3 Days in Banff: Perfect Banff Itinerary For First-Time Visitors
Lake Louise, Banff
Banff National Park, home of Canada’s first national park, is one of the most visited destinations in Canada. It’s home to stunning mountain landscapes, crystal clear turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife.
If you’re planning a trip to Banff and have 3 days to spare, I have the perfect 3 days in Banff that will take you to see all the highlights that Banff National Park has to offer. Let’s start!
Table of Content
Looking for the perfect three-day Itinerary for Banff? I’ve got three days for you to see all the highlights and must-see spots in a quick and efficient itinerary. Looking for a what to do in Banff, where to stay, what to eat? See my curated Banff travel guide.
- Day 1: Explore Banff Town & Downtown Banff, Upper Hot Springs
- Day 2: Explore The Lakes in Banff National Park
- Day 3: Drive the Icefield Parkway
3 Days in Banff: Perfect Banff Itinerary
Day 1: Explore Banff Town
Morning: Explore Banff Town
Once you arrive, pick up your rental car at Calgary Airport (YYC). Your Canadian Rockies itinerary officially begins! On your first day in Banff, take some time to explore the town. Start your day with a coffee and pastry at Wild Flour Bakery or with breakfast at Tooloulou’s, a Cajun-inspired restaurant that serves up delicious dishes such as eggs Benedict and beignets. Take a stroll down Banff Avenue. This charming street is lined with more boutique shops making it the perfect place to explore and get a feel for the town! The town is cute and the architecture is reminiscent of a European alpine village.
Afternoon: Day 1 in Banff
Next, head to Vermilion Lakes to enjoy a picnic lunch by the water. Then, visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site or take a Hike to Johnston Canyon and hike the Upper or lower falls to see the beautiful cascading waterfalls. If you prefer to do something less strenuous, you can take the Banff Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Evening: Day 1 in Banff – Soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs
Finish off your day with a relaxing soak in the natural mineral water of Banff Upper Hot Springs It’s only $10 for entrance and you can stay as long as you like. They are open until 10 pm. Then end your day with dinner at The Bison Restaurant, a farm-to-table restaurant that serves up delicious Alberta beef and other local specialties. Or if you want to try out something unique and fun, try out the Grizzly House restaurant!
Day N O . 2
Explore The Lakes in Banff National Park
Morning: Day 2 Banff– Explore Lake Moraine
Start your day with a visit to Moraine Lake for sunrise, one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. Watch the alpenglow paint the surrounding mountains with a warm, golden hue, and marvel at the lake’s turquoise waters. The brilliant blue water is set against a backdrop of towering mountains After taking in the views, hike the nearby trails for a closer look at the lake.
Afternoon: Day 2 in Banff – Canoe Lake Louise & Hike Lake Agnes Tea House
Next, head to Lake Louise for a canoe experience on the lake. Paddle through the clear waters and marvel at the towering glaciers and snow-capped peaks in the distance! It costs $145 per hour for 2 people. After, enjoy a picnic lunch by the lake or enjoy afternoon tea & lunch at the Fairmont Banff Lake Louise (make reservations in advance!). Finish the afternoon with an easy 3-mile hike to Lake Agnes Tea House.
Evening: Day 2 in Banff– Banff Town for Dinner
In the evening, head to Banff Avenue for a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants
My List of Recommended Restaurants and Curated Banff Travel Guide!
Day N O . 3
Drive the Icefield Parkway
Day 3 – All Day: Drive the Icefields Parkway
On your final day, set out on a scenic drive along Trans Canada Highway, the Icefields Parkway. This 144-mile route is renowned for its stunning mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, and impressive glaciers. You can go to Bow Valley Parkway and all the way to Jasper National Park.
The highlight of the drive is the Columbia Icefield, a massive sheet of ice that stretches over 200 square kilometers. Take a tour on the Athabasca Glacier, where you can walk on the ice and learn about the history and geology of the glacier. It’s an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss.
See my must-stop spots along Icefields Parkway.
Evening: End your trip by heading back to Banff
and enjoy your last meal before you get ready to go back home. Hopefully with your bellies and hearts full. You’ll come back inspired. Hopefully, you’ll come back and see Banff during a different season!
Tips for Visiting Banff
Rise Early: Waking up early to make the most of your time in Banff is crucial! Especially if you are visiting Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. If you don’t want to deal with traffic and restrictive parking (since personal vehicles are no longer allowed on Moraine Lake) Book a Parks Canada shuttle (advance reservations required) or sunrise tour!
Carry Bear Spray: If you are planning to hike, you absolutely need to have a can of bear spray. It’s better to be overprepared or go with a group that will carry bear spray.
Purchase your Canada National Parks Pass: Instead of paying for a day pass each day, avoid the lines and pre-purchase multiple days on one trip! Or you can purchase the early pass ahead of time online.
Get International Data: Or get a handy pocket wifi and you can share your 5G service with up to 10 other persons!
Frequently Asked Questions about 3 Day Banff Itinerary
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