Banff Itinerary: The Best Way to Spend 5 Days in Banff

Banff Itinerary: The Best Way to Spend 5 Days in Banff

Follow this essential Banff itinerary for the best way to spend 5 days in Banff. This ultimate 5 day Banff itinerary will show you how to see the best sights in Banff National Park and the surrounding areas. It also includes practical Banff travel tips if it’s your first time in Banff.

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Banff National Park is one of the most popular national parks to visit in the summer. Most visitors are drawn to its postcard perfect scenery and famous lakes and glaciers.

There are incredible hiking trails and adventure activities in Banff for those who seek thrill and adventure. There are leisurely walks, canoe rides and hot springs for couples who seek a little romance. There are museums, sightseeing tours and gondola rides perfect for the entire family with children and elderly.

For a full list of fun things to do in Banff, be sure to check out my Best Things to Do in Banff post.

This Banff itinerary is super flexible, so you can adjust activities based on your physical activity level. You will also find super useful and practical information to plan your perfect Banff trip.

Pinterest Pin: Banff itinerary - how to spend 5 days in Banff for both hikers and non-hikers.

Banff Itinerary for 5 Days: An Overview

Here is my sample 5 day Banff itinerary for those who are visiting the Canadian Rockies for the first time this year. This itinerary is intended to allow everyone to see the beauty of Banff and the surrounding areas.

However you can also modify this itinerary to include hikes if you are looking for more physical activities.

Day 1: Arriving in Banff, then explore Lake Louise
Day 2: Visit the beautiful Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon
Day 3: Explore the town of Banff and Canmore
Day 4: Drive the beautiful Icefields Parkway
Day 5: Visit the off-the-beaten-path Yoho National Park

General Things to Know Before Visiting Banff National Park

Currency: Canadian Dollars. They do not accept USD

Outlet Plugs: If you are from the US, you can use the same plugs. But if you are visiting from other parts of the world, you will need to have a plug converter like this one.

Internet: If you use T-mobile, you don’t need to get a new sim card. If you are traveling from outside of the US/ Canada, you may want to get an eSim to use the internet in Canada.

Best Time to Visit: Mid June to mid September to see the alpine lakes

Best Airport to Fly into: Calgary Airport

Reservation/ Park Pass: No reservation, but a Park Pass is required. You can purchase online, at one of the Park gates when you enter Banff National Park, or at the visitor center in Banff town

Best Way to Get Around: Rent a car, taking a park shuttle, Roam Transit, a Banff hop on-hop off bus or a tour

Best Places to Stay in Banff: Dorothy Motel or High Country Inn (Banff Town), The Blackstone Mountain Lodge (Canmore)

Best Restaurants to Eat in Banff: Tooloulou for brunch, Seoul Country Korean restaurant or Eddie Burger & Bar for dinner, and Cows for dessert!

Where is Banff National Park?

Banff National Park is located in Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies, about 2 hours away from Calgary.

Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada; it was established in 1885 and it is the most popular national park in Canada.

Every year there are about 4 million visitors that make their way to Banff National Park, and most of these tourists visit Banff in the summer.

How to Get to Banff National Park

You can easily get to Banff by flying and driving.

  • The best airport to fly to Banff is Calgary International Airport (78 miles from Banff), about 2 hours drive to Banff. You will need to rent a car once you land. We used Discover Cars when we visited Banff in the summer and there were a lot of different car options which was great.

  • The second closest airport to Banff is Edmonton, and it takes about 4 hours to drive to Banff. But if you are planning to visit Jasper National Park first, then it is better to fly into Edmonton.

  • Another option to get to Banff is to drive from Vancouver. Many people do a road trip from Vancouver to Banff as there are many scenic spots along the drive.

  • Train ride on the Rocky Mountaineer is a scenic and relaxing way to get to Banff from Vancouver. The train ride takes 2 to 5 days, depending on the route you take.

