Banff & Lake Louise Travel Guide

Good morning, everyone! I had a bunch of requests for this travel guide to Banff so that’s what I’m sharing today. It was easily one of the top two prettiest places I’ve ever been (the first being the Amalfi Coast in Italy) and it was one of my top five favorite trips, because my mom and I had so much fun on this one 🙂 And we ate a TON of good food, haha! I’m rounding up my instagrams from the trip, but you can find our full trip re-cap and recommendations on where to eat, stay and play at the end of this blog post.
The view from Rock Pile Trail… 
Beyond Yoga leggings // Adidas tubular tennis shoes, I like these too

Arriving at our first stop on the itinerary, the Fairmont Banff Springs! 

Raden suitcase (it has a built-in charger!)
This picture was taken at Earl’s one day for lunch (more info on Earl’s below).
Another image from Moraine Lake, from our hike up Rock Pile Trail.

Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE // choker necklace set (only $19!) 
gold choker set // MAC lipstick in “creme cup”

The Fairmont Banff Springs had GORGEOUS flowers all throughout the property!

  Free People Laguna thermal top, less expensive version HERE // Good American Jeans
Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE // MAC lipstick in “creme cup”
gold choker set // peep toe booties // Louis Vuitton Neverfull, buy pre-owned HERE

On the way to our next location in our rental car!

 BP ball cap (my color is no longer available) // white tee (yes it’s a pajama top lol) // Levi’s jeans
Gucci Marmont handbag // choker necklace set (only $19!)

Lake Louise is truly stunning in person – just look at that turquoise water!

peep toe booties // Celine handbag

I’ve been to Canada a few times (to Quebec a few years ago & Toronto last year) and have always been so impressed with their country – the people there are SO nice and the cities are always beautiful and clean. Banff had been on my travel list for the past couple of years – all of the travel accounts I follow on Instagram always post pictures of Banff and it’s so beautiful (I truly thought it just couldn’t be that pretty in real life). But it IS, you guys! The lake waters are more blue/turquoise than the waters I’ve seen in the Caribbean, and the way the mountains jut up against the sky – it is a striking sight. I cried when we got to the top of our hike and saw the stunning view of Moraine Lake – in that moment, I questioned how anyone could doubt God’s existence when you’re looking at His beautiful creation.
 I truly believe everyone should travel to Alberta at least once in your life, to experience how pretty it is yourself. This would make a great trip for girlfriends, a romantic couples trip or even a family trip with your kids (the hotels we stayed at were incredibly kid-friendly!). Anyway, let’s get started…
The easiest way to get to Banff and/or Lake Louise is to fly into the Calgary airport (YYC). It’s an hour and a half drive from the airport to Banff, so my mom and I chose to rent a car – it’s too far to take a taxi. 
My mom and I decided to split our trip into two parts: Banff and Lake Louise. They are about an hour away from each other and both completely worth it! If you call to make reservations at either Fairmont hotel, they can book your stay at both (this is also easier because they have full access to both hotels’ room availabilities). We stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs (in downtown Banff) first, which was a good decision because it’s closer to the airport! If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, there are a bunch of small hotels and motels located in both Banff and Lake Louise. 
Fairmont Banff Springs: This hotel certainly has its architecture going for it – it looks like a huge castle on a mountaintop!! Your jaw drops when you drive up to it for the first time! The inside of the hotel is very spacious, with a coffee shop, tons of gift shops and restaurants, and a gorgeous pool. We stayed on the Gold Level (the 5th floor) because it comes with a free buffet breakfast in the morning and free hors d’oeuvres and dessert at night. Our room was very clean and the beds were really comfortable, and overall we really loved everything about the hotel. Plus it’s only a two minute drive from downtown Banff, where all the shops and restaurants are located. You can also walk downtown – it’s about a ten minute walk, be sure to ask the concierge to show you the most scenic route on a map!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: While the Fairmont Banff Springs has the architecture down pat, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise definitely has the location! This hotel is located right on Lake Louise and offers a STUNNING view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Our room was in the Mount Temple Wing and was incredibly spacious (much bigger than our room at the other hotel) and had an amazing view of the lake from our window! There aren’t many restaurants or shops around Lake Louise, so you pretty much have to eat at the restaurants at the hotel – good thing the food was delicious! My mom and I both loved all of our meals here. 

