4 Day Banff Itinerary
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LAKE MORAINE | CANADA

4 Day Banff Itinerary: Exploring the Best Of Banff

words by Coco Tran

July 25, 2023

4 Day Banff Itinerary

Lake Louise, Banff

Banff is a beautiful town located in Alberta, Canada, known for its stunning natural scenery and outdoor activities. From hiking to skiing, there’s something for everyone in Banff. In this article, I will share the perfect 4 day Banff itinerary to help you make the most of your visit to the gorgeous Canadian Rockies, Banff!

Looking for the perfect four-day Itinerary for Banff? I’ve got a 4 day itinerary to Banff with 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.

4 Day Banff Itinerary

day N O . 1

EXPLORE BANFF TOWN, BANFF GONDOLA, & UPPER HOT SPRINGS

The morning of arrival:

Once you arrive, pick up your rental car at Calgary aiport (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
  • Take a stroll through the town of Banff
  • Take a ride on the Banff Gondola to get a bird’s eye view of the town and surrounding mountains
  • Relax in the natural hot springs at Upper Hot Springs

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3 days in banff

The town of Banff & Downtown Banff is cute and the architecture is reminiscent of a European alpine village. Banff is a charming destination, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes to explore. Start the day by taking a stroll through the town, 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!

Next, head to the Banff Gondola, which takes you up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. From the top, you’ll be able to see panoramic breathtaking views of the town, Bow River, and surrounding mountains. The gondola ride itself is an experience not to be missed, with stunning views at every turn!

Read: Want a comprehensive Banff Guide? Read my curated Banff Travel Guide

banff gondola

After the gondola ride, head to Upper Hot Springs for a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs. The hot springs are located at the base of Sulphur Mountain, surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains. It’s only $10 for the entrance and you can stay as long as you like. They are open until 10 pm. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of exploring. And lastly, finish your first day in Banf with dinner at the unique and fun Grizzly House restaurant.

day N O . 2

Visit Lake Moraine & Lake Louise

Morning: 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.

  • Explore the turquoise waters of Lake Moraine
  • Take a easy hike around Lake Louise and admire the stunning scenery

Lake Moraine and Lake Louise are two of the most beautiful destinations in Banff! They are also the most popular, to make sure you have a great experience read my 20 tips on visiting Lake Moraine.

The best viewpoint of Moraine Lake is the Rockpail Trail, a short 20 min uphill hike to reach the viewpoint. There are plenty of fun things to do at Lake Moraine .

Next, head to Lake Louise, which is equally stunning. Take a hike around the lake, or head to the Lake Louise Ski Resort for some winter activities. In the summer, you can go canoeing on the lake or take a horseback ride through the surrounding mountains.

For a Lake Louise 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.

In the evening, head to Banff Avenue for a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants.

Read: My List of Recommended Restaurants in the Banff Travel Guide

day N O . 3

Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Johnston Canyon

4 day banff itinerary

Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff, and a boat tour is a perfect way to explore its beautiful scenery. After the boat tour, head to Two Jack Lake for a relaxing afternoon by the water. Enjoy a picnic here and relax.

In the evening before sunset 5 pm, take a hike to Johnston Canyon, one of Banff’s most popular destinations. When we went there were barely any people and we had the place all to ourselves. The trail follows Johnston Creek, leading to a beautiful series of waterfalls. It’s an easy hike suitable for all ages and abilities, with plenty of opportunities for stunning photos along the way.

Johnston Canyon what to do in banff

Day N O . 4

Drive the Icefields Parkway to Columbia Icefield

Drive the scenic Icefields Parkway

  • Stop By Bow Lake
  • Visit Peyto Lake
  • Visit the Columbia Icefield and take a tour of the Athabasca Glacier
3 days in banff

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world, with breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. The drive takes you through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery along the way.

One of the prettiest lakes is Peyto Lake! It’s one of the first stops after Bow Lake. The trail is well paved and there’s plenty of parking.

peyto Lake
Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/exploring-the-best-of-banff-4-day-banff-itinerary/

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.

Icefields Parkway Drive, Canada

Banff is a stunning destination with plenty of natural beauty to explore. With this four-day itinerary, you’ll be able to experience some of the best that Banff has to offer, from relaxing in natural hot springs to hiking through beautiful mountain scenery. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget.

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!

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Banff Itinerary

Yes, 3 days in Banff can give you a good introduction to the area and allow you to see some of the highlights. However, it ultimately depends on your travel style and interests.

If you’re interested in hiking, there are many trails to explore, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes. You could spend all three days hiking and still not see everything. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in sightseeing, you could spend time driving the scenic highways and exploring the town of Banff itself.

Some popular attractions that you might consider visiting during a three-day trip to Banff include Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, the Banff Gondola, and the Banff Hot Springs.

Overall, while three days isn’t a lot of time, it’s enough to see many of the top sights and experience some of the best outdoor activities that Banff has to offer.

Yes, carrying bear spray is highly recommended when visiting Banff National Park, as it is a wilderness area with a large population of bears. While bear attacks are rare, it’s important to be prepared in case you encounter one.

  • AAA Alberta Beef
  • Poutine
  • Maple Syrup
  • Bison & Elk.
  • London Fog.

The best time to visit Banff National Park largely depends on what you want to do and see. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip:

  1. Summer (June-August): This is the busiest time of year in Banff, with warm weather, long days, and many outdoor activities available. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and water activities are popular in the summer months. However, expect crowds and higher prices.
  2. Fall (September-November): Fall is a great time to visit Banff, with fewer crowds and beautiful fall foliage. It’s also a good time for wildlife viewing, as animals are more active before winter sets in. However, some attractions may begin to close in the fall.
  3. Winter (December-February): Winter is peak skiing and snowboarding season in Banff, with world-class ski resorts and snow-covered landscapes. The town of Banff is also beautifully decorated for the holidays. However, winter temperatures can be extremely cold, and some activities may be weather-dependent.
  4. Spring (March-May): Spring can be a quieter time to visit Banff, with fewer crowds and milder temperatures. Skiing is still an option in the early spring, and as the snow melts, waterfalls and wildflowers begin to emerge. However, some attractions may still be closed due to snow and ice.

The closest airport to Banff is the Calgary International Airport (YYC), located approximately 140 km (87 miles) east of Banff. Many major airlines offer flights to Calgary from cities across Canada, the United States, and other international destinations.

a minimum of 2-3 days is recommended to see the main sights and experience some of the popular activities in Banff. This should allow you to visit iconic locations like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Banff Gondola, and also have time for hiking, scenic drives, and soaking in the hot springs.

If you have more time, you can explore further afield and visit nearby attractions like Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park, and Kananaskis Country. You could easily spend a week or more in Banff and still not see everything the area has to offer.

Having a car in Banff can be helpful for getting around, especially if you want to explore the surrounding area or visit attractions that are further away from the town of Banff. However, it is not strictly necessary, as there are other transportation options available.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to rent a car in Banff:

  1. Public transportation: Banff and the surrounding area are served by a public transportation system called Roam Transit, which offers bus service throughout the town of Banff, to Lake Louise, and to Canmore. This can be a convenient and affordable option if you don’t want to rent a car.
  2. Tours: There are many tour operators in Banff that offer guided tours to popular attractions like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Columbia Icefield. This can be a good option if you prefer not to drive or want to learn more about the area from a knowledgeable guide.
  3. Parking: If you do decide to rent a car, be aware that parking can be limited in some areas, especially during peak season. Some popular attractions, such as Lake Louise, have large parking lots that can fill up quickly.

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