Banff is brimming with amazing attractions! So much so, it can be overwhelming to choose from them. Time is precious on your campervan vacation and you don’t want to waste it! But let me remove your unease because literally, anything you choose to do in Banff National Park will be glorious.
The scenery in Banff is particularly breathtaking. No matter the hike, walk, climb or bike, beautiful mountain views surround the mountain town. The people living in Banff love it! The hotels and campgrounds are full of knowledgeable staff eager to share their love for the town. Finally, the competitive restaurant scene means every restaurant is impeccable and delicious.
New Age Travel and Services loves Banff National Park! Here is a list of New Age Travel and Services’ favourites. We feel quite confident you’ll fall in love with the town immediately.
Getting Around Banff
While Banff National Park has attractions in each and every direction, driving around Banff can be a bit hectic. Not to mention, parking can be tricky to find. Many of the top tourist attractions have small parking lots making those areas congested. It’s the definition of a pedestrian friendly, bike friendly and pet friendly mountain town (just remember to keep pets on a leash because of the wildlife).
To avoid the lineups and circling for parking spots, leave the campervan parked at the campground and enjoy the public transportation system: Roam Transit. It’s a convenient option for getting around town or reaching popular sites without the hassle. Make reservations here
Adult tickets are $6, and valid for 45 minutes. Learn more about Roam Transit’s policies like pets and bikes on busses here.
What to Do
Lake Louise is one of the Top 5 photographed locations by visitors in Canada. Its unique turquoise water is surrounded by the highest mountain peaks in Banff National Park. One visit will definitely explain its reputation. Such beauty attracts millions of tourists every year. The earlier you can get to Lake Louise parking lot, the better your chances will be. Our favourite trick is to arrive in the parking lot as early as 5 am and nap in the van waiting for sunrise.
Parker Ridge Trail is an easy hike of 5km total with an incredible view of the Columbia Icefield Glacier. The wildlife is abundant in this area so you have a higher chance to see mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and more.
Sentinel Pass is a breathtaking hike of 11km round trip. It crosses the Larch Valley Trail which is at its prime in September. The Larch are unique – they are one of the few evergreen trees whose pine needles turn yellow in the fall before dropping. For the more adventurous, Mount Temple is a difficult hike that starts at the end of Sentinel pass. This hike is only accessible a few months a year based on the amount of snow accumulated on the trail. There are several exposed passages before you get to the summit at 3544m.
We recommend carefully preparing for this hike and look at our detailed blog on Summiting Mount Temple.
Where to Sleep
Tunnel Mountain Campground
Tunnel Mountain Campground is a prime campsite located directly in the town of Banff. Its 1118 sites have all types of amenities to fit your needs. They range from simple sites for tents to large sites that can accommodate the biggest motorhome.
All sites of this campground are normally booked the day online reservation opens. But not to worry: people typically hold on to their reservation until 3 days before the booking. This is the end of the free cancellation period. So, if you haven’t booked a site, we suggest looking 3 days ahead or going directly there at around 1‑2pm. The staff can assist you in finding a campsite.
Two Jack Lake Campgrounds
Two Jack’s campgrounds are located a 20-minute car ride North East of Banff. They provide a peaceful environment by Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. This area offers multiple hikes and water activities like boating and scuba diving. You can visit the sunken old village and dam in the Minnewanka lake!
Lake Louise Campground
The Lake Louise Campground is 1km away from the infamous Village of Lake Louise, and 4km from the lake itself. The proximity to Lake Louise and seclusion from the rest of the world make this an ideal campground while visiting Banff.
Lake Louise Campground is a year-round campground, too! So, you can camp here and ice-skate on Lake Louise on the same day!
Where to Eat
Magpie & Stump
Magpie & Stump is a Mexican restaurant on Banff’s main drag – aptly named Main Street. This place has a sunny rooftop patio with mountain views all around. Additionally, it’s one of Banff’s best-priced eating options. After all, the most important criteria whenever Joey judges a place to eat is the size of portions.
Magpie & Stump earned a 10/10.
Bear Street Tavern
After spending a day in the mountains, there’s not much better than pizza and beer! Especially when it’s Bear Street Tavern’s mouth-watering pizza. Plus, the Bear Street Tavern supports local breweries. Try their draft beer from the Three Bears Brewery in Banff National Park or the Half Hitch Brewery in Cochrane, Alberta.
Side note: Cochrane is a small town between Calgary and Banff that you’ll pass on the drive out of the city.
Another side note: Calgary is home to more than 50 microbreweries, distilleries and cideries! You can find and try some of these local beers and more at Bear Street with your zah.
This is a great family-friendly meal option. While it is a chain, The Old Spaghetti Factory in Banff shows its uniqueness through the decoration and ambiance. It has been around forever; and, like many things in Banff, has stayed true to its roots. Enjoy some good ol’ family dining at the Old Spaghetti Factory while on your travels.
If you have any recommendations on other hidden gems, please pass them along!
New Age Travel and Services loves to hear about your travels. Over our years in the area, we know lots of the local haunts well (and the hidden gems).