! (beginner and family-friendly)
➡ Check out this 3-hour covered wagon ride or horseback ride with a Western BBQ cookout meal (beginner and family-friendly)
Time needed: Ride time plus another 30 minutes to check in and warm up to your assigned horse.
8. Go on a White water rafting adventure
Summer in Banff is a great time for enjoying white water rafting adventures. The Canadian Rockies is a great place to experience white water rafting with gushing rivers and epic scenery surrounding you.
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff offers some of the most challenging rapids in North America, making it a premier destination for white water rafting enthusiasts.
There are a lot of certified companies that offer white water rafting experiences in the Canadian Rockies for all ages and levels.
The Kicking Horse River and Kananaskis River, located near Banff, are among the most popular spots for white water rafting in the area.
Kicking Horse River is around 1.5 hours from Banff, whereas Kananaskis River is around a 40-minute drive.
➡ Check rates and availability for this Kananaskis River Rafting Adventure (beginner and family-friendly) from Banff
➡ Check rates and availability for this Rafting Adventure on the Kicking Horse River with an option for gentle family rafting or half-day rafting.
These rivers flow through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Rockies and boast rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV, providing a thrilling experience for both beginners and experienced rafters.
Time needed: Depends on the activity chosen.
9. Take a Relaxing raft float trip down the Bow River
For families with young children and seniors, white water rafting might sound too adventurous. There are tour companies that offer a relaxing raft float experience on the Bow river, near Canmore, 20 minutes from Banff.
➡ Check rates and availability for this 1 or 1.5-hour Scenic Nature Float on Bow River – great for families!
Time needed: Plan around 2-3 hours for this activity.
10. Wildlife spotting in Banff National Park
Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies region are home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, caribous, mountain goats, squirrels, bald eagles, and many more.
During the summer months, these animals are more active and easier to spot, especially in the early morning or late evening when the animals are hunting for food.
You can spot wildlife in Banff National Park just about anywhere. If you’re lucky, you might see a grizzly bear or a herd of elk grazing in a meadow.
To ensure safety while driving, stay focused on the road while also keeping an eye out for any wildlife. If you notice a vehicle parked on the side of the road, it’s likely that they’ve spotted some wildlife, so take a moment to stop and observe.
It’s important to keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing wildlife in any way.
➡ Check rates and availability for this Banff Highlights & Wildlife Small Group Adventure to increase your chances of seeing wildlife on your trip and get to see the main sights in Banff.
11. Bike the Banff Legacy Trail
The Banff Legacy Trail is a 12.6 mile (22 Km) bike trail from Banff to Canmore that is popular for biking and running. You can rent bikes in either Banff or Canmore, even electric bikes. There is a rest stop at about the halfway point with restrooms for a lunch break picnic.
The scenery is gorgeous on the trail, with mountains and wildflowers. You might also spot some wildlife along the way, like elk, dear, and bears. The trail runs along the highway for the most part.
➡ Check rates and availability for this 4-hour eBike and Hike from Banff to Johnston Canyon, return via shuttle
➡ Check rates and availability for this 2-hour Explore Banff on eBike guided tour.
Time needed: Plan 3-4 hours to bike the Banff Legacy Trail. It takes longer if you make stops along the way. Biking the Banff Legacy Trail is one of the most popular things to do in Banff in summer.
12. Climb Mt Norquay Via Ferrata
Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing experience on the cliffs of Mt Norquay with different courses for varied skill levels. It is a great way to experience the mountains during the summer if you are looking for an adventure.
The courses involve climbing ladders and suspension bridges, but you are secured by a harness to the mountain steel cable making it totally safe. Certified guides lead this experience.
Most courses are for ages 14 and up, but they have a couple of them for ages 12 and up.
➡ Check rates and availability for this Small-Group Guided Via Ferrata Climbing on the 2.5-hour Explorer Route suitable for beginners. See Banff’s Best Views.
Time needed: Depends on the activity chosen.
13. Explore the Cave and Basin National Historic site
The Cave and Basin national historic site is conveniently near Banff downtown and is an excellent place to explore.
