|

The BEST 4 Day Banff Itinerary

Welcome to Banff National Park, a true gem within Alberta, Canada. Banff National Park is one of Alberta’s 5 National Parks.

We spent an amazing four days in Banff, and I think this is a great amount of time to see the most popular sights.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable escape in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, use this 4 Day Banff Itinerary to help you plan your adventure!

Let’s dive in!!

Some links in this 4 day Banff Itinerary are affiliate. If clicked, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park at sunrise
Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Banff 4 Day Itinerary Snapshot

  • πŸ”οΈ = Hiking
  • 🚀 = Boating Activities

Day 1:

  • Travel to Banff
  • Banff Town & Banff Visitor Centre
  • Bow Falls Viewpoint Trail πŸ”οΈ

Day 2:

  • Moraine Lake at Sunrise πŸ”οΈ
  • Lake Louise & Lake Louise Hiking Trails πŸ”οΈ 🚀

Day 3:

  • Banff Gondola
  • Banff Upper Hot Springs or Spa Day

Day 4:

  • Johnston Canyon πŸ”οΈ
  • Lake Minnewanka πŸ”οΈ 🚀
  • Two Jack Lake πŸ”οΈ

Banff Itinerary Map

How many days to spend in Banff, Alberta

Recommended length of stay in Banff National Park: 3-4 days

Our stay: 4 days 

Getting to Banff

Banff National Park is about a 1.5 hour drive from Calgary. Additionally, if going straight to Banff, the best place to fly into is Calgary International Airport (YYC).

Use Skyscanner to help find the cheapest flights & routes available to you!!

Driving to Banff

Renting a car is the quickest way to get to Banff from Calgary. You have the ability to go at your own pace and make it a relaxing ride.

I recommend renting a car in Calgary – either at the airport or downtown.

Check out RentalCars for deals & discounts!

We chose to spend a day in Calgary before venturing off to Banff and we loved the extra day to explore the city.

at Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon Parking Lot

Take a bus to Banff

Taking a bus is another convenient way to get from Calgary to Banff National Park.

1. Bus Bud: Tickets cost on average $50.00 – $60.00 CAD one way

2. Brewster Express: Tickets cost ~$80.00 CAD one way

3. The Banff Express: Tickets (one way) from Banff to Calgary and vice versa are around $42.00 CAD for adults.

4. Banff Airporter: Tickets from Calgary to Banff or Canmore. From $80 CAD (adult) one way.

Prices updated June 2023.

Getting Around Banff

Driving around Banff

Renting a car is my recommendation for getting around Banff, with the benefit of going at your own pace. If this is out of the option, there are multiple bus options.

Rental Cars has a great number of cars to check out here!

Taking a bus around Banff

1. Brewster Express: Shuttle bus service from Banff to Lake Louise and back.

2. Roam Transit: This is public transit available around Banff Town and to Lake Louise & Moraine Lake.

3. Onit Transit: This transit is available around Banff in the spring and summer months (May – Sept). Tickets cost around ~$10.00 one way.

Where to stay for your 4 Day Banff Itinerary

Luxury Banff Hotels

If your budget can allow, staying at a luxury Banff hotel offers an unparalleled experience that adds an extra layer of indulgence and comfort to your visit.

These below mentioned hotels offer; breathtaking views of mountains, forests, or lakes, exceptional service, relaxing spa & wellness services, fine dining opportunities and exclusive experiences.

Fairmont Banff Springs

This iconic luxury hotel is in one of the most stunning locations of Banff National Park. Nestled within the forests and mountains, you will be gifted with views aplenty.

Within minutes of stepping outside hit the hiking trails, golf courses & more.

Many celebrities and royals have stayed here. You can be next!!

This hotel is not for budget travellers. In high season this hotel can average $900.00 per night.

Click here to check out Fairmont Banff Springs prices & booking information!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has one of the most gorgeous views in the world, Lake Louise. Choose to stay in an elegant suite or charming cabin.

Use many of their amenities; kayaking on Lake Louise, mountain biking, even horseback riding!

This Chateau is incredible to stay in year round, experience the summer blue turquoise waters, or the winter wonderland.

Click here for prices & booking Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise!

The Rimrock Resort Hotel

The Rimrock Hotel is nestled on Sulphur Mountain with PANORAMIC views of the Canadian Rockies. I mean, it does NOT get more Canadian than this.

