Welcome to Banff

Here you will find all of the necessary information to make the best of your time in Banff. From arrival and departure information, daily tour pick up times, and general information about the city.


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About Banff, Alberta

Rocky Mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, picture-perfect mountain communities, abundant wildlife, and scenic drives come together in Banff National Park – Canada’s first national park and the flagship of the nation’s park system. Over three million visitors a year make the pilgrimage to the park for a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, skiing, and camping in some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain scenery. Banff is also part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arrival Information:

The closest international airport to Banff is located in Calgary Alberta, a 1.5-hour drive away. There are no trains between Calgary and Banff so the only available means of travelling between the two is by car or bus. Unless you have rented a car independently, all of our guests will have their arrival to Banff organized by Canada Rail Vacations. Whether you arrive on the Rocky Mountaineer, are finishing a tour from Lake Louise or Jasper, or are being transferred from the Calgary airport/downtown, your driver will drop you off at your Banff hotel’s front door. For more information on how you will be getting to Banff, see the provided link on your travel itinerary.

Departure Information:

The closest international airport to Banff is located in Calgary Alberta, a 1.5-hour drive away. There are no trains between Banff and Calgary so the only available means of travelling between the two is by car or bus. Unless you have rented a car independently, all of our guests will have their departure from Banff organized by Canada Rail Vacations. Whether you hop on the Rocky Mountaineer heading west, have a sightseeing tour or transfer scheduled to Lake Louise or Jasper, or have a transfer to the Calgary airport/downtown, your driver will safely drop you off at your destination at the scheduled time.

Restaurant Recommendations:

Being the most touristic town in Alberta the culinary offerings are vast and delicious. Here are some of our recommendations:

Maple Leaf ~ Get the true Canadian experience in this log cabin-styled restaurant offering mountain views. Alberta beef, game, fresh fish and seafood are a few of the upscale dining options featured. Attire: smart casual
Address: 137 Banff Avenue (403 760 7680)

Primrose in the Rimrock Resort ~ Enjoy breakfast or dinner in the Primrose’s casual, yet elegant dining room that boasts magnificent views from every table. The menu is Italian inspired and offers a wide range of dishes. Attire: smart casual
Address: Rimrock Resort – 300 Mountain Avenue (403 762 3356)

The Waldhaus in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel ~ German-inspired alpine cuisine awaits you at the “house in the forest”. Enjoy the heritage ambiance of this Bavarian haven nestled in the woods. Attire: smart casual
Address: Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – 405 Spray Avenue (403 762 6860)

The Grizzly House ~ Eclectic fondue. A former disco nightclub, this restaurant still retains its vintage charm and décor. Fondue and hot rock selections are available in 14 varieties, including such eclectic fare as rattlesnake, shark and ostrich. For the ultimate meat lover! Attire: casual
Address: 207 Banff Avenue (403 762 4055)

The Bison ~ Watch the culinary team create Canadian inspired dishes in the contemporary dining room with display kitchen. The menu changes seasonally and focuses on a farm to table approach to offer the best regional dishes. Attire: casual
Address: 211 Bear Street (403 762 5550)

Nourish Bistro ~ A creative and innovative vegan oasis. Offering globally inspired plant-based comfort food and some of the best cocktails and craft beer selections. After two days of gorging aboard the train, it is nice to just have some vegetables. Attire: casual
Address: 110 211 Bear Street (403 760 3933)

Sightseeing Recommendations:

The Discover Banff Tour Including Gondola is the perfect introduction to Banff and includes some of Banff’s most scenic and historically significant highlights such as the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls, Surprise Corner Lookout, and Banff’s largest lake, Lake Minnewanka. You’ll be transported to the base of Sulphur Mountain and ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain at 7,486 feet. At the summit, marvel at the unsurpassed view of Banff, the Bow Valley and a 360-degree view of six scenic mountain ranges. You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world when you are standing on the spacious main-level observation deck. After taking the Banff Gondola back down, our guide will transport you back to your Banff hotel. It’s a great tour for seeing wildlife, so don’t forget your camera! And ask as many questions as you like, our guides are Banff experts and love to share their knowledge. This is Canada Rail Vacations standard Banff tour that is booked for all of our guests travelling on tours which include more than one night in Banff between May and October.

In 1883, three rail workers stumbled across hot water and steam flowing out of a cave on the lower slopes of what is now known as Sulphur Mountain. The hot spring was discovered to be one of nine sulphurous hot springs on the mountain’s northeast flank. In the midst of the late 19th-century craze for the “water cure”, commercial operations were soon established and people flocked to Banff to “take the waters” and enjoy the soothing and reputedly healing properties of the mineral-rich springs. The Banff Upper Hot Springs are the last remaining springs open to the public for bathing.

The Cowboy BBQ Cookout involves an afternoon or evening in the great outdoors on this true Western excursion. Horseback riders travel along the trail at the base of Sulphur Mountain, and non-riders enjoy a scenic covered wagon ride along the Bow River. Everyone meets up for a BBQ steak cookout (lunch or dinner) at 3 Mile Cabin by the Sundance Canyon Trail. After the meal, return to Banff. This excursion departs from Warner Stables, which is approximately a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride from downtown Banff. This should be booked directly, and well in advance using the link above.

Set sail across the wide-open emerald waters of beautiful Lake Minnewanka at dusk on the Lake Minnewanka Beer Voyage Cruise.

While you enjoy a selection of local craft beer, you’ll be treated to an engaging interpretive tour to help you connect to the stunning Rocky Mountains all around—it's a magical time of day and a wonderful chance to learn, relax and socialize on Lake Minnewanka.

Go Hiking: Banff offers all kinds of hiking trails to explore if you have some free time and you’re feeling adventurous.

Rent a bike: Banff offers all kinds of trails and bike lanes to explore the town and its surroundings and it’s a great way to get to discover it all by yourself at your own pace.

Skiing: If you are visiting Banff during the winter months, Banff is home to two world-class ski and snowboard areas, MT. Norquay and Sunshine Village.

Golf: The Fairmont Banff Springs golf course is one of the most scenic golf courses in the world, consistently ranking in the world's top 100 courses.

Banff is a very walkable town and following the river path you will discover really interesting places, such as:

  • Central Park
  • The Whyte Museum
  • Banff National Park Museum
  • Canada Place
  • Bow Falls

Also, for those looking for some mountain shopping, Banff Avenue presents a myriad of options from souvenirs, fudge, fashion, sports, and jewelry shops among others.