Are you looking to plan your next big bucket list adventure? Look no further. Banff is a destination you won’t want to miss! This itinerary details the best things to do in Banff. Click the image below for a seven day adventure itinerary that you can save and print:

Banff itinerary travel bucket list adventure hike
Having a solid plan makes your trip efficient.

Contents:

Lake Louise and Lake Agnes Trail (Day 1)
Lake Louise Hotels
Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, and Sunshine Meadows (Day 2)
Banff Hotels
Mount Norquay and Cascades of Time Gardens (Day 3)
Bow Falls and the Vermillion Lakes (Day 4)
Tunnel Mountain, Horseback Riding, and Two Jack Lake (Day 5)
Kananaskis Hotels
Whitewater Rafting and the Grassi Lakes (Day 6)
Canmore Caves and Calgary (Day 7)

Day 1

Canoeing on Lake Louise

Begin your Banff adventure at beautiful Lake Louise! The lake is roughly two hours west of the Calgary airport, but the scenic drive makes it an easy one. The turquoise blue water of Lake Louise draws in visitors from all over the world. Swimming is not really an option. The water is freezing cold all year round. However, visitors can enjoy the lake by canoeing on its crisp blue waters. This is one of the best things to do in Banff. Rentals are conveniently located right on the lake. Additionally, guests at the Fairmont Chateau are given a pass for a free rental. Enjoy this bucket list adventure destination by canoeing on these beautiful blue waters.

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Lake Louise

Lake Agnes Trail

After a pleasant paddle on the water, experience a bird’s eye view of the lake by hitting the hiking trail. The Lake Agnes Trail leading to the Tea House is a moderate 4.6 mile out and back trail. On the way, you will pass Mirror Lake, a small waterfall, and Lake Agnes. The Tea House is open from June – October. Sip on a delicious cup of tea while taking in views of Lake Agnes. The trail is well maintained in the winter, but can be snowy. Be sure to pack micro spikes and hiking poles during the snowy season.

Alternatively, if you are more comfortable hiking with a guide, there are several groups you can join. This particular guided hike has the option to take the Lake Agnes Trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers, which is a beautiful hike and circles around the Big Beehive (discussed in the next section).

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Mirror Lake

Beehive Hikes

Once you have boosted your energy with a cup of tea, you can choose to turn around or continue on to the Beehive Hikes. The Little Beehive is 0.5 miles further than the Tea House. The Big Beehive is 1.1 miles further. In total, the full Big Beehive hike is a 6.8 mile loop, with a 2,545ft elevation gain. The switchbacks leading up to the Big Beehive can be steep and difficult. If you are new to hiking, do not let this discourage you. Check this hike off of your bucket list adventure goals. Take it slowly and take breaks often. The view from the top is well worth the work to get there.

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View from the Big Beehive.

Places to Stay (Day 1)

Best Luxury hotels

Fairmont Chateau *Bucket list destination hotel
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$350 – $700+ per night
  • Amenities: Indoor Heated Pool | Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Stunning view of Lake Louise | Free canoe rental with booking | Free shuttle to ski resort
  • Additional Charges: Extra fee for valet and self parking | Daily service fee
Baker Creek Mountain Resort
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$300 – $500 per night
  • Amenities: Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free parking on site | Nearby ski shuttle
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee

Best budget Hotels

Mountaineer Lodge
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$110 – $250+ per night
  • Amenities: Hot Tub | Laundry | Wifi | Breakfast included | Free parking
Lake Louise Inn
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$150 – $200+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Dial Up Internet | Free parking
Deer Lodge
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$200 – $250+ per night
  • Amenities: Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Free parking

Day 2

Paddling on Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is tucked away just south of Lake Louise. Although it is lesser known, it is just as stunning, if not more! The one hour drive is worth the detour. The perfectly still water is ideal for paddle boarding. Canoes are readily available on site, but you must rent paddleboards and kayaks in Banff. If you are interested in these activities, plan accordingly. During the initial drive to Lake Louise, stop by the Banff Canoe Club for rentals. Full day guided tours of Lake Louise, Yoho National Park, and Moraine Lake are also available if you are interested in having an expert guide and learning about the history of the park.

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Moraine Lake

Johnston Canyon Falls

After a morning of enjoying views of the lake, start making your way east to the Johnston Canyon Falls. This trail is very beginner friendly. The hike to the Lower Falls is 1.4 miles out and back. Once you come upon the Lower Falls, cross the bridge and pass through a small tunnel. This opens up across from the mouth of the waterfall, and provides a better view. You can choose to turn around at this point. Alternatively, if you continue hiking 0.9 miles further, you will reach the Upper Falls. The hike to the Upper Falls is 3.2 miles out and back, with a 859ft elevation gain. Although both falls are beautiful, I feel that the many falls along the way are even more stunning. Another great option is to book a small guided bike and hike tour along the Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon.

