How To Spend 48 Hours In Banff, Alberta
It’s been almost over a decade since I was last in Banff, Alberta and before then, let’s just say I’m dating myself. I haven’t been to Banff since the invention of digital cameras! Since getting hooked on Instagram and seeing photos from friends who’ve recently visited, visiting Alberta has been on my to-do list since returning from my travels around the world.
In mid-July (of 2015), I was a guest of Rocky Mountaineer and rode their train from Vancouver to Banff (I wrote about and shared photos from the journey here, here, and here.) and was able to explore a bit of Banff before I headed out on a trip to Whistler and the Coast. It goes without saying that I now need to share what I did as well as the photos I took from the final destination of my trip!
And drumroll, please!!!
The Rimrock Hotel
Once we arrived at the Banff train station, we continued with our amazing Goldleaf Service via the Rocky Mountaineer. We all said sad goodbyes to our fellow passengers and the wonderful staff on board, and then we were shuttled over on buses to our respective hotels in Banff. When I got to my room, my bag was already there. Hellooooo Goldleaf Service, you are the best!! I stayed at the lovely Rimrock Resort Hotel, which is a bit outside of the town center but right next to the mountains. As you can see from the photo above, it had some gorgeous views.
My dear friend Kori, who I met while traveling in Asia lives in the area, was kind of enough to be my local guide. The night I arrived, we went into town, had dinner and caught up on lost times. We haven’t seen each other in four years since I was in London, England on my RTW trip.
The next morning we had some coffee and then headed into town for some breakfast at a place called Melissa’s. It was your typical town type diner but with Banff decor, lots of wood!
Typical breaky at a local place called Melissa’s
We took a little stroll through the town and randomly came across the local farmers market. In case that’s your thing, it’s every Wednesday. I love picking up fresh fruit and prepared food as snacks so I was happy to come across it. I also saw some of the travelers from my train too.
Beautiful colors at the Banff Farmers Market
We stopped in the Banff Info Centre. They are super helpful and have tons of maps and pamphlets about what to do in the area. Definitely worth going!!
Get that info!
After time in the town center, we headed to Moraine Lake. Seeing the lake in person was my top priority so we headed there first.
I love how they built a bridge for the animals because of the highway humans made
Driving towards Moraine Lake
As Kori drove towards Moraine Lake, we could already see the Valley of the Ten Peaks. I was freaking out with excitement! It was pretty busy in the parking lot, but we found a spot and then walked towards the lake. And then BOOM!
The stunning Moraine Lake
When you see Moraine Lake in person, you fall in love. The color of the lake, the mountain peaks behind it, the fresh air…it’s truly amazing. My photo does not do it justice here, but I will say that so many factors play into the color of the lake, whether it is the weather or light I can say is that it’s as beautiful as you imagine and more.
Epic moments on Moraine Lake. Thanks, Kori for the photo!
And thanks to Kori for paddling me around while I shot photos and video!
Had to share this photo shot from my GoPro Hero4. Different color in the different light
It was a dream of mine to get in a canoe and paddle around Moraine Lake. A big thank you to Moraine Lake Lodge for the canoe rental. After we went for a canoe we decided to hike up to a higher point for some photos. It started raining and it looked like this:
Still stunning in the rain! And even bluer!
We had to no makeup in the rain selfie!!
After grabbing a quick snack at the Moraine Lake Lodge and using facilities, we made our way to Lake Louise. I had to see her too!
Taking a look at Lake Louise
The gorgeous Lake Louise
Everyone shows you the above photos, but a place like this isn’t a secret!!
By now we were starving, so we went to the Fairmont Lake Louise for a snack and a drink. Everywhere was pretty busy and if you’re a guest, you have first priority. We went to a bar/restaurant downstairs without a view, which was fine because we just wanted some grub!
On the way back we stopped at Vermillion Lakes just to take a photo of the viewpoint. But on the way, we saw the most insane rainbow. I was hoping to see a moose or a deer, but everyone was stopping for the rainbow!! So we stopped too!
Taste the rainbow! It’s so close!
Vermillion Lakes! Was obsessed with Mount Rundle (called it Jagged Edge like the RnB band)
The next day I had to check out of my hotel because my stay was over at the Rimrock. We moved over to the Caribou Lodge. I like the location of this hotel because it’s closer to everything if you don’t have a car. Kori is local so she had a car and kind enough to take me to all of these places!
On my final day in Banff, we made our way over to the Banff Gondola. The weather was crazy. We didn’t know where to go because wherever we went was dependent on weather. It hailed when we parked at the Banff Gondola haha.
Going up! Up to the top of Sulphur Mountain
The gondola is a bit on the pricey side, but the views are insane. If you love views and love taking photos, in my opinion, it’s worth it. Check them out:
Sometimes I force you into GoPro selfies
He was not camera shy!
Even though I wasn’t staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs, the hotel is definitely a stop you should make while visiting Banff. It’s historic and beautiful. It’s like a Canadian castle!
An angle of the Fairmont Banff Springs
Inside the hotel
Down the halls. Makes me think of Hogwarts. I am sure it’s haunted!!!
I visited the Fairmont with Kori and made plans to meet my friend Jen Leo for a drink!! She’s also a travel writer but a seasoned and well-known travel personality. She was on a trip here with her daughter. I know her from living in San Diego and the travel world. It’s always great to run into people randomly while traveling!
A delicious Canadian cocktail, the Caesar at the Rundle Lounge
On the way back after dinner, we stopped for a few more photos at Bow Falls and Bow River. Kori was a doll and was trying to think of the best places I could take photos of the stunning landscape and capture the beauty of Banff. Then we made our way back to our suite at the Caribou Lodge.
Bow Falls. Not huge but still beautiful
I didn’t take an outside picture but here’s one of our room
Since Kori is local and was driving, I took the Brewster Bus to the airport. They have direct bus rides to the Calgary Airport from Banff or to the city center. They pick you up from your hotel go all the way to Jasper I believe. I was a bit on the early side but nothing that Wi-Fi can’t cure.
As a rundown for having about 48 hours in Banff, here are my must-dos:
- Moraine Lake (canoeing gets you the best photos)
- Lake Louise
- A visit the historic Fairmont Banff Springs
- Vermillion Lakes
- Banff Gondola
- Banff Town
- Farmers Market if it’s Wednesday
I didn’t get to go to but am dying to still:
- Peyto Lake (a lake in the shape of a wolf, I’m serious!)
- Lake Minnewanka
Helpful Tips For Banff
- Bring a camera and take loads of photos. You’ll want to remember and also share this experience with the world.
- The weather changes at a drop of a hat, so wear layers. The week before I came it was over 30 degrees Celsius the week before and dropped down to 8 (over 90 Fahrenheit and dropped to about 45)
- Drop by the Banff Info Centre, there are loads of helpful tips and maps for your visit. The staff at the center is very helpful and can provide you with tons of information about the local area.
- If you can, rent a car. There are tours that take you to the popular sites, but the best way is on your own schedule.
- Enjoy the fresh air and the stunning landscape. Banff is something truly something special!
- A Packing List For Banff
- A 48 Hour Guide To Calgary
- More destination guides and travel tips
- Use this link to book the best deals on your accommodations
- Use this link to research your flights and car rental
- Get up to a $40 discount on your first stay with Air BNB by using this link
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience in and photos of Banff. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help out.
In case you want to see a quick video, I’ve got a bit of Moraine Lake in this video