Is 5 Days too Much for Banff National Park?

How Many Days Do You Need for Banff?

You can visit Banff for 1 day, 3 days or 5 days, but it depends on how much you want to see and do.

  • 1 day in Banff is perfect if you want to see the “core” sights in Banff like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon but you won’t be able to explore anything outside of these places.
  • 3 Days in Banff is perfect for those that want to see more of Banff, drive up to Peyto Lake or do one or two hikes.
  • 5 Days in Banff allows you to fully explore Banff, Canmore, parts of the Icefields Parkway and Yoho National Park.
  • 1 week in Banff gives you the ability to also visit Jasper National Park, or you can spend more time hiking in Banff, Yoho, and Canmore area.

What Months Is Best To Visit Banff National Park?

Summer months (mid June to mid September) are the best months to visit Banff National Park.

Benefits of visiting Banff in the summer between mid June to mid September:

  • All the alpine lakes in Banff thaw around mid June
  • Hiking trails would be clear of snow
  • Moraine Lake opens by mid June (it is closed in the winter and spring due to ice on the road)
  • Temperature is mostly comfortable, with a high of 70-80F (23-38C) during the day and a low of 5-10F early morning and at night in the summer months
  • Days are long during summer in Banff (sunset is around 9:45pm), allowing you to do more. You can literally eat dinner then visit Lake Louise or another attraction after dinner to avoid most of the crowds

When I visited in mid June, the lakes had just thawed, the temperature was still chilly in the morning and at night, and there weren’t as many visitors.

When I visited in July and August, I was surprised by the number of visitors. There were people everywhere! We essentially had to get up around 5:30 am in order to access some of the more popular Banff attractions and also stayed out till sunset in order to avoid the crowd.

What’s Bad About Going to Banff In the Summer?

The crowd! There is just no way around the huge crowd of tourists every corner you turn in Banff National Park.

Due to the crowd, it is harder to take photos but most importantly restaurants and hotels fill up! It is also very difficult to find parking both at attractions and in the Banff Town during dinner time.

Flights, rental cars and hotel prices are way more expensive in the summer in Banff than any other time. I would highly recommend that you book your rental car and hotels at least 3-4 months ahead of time to get the best deal.

When I visited last summer, I booked hotels about 4 months ahead of time. I then continuously checked hotel prices to see if they go up and they did by a lot after a couple of months (same for rental car prices).

But despite all the crowds, Banff is still amazing in the summer, especially when you start hiking, you will see less people (because everyone else is just visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake).

How To Get Around Banff

  • Driving is the easiest way to get around Banff National Park if you want flexibility or go anywhere outside of Banff Town, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon. We rented ours from Calgary Airport using Discover cars but we also reserved months in advance to get a good rate.

  • Taking a shuttle is the preferred way of visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the summer since you literally cannot drive to Moraine Lake.

You MUST reserve ahead of time on the Park’s Canada reservation page.

5 Day Banff Itinerary in Detail

This 5 day Banff itinerary is meant to be relaxing and can be enjoyed by the entire family. You can also modify this itinerary to include some hikes if you are more active and fit.

This Banff itinerary also gives you a ton of photo opportunities and tips on how to get the best photos.

Banff Itinerary Day 1: Arriving in Banff, get groceries, explore Lake Louise and get dinner in Banff Town

This itinerary assumes you are flying (or driving) into Banff earlier in the day (no later than 3pm). This will give you enough time to rent your car and drive to Banff National Park, which is 2 hours away from Calgary Airport.

Check In & Get Groceries

I would highly suggest that you purchase the Banff Park Pass online ahead of time and have it displayed on your windshield. This would save time so you don’t need to stop to get the pass.

Instead you can drive directly to the town to get some groceries (like water, snacks, fruits), drop off your luggage at the hotel before going to Lake Louise.

There is a large supermarket in the town of Banff, that is pretty much where everyone shops and it has everything you need. Be sure to get groceries before the next morning so you can just pack snack and breakfast!