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Johnston Canyon waterfall on the way to Upper Falls
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Cascading waterfall on the path to Upper Falls

Sunshine Meadows

Continue your scenic bucket list adventure by heading to the Sunshine Meadows. There are two options when you arrive. You can choose to hike or ride the gondola to the scenic viewpoint. The hike is long – 13.1 miles – with a gradual ascent to 1,876ft. The best time to go is June – October. During this time, the meadows are filled with wildflowers. This spot has some of the best views of the Canadian Rockies.

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Sunshine Meadows Viewpoint

Places to Stay (Days 2, 3, and 4)

Best Luxury hotels

Fairmont Banff Springs
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$450 – $600+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Stunning mountain views | Golf course | Airport Shuttle | Free ski shuttle
  • Additional Charges: Extra fee for valet and self parking | Daily service fee | In-room wifi fee
Rimrock Resort
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$250 – $400+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free area shuttle
  • Additional Charges: Extra fee for self parking | Daily service fee
Moose Hotel and Suites
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$200 – $400+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free self parking | Nearby ski shuttle
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee

Best budget Hotels

Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$120 – $300 per night
  • Amenities: Spa | Hot Tub | Laundry | Wifi | Restaurant | Bar | Breakfast included | Nearby ski shuttle
The Fox Hotel and Suites
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$150 – $330+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Free parking | Breakfast included
Buffalo Mountain Lodge
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$200 – $350+ per night
  • Amenities: Hot Tub | Spa | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Free parking

Day 3

Climb Mount Norquay

Have you ever dreamed of climbing a mountain? Is it one of the items on your bucket list? If so, today is the day to check it off! Banff Adventures offers a safe climbing tour. Iron foot and hand holds are embedded alongside the mountain, and you are clipped in to a safety line the entire time. Because of this, no experience is necessary. Safety gear and training is included. This type of adventure is the gateway drug to full on rock climbing. There is a climbing route for all types of adventure seekers. Bookings range from a short 2.5 hour introduction to a full 8 hour day of mountaineering. You choose the level that best suits the experience you are seeking. At the top of the mountain, you will enjoy amazing 360 degree views. So let today be the day you conquer one of your bucket list adventure items!

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Climbing Mount Norquay

Cascades of Time Gardens

After a full day of climbing, you deserve a nice, relaxing evening. Spend some time exploring the Cascade of Time Gardens. Admission is free. The flowers are in full bloom from June – early September. Stroll through the garden’s pathways and have a picnic under the gazebo. Return to your hotel and top off the night with a well deserved soak in the hot tub!

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Gazebo overlooking the flowerbeds in the Cascades of Time Gardens

Day 4

Bow Falls

Begin your morning with a short hike to Bow Falls. The trail starts in the city, transitions to a forest, and winds along the river. It then opens up to a view of the falls. It is a short 1.7 mile out and back hike. There are a few sets of wooden steps, but the path is mostly flat, with only a 216ft elevation gain.

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View of Bow Falls

Vermillion Lakes

Tap into your inner self on the Vermillion Lakes. The peace and quiet makes this the perfect escape from our busy lives. Grab a canoe and enjoy a picnic on the water with this beautiful backdrop. Canoe rentals are available on site. Be sure to plan this activity during the sunset. Add this to your travel bucket list. The sky changes colors in the most fierce way. You won’t be disappointed.

Another option is to hike the nearby trails. The Fenland Trail is an easy 1.2 mile loop. It is well groomed and takes you through the marshlands. With this option, you have a good chance of spotting some wildlife. Moose, elk, and sometimes bears wander in the area. So grab your paddle or stretch your legs and take it all in!

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Vermillion Lakes

Day 5

Tunnel Mountain Trail

Rise and shine! Yesterday was a pretty easy, relaxed day. It allowed your muscles to recover from climbing Mount Norquay. Finding a balance between relaxing activities and more intense ones is the key to smart planning. For this reason, make this a moderately active day. Wake up early and catch the sunrise on the Tunnel Mountain Trail. This trail is short and sweet. If you put in a small amount of effort, you will be rewarded with amazing bucket list views. The hike is relatively easy. It is a 2.8 mile out and back trail with an 875ft elevation gain. It is the easiest mountain to summit in the area.

For more of a challenge try the nearby Sulphur Mountain Trail. This hike leads to a similar view, but is 6.8 miles out and back. Switchbacks steadily increase the elevation, with a 2,480ft elevation gain. Don’t ever let longer hikes and higher elevation discourage you. Take plenty of breaks and soak in the beauty. Keep pushing and you will make it to the top! Once you reach the summit, there is an optional free gondola ride to return to the base. Alternatively, there is an option for a paid gondola ride up to the summit. You can always take this if you want to skip straight to the views! The tour also includes stops at the previously mentioned Bow Falls, Johnston Canyon, and the Surprise Corner section of Tunnel Mountain.

