HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN CALGARY & BANFF
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CALGARY AND BANFFWhether you say ”yahoo” or “yeehaw,” Calgary promises a rollicking ride. Straddle city life and mountain adventures with this 3-day guide to Calgary and Banff National Park.
Day 1: Welcome to Calgary!
Start your day right… with a cup of coffee from one of the city’s many beloved roasters: Phil & Sebastian, Analog Coffee, or Rosso Coffee Roasters. Just the fuel you need to explore downtown! Stop by the area’s top attractions like the Calgary Tower and, if you have time, or the weather favours indoor activities, Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, where the history of Canadian music steals the spotlight. Keep an eye out for the Wonderland Sculpture and the Peace Bridge!
Lunch in a brewery? With over 30 craft-breweries scattered across the city… why not?! Try Trolley 5 Restaurant & Brewery for views on 17th Avenue SW, Calgary’s retail and entertainment pedestrian district, ideal for a post-lunch stroll.
In the afternoon, wander across scenic St. Patrick’s Island Park and straight on to the Calgary Zoo, home to nearly 1,000 animals, including Canada’s wildest species. You could even stop into Fort Calgary on the way where this National Historic Site will teach you important lessons about the area's complex history. Alternately, you could also head over to peaceful Prince’s Island Park, where you’ll find winding hiking trails, beloved, upscale eatery River Café, and many of the city’s summer music festivals (Calgary Folk Music Festival! Expo Latino! Calgary Pride!).
Finish your day with some good ol’ Alberta beef at one of Calgary’s best steakhouses: Caesar’s Steakhouse or Vintage Chophouse & Tavern. Nightcap? Snag a Caesar—Canada’s favourite cocktail was invented at what is now The Westin Calgary in 1969! Or try out more concoctions at The Milk Tiger Lounge, SHELTER, or Proof!
Pro-tip: The city’s largest event, the Calgary Stampede aka the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, takes over the city in July and is definitely something to experience at least once in your life. Sports fans will also want to pencil in a Calgary Flames game at the Scotiabank Saddledome!
Day 2: Off to Banff!
Ready for the great outdoors? Today, we drive to one of Canada’s most epic national parks! Located just over an hour’s drive away from Calgary, Banff National Park is a postcard-perfect portrait of our country’s greatest landscapes. Stock up at one of Calgary’s many markets, like the Calgary Farmers’ Market, and hit the road!
Once arrived in Banff, take the gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain where sweeping views of the majestic Canadian Rockies await. Take your time taking it all in from the 360-degree rooftop observation deck and along an impressive ridgetop boardwalk. If soaking in views isn’t enough for you, you can also sip on a gourmet Caesar at Sky Bistro. The Canadian dream? We think so!
If you’ve still got energy for more adventure, cross off other Banff must-sees from your bucket list. In summer, take on the park’s countless hiking trails (how does sunrise on Tunnel Mountain sound?), while winter calls for hitting the slopes of one of Banff’s three ski resorts.
Opt for dinner at one of these epic eateries before calling it a day: Chuck's Steakhouse, Juniper Bistro, or the famous Grizzly House.
Pro-tip: Pop into the truly beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs hotel for some coffee and cake, or maybe, a few rounds of golf!
Day 3: Let’s go to Lake Louise
Have a hearty breakfast at your hotel, because today’s another jam-packed day! The ethereal, turquoise waters of Lake Louise are calling!
One of Canada’s most famous bodies of water incites all types of activities around its mountain-ringed shores. Warm weather lets you canoe or kayak across its calm surface or walk around the Shoreline Trail to see the lake from all angles. Winter lets you strap on your skates and glide across the frozen lake or traipse across with snowshoes.
IIn the summer, pre-book your seat on the Lake Louise or Moraine Lake Shuttle to ensure a seamless journey to two of the world's most glorious mountain landscapes.
Top off your unforgettable day around this stunning, glacier-fed lake with a meal at the gorgeous Lakeview Lounge.
Pro-tip: Throughout your days in Banff and Lake Louise, make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife! Elk, bighorn sheep and grizzly bears (!) are some of the species you might spot (from a safe distance!). We hear the quiet scenery around Vermilion Lakes is especially ideal for sightings!