Lake Louise

Lake Louise in Banff National Park with canoe

The reason I put Lake Louise in Day 1 is because you can still drive to Lake Louise, so you can visit any time before sunset. Assuming you are visiting Banff in the summer, you can see the lake until 10pm pretty much, making Day 1 super flexible.

How to get to Lake Louise

You can drive to Lake Louise or take public transit.

There are two large parking lots at Lake Louise as well as a a Park & Ride lot further away.

The two large parking lots at Lake Louise will fill up after 8am, so it is better to either take the shuttle from Lake Louise Park & Ride lot or take Roam Transit Bus (Route 8x and 8S).

You need to make a reservation in advance to ride the Shuttles.

You can also do a tour or the Banff Hop on Hop Off bus to reach Lake Louise without driving.

Things to do at Lake Louise

  • Canoeing at Lake Louise: This is probably the most popular activity at Lake Louise. You can rent a canoe even if you are not staying at the Fairmont, see pricing here

  • Walk around Lake Louise: There is a super flat walk on one side of Lake Louise. This leisurely stroll is perfect for the entire family. There are also side paths that lead to different trailheads at Lake Louise along this walk.

  • Enjoy lunch or coffee at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: This iconic hotel is a sight in itself at Lake Louise. While you may not be able to stay overnight (since the rooms get booked up more than a year in advance), you can still enjoy a meal with a view of the lake.

  • Rock climb at Lake Louise: One of the most exciting activities at Lake Louise is probably rock climbing. I have never done it myself but the numerous times I’ve visited Lake Louise, I always saw people rock climb, which is pretty cool.

  • Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola: If you want to do a relaxing scenic ride above the lake, then you can’t miss the sightseeing Gondola. See official website for details.

  • Hike at Lake Louise: There are a number of nice hikes at Lake Louise, ranging from a relatively short hike to Lake Agnes to a much longer hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers. Another two very scenic hikes at Lake Louise include Big Beehive and Little Beehive.

To see the current condition of Lake Louise, check out this webcam.

Banff Itinerary Day 2: Visit Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, Stop by Morant’s Curve, and Explore Banff Town

You will see some of the most famous spots in Banff on day 2 of your Banff itinerary, with Moraine Lake first thing in the morning.

Head to Moraine Lake Early Morning

Moraine Lake is a must-do for anyone visiting Banff National Park in the summer. It is just as popular and beautiful (if not more beautiful) than Lake Louise.

Before Parks Canada banned personal vehicles from accessing Moraine Lake in 2023, people used to get there at 2:30am and sleep in the car just so they could get a parking spot and see Moraine Lake for sunrise.

Personally I have never done that as I always visit Moraine Lake around sunset instead! But you won’t have that problem now since you will need to take the official Park shuttle (or bike or take a tour).

Things to do at Moraine Lake

  • Walk up the rock pile (not wheelchair accessible): This is a 10 minute walk to see the best view of Lake Louise. This walk is family friendly and even little kids can do it. Once you are on top, you will get the postcard famous view of Moraine Lake.

  • Canoeing on Moraine Lake: another amazing thing to do at Moraine Lake is to canoe. I did this when I visited Moraine Lake the first time I absolutely loved it. I’ve always liked the view of the peaks (with snow) backdrop of Moraine Lake and it was really amazing to canoe towards that view. See pricing information here.

  • Walk around the shoreline: If you walk towards the Moraine Lake Lodge, you will see the shoreline. You can walk along this shoreline. Most people don’t walk the shoreline so it’s nice to take a stroll and get away from people.

  • Hike at Moraine Lake: There are a number of nice hiking trails at Moraine Lake, ranging from super easy to challenging ones. Some of the best hikes at Moraine Lake include Consolation Lakes, Eiffel Lake, Sentinel Pass just to name a few.

