The Ultimate Guide to visiting Banff & Lake Louise

There is something special about Banff and Lake Louise, with its mix of inviting terrain, generous views, and wholesome Canadian hospitality. If you want to know a bit more about what to do during winter in Banff & Lake Louise, this guide is just for you!

Banff Village

Banff, Photo Credit: Mike Seehagel

Where to ski from Banff:

Banff is home to three breathtaking ski resorts that all offer a unique blend of progressive terrain, incredible views, and excellent amenities. The great news is all three resorts, Banff Sunshine, Mt. Norquay and Lake Louise are accessible on one lift pass. Your SkiBig3 Lift Pass is the key to your Banff and Lake Louise ski holiday, giving you access to all three resorts, mountain transfers, night skiing at Mt Norquay, and entry to Tube Town. Keep reading for an easy breakdown of Banff’s three resorts:

Skier and Snowboarder in Banff

Image Credit: Reuben Krabbe and John Price

Banff Sunshine Village

Having the highest elevation of all three ski resorts, Banff Sunshine is known for having some of the best snow quality between the three mountains, and thus allowing it to have a longer than average ski season. Between November - late May Banff Sunshine’s lift lines will be turning for riders who are eager to hit the slopes. There is also 3,300 acres of beautiful terrain that on average will receive up to 9 meters of light, dry Canadian pow! Intermediate riders will love Banff Sunshine, with 55% of the terrain dedicated to blue riders, or those who are looking to progress their on-mountain skills.

Lake Louise Ski Resort

The largest of the ski resorts is Lake Louise, with 4,200 acres of terrain spread across 4 mountain faces. The views from the top of Lake Louise can only be told as breathtaking, having undisturbed views of surrounding glaciers and mountains. Because there is so much terrain at Lake Louise, you will truly find something for everyone. Beginner riders will enjoy the gentle groomers, intermediate riders will love the mountains exceptional layout and wide-open bowls, and advanced riders will feel the burn as they weave through gladded runs and zoom down the many chutes.

Mt Norquay

Although Mt Norquay is the closest resort to the township of Banff, it’s a hidden gem within the Canadian Rockies. If you are a fan of the winter Olympics than you might know that Mt Norquay is the training slopes for local athletes, with 44% of the terrain dedicated to advanced riders. Don’t let this stat scare you, this mountain is also fantastic for beginner riders and families who are also looking to soak up some extra fun. At the base of the mountain, you will be greeted with the sounds of giggles coming from Tube Town, home to the longest tube lanes in Alberta!

Where to stay in Banff

Image Credit: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Where to stay in Banff and Lake Louise:

Whether you are a family of 5, a couple on their honeymoon or a single traveller looking to shred the gnar, Banff & Lake Louise will be able to cater to your individual needs. Want some of our top accommodation picks?

Luxury: Fairmont Banff Springs

We would be remised if we didn’t start our top picks with the Fairmont Banff Springs, or known to some as the castle in the Canadian Rockies. It’s luxury, exclusivity and opulence is what makes this property a standout. Although its hidden location will have you feeling like you are amongst the pristine wilderness, you are only a 20-minute walk to the centre of town. Fairmont properties including Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, also have exclusive benefits for those staying at the properties. Including access to their spas and wellness centres, 5 star service and festive calendars.

Mid-Range : Moose Hotel & Suites

Families will love the Moose Hotel & Suites in Banff. This property is located just on the outskirt of the vibrant hub of Banff, making it a quieter option for those with young children, or even those who want a beautiful 4 star accommodation option. The Hotel offers one- and two-bedroom suites and an array of amenities including an indoor pool, 2 roof top hot pools and an on-site spa.

Budget-Friendly: Elk and Avenue Hotel

If you are looking for something a little less bougie, we would recommend staying at Elk and Avenue Hotel. The properties contemporary twist on the standard mountain hotel, is a great spot to be your home away from home. This is a fantastic option for those who are looking for a clean and comfortable stay, located on the main street of Banff. You will be steps away from some of the best restaurants, cafes and shopping on offer!

Iconic: Fairmont Lake Louise

For a luxurious, bucket-list ski holiday, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers breathtaking mountain views with world-class amenities. Enjoy access to pristine wilderness, unwind in elegant rooms, savour gourmet dining, and relax at the spa.

Town of Banff

Banff, Photo Credit: Paul Zizka

Top Winter Activities in Banff & Lake Louise

Banff and Lake Louise are a hub for adventure goers, with a bunch of outdoor activities that bring travels from all corners of the globe. However, during the winter months, a magical buzz fills the streets of Banff, and the town comes to life, with Christmas parades and local markets. If you are heading to Banff and Lake Louise for your next ski holiday, here are some off mountain activities not to miss!

Ice skating:

Ice skating on Lake Louise is spectacular, lace up your skates and gliding across a naturally frozen lake, with views of the stunning Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the background.

Johnston Canyon:

If you are looking to stretch your legs and be one with nature, then take a stroll to Johnston Canyon, and follow the Ice Walk trail. Walk beside frozen waterfall, glistening creek beds and snow-covered trees. This is just one of the many breathtaking walks that surround the town of Banff.

Sleigh Rides:

A magical winter experience amidst Alberta’s stunning snow-covered landscapes, stay cozy on your horse-drawn sleigh as you admire breathtaking mountain views, and breathe in crisp mountain air.

Christmas at the Castle:

"Christmas at the Castle" (Fairmont Banff Springs) is a magical holiday experience. The iconic castle-like hotel transforms into a winter wonderland, offering festive activities, enchanting décor, gourmet dining, and outdoor adventures like ice skating and snowshoeing, making it an unforgettable Christmas destination.

Thinking about taking the kids on a ski holiday? For all the latest information on our family ski deals speak to one of our ski travel specialists.

Blog by Grace Kearney.
Posted: Sep 2023