Sit back on your terrace and stare out into the expansive mountains.

Enjoy a spa treatment, dine at their award winning restaurant, take advantage of their amenities and offered activities and so much more!

Check prices and booking for The Rimrock Resort Hotel here.

Mid-Range Banff Hotels

Majority of hotels in Banff Town fall into this category. 

Canalta Lodge

We loved our experience at Canalta Lodge. The location is amazing, right on the main strip of Banff Town.

soaking in the hot tub at Canalta Lodge, Banff
Canalta Lodge, Banff

The hot tubs and outside area was relaxing, equipped with fire pits and a sauna. The rooms are clean and well equipped.

Check prices & booking for Canalta Lodge here.

Others:

Moose Hotel & Suites

This hotel is in a prime downtown location with easy access to shops, restaurants and attractions in Banff.

This hotel offers a rooftop heated pool and two hot tubs. Sit back and bask in panoramic views of the mountains while relaxing your muscles after a long day of hiking!

Each suite/room comes with a private balcony to enjoy your surroundings.

Check prices & booking for Moose Hotel & Suites here!

Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa

The atmosphere and accommodation of Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa reflects the true spirit of the Canadian Rockies.

Sit back and warm up by the fireplaces, take a dip in the indoor pool or hot tub or book a massage after a long day of site seeing.

Click here for prices & booking at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa.

Budget Hotels in Banff & Banff Hostels

Bow View Lodge

This budget friendly lodge sits on the famous Bow River. The serene setting provides a peaceful environment after a busy day.

Enjoy views of the river and mountains. Bow View Lodge is close by and walking distance to all there is to offer in Banff Town.

Check Bow View Lodge prices & booking information here!

Banff International Hostel

Banff International Hostel is a great option for budget friendly travellers who don’t mind shared accommodations!

There are a range of rooms; from private to dorm room style. Banff International Hostel is located right in the heart of Banff with easy access to main tourist attractions!

Stay here if you want to meet people and travel together in beautiful Banff!

Check prices & booking information here for Banff International Hostel.

Banff Vacation Rentals

Vacation rental prices close to Banff Town have a large variability, ~$100.00 – $800.00 per night.

Click here for Banff Vrbo.

Click here for Banff Airbnbs.

4 Day Banff Itinerary

DAY 1: Travel Day, Banff Town & Banff Hike 

Travel to Banff

Take the drive from Calgary to Banff Town. The ride on the Trans-Canada highway takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Enjoy the scenic views as you drive at your own pace.

Renting a car truly provides the best options for a leisurely pace.

Make sure you have your Park Pass ready to go for when you enter Banff National Park.

Do NOT forget to purchase this ahead of time. Click here for Park Pass information & purchase.

Arrive in Banff National Park & Banff Visitor Centre

Yay!! You have arrived in one of the most scenic Canadian towns. Make your first stop in Banff the Banff Visitor Centre.

Visitor Centre’s are a great way to get personalized information to a city or country. This Canada guide can help as well!

Banff Visitor Centre is open daily in high season (June-September) from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Hours differ in off season!!

Here, you will receive information on different hikes to take around town, restaurant recommendations and purchase bear spray. Do not forget this!

Banff Town

Take a stroll along Banff Avenue, the main street in town, lined with shops, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

Enjoy the unique souvenir shops and local artwork.

If you’re interested in taxidermy animals, fossils and natural history, check out the Banff Park Museum.

Children and youth 17 years of age and younger are free to visit! Adults pay a small price.

If natural history isn’t really your thing, check out the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity! You can attend art exhibits, performances, workshops & more!

They host many musical performances and concerts by local & Indigenous talent. Make sure to check them out!

Just want to enjoy the shops and grab a drink? I got you! Head to Banff Ave. Brewing Co. for stunning views and a delicious pint!

Bow Falls Viewpoint: Easy Banff Hike

Let’s get your feet wet with some hiking, (not literally wet). You will be doing lots of hiking during this trip, so let’s take it easy for the first day!

Take either the Bow Falls Viewpoint Hike or the Hoodoos Trail.

The Bow Falls Viewpoing Trail will take you along the Bow River to the Bow Falls. If you walk along the opposite side of the Bow River, you will reach Surprise Corner Viewpoint. 

Surprise Corner Viewpoint is a site to BEHOLD, and I personally found it better than the other view.

