CANADA

The 10 Most Beautiful Places To See In Banff, Canada!

Vermillion Lakes, Banff, banff National Park, Canada. Photo by Seven Continents Sasha

I’ve just finished a year of living in Banff, one of the most beautiful places in both Canada and the world. Banff is one of those places you could spend a lifetime and still not see everything, there is just so much to see and do! What I love most about Banff is that nowhere ever looks the same twice, every day of every season of every year looks completely different from the last, so nothing ever gets boring or old. You could visit the same mountain or same lake every day for a year and still notice something different each time. Whilst there are endless amounts of things to see and do there is definitely a top list of ‘must sees’ for any one visiting Banff National Park for the first time.

 

HERE ARE MY 10 FAVOURITE SPOTS IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK:

 

MORRAINE LAKE

You’ve probably seen photos of this magical place before, it frequents instagram pages regularly. It also happens to be the most photographed place in all of Canada, which is a huge feat considering it’s only open to the public half of the year (roads are closed from mid-october to mid-may). This incredible lake is famous for it’s insanely blue water, so blue that if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes you’ll insist the photos have been photoshopped (it really is that blue, I promise!!!).
In my opinion Morraine Lake is far more beautiful than the more famous Lake Louise nearby. It always blew my mind how many people visited Banff and never even knew that Morraine Lake existed. They were missing out big time! Whilst it is lesser known than its neighbour Lake Louise it sure isn’t a secret destination either, during the busier summer months of July and August cars can be lined up for kilometres fighting for a  car spot. The stunning turquoise water is a result of the refraction of light off silt-like glacial rocks at the bottom of the lake. Sometimes the glacial flour can float in the water, giving it a creamy texture. Due to this, the water looks a hundred times more impressive on a blue sky day compared to a cloudy day, so try to take this into consideration when planning your days.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

LAKE LOUISE

Lake Louise is definitely the most famous lake in Banff and probably in all of Canada. The emerald coloured lake at the bottom of the victoria glacier is world-renowned for its beauty. At about 2.5 kilometres long and 90 metres deep, the lake offers a surreal paddling experience in the warm summer months and one of the most scenic skating rinks in the world in winter.
The Chateau Lake Louise, a luxury hotel open year round, sits on the shores of the lake. The Lake and the Chateau have been popular holiday destinations for millions of people including  famous faces Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Queen Margrethe of Denmark as well as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. Lake Louise and Morraine Lake fight over the title of the most photographed lake in the world.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

PEYTO LAKE

I love, love, love Peyto Lake. This lake is the furthest from the town of Banff but is SO worth the hour-long drive out. In the summer months the glacial water projects a milky blue that looks magical against the surrounding mountains and glaciers and in the winter it freezes to make the ‘wolf’ shape even more prominent and fitting for the freezing temperature of the winter wonderland. Once you park in the car park you have to walk up quite a steep road (10 minutes in summer/25 minutes in winter), which is made even harder in the winter when the snow can be over a metre deep and with each step you take your whole leg sinks into it, making you wet and even colder than you already were.  With that said there is something so magical about Peyto, at all times of the year, that makes it so worth the effort and time. Trust me, you’ll love it!

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

TWO JACK LAKE

I frequented Two Jack Lake regularly during the summer. It’s only a short drive away from town, there are lots of flat, grassy areas to lie in the sun, it’s a nice place to go for a quick swim or have a picnic and it’s a pretty stunning place too.
My favourite time to visit this lake is at sunset as you can view some pretty spectacular sunsets (as well as awesome reflections on a wind-free day).