The site is a fascinating attraction for visitors who are interested in the history of the region and the natural wonders of the Canadian Rockies.
The Canada Discovery pass gives you free access to the site, but you can also purchase tickets can be purchased at the gift shop.
The Cave and Basin is home to several hot springs that can be seen bubbling up from the ground. These hot springs are rich in minerals, including sulfur, which gives the water a distinctive smell. You will not be allowed to touch the hot springs water here as it is protected.
The highlight of the Cave and Basin is the underground cave that can be explored by a self-guided or ranger-led tour. The Cave and Basin are home to an endangered Banff Snail.
The site also features a museum and exhibits that tell the story of the discovery of the hot springs and the area’s history. Outside of the cave, there are several trails to explore, offering stunning views of the mountains and the Bow River.
This place was also home to a bathhouse which is now closed. There is no bathing in the hot springs allowed at this site. You will have to go to Banff Hot Springs for that.
Time needed: You will need around 1 to 2 hours to explore the Cave and Basin National Historic site. Exploring Cave and Basin is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in Banff.
14. Explore Banff Town
Banff town is a charming and picturesque mountain town located in the heart of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Stunning mountain peaks surround the town and offer visitors a wide range of outdoor activities and attractions.
One of the main attractions in Banff town is Banff Avenue, a bustling street lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can stroll along the avenue, browse through the souvenir shops, and stop for a coffee or a meal at one of the many restaurants.
The Banff Park Museum is a must-see for those interested in history. The museum features exhibits on the area’s wildlife, geology, and human history, as well as a collection of taxidermy animals.
During the summer, Banff Farmers Market is held every Wednesday and is a great event to meet some local vendors and artists, try local produce, and shop for handcrafted goods.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Banff town in summer, including hiking, sightseeing, and mountain biking.
In addition to the natural beauty and outdoor activities, Banff town is home to several cultural events and festivals during the summer.
Time needed: Depends on the time spent strolling, shopping, and eating at your own pace.
15. Take a picture at the Banff Sign
Take a picture at the famous Banff sign as a souvenir for your trip! This is one of the most popular and free things to do in Banff.
The Banff Sign is located on Mt. Norquay Road and across the street from the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre.
Here is the exact location of the Banff town sign in Google Maps.
Depending on the time of the day, there can be a line, but it moves quickly.
You cannot park on the side of the road anymore and will have to park in the parking lot of Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre and cross the street to the Banff Sign. The parking here is free.
Time needed: 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the wait in line.
16. Catch sunrise or sunset at Vermillion Lakes
The Vermillion Lakes are a series of lakes close to Banff downtown, just around a 5-minute drive. You can also bike to it.
The scenery at sunrise and sunset is spectacular, with the reflection of Mount Rundle and the surrounding mountains in the water.
Vermillion Lakes is a popular area for canoeing, biking, and hiking. Bring a picnic and enjoy the gorgeous sunset views. You can spot wildlife here in the early mornings and late evenings, sometimes even bears!
Time needed: Depends on the activity. If you are just stopping by to see the sunset and picnic, allow an hour.
17. Visit the famous Lake Louise
Lake Louise is the most popular lake in the Canadian Rockies, with its stunning turquoise blue waters and the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains.
The majestic Fairmont Chateau Hotel on Lake Louise gives it a regal appearance.
Lake Louise is only a 40-minute drive from Banff, making it very convenient to make a day trip to Lake Louise from Banff.
You can drive yourself using a rental car, but in the busy months of July and August, parking fills up very early in the morning, sometimes before sunrise!
There is a shuttle service that runs between Lake Louise Park and Ride and Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, reservations for which need to be made on the Parks Canada website.
An alternative to travel from Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake is to use the Hop-on hop-off bus from Banff, or you can take a day tour from Banff.
➡ Check rates and availability for this small group, full-day tour of Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway from Banff, including Moraine Lake in summer
Hiking is a popular activity at Lake Louise. The Lake Louise Lakeshore trail is a gentle stroll along the lakefront with stunning views of the lake and Fairmont Chateau. Canoeing is another popular thing to do at Lake Louise.
