Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a picture-perfect mountain town surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, and home to some of Canada’s most iconic animals. If you only have one day to spend in this mountain paradise, here is a list of must-see activities.
Soak up the serenity of the mountains
Rise early and take to the trails to experience the most peaceful time of day. Follow the river path to the spectacular Bow Falls or make the short hike up Tunnel Mountain for magnificent views over the town.
The morning is also the best time to soar above the town on a scenic gondola or chairlift ride. The Banff Gondola and Mt. Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift both offer spectacular panoramic views of the town of Banff and surrounding mountains.
As you experience the majesty of the mountains, keep an eye out for iconic wildlife such as deer and elk, or spot some of the 260 bird species found in Banff National Park.
Fuel up for adventure
Now that you have worked up an appetite, it’s time to indulge in some classic Canadian cuisine. If you’re looking for breakfast with a view, head to the Juniper Bistro for panoramic views and a locally-inspired menu. If it's comfort food you're after, Coyotes Soutwestern Grill has you covered, and for the authentic Canadian brunch experience head to The Maple Leaf in the heart of downtown Banff. For more recommendations, check out Best of Brunch in Banff National Park.
Be inspired by history
Make your first destination the Cave and Basin Historic Site. Situated a short walk or bus ride from downtown Banff, this iconic site is a must-see when visiting Banff National Park. Here you will see the history of Canada’s first national park come to life as you discover the famous hot springs and explore the nearby trails.
Discover your adventurous side
You’re acquainted with the town and now it’s time to get your blood pumping with an afternoon adventure. If gentle exploration is your thing, try a horseback adventure or scenic float tour. For adrenaline junkies, choose from the Via Ferrata, whitewater rafting, cave tour, or guided canyoning tour.
Indulge in the best of regional cuisine
The perfect way to celebrate a day of adventure is to relax and unwind at one of the many scenic restaurants or picturesque patios in Banff. If you're looking for a fine dining experience try the award-winning Eden at the Rimrock Resort Hotel or Three Ravens Restaurant at Banff Centre. If you're looking to enjoy dinner with a view then head up the Banff Gondola to Sky Bistro or enjoy breathtaking views over the valley at the Juniper Bistro.
Stargaze the night away
Make the most of the dark skies over Banff National Park and gaze at thousands of stars overhead. Learn how to navigate the night sky with interpretive guides at the Banff Gondola and enjoy an evening under the stars.
Getting around the Banff area
It has never been easier to access top attractions in the Banff area. There are various shuttle and transit options to get to main areas including Lake Minnewanka, Johnston Canyon, Banff Gondola, and Cave and Basin National Historic Site.