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

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BANFF GONDOLA

If you aren’t going to be doing all day hikes to the top of mountains during your time in Banff then one thing I highly recommend you visit is the Banff Gondola. At $40 entry fee it’s a little pricey but the view is incredible. As the website says ‘you’ll see more mountains in a moment then most people see in a lifetime.’ The 8 minute Gondola ride will take you to the top of the 7846ft summit. From there their are pathways and observation decks stretching across 1km of the mountain giving you endless opportunities to get the perfect photo and to sit back, relax and admire the beauty of the mountains.  In the summer the restaurants are open too, often advertising three course meals or brunch for only $10 extra than the regular gondola ticket (this includes the ticket), so it’s really good value. It is always much cooler on top of the mountains so be sure to bring something to keep you warm, especially in the winter when it can be up to -40 degrees celsius.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

 

GRASSI LAKES

Grass Lakes isn’t too well-known with tourists but is a favourite with the locals. This beautiful place isn’t actually inside Banff National Park, but within the Canmore/Kananaskis area, a short thirty minute drive out of Banff. From the car park the hike is about 45 minutes up and is a relatively easy hike for all fitness abilities. The lakes at the top are so different to any other on this list, the water is a rainbow of greens and blues and just so mesmerising. It’s also the only lake we visited during the middle of winter that wasn’t frozen, so the full rainbow of colours could be seen at any time of year. Again, if you plan on hiking up in the winter it can be very icy and slippery so be ready to fall over or slide on your butt if you aren’t planning on taking ice cleats with you. Sliding around, however, can be super fun. This video is of Andy, my brother Jordan and I siding down on a log we found. SO MUCH FUN!

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!


 

TUNNEL MOUNTAIN

This short hike in the town of Banff is very popular with locals and tourists alike. The short and relatively easy walk can be done by anyone, of any age or fitness ability, and takes roughly an hour from bottom to top. Despite the name Tunnel Mountain does not have a tunnel inside it, it is named this due to original plans to build a tunnel through it for the trans Canada railway, before they realised that their was a natural valley they could build it on instead. Tunnel Mountain is a perfect place to hike up and admire the view of Banff  and the stunning scenery around it. I prefer to go first thing in the morning or before sunset in order to beat the crowds and hike whilst the air is still crisp (in the summer, that is. It’s always crisp in winter). In the winter the path can be a bit icy and I would suggest hiring some ice cleats to make your adventure a bit easier.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

 

NORQUAY LOOKOUT

One of my favourite spots to go and watch a sunrise or sunset or just sit in the sun and admire the beauty of Banff is from the Norquay lookout. Just a short ten minute drive out of town it is super accessible and a great place to go at any time of day or night.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

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VERMILLION LAKES

Vermillion lakes is the closest lake to the town of Banff. I love this place for so many reasons. It’s a great place to go watch a sunrise or a sunset, both light up the sky and mountains in different ways, it’s a great place to watch for animals too as bears and elk frequent the area. On a wind-free day you can get some pretty spectacular mountain reflections on the water, which are a great photo opportunity. It’s also a really nice place to go sit on a wharf, read a book or have a picnic and just reflect on life and the beautiful surroundings.

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

JOHNSONS CANYON (VIA 1A / BOW VALLEY PARKWAY)

Johnsons Canyon is another of my favourite places in Banff National Park (but are you getting the feeling I love them all?). There are a number of hikes you can do along the beautiful canyon, the shortest of thirty minutes taking you to the lower waterfalls, an hour hike will take you to the upper waterfalls and if you are feeling adventurous a three-hour hike will take you to the ink pots. In the winter the paths can be super icy and whilst it is SO much fun sliding down the paths on your butt you can get some pretty hardcore bruises from the almost guaranteed falls you will have. So if you aren’t into bruises or sliding then be sure to hire some ice cleats for the day. The canyon looks different in every season but it always looks beautiful. Another great thing about Johnsons Canyon is you have to drive there via the Bow Valley Parkway/1A which is a beautiful, scenic road where wildlife like elk, deer or bears are almost always spotted. You can also take this road all the way up to Lake Louise if you want to avoid the highway (though do dive the highway to Lake Louise at least one way as it is one of the most stunning drives)!

 

Ten Most Beautiful Places to see in Banff, Canada!

 

 

Related Read: The Best Places To Stay in Banff!

Now go and plan your holiday to one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit in your lifetime! I love, love, love Banff and I know you will too! You can thank me later.