Coyotes Southwestern Grill: We ate here on our very first night and it was absolutely delicious! We snagged a table outside so that we could soak up the cooler weather and the atmosphere of downtown Banff. The whole menu had a southwestern feel, and there were lots of healthy options which I liked. My mom ordered the chile & honey glazed salmon, while I got a cup of sweet potato corn chowder alongside a goat cheese salad. Oh and we both had a glass of red wine. DELISH!
Earl’s Kitchen and Bar: To be honest, we picked this place for lunch one day because of the appealing outdoor seating area! Little tables line the sidewalk and each table had a vase of fresh flowers. We’re glad we went here, though, because the food was really good. They serve a mix of different cuisines, from pizza to noodles, burgers and tacos. My mom and I split an order of garlic fries (they were addicting) and a margherita pizza.
The Lookout Patio: This little restaurant is located within the Fairmont Banff Springs and is the perfect spot for a glass of wine and an appetizer with an unbeatable panoramic view of the Canadian Rockies. My mom and I sipped a glass of rosé and snacked on hummus and pita while taking in the view. It was one of our favorite spots!   
Melissa’s Misssteak: We were recommended to go to this restaurant for breakfast one morning. Head towards the picturesque Bow River in downtown Banff and you’ll find yourself standing in front of this cozy restaurant (the outside is really cute!). We heard that their dinner and lunch menu is also good, but for breakfast they serve pretty much anything you could ever dream of: cereal, omelettes, eggs benedict, pancakes, french toast… even banana nutella crepes.
Poppy Brasserie: This restaurant is located inside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, but it’s worth going to, even if you aren’t staying at the hotel. The real draw of this restaurant is the patio because of it’s truly amazing and jaw-dropping view of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains (so try to reserve a seat on the patio, if you can!). I ordered a turkey sandwich on a pretzel bun and a side salad, and it was absolutely amazing. Plus they have warm blankets at each seat on the patio, since it does get pretty chilly in the mornings and evenings, you will very likely need them!
Alpine Social: We went here for dinner one night during our stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We sat outside and had a wonderful view of the lake! This is a great place to go and get a drink and watch the sunset – we ordered the Pimm’s, a really refreshing cocktail made with soda, cucumber slices, orange slices and mint leaves. My mom and I shared the 18oz salmon fillet and some mashed potatoes – the salmon came with a chimichuri sauce that was out-of-this-world good. Oh and the absolute best part of the meal was dessert – mini donuts filled with nutella and raspberry compote, with a maple dipping sauce. SO GOOD.
We wish we had time to try more restaurants! We received recommendations from lots of people (thank you!) and here were some of the most-recommended restaurants: the Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge on Banff Ave., Bear Street Tavern in Banff for pizza, the Grizzly House in Banff for fondue, Crazy Weeds in Canmore, lunch at Muriettas on Main Street in Canmore, and High Tea at the Fairmont.

Moraine Lake: If you do anything at all while you’re in Alberta, you simply MUST go to Moraine Lake. The lake itself is much prettier than Lake Louise (it is more turquoise!). Rock Pile Trail is an easy five-minute hike and at the top, you won’t find a more amazing view. Just be sure to arrive early in the morning because it gets very crowded quickly and nobody is allowed to park after 9 a.m. because the lot is already packed! We arrived at 8 a.m. and wished we had gotten there earlier. 

Lake Louise: Lake Louise is still a must-see (even if Moraine Lake is prettier) because there’s a little bit more to do at Lake Louise. Dine on the patio at Poppy Brasserie for a panoramic view, go canoeing on the lake, or take one of the many hiking trails that start at the lake. 
Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House: We really wanted to do this but ran out of time! The hike to the tea house starts near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and climbs uphill for 2.2 miles (about a 1.5 to 2 hour hike). Once you arrive at the Tea House, you can order homemade soup, sandwiches and more than 100 varieties of tea – and you get a beautiful view of the “lakes in the clouds,” Mirror Lake and Lake Louise. 

Banff Gondola: The gondola is located just 5 minutes from downtown Banff, on the shoulder of Sulphur Mountain. Take the glass-enclosed gondola 7,000 feet above sea level up the mountainside for an unsurpassed view of Banff, the Bow Valley and a 360 degree view of six different mountain ranges.
Hike to the Hidden Cave in Johnston Canyon: My friend Amy recently visited Alberta and she told me that her favorite hike was the cave in Johnston Canyon. It’s supposedly a pretty easy hike and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I found this blog post which had a good description of the trail (and beautiful photos). 
So many of you guys said you were headed to Banff in the near future, so if you have any additional questions feel free to leave them in the comment section below! 🙂
Thank you to everyone for following along! 

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  1. Thank you for this! I hope to plan a trip to Banff!

  2. Such great tips and so many wonderful outfits. I think it's so special that you travel so much with your mom.

    Arum Lilea

  3. Thank you for the info! This looks absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to go visit!!
    Blessings, Rebecca 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great guide Cait! This looks like such an amazing place to visit, I'm definitely adding it to my list for next year!