Stop by Morant’s Curve

If you are into photography, you should stop by Morant’s Curve on your way back from Moraine Lake. Since you have to park your car at the Lake Louise Park and Ride for the Park shuttle, you can just drive for about 10 minutes to Morant’s Curve for a quick photo.

Morant's Curve in Banff summer itinerary

Why is Morant’s Curve special? It is because at Morant’s Curve you can capture the perfect photo of a Rails Canada train passing by with the mountain peaks in the background.

Walk the Johnston Canyon Trail

Johnston Canyon is one of the most visited places in Banff besides Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Located only about 32 km from Banff town, Johnston Canyon is a family friendly walk to see two beautiful waterfalls. You can walk along the paved road and boardwalk suspended on the side of the canyon walls.

The 2 waterfalls are the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. It is 1.1km from the entrance to walk to the Lower Falls and 2.7km (from entrance) walk to the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon one way.

You can expect to spend about 2-3 hours at Johnston Canyon at a leisurely pace. And if walking all the way to Upper Falls is too tiring, you can just check out the Lower Falls and come back around.

After you spend your morning at Johnston Canyon, you can drive back to Banff town for the rest of the afternoon.

Vermillion Lake
Vermilion Lake

While driving back to Banff, you can stop by a few nice view points to grab some photos:

  • Castle Cliff Viewpoint
  • Castle Mountain Viewpoint
  • Backswamp Viewpoint
  • Bow Valley Parkway
  • Vermilion Lakes viewpoint
  • Banff Town Sign

The Banff Town Sign is where everyone needs to take an obligatory photo to show that you visited Banff. You will probably see a lot of families waiting to take the photo there but you usually don’t need to wait too long so be patient!

Banff town sign

Explore Banff Town & See Bow Falls Viewpoint and Go Up the Banff Gondola

The Town of Banff is a really nice tourist town about an hour from Lake Louise. There are many things to do in the town of Banff and it actually is nice to just walk around, check out the shops and grab some ice cream from Cows. There are also various attractions and spas in Banff Town.

Bow Falls Viewpoint is a quick and easy viewpoint in the town of Banff. You can easily park in the parking lot and take a photo here.

Depending on how much time you have, you can potentially go up Banff Gondola to see the view of the Canadian Rockies from high above.

The gondola is a 8 minute ride that takes you 2281m (7500 ft) above sea level to the summit of Sulphur Mountain to have a panoramic view of the entire Banff area.

There are observation decks, restaurants and cafes once you are on top. You can even walk a bit to explore other areas along the boardwalk.

Some other popular attractions in Banff Town include

  • Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • Cave and Basin
  • Mt. Norquay Chairlift
  • Visit a museum
  • Cascade of Time Gardens
  • Spa treatment

I really enjoy the vibe of Banff Town in the summer and you can check out all the cute stores, souvenir shops or simply sit down and grab a bite after a long productive day!

Banff Itinerary Day 3: See Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Do an Adventurous Activity and Check Out the Town of Canmore

You will spend the 3rd day of your Banff itinerary to explore more of Banff town as well as Canmore, another town just outside of Banff National Park.

Morning at Two Jack Lake

Banff is full of lakes and there are a lot of nice lakes besides Lake Louise and Moraine Lake!

Two Jack Lake is a beautiful emerald lake located about a 15 minute drive from Banff town center.

two Jack Lake in Banff national Park
Two Jack Lake with reflection of Mt. Rundle

Two Jack Lake does get crowded during the day as locals and visitors love to relax by the lake shore as well as do water activities on Two Jack Lake such as kayaking, swimming, canoeing and even fishing!

Since Two Jack Lake is known for its reflective view of Mt. Rundle, it is actually best to visit early morning when the wind is calm and sun is low. This way you can get that perfect reflection while avoiding the mid day crowd.

Lake Minnewanka

When you are exploring Two Jack Lake, you can either drive 5 minutes or walk 30 minutes along the lake shore to the famous Lake Minnewanka.

