Things to do in Banff in 48 hours
If you are staying in the extraordinary town of Banff for two days and don’t know where to start planning what to do, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. With these top suggestions for 48 hours in Banff, you will live a complete Banff experience that will make you feel like a local in no time.
This year-round resort town is set at the side of the Bow River and surrounded by the famous Canadian Rockies where you will find a vibrant community of artists, athletes, families, outdoor enthusiasts, restaurateurs and hoteliers. Visit the museums and galleries, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, and world-famous Lake Louise or stroll along Banff Avenue; enjoy the shopping, the restaurants and bars, and in winter, the après ski.
Sulphur Mountain has long inspired wonder, adventure and absolute awe in visitors. Located just a ten minute drive from the town of Banff, a ride on the Banff Gondola is a must. From the top of the mountain, see the entire Bow Valley and Banff townsite and beyond to the surrounding lakes and peaks. Discover its interpretive centre and theatre indoors to captivate the child in all of us. It’s also where culinary expectations rise to new heights, with menus that rival the views. Outside, the epic views are truly endless from the rooftop deck or with a stroll along the mountain boardwalk.
During winter, enjoy a whole new way to experience the summit after sunset with Nightrise. Witness how Sulphur Mountain is transformed into an immersive, interactive experience after dark through dynamic lights, projections, original soundscapes and more. Summer nights are equally exceptional, filled with nightly live music, rooftop patio sips, and dazzling sunsets.
The Johnston Canyon hike to the Lower Falls is 2.3 km and 5.1 km to the Upper Falls. Both hikes are easy and follow a well-maintained trail suitable for everyone. Walking through Johnston Canyon is a completely different experience during summer and winter, but both are magical. Surrounded by rugged mountain peaks, you’ll also travel through prime wildlife habitat to reach the canyon, especially during the summer months.
Start with a gentle walk to the Lower Falls, wander through a natural cave to gaze down at the waters of the frozen falls up close in winter. Then, continue onto the spectacular Upper Falls that rises 30 metres above your head. During winter, they form gigantic pillars of ice and often, you can see ice climbers scaling the frozen columns.
Leisurely walk in the town of Banff
This is a town that truly celebrates its heritage, and lives and breathes the surrounding mountains. Walk along the streets of this premier destination for authentic hospitality, mountain culture, relaxation and amusement. Taste a delicious cup of locally brewed coffee or tea. Head to Banff Avenue and Bear Street for a wide selection of stores and enjoy the many shopping opportunities. While you’re in town you can check out original Canadian art at one of the many galleries.
Learn everything about the rich history of the town of Banff and the creation of Canada’s first national park by visiting Banff Park Museum in the centre of town with a collection of fascinating artifacts.
In the heart of the magnificent Banff National Park, surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks is the small resort village of Lake Louise. The big attraction, though, is four kilometres away. The vivid turquoise waters of glacier-fed Lake Louise, “the Jewel of the Rockies”, are recognised the world over.
With the iconic Fairmont Château Lake Louise at one end, the stunning Victoria Glacier at its head and mountains all around, this is one of the world’s most photographed lakes and a “must-see” on any Rockies itinerary. Winter at Lake Louise is particularly magical; don a pair of ice skates and glide across the frozen lake, breathing in the fresh mountain air, surrounded by incredible scenery.
Banff Hot Springs
The Banff Hot Springs are the highest hot spring in Canada and one of those must-do activities in Banff National Park. After a long hike or day of adventure in Banff, enjoying these mineral-rich springs are the perfect way to unwind.
At the base of Sulphur Mountain, which is located at the end of Mountain Ave, Banff Hot Springs offers a unique experience in both winter and summer. The natural temperature of the water that emerges varies depending on the season. During the winter, the temperature is as hot as 47°C. In the spring, the flow increases, and the temperature cools off to a minimum of 27°C.
Banff National Park is home to hundreds of diverse species of wildlife. Spot bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and more on one of the many wildlife tours available in Banff. Learn about animal behaviour, eating habits, and the conservation efforts being made to protect their natural environment.
The best time to see wildlife throughout Banff National Park is during Spring, Autumn and Winter. You can also enjoy wildlife tours in Summer, especially during the coolest days of the season.
There are so many incredible experiences in Banff National Park. Walk with an Indigenous guide through pristine valleys for sightings of bears, elk, coyotes, wolves and moose, discovering local traditions along the way. Learn about bushcraft, the power of plant medicine and ancient survival skills. Hear the haunting melodies of Indigenous singers and visit galleries and cultural outposts.
You can also visit the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, which showcases Indigenous culture through the ages. In addition, take a look at what contemporary art looks like at the Jason Carter Gallery, full of bold and colourful paintings.
Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus
Explore the highlights of Banff National Park and Lake Louise in 1 day and at your own pace from the comfort of a Hop-On bus with a knowledgeable guide. Get everywhere you want to go easily and without the hassle of parking or traffic.
When you only have 48 hours to discover this year-round mountain town, this is actually one of the best ways to see Banff and its most popular attractions in the park that are not easily accessible without wheels.
Day trip to Vermillion, Minnewanka or Two Jack Lake
There are so many more activities you can do in Banff, such taking a trip to Vermillion, Minnewanka or Two Jack Lake. As the sun sets, witness a pink hue in the sky and a gorgeous reflection of Mt. Rundle over the water on Vermilion Lake. For a picturesque emerald-green lake, explore Minnewanka and/or Two Jack Lake. They are really beautiful picnic spots and it's great for families and people of all ages.
Inspired to explore this amazing destination, request our brochure here. If this article has inspired you to visit Banff, our team of expert advisors would be happy to personalise your perfect holiday, just call us on 0161 888 5632 or click here to explore more holidays with First Class Holidays.