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Banff Itinerary: How to See the Best of Banff in Winter

Updated: Feb 19

Your Ultimate Guide to Banff Winter Trip: Everything You Need to Know!

Hey there, winter wanderers! Welcome to LifeWithLoveleen, and today, we're taking a trip to one of the most breathtaking winter wonderlands on the planet: Banff, Canada. Trust me; if you've been dreaming of a winter escape that combines snowy adventures and stunning vistas, Banff National Park is your dream come true.

We embarked on a 5-day winter journey to Banff, celebrating our wedding anniversary in the most romantic way possible. Our itinerary was packed with thrilling experiences, picturesque landscapes, and moments of pure magic. Here's a detailed breakdown of our 5-day Banff winter adventure, complete with tips and stay recommendations:

Where to stay in Banff

Town of Canmore: The Malcolm Hotel

Town of Banff: Fairmont Banff Springs

Day 1: Drive to Banff and Stay in Canmore

Our adventure began as soon as we landed in Calgary. After picking up our rental car from Enterprise at the airport, we set off on a picturesque drive to Banff. Our hearts filled with excitement and joy, for we were there to celebrate our anniversary. Embarking on the drive from Calgary to Banff isn't just a transition between two places; it's a visual feast that gradually unfolds before your eyes. The approximately 1.5-hour drive takes you through a landscape that transitions from the urban bustle of Calgary to the serene beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Upon arriving in Canmore, we checked in at The Malcolm hotel, where the breathtaking view of the Three Sisters mountain range greeted you. The setting was nothing short of magical, setting the perfect tone for your celebration. Nestled against the backdrop of the Rockies, Canmore welcomes you with a blend of mountain aesthetics and a vibrant town atmosphere. Here's what you can explore in and around Canmore:

  1. Main Street Stroll:

  • Canmore's Main Street is a charming stretch dotted with boutiques, galleries, and eateries. It's perfect for a leisurely stroll, where you can explore local art and maybe find a unique souvenir.

  1. Quarry Lake Park:

  • For a nature-infused break, Quarry Lake Park is a local favorite. Surrounded by mountains, it offers walking trails and a peaceful lake setting. It's ideal for a picnic or simply unwinding amidst nature.

  1. Three Sisters Viewpoint:

  • The iconic Three Sisters mountain peaks provide a stunning backdrop to Canmore. There's a viewpoint along the Spray Lakes Road that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of these majestic peaks.

  1. Grassi Lakes Trail:

  • For those seeking a short hike, the Grassi Lakes Trail is a popular choice. The trail takes you to vibrant turquoise lakes, surrounded by lush forests and towering cliffs.

  1. Canmore Nordic Centre:

  • If you're visiting during the winter, the Canmore Nordic Centre comes alive with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. In the summer, it transforms into a mountain biking haven.

  1. Dining with a View:

  • Canmore boasts a diverse culinary scene. Many restaurants offer not just delicious meals but also breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. It's a perfect setting for a memorable dining experience.

In the evening, we embarked on a drive to the charming city of Canmore, where we were spending the night. Dinner at Mumbai Local added a delightful culinary touch to our day, capping it off with memories that would last a lifetime.

Day 2: Fairmont Banff Springs, Spray River Trail & Bow Falls Viewpoint

On Day 2, we woke up to a snowy Banff, we knew we were in for a fantastic day. Our first stop was the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, often likened to Harry Potter's Hogwarts. It was a sight to behold, especially against the backdrop of the freshly fallen snow. We wandered through the resort and enjoyed breakfast at the Stock Restaurant which was a delightful beginning to your day.

Embracing the snow as our playground, we ventured outdoors, indulging in winter wonderland activities. Next, we explored The Spray River Trail and Bow Falls viewpoint, offering postcard-perfect winter scenes. Our journey continued to the Surprise Corner viewpoint, leaving us breathless with its sheer beauty. As the day wound down, we returned to The Malcolm Hotel for a one-of-a-kind experience: an outdoor hot tub dip in -20 degrees. A unique memory etched in the cold of winter!

Day 3: 360 Dome Brunch Experience

To celebrate your special day, we had planned something truly romantic. A 360 Dome Brunch experience at Fairmont Banff Springs was on the agenda. The elegant setting, delectable dishes, and each other's company made it an unforgettable moment and took romance to new heights. Upon arrival, we were escorted to our private table, strategically positioned to maximize the view. The table was adorned with elegant setting, creating an atmosphere of refined luxury. The Fairmont is known for its impeccable service, and the 360 Dome Brunch is no exception. Attentive and discreet staff ensured that we enjoyed the experience to the most.

Given the popularity of the 360 Dome Brunch, it's advisable to make a reservation well in advance to secure a preferred time and table. As the experience is a blend of elegance and romance, consider dressing up a bit. It adds to the special atmosphere and makes the occasion even more memorable.

The rest of the day was dedicated to relaxation. Back at The Malcolm Hotel, we basked in luxury and coziness, cherishing the moments shared together.

Day 4: Horse Sleigh Ride, Lake Louise & Banff National Park

The day began early with us enjoying fresh bagels in Canmore, setting you up for the exhilarating Horse Sleigh Ride we had booked in Banff. The experience was filled with so much laughter and fun. It was a very unique experience.