Lake Minnewanka summer itinerary in banff
Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is another popular (but not too crowded) lake where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The best things to do at Lake Minnewanka include:

  • Rent motorboat
  • Rent Kayak or canoe
  • Take a boat tour
  • Walk along the lake shore
  • Picnic by the lake
  • BBQ

Lake Minnewanka is one of the only lakes in Banff National Park that allows motor boats so you can either rent your boat (see rates here) or take a boat tour.

There are also a lot of couples that take their engagement or wedding photos on the shore of Lake Minnewanka so you can imagine how scenic this lake is and why it is so popular among families in the summer.

[Optional] White Water Rafting in Banff

If you are into adventurous activities, then you have a couple of choices on how to spend the afternoon in Banff.

You can book the white water rafting tour along the Kananaski River. The location is 45 minutes from Banff and the guides will give you all safety instructions and equipment needed for your adventure.

Banff white water rafting in the summer

[Optional] Via Ferrata Climb

Another great option for those who are seeking a little more adrenaline rush is a guided Via Ferrata Climb on Mount Norquay.

Originally built during World War I in the Dolomites, Via Ferrata was used for soldiers to cross the mountains. The routes are built with ladders, wires and iron rods, helping to make the routes safer. Now Via Ferrata became more of a recreational activity for those looking for adventures.


Explore Canmore, Grab Dinner, and See Sunset at the Canmore Three Sisters.

Canmore Engine Bridge is one of the most popular attractions for visitors in the town of Canmore.

It is a historical bridge built by the Canadian Pacific Railway across Bow River, you can have sweeping views of the river and surrounding areas from the bridge.

Grab dinner and see Canmore Three Sisters

The Three Sisters mountain is a series of 3 peaks in Canmore that is a photographer’s dream.

Canmore three sisters view point sunset

You can visit any time of the day but sunset is an amazing time to visit because you can see a perfect reflection of the Three Sisters mountain from the pond.

Where is the Three Sisters photo spot in Canmore?

The location is a little hard to find but you can google “Off Leash Dog Area“, there will be a small parking lot. You will walk under the underpass to cross Bow Valley Trail and follow the not-too-obvious trail through the pebbles and wooded area to the “Three Sisters Viewpoint” (on Google map as well).

canmore three sisters sunset reflection

The trail looks really sketchy (I was actually a little scared) but it’s quite short and totally safe.

Be warned there are swarms of mosquitoes around sunset but the view is incredible.

Banff Itinerary Day 4: Drive the Beautiful Icefields Parkway and Explore the Massive Columbia Icefield

After exploring Canmore and Banff the last 3 days, it is time to go north and explore part of Icefields Parkway.

In my opinion Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in the world and I have driven on many scenic roads throughout New Zealand, Patagonia, Norway, Switzerland and the Dolomites.

There are many stops on Icefields Parkway if you were to drive all the way to Jasper but I really think Jasper warrants a whole separate trip.

However if you really want to spend the day driving up to Jasper and coming back you could, but it will be a really long day! You can check out my Icefields Parkway post to see all the most beautiful spots.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is about 1 hour north of Lake Louise and it is a popular spot since you don’t really need to hike so it is super easy to visit.

Peyto Lake second viewing spot

You can walk about 15 minutes from the parking lot to a newly built boardwalk viewing platform to admire the beautiful turquoise lake.

However there is another photo spot about a 15 minute walk from the viewing platform that has no railing (and also not many visitors). There you can get even better photos of Peyto Lake.

Read this post on how to find the second viewpoint at Peyto Lake.

Big Bend

Continue the drive down Icefields Parkway and you will come across a spot where all the cars pull over. This is the Big Bend where you can see the valley you just drove up from. Take in the views!

Big Bend Photo Stop on Icefields Parkway Banff National Park

Columbia Icefield & Skywalk

A popular family activity on Icefields Parkway is Columbia Icefield. At Columbus Icefield you will be riding in a giant vehicle onto the Athabasca glacier and walk on the glacier with a guide.

