Banff is extremely popular to visit in the summer due to the endless amounts of hiking trails that surround the area. So exactly what is there to do if not hike? No worries! We had the same thoughts when we booked our trip in December. By the way; you CAN hike, but be prepared.
At first we thought we would spend most of the time cuddled up around the fireplace in our hotel room (we were) but we also found a lot of pleasant surprises in Banff that we weren’t aware of before.
Also, we did visit right before Christmas so we could get all the christmas “feels” we can’t get in Vegas. So I’ve made a list of the non-christmas related things to do in Banff. Feel free to comment with any more activities in this winter wonderland!
Okay, I don’t ski.
I grew up in a ski town and after seeing broken bone, after broken bone, I just won’t. But if you find joy in this sport, Banff is great for it!
Mount Norquay or Sunshine Village are both two good options for a day of skiing.
The Banff Upper Hot Springs was probably my favorite day in Banff. If you’ve never been to a hot springs before, it’s basically (usually, but in this case not) naturally occurring swimming pool that consist of warm water and usually gives off skin benefits as well!
Like I said, the Banff hot springs are commercially constructed, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. The view is what really sells this place, and the winter months are the best time to enjoy the hot springs due to the colder temperatures outside.
It cost us about $10 to enter, and we also rented swim suits and a locker for a few dollars extra. It’s for sure a budget friendly activity, and better yet, you can take the town bus to get up to the hot springs!
The gondola in Banff is probably the biggest tourist attraction there is to do. For a reason! The incredible views will leave you breathless.
It does come with a price. At about $60 a person, it will cost you. Not only do you have the views to look forward to, but you have two amazing restaurants, and while we were there, they had hot chocolate and mulled wine for sale. We took our time both outside and inside the building, drinking our wine. It was a really nice thing to do, and I thought worth the price.
My favorite activity during the winter!
I specifically got a nicer hotel room with a kitchen and fireplace for ultimate coziness. If this is your speed, I recommend staying at Tunnel Mountain Resort.
We loved our stay. They have a pool, different room sizes, and even give you free bus passes to get around. Tunnel Mountain is a mid range hotel. For something nicer, or cheaper, try these options out:
Luxury: Fairmont Banff
Budget: Dorothy Motel
We did not dog sled, but it’s a popular thing to do in Banff during the winter. Check out this tour here:
Head Into Town
Although Banff is small, it is mighty. Packed with some of the best restaurants I’ve been to, and several cute little shops, it’s hard to not take a stroll or two through the mountain studded streets.
Getting around is easy if you have a bus pass. The local buss can get you from the gondola, to the hot springs, to just about anywhere in town. it’s convenient and very simple to use. There is maps all around town, just find where you need to go, and get on what color bus coordinates with your destination!
The town does also have a taxi service, which is amazing. We never waited more than 5 minutes for our taxi to show up, weather we were at our hotel, somewhere in town, or at the gondola. Pretty reasonably priced, I don’t think we paid more than $15 for a taxi one way.
Canmore is the next town over from Banff. It offered totally different mountain view’s, and more cute restaurants, shops, and spas. Things to do are very similar to Banff, but it’s a change of scenery. Also, the Banff city bus can take you to Canmore!
I wish we spent some time here, but unfortunately we just got to drive through on our way from the Calgary airport.
I hope I could convince you that Banff is absolutely worth visiting in not just the warm summer, but the frigid winter! The town was decorated very nice for Christmas, and if you are in need of a December get away, it is 100% worth the trip and will absolutely sell the holiday vibe.
Let me know in the comments what other amazing things there is to do in Banff!