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Tunnel Mountain Trail Summit

Horseback Riding

Book a horseback riding tour and continue to explore Banff in all its beauty. Banff Trail Riders offers several options, ranging from 1-2 hour tours to 6 day trips. Ride a horse across the Spray River and through the forested trails. If you have never ridden a horse, now is the time! No experience is necessary. The horses are well trained and easy to ride. This is a great way to explore if you want to give your legs a break! The 1 hour ride takes you to either the Bow River or the Spray River. I have done both and personally think the Spray River ride is much more picturesque. The 2 hour ride takes you on the Sundance Loop along the Bow River. The 3 hour covered wagon or horseback ride includes a Western cookout. It’s the most popular tour and provides the most bang for your buck.

For more avid horseback riders, the company also offers multi-day rides. The 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, and 6-day horseback riding tours are all great options for anyone that wants to go off the grid and fully explore the Banff Backcountry. These tours can get pricey, however all accommodations and meals are included in the price. As a side note, if you happen to be visiting during the winter (December through March), take advantage of the group or private horse drawn sleigh ride!

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Horseback riding across the Spray River

Two Jack Lake

Finish your day with a nice evening walk. The trail to Two Jack Lake is flat and easy. This 2 mile loop offers scenic views and is a great way to cap off your day. The lake serves as a beautiful emerald green reflecting pool for Mount Rundle. This area is not polluted by city lights, so stick around after dark to stargaze. However, keep an eye out for wild animals, as various wildlife frequent the area.

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The emerald waters of Two Jack Lake

Places to Stay (Days 5 and 6)

Best Luxury hotels

Stoneridge Mountain Resort
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$300 – $600+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Laundry | Gym | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free garage parking
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee
The Malcolm Hotel
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$300 – $500+ per night
  • Amenities: Pool | Hot Tub | Gym | Restaurant | Bar | Wifi | Business Center
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free self parking
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee
Falcon Crest Lodge
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | Summer: CA$300+ Winter: CA$100+ per night
  • Amenities: Hot Tub | Laundry | Gym | Restaurant | BBQ Grill | Fireplace | Wifi
  • Extras: Beautiful mountain views | Free parking | Nearby ski shuttle
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee

Best budget Hotels

Copperstone Resort
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$200 – $350+ per night
  • Amenities: Entire condo | Fireplace | Outdoor Space | Kitchen | Wifi
  • Extras: Stunning mountain views | Free parking
  • Additional Charges: Daily service fee
Crosswaters Resort
  • Pricing: Varies depending on date of reservation | CA$180 – $300+ per night
  • Amenities: Spa | Hot Tub | Laundry | Gym | Wifi | Restaurant | Bar
  • Extras: Free offsite parking
  • Additional Charges: Extra fee for valet and self parking | Daily service fee

Day 6

Whitewater Rafting

Do not leave Banff without joining in on a whitewater rafting tour! The adrenaline junkie in you will thank you! Kananaskis sits at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. At the start of the summer season, snow piled on the mountains begins to melt and feeds the Kananaskis River. As a result, class 2-5 rapids are born. Safety is a top priority. The guides are experts at “reading the river,” and can tailor the experience to match the vibes of the group. Check this one off of your adventure bucket list. This is one of the best things to do in Banff. It is a fun adrenaline rush, and you will leave wanting more!

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Rafting through class 4 rapids

Grassi Lakes

After feeding your adventurous spirit with whitewater rafting, keep the fun going with a hike to the Grassi Lakes. This trail is a 2.7 mile loop, and has a 764ft elevation gain. It is suitable for all skill levels. The bright emerald green color is like something out of a fantasy novel. Be sure to check it out!

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The fairytale emerald green waters of the Grassi Lakes

Day 7

Canmore Caves

Depending on the timing of my flight, I always try to squeeze in one last bit of adventure on my final day. Explore amazing underground tunnels by booking a tour of the Canmore Caves! In this bucket list adventure, you will rappel down into a mysterious dark abyss. Discover what awaits your presence below. You will have to rappel about 60 feet down into deep darkness, and squeeze through tight spaces. If you are at all claustrophobic, this is not the tour for you! Group tours range from 4.5-6 hours, or you can book a solitary tour after hours. Spoiler alert: there may or may not be a section called the “Rat’s Nest Cave.” (!!)

Another fun option is beginner and intermediate canyoning in Ghost Canyon. Get your wetsuit on and be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime! After about a 40 minute hike to the top of the canyon, you then rappel down into the canyon and slide into some amazingly fun pools! This is, hands down, one of the best things to do in Banff. Never stop exploring and pushing to become the best and bravest version of yourself. Try it – you might like it!

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Cave exploration

Calgary

Make your way back east to the Calgary Airport. The drive from the caves to the airport is just over one hour. Plan accordingly. If you still have some time to kill before your flight, check out some of the local attractions. Some things to see in Calgary: Prince’s Island Park, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Zoo, and Military Museums. Finally, settle in for your flight home as you reminisce about all the wonderful experiences you’ve had over the past few days. Check off several of your adventure bucket list items on this trip – your soul will thank you!

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