Columbia Icefield Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Itinerary
View of Athabasca Glacier

The Columbia Icefield is a very family friendly activity and as a kid when I first visited it was actually one of my favorite activities in Banff/ Jasper.


In addition you can do a Skywalk on a glass bridge overlooking the glacier above the valley floor. It is a short but thrilling experience and can be purchased together with your Athabasca Glacier adventure on the official website.

Other viewpoints on Icefields Parkway

Depending on the time and how ambitious you are, you can continue to drive down Icefields Parkway to check out other spots, some of the more famous photo spots you can check out on the way to Jasper include:

  • Tangle Creek Falls
  • Goats & Glacier Lookout
  • Athabasca Falls
  • Athabasca Pass Lookout

For a complete list, be sure to check out my Icefields Parkway guide.

[Optional] Parker Ridge Hike

Parker ridge Icefields Banff National Park Icefields Parkway Drive HIke

If you like to hike, then you simply cannot miss Parker Ridge Hike along the Icefields Parkway. Parker Ridge Trail is a 5km round trip hike with moderately steep switchbacks and a 250 meter elevation.

Part of the trail is shaded in the forest and the last part is quite exposed. This is one of the most popular trails on the Icefields Parkway so you can expect some crowd during the summer.

At the summit you will be rewarded with an awesome view of Saskatchewan Glacier.

Spend the Night at Glacier View Lodge

You can either drive back to Banff after your adventure on Icefields Parkway or stay at the scenic Glacier View Lodge.

If you decided to drive all the way to Jasper and back, I highly recommend staying here so it is easier to get to your adventure the next day instead of going all the way back to Banff town.

Another reason I recommend staying here is the view from the hotel. Even from the hotel terrace you can have the sweeping view of Athabasca Glacier. The lobby area also has a huge floor to ceiling window with the view of the glacier, making it the perfect photo spot.

Banff Itinerary Day 5: Visit Yoho National Park

You will spend most of your last day in Yoho National Park, one of the lesser known yet equally beautiful national parks right next to Banff. Note that you need to have your Park Pass in order to visit Yoho National Park.

After getting breakfast from Glacier View Lodge, start heading towards Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.

3 days or 5 days in Banff Icefields Parkway Bow Lake
Bow Lake

Assuming you are driving over from Glacier View Lodge, you will be back on the Icefields Parkway and pass by the following photo spots:

  • Waterfowl Lakes Viewpoint
  • Bow Lake
  • Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint

The reason I did not put them on the previous day’s itinerary is because they will be on the right side of Icefields Parkway when you drive south, making it a lot easier to visit (maybe you don’t mind but I hate turning left on Icefields Parkway or any road…).

But if you are not staying at Glacier View Lodge the night before, then you should visit Waterfowl Lake Viewpoint, Bow Lake, and Crowfoot Glacier View Point on your drive back to Banff on Icefields Parkway the day before.

Canoeing on Emerald Lake

Most people know Lake Louise, Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake, but not as many people know Emerald Lake, which is a pristine lake in Yoho National Park.

As the name suggests, Emerald Lake is a beautiful emerald colored lake. There are hiking trails around the lake and you can rent a canoe on the lake.

The Emerald Lake Canoe Rentals and Boathouse opens at 10am in the summer (although the website says 8am, when we went there they opened at 10am).

Since Emerald Lake is not as well known as Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, it is also not nearly as crowded. The lake is also a lot bigger and you can take your time canoeing on the lake to enjoy the view. Unfortunately when I visited it started to thunderstorm so we had to come back to shore as soon as possible.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park

After spending a lovely morning at Emerald Lake, head towards Natural Bridge, a natural limestone rock bridge formed over Kicking Horse River.

Natural Bridge is a quick photo spot and you can walk over from the parking lot.

Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls is another quick stop in Yoho National Park.