Time needed: Allow 2-3 hours for Lake Louise, longer if you plan to do the Lake Agnes hike or dine at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Visiting Lake Louise is one of the best excursions from Banff.
18. Indulge in high tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
The afternoon high tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an indulgent once-in-a-lifetime experience where you will feel like royalty.
Enjoy soul-warming tea and delicious assortments of sweets and savories while looking out to world-class views of Lake Louise. What an excellent way to spend an afternoon!
They have a regular menu, vegan menu, and children’s menu to choose from. Advance recommendations are highly recommended.
Time needed: Allow 2-3 hours for the high tea experience at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
19. Hike the Lake Agnes trail and visit the Lake Agnes Teahouse
The Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike is a popular trail in Lake Louise that leads to the Lake Agnes historic teahouse.
This is a moderate hike with around 5 miles out and back length and 1,427 feet of elevation gain, but worth it due to the scenic views along the way.
The hike begins at the Lake Louise Shoreline Trailhead, located near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The trailhead is well-marked, and you’ll soon find yourself on a forested path that leads you to Lake Agnes and the teahouse.
The teahouse serves a variety of refreshments, including tea, coffee, and homemade baked goods. This is a very popular trail in summer, and the teahouse is very busy with lines.
Time needed: Allow 3 to 4 hours for the Lake Agnes hike. Lake Agnes hike is one of the most popular outdoor things to do near Banff.
20. Visit the stunning Lake Moraine
Lake Moraine is around a 30-minute drive from Lake Louise. This is another glacial lake at a higher elevation, and it melts much later in the season than Lake Louise.
Lake Moraine is famous for photography due to the gorgeous views of the lake and the surrounding ten mountain peaks at sunrise and sunset.
There is a huge rock pile at one end of the lake, which can be climbed for dramatic views and pictures.
There is a trail at the back of the rock pile to reach the top. Hiking and Canoeing are popular things to do here, or just take in the views!
Note: Starting 2023, you can no longer drive your personal vehicles to Lake Moraine. This was done to reduce parking congestion. You have to either make advance reservations on the Parks Canada Shuttle, use the ROAM Transit bus, or use a commercial transport service like Hop-on Ho-off Banff Bus or a day tour from Banff.
Time needed: Allow 1-2 hours for Lake Moraine. Visiting Lake Moraine is one of the most popular Banff outdoor excursions, so popular that you can no longer drive to it!
21. Drive on the scenic Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is the drive between Lake Louise and Jasper and is referred to as one of the most scenic drives in the world, with jaw-dropping views at every turn.
Snow-covered jagged mountain peaks, beautiful lakes, gushing waterfalls, glaciers, and wildlife are some of the things you will see on this scenic drive.
Without stopping, the drive from Lake Louise to Jasper takes around 3 hours, but there are several waterfalls, vista points, and the Athabasca Glacier along the way that should not be missed.
If you start early in the day, you can make all the Icefields Parkway stops on the same day, including the Columbia Icefields Glacier and Skywalk tour.
The Icefields Parkway has some amazing attractions like the Athabasca Glacier, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls.
If you plan to drive to Jasper via the scenic Icefields Parkway, plan to stay overnight in Jasper. Two nights in Jasper would be ideal to see all the wonderful things that Jasper has to offer.
Time needed: You need a full day to drive on Icefields Parkway and see all the viewpoints. An overnight stay in Jasper National Park is recommended instead of driving back the same day. Driving on the Icefields Parkway drive is one of the most popular things to do near Banff.
22. Take the Columbia Icefields Glacier tour
Walking on the Athabasca Glacier, which is over 10,000 years old, is an unparalleled experience and a must-do activity on your trip to Banff in Summer.
Located along the Icefields Parkway Drive, the Athabasca Glacier is roughly a two-hour drive from Banff and one hour drive from Jasper.
During the summer, the Columbia Icefields Adventure offers tours that provide an unforgettable experience of walking on the Athabasca Glacier.
