Banff | 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.
Read reviews for Banff hotels on Tripadvisor here
TRIP PLANNING STARTS HERE
- Bring a camera and take loads of photos. You’ll want to remember and also share this experience with everyone because it’s so beautiful.
- The weather changes at a drop of a hat! The week before I came it was over 30 degrees Celsius and then dropped down to 8 (over 90 Fahrenheit and dropped to about 45). I shared a packing list here.
- 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 information about the local area.
- If you can, rent a car. There are tours that take you to popular sites, but the best way to visit 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
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HELPFUL GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
- Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.
- Accommodations: I use Booking.com or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. Hotels.com offers a free night after booking 10 nights
- Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!
- Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.
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.). After the train journey, I was able to explore a bit of Banff for a few days before heading out on another trip. It was an amazing few days and I wanted to share a quick guide to Banff with all of you!
The Rimrock Hotel
Table of Contents
How To Spend 48 Hours In Banff
Once our train arrived at Banff Station, we continued with our amazing Goldleaf Service via the Rocky Mountaineer. We all said goodbyes to our fellow passengers and the wonderful staff on board, and then we were shuttled on buses to our respective hotels.
When I got to my room, my bag was already there. Wow Goldleaf Service, you are the best!! My accommodations were 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 gorgeous views.
CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST ROOM RATES FOR THE RIMROCK!!
My dear friend Kori, who I met while travelling in Asia, lives in the area and 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 hadn’t seen each other in four years since I stayed with her in London, England on my RTW trip.
The next morning we had some coffee and then headed into town. We went for a big breakfast at a place called Melissa’s. It was your typical town diner but with Banff decor, so 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 travellers from my train there.
Beautiful colours at the Banff Farmers Market
Banff Info Centre
After the market, we stopped in the Banff Info Centre. They are super helpful and 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 us 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, it is instant love. The colour of the lake, the mountain peaks behind it, the fresh air…it’s truly amazing. My photo does not do it justice. I will say that so many factors play into the colour of the lake, whether it is the weather or light. All 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 another photo. This was shot with my GoPro.
It was a dream of mine to get in a canoe and paddle around Moraine Lake. Many thanks 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 the 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
The next day I had to check out of the Rimrock Hotel because my stay was over there. I moved over to the Caribou Lodge. The location of this hotel is fantastic 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 the 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!!!
Kori and I visited the Fairmont Banff Springs and I also made plans with 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. We know each other from living down the street from each other in San Diego as well as travel events. It’s always great to run into people randomly while travelling!
A delicious Canadian cocktail, the Caesar at the Rundle Lounge
Bow Falls And Bow River
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 in Calgary when I was heading home. They have direct bus rides to the Calgary Airport from Banff or to the city center. They even pick you up from your hotel go all the way to Jasper for Jasper National Park.
- Moraine Lake (canoeing gets you the best photos)
- Lake Louise
- A visit to the historic Fairmont Banff Springs
- Vermillion Lakes
- Banff Gondola
- Banff Town
- Farmers Market if it’s Wednesday
Don’t Miss Out On These Places
(I did not have time to visit – sad face)
- Peyto Lake (a lake in the shape of a wolf, I’m serious!)
- Lake Minnewanka
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.
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