After a short walk from the parking lot, you can see this 370m tall powerful waterfall right in front of you. In fact Takakkaw Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Canada (Della Falls in BC).

There is another lake in Yoho National Park that most people can’t visit: Lake O’Hara. It is one of the most pristine lakes in the Canadian Rockies because the only way to reach Lake O’Hara is through a park bus (lottery based) or walk 3 hours to the lake.

After spending a relaxing day in Yoho National Park, it is time to drive back to Banff and finish your awesome 5 days in Banff this summer.

Banff Itinerary: Essential Packing List

If you are planning to spend 5 days in Banff, especially if you are planning to hike, then you should be prepared.

We actually forgot our sunscreen, food and snacks and bug spray on the day we hiked Lake O’Hara so don’t be like us!

Water, Food, Snack: This should be a no brainer! Bring a backpack and don’t forget food, water and snacks. You may end up picnicking in Banff! Depending on where you go, you can’t just get water and snacks everywhere, so best to shop in Banff the night before and have everything ready with you.

Bug Spray: If you are planning to visit any wooded area or anywhere after sunset (like the Canmore Three Sisters), you should have bug spray with you. We got bitten so much even with bug spray, the mosquitoes were vicious.

Layers: Even when we visited in August during a heat wave, it was really chilly early in the morning up the mountain. Be sure to bring layers/ a thin jacket with you since temperatures change a lot throughout the day.

Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen: Not much need to be said here. Sunscreen is essential especially if you plan to hike. I love using physical blockers like this one.

Bear Mace: If you are planning to hike in Banff, you definitely should have bear mace with you. You can purchase bear mace from the Banff visitor center. When we were on the bus to Lake O’Hara, we saw bears on the road (the same road you have to walk on if you don’t have a bus ticket).

Comfortable Shoes: Plan to walk a lot in Banff! Wear comfortable shoes or even hiking shoes (if you are planning to hike). Ditch the high heels at home unless you are planning to do a photoshoot.

Where to Stay in Banff

Banff Town

Most visitors stay in Banff Town, which is the most populated and happening town in Banff. There are visitor centers, tons of stores, restaurants, bars, and lodging options in Banff town.

Banff Town is about 1 hour drive from Lake Louise.

I have stayed at several hotels in Banff town before, and I would recommend:

  • Moose Hotel and Suites: centrally located in Banff town, this hotel has a spa center and onsite bar
  • High Country Inn: I stayed here before and really liked it. The hotel is conveniently located and it offers an indoor pool, sauna and hot tub
  • Dorothy Motel: I stayed here last time I was in Banff. The hotel is cute and the rooms are large. You can do a self-check in and check out and also avoid all the bus tours that we saw arriving at other hotels
Dorothy Motel in Banff as one of the best places to stay in Banff

Lake Louise

The Village of Lake Louise is another great place to consider when you are spending 5 days in Banff.

If you want to minimize driving back and forth (saves you 2 hours a day) while visiting Banff National Park then you should consider staying at Lake Louise.

The famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise is a fairytale coming true with its direct view of Lake Louise and that you can access Lake Louise before anybody else.

Moraine Lake Lodge is the hotel at Moraine Lake, which gives you priority access to Moraine Lake and free canoe rental.

Other options you can consider is Lake Louise Inn and Canadian Rockies Inn in Yoho National Park.


Canmore is a cheaper option for those visiting Banff National Park. It is further away from Lake Louise but slightly cheaper and quieter than Banff Town.

The two hotels I recommend in Canmore are The Blackstone Mountain Lodge and the Malcolm Hotel.

Read My Other Banff Blogs

I have written a lot about Banff since I keep going back. To help you plan your Banff summer trip, check out the following resources:

Like this post? Pin this 5 day Banff Itinerary to Pinterest!

Essential 5 Day Banff Summer Itinerary
How to spend 5 days in Banff in the summer for hikers and nonhikers