In this unique glacier tour, you will board the massive Ice Explorer bus, which takes you up the steep slopes of the glacier, where you can witness the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
After reaching the top of the glacier, you can step out of the vehicle and experience walking on the Athabasca Glacier for around 20 minutes.
The entire glacier tour takes around two hours and is one of the most popular things to do in Banff in summer.
➡ Driving yourself? Check rates and availability for the tickets for Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk combo tour
➡ Looking for a tour from Banff? Check rates and availability for this small group Athabasca Glacier Tour from Banff that includes admission tickets to the Columbia Icefields Glacier and Skywalk tour and transportation from Banff.
23. Walk on the Columbia Icefields Skywalk
The Columbia Icefields Skywalk is a glass-bottomed observation platform that extends out over the Sunwapta Valley, offering visitors a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
The Columbia Icefields Adventure also runs a combo tour that includes the Athabasca glacier experience and the Skywalk experience.
The Skywalk is constructed with specially engineered glass, providing you with an unobstructed view of the valley floor, which is over 900 feet below! Visiting the Skywalk should not be missed when you visit the Athabasca Glacier!
24. Try some great restaurants in Banff
Banff has some great restaurants with varied cuisines. Some restaurants we tried and recommend:
Magpie and Stump for Mexican food. It has a nice atmosphere, and the patio upstairs is pretty.
Saffron Indian Bistro for Indian food. The food is really good, and it satisfied our craving for home-cooked meals.
Balkan for Greek food. They have entertainment on Thursday nights, which includes belly dancing and plate smashing. They also have good options for vegetarians.
Uno Pizza for really good pizza and appetizers. They also have a great selection of wine.
Beavertails is a unique Canadian pastry shop that makes fried dough pastries that are shaped like a beaver’s tail. You can choose from sweet and savory toppings.
25. Visit Jasper National Park
As most people visiting Banff drive the scenic Icefields parkway, staying overnight in Jasper National Park is common in Banff and Canadian Rockies itinerary. Jasper National Park is one of the most popular places to visit near Banff in Summer.
If you are in Banff region, it might be a great idea to spend a couple of nights in the nearby Jasper National Park.
There are a lot of amazing things to do in Jasper National Park –
- Riding the Jasper Skytram for amazing views from Whistler Mountain.
- Hike the Maligne Canyon and see the spectacular limestone canyon created by waterfalls.
- Take the Lake Maligne cruise and see Spirit Island.
- Soak and relax in the Miette Hot Springs.
- Hike the valley of the five lakes.
Where to Stay in Banff
Banff offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxurious to affordable hotels. Staying in the downtown area is recommended as it provides easy access to all the local restaurants and shops. Various attractions and activities in Banff offer shuttle services from the Banff town area.
Luxury resorts in Banff
Fairmont Banff Springs and Rimrock Resort are situated slightly outside the Banff town area, meaning you will need to drive to reach the downtown restaurants. However, both resorts do offer numerous dining options on-site should you choose to stay in. It is still recommended to take a trip and explore Banff town during your stay.
Mid-range hotels in Banff
Moose Hotel and Suites is in a prime location in Banff town within walking distance to stores and restaurants. The hotel is really nice too, and this is where we stayed. Another great hotel in Banff is the Peaks Hotel and Suites.
Economy hotels in Banff
Best Western Plus is an excellent budget-friendly option that still allows for easy access to all the action on Banff Avenue. However, if you’re looking for even more savings, consider checking out accommodations in Canmore as well.
Stay in Canmore
Opting to stay in the town of Canmore instead of Banff can be a budget-friendly alternative, provided you don’t mind the extra 30-minute drive to reach Banff’s attractions.
Canmore Inn and Suites, located in Canmore, is an excellent mid-range hotel that offers a pool and waterslide for guests to enjoy. The property also features larger suites suitable for families and even has an Indian restaurant located onsite.
