The lively town of Banff is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, just south of the Trans-Canada Highway.
The majority of Banff hotels are found in the downtown core, however, there are some accommodations tucked away in scenic pockets. The majority of the hotels are situated along Banff Avenue, the major thoroughfare in the downtown area, and almost every hotel in Banff offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Choosing Your Ideal Hotel
Banff is one of the top tourist destinations in Canada and is popular year-round. You can expect to pay high prices to stay in this stunning mountain town, however, most hotels in Banff offer free parking and free Wi-Fi. There are very few chain hotels found in this town, but there is still an ample variety of accommodation styles, including hotels, motels, B&Bs and hostels.
Travellers who prefer to be close to shopping, dining, and nightlife will want to find a hotel close to Wolf Street or Buffalo Street. The two blocks between Wolf and Buffalo, along Banff Avenue, is the commercial area that features many restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries and bars. While hotels in this area are conveniently located, late-night noise from the neighbouring bars (open until 2 am) might be a concern for some.
Both Mount Royal Hotel Banff
and Brewster's Mountain Lodge
are in this central spot, however, many reviewers recommend these primarily to travellers who prioritize location and aren't looking for luxury, as both are often described as needing to be brought up to date. Both hotels offer free Wi-Fi, and the Mount Royal also offers free parking. If you're staying during the summer and air conditioning is important to you, choose Mount Royal, as the rooms at Brewster's don't offer it.Explore Downtown Banff
Banff is a walking town. Most shopping, dining and local attractions are within a 20-minute walk, especially if you choose a hotel on or near Banff Avenue. Walking is also a good option to avoid hunting for an available parking space in the shopping and dining area at Wolf Street and Banff Avenue. The limited parking spaces available are free, but time limits are enforced.
If you have some mobility concerns or if you’re looking to venture outside the downtown, the Roam Public Transit buses are a good choice. The buses run daily from 6:15 am to 11:30 pm and routes include the downtown area and access to the Hot Springs, Sulphur Mountain and the Cave and Basin District. Adult single-ride passes are $2, while day passes can be purchased for $5.
Our Editor's Pick for downtown Banff, Fox Hotel and Suites
, is about a 10-minute walk from Wolf Street and Banff Avenue. Guests are given free passes to the Roam bus, plus Wi-Fi, parking and breakfast are all free. It also has an amazing indoor hot pool with waterfalls, designed like a cave, that opens to the sky. However, only some room types offer air conditioning, so be extra careful when booking to be sure you get one if you want it.Sightseeing in the Surrounding Banff National Park
Many people use Banff as a base for exploring the Banff National Park. Upon entering this expansive park, all travellers are required to pay a daily fee: $9.80 for adults, $4.90 for children and $19.60 for a family pass. The fee supports Park Canada’s efforts to maintain the park and also helps fund search-and-rescue services. Passes may be purchased at the park gate east of Banff upon arrival, or online before you travel.
The Upper Hot Springs and the Cave and Basin National Historic site are both within a 15-minute drive or bus ride of downtown Banff.
The Upper Hot Springs is a historic spa and bath house with a large pool of natural hot spring water. The temperature of the water ranges from 37 to 40 degrees Celsius and the spring water provides a variety of therapeutic minerals. The admission fees for the hot springs are: $7.30 for adults, $6.30 for children and $22.50 for a family pass.
The Banff Gondola, that travels up Sulphur Mountain, is also on the Upper Hot Springs site. The 8-minute gondola ride rises over 2,000 meters to the summit. At the top, enjoy the scenery while dining at one of the two restaurants. This must-do attraction costs $35.95 for adults and $17.95 for children.
The Cave and Basin National Historic site is the place where Banff was born. Discovered by railroad workers in the late 1800s, this cave still bubbles with warm spring water. You can learn more about the history of the cave through on-site interactive exhibits.
Lake Minnewanka, a glacial lake and the longest lake in the Rockies, is just a 10-minute drive north of the city along a scenic highway. The area boasts campsites, boat tours and a hiking and mountain-biking trail. It's a popular lake to photograph due to its pristine blue water and small treed island, so don't forget your camera!