 

 

Which of these spots would you most like to visit?
Or what other spots do you think deserves a spot in this list?
Let me know in the comments below!

 

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36 Comments

  • Reply Deborah stich 17/04/2017 at 3:45 am

    johnson canyon is my favorite because it is a great hike with beautiful views of the rushing creek all the way up to the ink pots. And the trail has improved so much since I first went up there in 1974. Leave it to the Canadians to build trails that are natural and beautiful and practical. But still rugged. The way the view opens up at the top is my favorite part..

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 18/04/2017 at 3:51 pm

      It is stunning isn’t it? I have a soft spot for Johnsons Canyon too! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Reply Carol 02/04/2017 at 1:00 pm

    My husband and I took our 9 year old to Banff and Jasper several years ago. To date it is still the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. We are heading back there this July, sans kids, and I can’t wait! I can’t even tell you my favorite part, because the whole area is stunning. Reading your article is getting me excited for our upcoming trip!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 06/04/2017 at 3:41 pm

      Oh I am so excited for you Carol, it hasn’t changed it is still absolutely beautiful (though the restaurant scene has improved a lot since I’m sure). Have fun!

  • Reply sabrina 10/02/2017 at 6:45 am

    WOW! Stunning pictures! I have been dreaming about Canada for SO long and I think that after your post it has quickly climbed my 2017 dream destinations. Beautiful pictures by the way! PS: love the layout of your blog too! 🙂

  • Reply carlinn meyer 09/02/2017 at 11:12 am

    Ahhhh Alberta has been on my bucketlist for forever now! Its a bit far to fly from Cape Town but looking at these photos it is most definitely worth it. Not only for instagram perfect pictures but also hikes and just sheer awesomeness! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply Sheila Flores 09/02/2017 at 7:13 am

    Hi Sasha! I absolutely loved reading this as I’m planning to spend some months in Vancouver next year. One of the reasons is Banff National park and the amazing landscapes in that part of Canada. I’ve been dreaming with the water color of Morraine lake for so long!! Thanks for sharing 😉 I’ll read for sure your other posts about Vancouver, can’t wait to go!! 🇨🇦

  • Reply Bhushavali 09/02/2017 at 4:18 am

    Oh my goodness! Banff is definitely a paradise on earth!!! Just look at it! All those lakes look so pristine & pure! Esp Morraine lake looks like it just fell to earth from heavens!!!

  • Reply The Travel Ninjas 09/02/2017 at 3:06 am

    Wow this really opens my eyes to Banff. I always just thought of it as an awesome snowy place for hitting the slopes. The lakes and waterfalls are really amazing though. Thanks for show ing how much more there is to this natural wonderland.

  • Reply Aryane @ Valises & Gourmandises 08/02/2017 at 4:37 pm

    Of all the things you mentioned, I only knew Lake Louise! Which I actually mistook it for Lake Morraine for years… And I’m Canadian! haha
    But I’m actually from Québec and it’s almost cheaper for us to fly to Europe than out west, which explains why I’ve never been. But one day, for sure! I’ve heard so much about it and it is absolutely breathtaking!

  • Reply neha 08/02/2017 at 4:02 pm

    Such beautiful fairytale lakes. You are making me want to pack my bags right away and head to Canada. It is so beautiful. I particularly loved the crystal clear waters of Lake Louise

  • Reply Hendrik 08/02/2017 at 2:22 pm

    At the first photo and the Tunnel mountain I had to look twice if it is not a painting… such a beautiful landscape!
    Canada seems to be extraordinary amazing. Totally perfect for a nature traveller like me. Reminds me a bit to Iceland and partly even to Switzerland.
    My favorite would be probably Norquay Lookout. Sitting there with this view – what more to say 🙂

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 13/02/2017 at 12:43 pm

      Yes, very similar to Iceland and even New Zealand. Beautiful country! Norquay lookout is one of my favourites too 🙂

