The Perfect 3-Day Banff Winter Itinerary
Banff, Alberta. Canada’s first national park and its premier winter destination. Winter in Banff brings a plethora of activities; from zipping down the ski hill to finding the perfect après spot, skating on frozen lakes and taking in the sights from the Banff Gondola, there isn’t much you can’t do in winter in Banff. While extra layers are required in the winter months, the things you can do in our winter wonderland will leave you in awe and barely feeling the cold.
With so many options of things to do in Banff this winter, we’ve put together the perfect 3-day Banff winter itinerary.
INTRODUCTION TO BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Located in the Canadian Rockies and in the province of Alberta, Banff National Park covers around 6 641km² of land. Filled with snow-covered peaks in every direction you look in, diverse wildlife, rushing rivers and so much more, Banff National Park is a spectacular place to spend some vacation time! Below we’ve listed some things you should know ahead of your itinerary:
Location: Alberta, Canada
Nearest City & Airport To Banff National Park: Calgary
Transportation to Banff National Park: Car Rentals, Shuttle Buses
Transportation in Banff National Park: Shuttle Buses, Car Rentals, Bikes, Public Transportation etc
Park Pass Costs: Can be found via the Parks Canada Website
BANFF WINTER TRAVEL TIPS
Don’t let the legends of Banff’s notorious winters intimidate you. Can it get cold? Yes. Are there ways to overcome this? Of course. Below are some key things to pack when celebrating winter in Banff.
What to pack for your winter visit to Banff National Park:
Winter Boots – don’t let cold & wet feet keep you from exploring Banff.
Thick Sweaters – Not only will these provide you with warmth, but they’ll also look stylish while taking that Instagram content.
Microspikes – These are also available to purchase or rent all over the park but are necessary if you plan to hike on any of Banff’s seasonal trails (they’ll keep you from slipping and sliding all over the place).
Winter Jacket – a good winter jacket will ensure that all your winter adventures are enjoyable.
Toques and Mittens – you’ll be happy you packed these
3 Days in banff national park IN WINTER
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, 3-days in Banff National Park is not enough time to sink your teeth into all the fantastic things to see and do here. But if you are ok with a jam-packed schedule, this 3-day Banff winter itinerary will have you seeing some incredible sights and participating in the best Banff winter activities.
Morning: Hit the ski hill
Afternoon: Après in Banff’s best bar – Rundle Bar
Evening: Experience the night sky
Rise and shine; it’s mountain time! Now that you’ve enjoyed your first night at Canada’s Castle in the Rockies it’s time to grab a quick breakfast and coffee at STOCK Food & Drink and head to guest services to collect your ski gear. Next, catch the shuttle to any one of the three fantastic ski resorts that Banff National Park is home to. From Lake Louise Ski Resort, about 45 minutes away to Sunshine Village, a quick jaunt down the TransCanada Highway or Mt. Norquay located just outside the town of Banff (and is also home to Banff’s only night skiing) there is no shortage of options when it comes to world-renowned skiing in Banff.
Whether a novice or not, these three hills offer something for everyone – from classes for beginners to black diamond runs for those looking to hit their adrenaline quota. These ski hills also have wonderful places to dine or grab a quick beverage in between your runs. Once you’ve decided you’ve had your fill of skiing, catch the shuttle back to the hotel to enjoy the rest of your afternoon.
OUR TIP – Don’t own skis or snowboards or any of the necessary things to make your time on the hills enjoyable? Fret not, located directly on our property is Chateau Mountain Sports – your one-stop shop for all your adventure rental needs!
Welcome back to the Castle! After a quick stop to drop off your skis, head back to your room to freshen up for your afternoon, and we’ve got the perfect après spot. Rundle Bar.
Rundle Bar, home to world-class cocktails and excellent bites, also offers epic mountain views (trust us, they never get old). If you are looking for something a little more, Rundle Bar offers cocktail classes with our mixologists, which is a great way to meet other travellers or just learn more about your cocktail.
OUR TIP – Did you know we have our very own gin? Our Rundle Gin is purple, flavorful and available for purchase in the bar or at STOCK Food & Drink.