    I hope you've had a lovely Wednesday!

  5. Banff looks SO gorgeous and your outfits are just perfection!

    Rosy Outlook

  6. Can't wait to go here one day! Banff looks so stunning and serene!

    Thanks for sharing your itinerary!

    XO, Emily
    Epicurean Emily

  7. Omg these pictures are so fabulous! Looks like a dream vacay! <3

  8. I want to go here so bad now! This place looks so amazing!!
    Xo, Kelsey |

  9. This is a great guide, Caitlin! Thanks for sharing. I LOVE Canada so I'm definitely filing it away for the future!

    She Sweats Diamonds

  10. I instantly added this place to my travel bucket list! Wow the view is amazing, it looks almost artifical.

  11. Wow that place looks soo dreamy.. I'd do anything to go there! Great travel guide, lovely pictures, and the most gorgeous outfits!!

    Katie |

  12. Banff and Lake Louise are two of my favorite places on Earth. Alberta in general is breathtaking. Loved your photos!

  13. I want to go here it looks beautiful!

  14. thanks for the detailed guide! banff and the surrounding lakes look gorgeous and i'll have to plan a trip up there!

  15. I love Banff! I went for the first time over Christmas and it was beautiful (and very cold) that time of year. Gorgeous snowy mountain views. I did an ice hike in Johnston Canyon, which was gorgeous. I also LOVED the views from the top Sulphur Mointain via the Banff Gondola. For anyone planning a trip there, I highly recommend The Grizzly House (best dinner I had there) and High Tea at The Fairmount.

  16. I love Banff! I went over Christmas this year and it was gorgeous that time of year too (and very cold). Definitely recommend The Grizzly House (best dinner I had there) and the Banff Gondola. The views from the top of Sulphur Mountain are breathtaking! We also did an ice hike through Johnston Canyon, which I highly recommend. I'm sure it's beautiful any time of year, but the winter was incredible with the gorgeous ice formations on the side of the canyon. Looking forward to going back to Banff sometime in the summer!

  17. Wow it is beyond stunning there! The water is so blue!!

    Jordan: Teacup of Style
    Instagram @teacupofstyle

  18. Thanks for your recommendations! We are going for our mini-moon in October ! Approximately how many days did you stay, and do you feel it was sufficient ?

  19. Thank you so much for your post! We are going for our mini-moon in October and wondering how many days/nights you were there and if you felt it was sufficient ?!

  20. I'm so glad you loved it! Banff and Lake Louise are some of my favorite places on Earth! Please tell me you stocked up on Rose 31 while at the Fairmont?! It is the best smelling product in the whole world (in my opinion), and it's a Fairmont exclusive so you can't buy it at Nordstrom or even Le Labo stores! Believe me, I have tried! Anyway, so happy you had a great trip with your mom! Also, so happy you went to Earl's! It is a Pacific Northwest favorite 🙂

    • Hi Virginia! I am planning a trip this summer for my husband's birthday. We are going to be there for about a week. In addition to what is listed here where would you recommend we stay? We want to be some place that is busy. We would like to get out at night for bite to eat and to walk around. Any particular stores we should go into? Should we stay in Banff or would you suggest Lake Louise or break it up? Thanks in advance.

  21. This place is so beautiful! Definitely adding it to my list of places to visit soon!!

    xo – Marianne

  22. Oh my gosh I want to go so bad! Thanks for doing the tour guide. Maybe I can convince the husband to go next year. 😉

  23. Caitlyn!! This is amazing. We just left Seattle and arrived to a victoria last night …. our next stop in the next week and a half is Whistler and FINALLY Banff!!! I was already excited but after reading your travel guide I am 100x's more excited. Plus we hear we may get northern lights… hmmm! It's my husband and my honeymoon! ❤️ Xoxo

    • Hi Melissa! We are going Banff for my husband's birthday this year. Any recommendations for us? Where would you suggest we stay? We will be there for about a week. We want to stay in a place that isn't dead. I would like to be able to get out at night for dinners and maybe some souvenir shopping. As for food we are foodies. We like it all. Thanks in advance!

  24. If I went to Banff I'd want to do actually awesome outdoors things. Not prance around in heels and white shirts.

  25. How do you stay so thin? I'm 5'3 and 115lbs- I feel huge looking at you!!

  26. Are you going to post a travel diary vlog on your YouTube about Banff?!?! Like your others I'd love to really see it in video form!

  27. Kelli Heppner

    What time of year did you visit?! I would love to go around the same time based on your photos! Thank you!