It honestly looks like it’s from a fairytale.

Surprise Corner Viewpoint, Banff
Surprise Corner Viewpoint

This hike is short & sweet, with rewarding views.

Alternatively, you can start at the Surprise Corner Viewpoint, enjoy the sights of the Fairmont Banff Springs, and then complete the Hoodoos Trail.

As someone who managed to fit in both of these hikes, I preferred the Bow Falls Viewpoint Trail.

It was more scenic. I found we spent a lot of time in the forest during the Hoodoos Trail, although it was still enjoyable!

Click here for a list of more day hikes in Banff National Park.

Make sure you download the free Alltrails app here!!

Bow River Bridge Trail
Bow River Bridge Trail

Dinner in Banff & Sleep

You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants in Banff. My two favourites are Park Distillery & The Grizzly House for fondue.

Have an early night in, you will be heading to Moraine Lake tomorrow for sunrise!

DAY 2: Moraine Lake & Lake Louise

Sunrise at Moraine Lake

This is an early day!!! I STRONGLY recommend you try to be at Moraine Lake for sunrise, which means leaving Banff town at the latest 4:30 AM.

Moraine Lake is now exclusively closed to personal vehicles. This means you will have to take a shuttle from Banff Town to get to Moraine Lake.

Check out Parks Canada to reserve your shuttle bus. Reservations open in mid April for the season.

Sunrise at Moraine Lake is truly one of those bucket list experiences I will hold in my heart forever. Your 4 day Banff itinerary will be INCOMPLETE without this.

Moraine Lake at sunrise
Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Sunrise: (slightly differs from day to day, check the weather app)

Moraine Lake Rock Pile Hike

The Moraine Lake Rock Pile is a short 0.8 km trail that leads to the viewpoint of the scenic lake. Many people take this trail to get gorgeous views of the lake for sunrise.

Alternatively, you can head to the lake from the parking lot and climb up onto the rocks (which is what we opted for, we did the trail after).

I hope you cherish this experience it as much as we did. Spend as much or as little time as you would like here.

There are other paths and trails to take around the lake, click here for a list.

Moraine Lake rockpile
Moraine Lake Rockpile

Moraine Lake is closed to the public after Canadian Thanksgiving, due to the dangerous winter weather conditions.

Breakfast

Enjoy the snacks and breakfast you packed or head to the Trailhead Cafe for breakfast.

This Cafe is close to the Lake Louise Visitor Centre. We enjoyed a quick bite to eat here before heading to Lake Louise.

Lake Louise

Book your shuttle from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise. The ride is a short 12 kilometres.

Once you have arrived at Lake Louise, congratulations, you are in for a treat.

Start by simply taking in the beauty of the lake itself. Admire the turquoise waters and surrounding mountains.

Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, check out Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, have a bite to eat or afternoon tea if you feel like splurging.

Lake Louise, Banff
Lake Louise

Hiking around Lake Louise

When visiting Lake Louise, walk around the lake to the right hand side, passing the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this will take you to the trailheads for a number of different hikes.

Our favourite is Lake Agnes Trail.

Lake Agnes Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 7.4 km (out & back trail)

Start: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

This very popular trail starts at Lake Louise.

The Lake Agnes Trail takes you on a scenic route. Enjoy views of Lake Louise from above while you hike through the forest.

3 km into the hike, you will reach Mirror Lake, stop here to enjoy and take photos.

Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake

Lake Agnes is 3.7 km into the hike. There is a teahouse at the top that is open from May – October. Purchase some tea and take in the beautiful lake.

You can continue this hike for about 1 km more to Little Beehive, which is a gorgeous viewpoint of Lake Louise.

The teahouse accepts cash only.

Lake Agnes
Lake Agnes

Lake Louise Water Activities

If the weather is nice, rent a kayak or canoe and enjoy some time on the lake.

Canoe & kayak rentals are first come first serve. Visit the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Boathouse on the west side of the Lake.

Check out prices for boat rentals at the Fairmont here.

If you’re visiting in the winter, Lake Louise is truly a winter wonderland.

Rent some skates and glide through the mountains! If you want to walk through some trails, snowshoes are also available to rent!

Drive back to Banff Town

Head back to Banff town for dinner and a relaxing evening.

I bet you are SUPER tired. I did make you wake up early.

Good night!!