  • Reply Ivy 02/11/2016 at 4:06 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Canada! I have to agree, Mother Nature did a good job on us 😉 I’m from Vancouver but it’s been AGES since I last visited Banff so I don’t even remember half of the things on your list! I’m hoping to revisit next summer so this will come in handy 🙂

  • Reply Lydia@LifeUntraveled 02/11/2016 at 3:52 pm

    Judging from the pictures, Lake Morraine does look much more attractive than Lake Louise. I live in Montreal at the other end of Canada. Such a beautiful country (Banff is stunning!) and yet I haven’t visited much of it. 🙁

  • Reply Clare 02/11/2016 at 2:12 pm

    I love Banff but it’s year since I visited. I did the Gondola and Lake Louise, but don’t think I have seen the other places. Would be great to go back and see it all 🙂

  • Reply Natasha Welch 02/11/2016 at 1:25 pm

    Banff is absolutely breathtaking! And your pictures are perfect. My cousin spent a year working in Banff at a ski resort and I was so jealous.

  • Reply Joaquim Miro 02/11/2016 at 12:14 pm

    To only pick 10 places is a difficult task indeed. It really shows Canada’s inherent beauty. Your pictures are really nice so thank you for showing off our country!!

  • Reply Christina from Happy to Wander 01/11/2016 at 9:33 pm

    Ahh such a great list. I’m from Vancouver, so Banff is one of those places that isn’t close enough to visit often but still too close to make it ‘a big holiday’, you know? I’ve only been there once when I was really young! I remember seeing Lake Louise for the first time and just being completely blown away by the colour of the water. I can’t wait to go back and tick all of these off my list!!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/11/2016 at 4:52 pm

      Definitely try and go back as an adult, it is just incredible. But I understand what you mean with the whole distance situation!

  • Reply Delaine Dcosta 01/11/2016 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve heard so much about Banff, however, I’ve never had a chance to visit. Your photos look incredible! I’d definitely like to visit Morraine Lake & Peyto Lake – the water looks surreal. I’m not sure whether I would sit on the gondola though, not too comfortable with my legs hanging around in the air. I’ve been to Canada just once, that too in winter. I think I need to return & explore more.

  • Reply Jen Morrow 01/11/2016 at 7:46 pm

    I year in Banff sounds amazing! It is such a beautiful place. I agree the gondola rides are certainly top 10!! Fantastic list!

  • Reply Meg Cale 01/11/2016 at 7:09 pm

    This couldn’t have come up at a better time. I’m bordering on OBSESSED wth Banff these days. I want to go sooo sooo sooo bad. I’ll get there. This year. It’s happening. Thanks for the tips and the gorgeous photos. I pinned so I won’t forget.

  • Reply Rebecca 02/06/2016 at 9:15 pm

    Will add these all to my list! Visiting in July, can’t wait!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 19/06/2016 at 5:31 pm

      How exciting, you’ll love it. Please let me know what your highlights are 🙂

      • Reply rebecca 01/11/2016 at 9:11 pm

        I loved it! Replying a bit late haha. My highlights were Moraine Lake obviously! i also loved Two Jack Lake, i thought that would be such a nice place just to relax and didnt have all the tourists! Im hoping to visit again next year, hopefully I get to see it in the winter!

  • Reply Liz 15/02/2016 at 4:49 am

    I live very close to Banff. These places are all gorgeous. The weddings that happen on Lake Louise are mind blowing.

    Don’t forget the actual town of Banff. The architecture is so nice and rustic. Its’s gorgeous, always a fun night out too!

    http://www.thetongueinchic.com

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 15/02/2016 at 5:00 am

      Agreed, Banff is the sweetest little town ever, I miss it desperately. I figured I didn’t need to mention it, anyone visitnig the sites in Banff National Park will surely visit Banff town too! Where do you live Liz?

      • Reply julie 24/05/2016 at 1:16 am

        Hi Sasha,

        Where do travellers stay when visiting Banff? Accommodations seem so expensive (~$300-$400/night) for hotels

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