Next, Lake Louise awaited us, the highlight of your trip. Banff National Park, with its frozen lake, invited ice skaters to create joyful memories. Lake Louise is often considered the crown jewel of Banff National Park, and rightfully so. Nestled within a glacial valley, this pristine, turquoise lake is surrounded by towering peaks, creating a scene that seems plucked from a storybook. Here are some activities that you can enjoy at Lake Louise:

Ice Skating on Lake Louise:

During the winter, Lake Louise transforms into a magical ice-skating rink. The smooth, frozen surface against the backdrop of snow-draped mountains is a sight to behold. Skates can be rented from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, providing an unparalleled skating experience.

Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing:

The snow-covered trails around Lake Louise offer excellent opportunities for winter hiking and snowshoeing. Trails like the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail provide a serene, snowy landscape for those who prefer exploring on foot.

Dog Sledding Adventures:

Thrill-seekers can embark on a dog sledding adventure, exploring the wilderness around Lake Louise with a team of energetic huskies. It's an exhilarating way to experience the winter wonderland.

Tea at the Fairmont Chateau:

The iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, nestled on the shores of the lake, offers a cozy respite. After a day of exploration, indulge in the time-honored tradition of afternoon tea with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding peaks.

Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and outdoor adventures. Here's a what you can experience beyond Lake Louise:

Banff Upper Hot Springs:

For those seeking relaxation, the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a must-visit. Nestled on Sulphur Mountain, the outdoor pools provide stunning views of the surrounding mountains while you soak in the warm mineral-rich waters.

Johnston Canyon Icewalk:

In winter, Johnston Canyon transforms into an icy wonderland. Join an icewalk tour to explore the frozen waterfalls and towering limestone canyon walls. It's a unique perspective on the park's natural beauty.

Wildlife Watching:

Banff National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional bear. Wildlife enthusiasts can embark on guided tours to increase their chances of spotting these majestic creatures.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site:

Delve into the park's history at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where the first hot springs discovery led to the establishment of Canada's first national park.

After today's adventure, our energy was waning, so we returned to our hotel, and once again sank into the outdoor hot tub, soothing both your body and soul. In the evening, we strolled through the shops in Canmore and had dinner at the hotel's restaurant (known for its fantastic reviews). It marked the perfect end to another incredible day.

Day 5: Banff Gondola Ride, Suphur Mountain and Town of Banff

On your final day, we made the most of our time. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we set off for the Banff Gondola Ride and the Sulphur Mountain trail. Although the winds were strong that day, the sheer beauty of the area still took our breath away. The Banff Gondola Ride is not just a means of transportation; it's a journey to the sky, a gateway to panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Here's what you can expect:

Ascend to Sulphur Mountain Summit:

The gondola swiftly ascends to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, offering awe-inspiring views of the surrounding peaks, the town of Banff, and the Bow Valley below. It's a journey that feels like stepping into a postcard.

360-Degree Observation Deck:

At the top, the observation deck provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain ranges. It's an unparalleled vantage point to appreciate the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies.

Interpretive Center:

The Sulphur Mountain Summit has an interpretive center that enriches the experience with information about the geological formations, wildlife, and the history of the area. It's an educational stop for those curious about the natural wonders surrounding them.

Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk:

For those looking to stretch their legs and immerse themselves in the mountain environment, there's a boardwalk that leads to different viewpoints. It's a chance to be amidst the alpine flora and fauna.

After the gondola ride, we went to take a walk in the Town of Banff and as we explored the shops in the town of Banff, a snowfall started – a fitting farewell from the winter wonderland. Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, the town of Banff is not just a gateway to the national park; it's a destination in itself.

With hearts full of gratitude for our unforgettable trip, we headed to the Calgary airport, cherishing the memories of our Banff adventure. Our winter journey in Banff was indeed filled with magical moments, and it's clear that this destination holds a special place in our hearts. May the memories of our anniversary celebration in Banff warm your hearts for years to come. ❄️🏔️🥂

Hotel Review

The Malcolm Hotel The Malcolm hotel is not just a place to stay; it's an experience in itself. The breathtaking views of the Three Sisters mountain range, the luxurious amenities, and the cozy ambiance made our anniversary celebration truly special. From here, we had easy access to all our planned activities, and the warm and welcoming staff made our stay memorable. If you're looking for a delightful blend of luxury and comfort in Banff, we wholeheartedly recommend The Malcolm hotel.

The Best Time to Visit Banff: A Year-Round Wonderland

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is a year-round destination of unparalleled natural beauty. Each season in Banff offers a unique and captivating experience, making it a suitable destination for travelers at different times of the year. The best time to visit Banff depends on your preferences and what you seek in your adventure. Here's a breakdown of the seasons to help you decide when to plan your visit:

The "best" time to visit Banff ultimately depends on your preferences and what type of experience you're seeking. If you adore the vibrant colors of fall foliage, consider planning your visit in September. For winter sports enthusiasts, December through February is a must. If you prefer milder weather and longer days, summer offers a wide range of activities. Keep in mind that the popularity of Banff can lead to crowded conditions during the peak summer season, so plan accordingly. No matter when you choose to visit, Banff's stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventures are sure to leave you with incredible memories and a deep appreciation for this captivating destination.

I hope this 5-day Banff itinerary inspire your own winter escape to this Canadian wonderland. Banff's winter charm is waiting to create lasting memories for you, too. Happy travels! ❄️🏔️🥂


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