Stay in Lake Louise
If you want to witness the breathtaking sunrise or sunset at Lake Louise or Lake Moraine, it’s a great idea to spend a night in the Lake Louise area.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the ideal resort if you want to indulge in a luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For a more affordable option, Lake Louise Inn is a fantastic choice. During our stay, we were pleasantly surprised by the hotel’s impressive lobby and numerous dining options, including several dinner restaurants and a breakfast restaurant that offered a delicious buffet spread.
Travel tips and FAQs for visiting Banff in Summer
The below travel tips and answers to frequently asked questions will help you plan your perfect trip to Banff in Summer.
Which summer month is ideal for visiting Banff?
June and September are the shoulder months, while the busiest tourist months in Banff are July and August.
Accommodations are easier to find and a little cheaper in the shoulder months of June and September. Tourist attractions are also less crowded, and finding parking is easier.
If you want to make it more affordable and want to beat the crowds, then mid-June or September is a great time to visit Banff.
Banff weather in summer
Banff National Park enjoys pleasant summers with sunny days and cooler nights. July is the warmest month. The daytime temperatures are moderate and average around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, while nighttime temperatures are cooler and average around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes Banff the ideal summer destination to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, canoeing, paddle boarding, sightseeing, etc. During summer, it is always the perfect weather to be outdoors in Banff!
How to get to Banff?
The best way to get to Banff and the Canadian Rockies is by flying in and out of Calgary International Airport. There are many amazing things to do in Calgary, and I would suggest spending a day or two in Calgary.
From Calgary, you can either use an airport transfer service to Banff or get a rental car and drive to Banff.
Banff is around a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary over the scenic Trans-Canada Highway AB-1.
➡ Check rates and availability with Discover Cars as they check top car rental brands and provide the best rates!
More people are choosing not to rent a car and are using transfer services to reach Banff, and use tours for sightseeing and attractions. This helps them avoid parking issues, especially during the busy tourist months of July and August.
➡ This shared Alberta Transfer service is an affordable way to transfer between Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Calgary, and Kananaskis.
➡ This Calgary YYC Airport to Banff private shuttle will be exclusive to your group and will pick up from Calgary Airport and drop you off at your Banff hotel.
How many days are needed for Banff?
If you want to just visit Banff, then 3-4 days are usually good. Most people combine their trip to Banff with the nearby Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, and Jasper National Park.
Especially if you are not local to Alberta, you might want to make the most of your trip and visit Banff and Jasper together.
If you’re planning to cover Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff and drive the Icefields Parkway, it’s recommended to have between 6 to 8 days. This allows you to spend a few days in both Banff and Jasper and a day driving the Icefields Parkway.
However, if you plan to engage in longer hikes or visit nearby national parks, you should consider adding a few extra days to your itinerary.
Day pass or annual pass for Banff National Park?
A permit is required to enter the entire Banff and Jasper area, including downtowns, as they fall under National parks.
You can purchase a day pass or an annual pass at the entry checkpoint into Banff or buy it from the Parks Canada website, but shipping costs will apply as the physical pass will be shipped to you.
Purchasing the pass at the gate is recommended to avoid shipping fees. The Discovery annual pass is valid for up to seven people in a vehicle for a year.
We purchased the Discovery annual pass since we were staying for seven days, and it was more cost-effective than buying daily passes.
Remember to bring the pass with you and not leave it in your rental car. The pass can be reused if you plan to visit other national parks in Canada within the one-year timeframe.
What to wear in Banff in summer
Banff has pleasant summer days and cooler nights, so it is best to dress in layers. Jeans, shorts, hiking pants, half-sleeve and full-sleeve shirts, and hoodies are all good items to pack.
It rains quite a bit in June and July, so having a good weatherproof jacket is a must.
Also, good hiking shoes are recommended as visiting most places will involve some amount of walking/hiking.
Do not forget to always carry sunscreen, bug spray, and water.
Wrap-up of Things to do in Banff in Summer
Overall, visiting Banff in the summer is an unforgettable experience that is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
There are endless options of activities and attractions and things to do in Banff during summer, and you will never run out of things to explore in the stunning Banff National Park.
Check out other posts from my trip to the Canadian Rockies: