Welcome to Banff National Park, a true gem within Alberta, Canada. Banff National Park is one of Alberta’s 5 National Parks. It is absolutely stunning with endless activities and sights to see.
We spent four amazing 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.
Important Resources for your 4 Day Banff Itinerary
- To enter the National Park you will need a park pass/discovery pass which can be purchased here
- You will need bear spray if you plan to go hiking during your 4 day Banff itinerary. This can be purchased at the Banff Visitor Centre. Do NOT attempt to carry this on the plane, it will be confiscated.
- Free APP for your smartphone: Alltrails. This free app is AMAZING for looking up and downloading hikes. You can use the app offline, which helps if you are visiting from afar. I love to read reviews and see some sample photos of hikes I want to take. Banff is full of hiking, be sure to download this free app for your trip!
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
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.
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 ~$79.00 CAD one way
3. The Banff Express: Tickets (one way) from Banff to Calgary and vice versa are $42.00 CAD for adults.
4. Banff Airporter: Tickets from Calgary to Banff or Canmore. From $79.99 CAD (adult) one way.
Prices updated June 2023.
Getting Around Banff
Driving around Banff
Renting a car is my recommendation, with the benefit of going at your own pace. If this is out of the option, there are multiple bus options.
Taking a bus around Banff
1. Brewster Express: Shuttle bus service from Banff to Lake Louise and back.
2. Roam Transit: This transit is available around Banff Town.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Mid-Range Banff Hotels
Majority of hotels in Banff Town fall into this category.
We loved our experience at Canalta Lodge. The location is amazing, right on the main strip of Banff Town.
The hot tubs and outside area was relaxing, equipped with fire pits and a sauna. The rooms are clean and well equipped.
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.
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.Booking.com
Budget Hotels in Banff & Banff Hostels
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.
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!
Banff Vacation Rentals
Vacation rental prices close to Banff Town have a large variability, ~$100.00 – $800.00 per night.
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.
Banff Visitor Centre is open daily in high season (June-September) from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Hours will differ in off season!!
Here, you will receive information on different hikes to take around town, restaurant recommendations and find bear spray for purchase. DO purchase this!
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!
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!
The Bow River Bridge Trail will take you along the Bow River to the Surprise Corner Viewpoint. Surprise Corner Viewpoint is a site to BEHOLD.
It honestly looks like it’s from a fairytale.
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 River Bridge 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!!
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.
The drive from Banff town to Moraine Lake takes about 1 hour. The parking lot will start to fill up EARLY, as a lot of people have the same idea and want that sunrise moment over Moraine Lake.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to get there for around 5:30 AM to ensure you have parking.
Once the parking lot closes, you will not have access to Moraine Lake until people and their cars start to exit, (which could be hours).
Try your best to make it for sunrise over Moraine Lake.
This 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.
You are most likely going to get there earlier than sunrise, most people do. The reason for the early arrival is so that you can get into the parking lot.
Wait in your heated car until you can head over to the rocks and get a good seat. Or start hiking right away!!
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/little time as you would like here.
Moraine Lake is usually closed to the public after Canadian Thanksgiving, due to the dangerous winter weather conditions.
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.
The drive from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise is 12 km in length.
Take Moraine Lake Rd. until you reach Lake Louise Dr. Lake Louise Dr. will take you all the way to the parking lot of Lake Louise.
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.
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 closer to the trailheads for a number of different hikes. Our favourite is Lake Agnes Trail.
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.
3km into the hike, you will reach Mirror Lake, stop here to enjoy and take photos.
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 Louise Water Activities
If the weather is nice, rent a kayak/canoe and enjoy some time on the lake. Canoe & kayak rentals are first come first serve. Check out boat rentals at the Fairmont.
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 at 4:00 AM.
DAY 3: Banff Gondola, Banff Upper Hot Springs / Spa Day
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)!
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!
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.
Head back to town for dinner and enjoy your evening!
If you haven’t checked out The Grizzly House yet, do it today!! The fondue dinners are so delicious. We had a 3 course fondue dinner; appetizer, main & dessert fondues.
TIP: Leave your jackets in the car, they will smell like SMOKED MEATS.
DAY 4: Johnston Canyon, Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake
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.
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 15.6km 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.
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.
Two Jack Lake
Two Jack Lake is a beautiful lake about a 5 minute drive from Lake Minnewanka.
There is a short 3km 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.
Dinner in Banff
Enjoy dinner at Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar.
After dinner, check out their shop and receive a 10% discount on their products with your dining receipt.
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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.
Banff’s wonders will unfold daily, leaving your heart full of beautiful memories.
For even MORE beauty, continue on to Jasper National Park. The drive from Banff to Jasper is a sight to behold in itself, 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!