Once you’re done soaking up the views and some snacks and beverages in Rundle Bar, head back to your room to dress for your evening activity – a private night sky experience.
As you and your group and tour guide head out for your night sky experience, you’ll learn about why Banff National Park is one of Canada’s best stargazing destinations. As you hear about the Aurora Borealis, you admire the constellations and finish the 3-hour tour with a campfire, s’mores and a hot beverage at Lake Minnewanka.
Morning: Explore the Town of Banff
Afternoon: Winter Hike, Tunnel Mountain
Evening: Dinner in the 360 Dome
You’ve had quite an adventure-filled first day in Banff National Park, and deserve a nice sleep-in. Cozy up in bed and order some in-room dining to start your day. After you get your fill of coffee, breakfast and those epic mountain views from your room, it’s time to take a stroll into the town of Banff.
The stroll into the town of Banff is an easy 15-minute walk (one way). It’s home to many different restaurants, bars, one-of-a-kind shops and more. It’s a great way to people watch and get in your retail fix during your morning of downtime. We recommend grabbing a coffee and pastry at Whitebark Café, or if you are looking for an excellent lunch, head to Three Bears for a beer, burger and more people watching.
OUR TIP – If you want a quick way to get to and from town, a bus runs from the hotel to the townsite for $2.00. If you are still keen on enjoying as much fresh air as possible on your walk back to the hotel, take the trail that runs parallel to the Bow River, this scenic & quiet trail runs from town and to the Bow Falls, just below the hotel.
After a lovely relaxing morning in the town of Banff, head to the Tunnel Mountain Trailhead to get a cardio kick. Tunnel Mountain sits in the heart of the town of Banff and is a moderate 4km hike (there and back). It provides enough elevation gain to get your heart pumping but, depending on fitness levels, shouldn’t take more than 80 minutes to complete. Once you get to the top of the mountain, look for the Parks Canada Red Chairs and snap a photo of the gorgeous mountain views – they’ll be everywhere you look.
OUR TIP – bring microspikes/crampons on your hike – the trail can get compact and a little slippery depending on when you hike it.
Once finished with your hike, head back to the hotel for some rest before your evening. Then head down to Rundle Bar, where you will then be escorted outside and into the intimate space or our 360 Dome. Boasting those evening views of the mountains, the 360 Dome is also home to some fabulous meals. So sit back and relax as your service begins serving not one but a FIVE(!!) -course tasting menu from our Executive Chef Robert Ash.
OUR TIP – If dinner wraps up before 9:00 pm, book a private campfire pit to round out the evening, you can even enjoy s’mores and bubbles to end the evening.
Morning: Morning Skate at Lake Louise
Afternoon: Banff Gondola
Evening: Fondue at Waldhaus Restaurant
Grab your morning coffee, rent some skates and jump into the car and head to Lake Louise – this famed lake in Banff National Park is the place to skate outdoors in Canada! Boasting mountain views in every direction and at the base of our sister property Fairmont Lake Louise, this is a once-in-a-lifetime winter activity and shouldn’t miss out!
OUR TIP: Grab an early lunch at the Fairview Bar before hitting the road to your next location!
As you drive up to the base of Sulphur Mountain, you take a peek into the sky and see your destination sitting on top of the mountain! This afternoon’s activity will have you taking the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. This leisurely ride will give you the most AMAZING views of Banff National Park. So sit back and relax and enjoy your afternoon in the sky.
OUR TIP: Make sure your phone is charged for all those photos!
On your final evening in Banff, you’ll be heading down to the Waldhaus Restaurant to enjoy our famed fondue dinner! Trust us; you’ll be yelling Danke Schoen after the first indulgent bite of this Bavarian tradition. Waldhaus Restaurant is our hidden cottage in the woods and boasts quite an intimate setting, with a crackling fireplace in the dining room and gorgeous views of the mountains around it. Enjoy your meal!
We hope you enjoyed this 3-day winter itinerary for your travels to Banff National Park – of course, there’s always so much more to see and do so have a read of all the winter activities we have available!
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