Top 8 things to do this winter in the Town of Banff

Written by
Staff Writer
January 8, 2023
Last Update
First Published on

As one of the most popular travel destinations in North America, there is so much to do in Banff, Alberta during the winter season

Some of the top activities in the Town of Banff include hiking, skiing & snowboarding, hot spring exploring and gondola alpine rides and endless amounts of restaurants and shops to dive into.

Get the most out of your next winter trip to Banff by checking out the below list.

1. Hike Tunnel Mountain

No need to go far for this hike. A couple blocks away from Banff Avenue is the trailhead for this 4.5km (2.8 miles) round trip hike. As you head up the cruisy winding trail of Tunnel Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. After climbing a short 235m (770ft) in elevation, you’ll reach the top where you’ll have a birds eye view of Downtown Banff. Perfect for scoping out the next adventures!

Picture by Josh Segeleski

2. Ride the Banff Gondola

Maybe the most approachable alpine adventure nearest to Banff is Sulphur Mountain. You have two options to reach the top, one is the good old fashioned trail with switch backs up the side of the mountain (10.9km or 6.8 miles round trip with 756m or 2450ft of elevation roundtrip) or option two is to take the Banff Gondola all the way up. The gondola offers a truly unique experience with full panoramic views as you glide up the side of the mountain. Make sure to pre-buy your tickets to save a couple dollars!

From the summit, make your way around the boardwalk trail or stop in at the Sky Bistro for a once in a lifetime dining sanctuary in the sky.

Picture by Chris Amat

Local tip: Just because the sun has set doesn’t mean the adventuring stops. Until March 31st, the top of Sulphur Mountain is transformed into a vibrant light show and multimedia experience called Nightrise. Nightrise honors the magic of sacred mountains with multiple shows to interact with.

3. Soak in Hot Springs

Ready for a hot soak? The Banff Upper Hot Springs are the perfect place to relax, unwind and warm up. The pools have constant flowing 100% natural mineral water that heats up 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) that comes directly from the mountain you stand on.

Picture by Noel Hendrickson

While you’re here, you can also get in and explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. You’ll learn about the deep history of the hot springs from their initial use by Indigenous People and to the important role in the establishment of Canada’s first National Park.

4. Ski Mt. Norquay

Only a short 15 minute drive from downtown Banff, Mt. Norquay is home to some steep and fun skiing terrain for the whole family. Take a ride on the North American chair, also known as the Big Chair (the second chair lift ever built in Canada!) and be rewarded with spectacular views of downtown Banff and beyond. Although this ski area may not be the biggest around, it shouldn’t be overlooked as locals have forever said “Once you’ve skied Big Chair terrain, you can pretty much ski anything, anywhere.”.

Picture by Reuben Krabbe

5. Shop in Banff

Banff Avenue might just be the most scenic main street in all of North America. But that’s not all it has. As you wander the lively streets of Banff, you’ll find a wide variety of shops from family owned sporting goods stores to art shops and locally made goods. Whether you’re after that perfect souvenir or need some new ski gear, you’re bound to find it here.

Basecamp Suites Banff is also conveniently located within walking distance of all the shops in town, if they aren’t already at your front door!

Here is a list of shops we highly recommend walking into.

6. Explore the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

A must visit during your stay in Banff, the Whyte Museum will take you back in time to before Banff became what it is today. With new exhibits being shown on the regular, there’s always something new and refreshing to take in. You can find a list of current exhibitions here.

Photo by Devaan Ingraham

You can also book a private walking tour where you’ll get the chance to visit the original homes of the pioneers who helped build and shape this area. A great way of understanding how Banff became what it is today!

7. Try Cross Country Skiing

Not many places can offer so much nordic skiing within such a close proximity to town, but Banff sure does. With what seems like an endless array of trails on the outskirts of town, cross country skiing is a great way to take in sights that most skip out on.

Picture by Noel Hendrickson

A full list of trails is available here with current trail reports as well as which public transit system is best to get you there, car free!

8. Eat out

Banff is jammed packed with amazing cuisine. With so many good places to try, you’ll have a hard time narrowing down which to visit first! Ranging from modern restaurants to elegant dining to cozy intimate pubs, Banff has it all.

Photo by Noel Hendrickson

Here are our favorites to try while in Banff:

9. Find the best coffee.

Is a mountain town ever complete without an endless choice of coffee shops to visit? The town of Banff is no different with numerous locally owned coffee shops and cafes all claiming to serve the best cup of coffee. Here are our top 5 picks:

Book today and save.

Perfectly nestled in the core of downtown Banff, Basecamp Banff Suites is our newest and most exclusive property yet. With the option of multi-room suites, spacious comfortable living rooms and fully stocked kitchens to cook up a storm, this is your home away from home, right in the middle of Banff! The property will also feature rooftop jacuzzis (coming summer 2023) offering full panoramic views.

Offering guests a uniquely private and relaxing environment to unwind after a big day in the mountains. Book today and save 10% off your first stay!

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