DAY 3: Banff Gondola, Banff Upper Hot Springs / Spa Day

Banff Gondola

Today’s going to be a chill day, you deserve it after all of the early morning hiking yesterday!

Head to the Banff Gondola, located at the base of Sulphur Mountain.

Take the scenic gondola ride to the summit, where you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys!

Banff Gondola is easy to access from Banff Town, going south on Mountain Ave. for 4.5km (11 minute drive).

Spend some time hiking (relax, it’s not a difficult hike haha), on the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk (pictured below)!

Click here to purchase Banff Gondola Admission tickets!

Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola

If you’re feeling hungry, grab a bite to eat at Sky Bistro, we had a delicious chocolate cake and some tea (as it was freezing up there).

Sky Bistro can be pricey, if it isn’t for you, head back down to Banff Town for some more affordable eats!

TIP: If you reserve a table at Sky Bistro for a meal, your Banff Gondola ticket is free!

Banff Upper Hot Springs / Spa Day

Does your hotel have a spa? Spend the rest of the day pampering yourself!

Most Banff accommodations have amazing hot tubs and spa services that look out onto the vast horizons.

Otherwise, make your way over to Banff Upper Hot Springs. These natural hot springs, located a short drive from Banff town are the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate after all of your hiking.

Soak up the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the views of the mountains.

Visit at any time of the day, the hot springs are open from 10 AM – 10 PM daily.

They operate on a first come, first served basis. Visit earlier in the day to ensure your spot.

Click here for more information on Banff Upper Hot Springs!

Banff Dinner

Head back to town for dinner and enjoy your evening!

If you haven’t checked out The Grizzly House yet, do it today!! This was one of my favourite Alberta restaurants.

The fondue dinners are so delicious. We had a 3 course fondue dinner; appetizer, main & dessert fondues.

Fondue dinner at The Grizzly House
The Grizzly House fondue dinner

TIP: Leave your jackets in the car, they will smell like SMOKED MEATS.

Good night!

DAY 4: Johnston Canyon, Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake

Johnston Canyon

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or go out to town for a quick bite to eat! Bring some snacks with you for lunch while you hike.

Arrive at Johnston Canyon early to make sure you get parking. You do not have to get there as early as Moraine Lake but ensure you are there for about 8:30 – 9:00 AM.

Hike the Johnston Canyon trail which will take approximately 4 hours.

Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon

The hike is moderate in difficulty and is about an 11.7 km out and back trail.

You can turn back at any point, going to the upper falls and turning back or going all the way to the Ink Pots.

Lake Minnewanka Trail

Spend some time walking along the lakeside trail around Lake Minnewanka.

This is a long 15.6 km out and back hike, however you can turn back at any point.

We did about half of this trail as we wanted to make sure we had time to check out Two Jack Lake.

Click here for the Alltrails hike path and download it onto your phone for convenience! (It is free).

Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka offers a popular 1 hour cruise that takes you through the mountains.

I highly recommend booking this cruise in advance as it is a top tourist attraction.

Click here for Lake Minnewanka cruise tickets & deals!

Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake is a beautiful lake about a 5 minute drive from Lake Minnewanka.

There is a short 3 km trail you can take around the lake.

If you spent more time earlier in the day doing other things, just park at one of the rest stops by the lake and enjoy the views for a little while.

Two Jack Lake
Two Jack Lake

Dinner in Banff

Enjoy dinner at Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar. We absolutely loved our dinner here.

Park Distillery offers free distillery tours daily! Check this out if you are interested.

Dinner at Park Distillery
Park Distillery

After dinner, check out their shop and receive a 10% discount on their products with your dining receipt.

Good night!

Busy? Pin the 4 Day Banff Itinerary for later!

Need help with personal travel planning?

I create custom itineraries and activity guides starting at $25.00 CAD per day!

Plan Before Land Personal Travel Planning Service

Final Thoughts on Your 4 Day Banff Itinerary

This 4 day Banff itinerary offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

From the breathtaking vistas of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake to the exhilarating experiences of hiking to tea houses and riding the Banff Gondola, Banff National Park delivers unforgettable moments at every turn.

For even MORE Alberta beauty, I recommend continuing your travels to Jasper National Park.

The drive from Banff to Jasper itself is a sight to behold. This Icefields Parkway itinerary will have you covered for your drive there.

Alberta is truly one of Canada’s most beautiful provinces. I hope you enjoy every moment!

Similar Posts