Tips for Traveling to Banff Canada and Where to Stay in Canmore

Tips for Traveling to Banff and Where to Stay in Canmore blushinginhollywood at Moraine Lake

In June 2019 I crossed off Banff, Canada from my bucket list! This destination is becoming super popular because of the beautiful sparkling blue lakes, great hiking trails, and gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies. Since I’ve gone friends and family have been asking for Banff travel tips, so here they are!

Canoes at Moraine Lake in Banff
Canoes at Moraine Lake in Banff

Getting to Banff

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada. The nearest big city and airport is 90 minutes east in Calgary, Alberta.

Moraine Lake in Banff is so spectacularly blue it's even more beautiful in person!!
Moraine Lake in Banff is so spectacularly blue it’s even more beautiful in person!!

Banff Airport

Fly into Calgary International Airport (YYC). Calgary is the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta. I wish I got to spend more time there. My friend and fellow blogger Rachel of Frankly Ray is your best resource for finding things to do in Calgary.

Flying on West Jet airlines from LAX to YYC to go to Banff, Canada
Flying on West Jet airlines from LAX to YYC to go to Banff, Canada

If you’re in the LA area you can get a direct flight from LAX and it’s only 3 hours. Search for flights here.

Canada sign at the Calgary airport in Alberta, Canada
Canada sign at the Calgary airport in Alberta, Canada

The Calgary airport is 90 minutes west of Banff.

Renting a Car

The Calgary airport is about an hour from Canmore and Banff is another 30 minutes further. There are shuttles that can take you from Canmore to Banff (30 min drive) but having a car made everything a lot easier/better/more flexible.

Mountain views from the Trans-Canada Highway on the way from the Calgary Airport to Canmore and Banff, Canada
Mountain views from the Trans-Canada Highway on the way from the Calgary Airport to Canmore and Banff, Canada

Shuttles to Banff and Canmore

A roundtrip shuttle from Calgary Airport to Canmore alone is $130 making renting a car your best bet especially if you’re in a group.

Roam Shuttle around Canmore and Banff

If you decide not to rent a car you can travel between Canmore and within Banff on public transit on ROAM shuttles.

Here’s more tips for car-free travel in the Canadian Rockies.

Entering the Banff National Park

Banff is a national park and to enter you have to pay $10 per person or $20 per vehicle (up to 7 people) per day to enter.

Moraine Lake in Banff Canada
Moraine Lake in Banff Canada

Cost of Transportation in Banff

Rental car + park fees and gas Wed-Sun with 5 people it was $110 each.

The Best Time to Visit Banff

Banff in the Summer

Peak summer season in Banff is from June to August. I went to Banff at the end of June and it was is an absolutely beautiful time to go to Banff.

Mountains and 3 Sisters River in Canmore, Alberta
Mountains and 3 Sisters River in Canmore, Alberta

The weather forecast for the end of June said snow and I thought I’d maybe see a flake or two, but I ended up basically experiencing all 4 seasons! Check out my blog post on What to Pack for Banff.

Photo of @blushinginhollywood taken at Pesto Lake in Banff, Canada on June 20, 2019 - isn't this supposed to be summer!? Yet it was snowing like crazy!
Photo of me taken at Pesto Lake in Banff, Canada on June 20, 2019 – isn’t this supposed to be summer!? Yet it was snowing like crazy!

Banff in the Winter

December to March is peak winter and ski Season for Banff. It is extremely cold, but a beautiful winter wonderland.

Shoulder Seasons in Banff

Mid-September to mid-October are good times to get lower rates if you’re traveling on a budget. It will be cold and you will likely see snow, but it’s not peak ski season.

Read More on the Best Time to Visit Banff:

The Best Time to Visit Banff

What is the Best Time to Visit Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains

How Long to Stay in Banff

I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and left on a Sunday morning and I think it was a perfect amount of time to visit. I got to see Lake Louse, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, Lake Agnes, Mirror Lake, and Lake Minnewanka. I did the Lake Agnes Trail Hike, Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk Trail, Castle Mountain Trail Hike, Peyto Lake Lookout hike, and walks and hikes around the other lakes. I got to spend a short time at Banff Town (downtown Banff) which is all I really needed. I also spent a half day biking all around Canmore and was able to explore downtown Canmore. We fit a lot in!

Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada
Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada

On Saturday the traffic began getting pretty crazy in tiny Canmore and everything got much busier. These areas are getting super popular so they’re always somewhat busy, but if you want a more chill vibe definitely visit during the week!

I’m not a super outdoorsy girl (more of a Wilderness Girl a la Troop Beverly Hills) so 4.5 days was plenty of time for me to see everything. If you’re doing more intense day-long hikes and camping out in different places then you would likely want to stay longer.

Where to Stay When Traveling to Banff

Where to Stay in Banff

If you can’t afford the Fairmont Banff Springs or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise stay in Canmore which is 30 mins away- the town is way cuter with lots to do and great food and bars! It’s also much less touristy and congested than downtown Banff.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff, Canada from the Castle Mountain Trail Lookout point
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from the Castle Mountain Trail Lookout point

If you’re bougie on a budget like myself don’t worry, you can still enjoy the gorgeous Fairmont hotels without staying there. I had lunch and Tea Time at the Chateau Lake Louise and it was incredible! And I didn’t have to spend $1k a night to do it.

Where to Stay in Canmore

Canmore is a smaller town 30 minutes outside of Banff National Park. You can get there by car or ROAM shuttle. It’s surrounded by mountains and very picturesque. It also has a quaint downtown with a lot to do.

Policeman's Creek in Canmore, Canada
Policeman’s Creek in Canmore, Canada

Canmore is growing in popularity which means it is starting to get busy especially during peak season, but not nearly as busy or touristy or cheesy as Downtown Banff.

3 Sisters River and the Mountains in Canmore, Alberta Canada outside of Banff
3 Sisters River and the Mountains in Canmore, Alberta Canada outside of Banff I took this photo from the bike trail.

Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore

Outside shot of the Lamphouse Hotel sign in Canmore, Canada
Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore, Canada

We stayed at the Lamphouse Hotel in Downtown Canmore and I really liked it. Staying in Canmore is more affordable than Banff, but is still not cheap.

The Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore has a u-shaped layout with a parking lot in the center making it more of a motel. You can see the beautiful mountains of Banff in the background.
The Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore has a u-shaped layout with a parking lot in the center making it more of a motel. You can see the beautiful mountains of Banff in the background.

Reviewers online described it as a “boutique motel” and I would say that’s accurate- but it’s upscale and clean! Plus it has 2 nice queen beds in each room so it’s great if you’re traveling in a group and want to share rooms to save money.

Room with 2 queen beds at the Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore, Alberta Canada
Room with 2 queen beds at the Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore. The room has a cozy yet trendy vibe.

There’s free parking at the Lamphouse Hotel for guests. You’re also right in Downtown Canmore so you can walk to cafes, restaurants, bars, and hikes.

Electric kettle and cocktail shaker at Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore Canada
Electric kettle and cocktail shaker at Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore Canada

The rooms had Nespresso coffee machines, electric kettles, cocktail shaker and drink supplies, plus mini fridges. They also had real glasses to use. For breakfast they come around at about 9am to deliver muffins, but if you’re going into Banff for the day you’re probably long gone by 9!

The bathroom at the Lamphouse Hotel
The bathroom at the Lamphouse Hotel

There’s no restaurants on premises or room service, but you can easily walk to cafes, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, liquor stores, and the grocery store.

Lamphouse Hotel sign in Canmore, Alberta Canada 30 minutes outside of Banff
Lamphouse Hotel sign in Canmore, Alberta Canada 30 minutes outside of Banff

Tip: This hotel is very popular so book it as early as you possibly can for your trip!!

The Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore, Canada a more affordable place to stay when visiting Banff, Canada
The Lamphouse Hotel in Canmore, Alberta a more affordable place to stay when visiting Banff, Canada

I split this room with a friend and for 4 nights it was $510 each or $1020 CAN total. Right now the dollar is strong so this translates to $386.24.

Adorable bunnies that are everywhere in Canmore, Canada
Adorable bunnies that are everywhere in Canmore, Canada

Plus there are adorable baby bunny rabbits EVERYWHERE in Canmore.

If you’re thinking about going to Banff- DO IT!! You will not be disappointed! Plus the longer you wait the more crowded it will be- go now!

Tips for Traveling to Banff where to stay in Canmore, Alberta Canada when visiting Banff National Park

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Author: Lindsay

Lindsay is the creator of Blushing in Hollywood a beauty, dating, travel and lifestyle blog based in Los Angeles, California.

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