This visit to Banff in November was our first entry and experience in the province of Alberta and would like to start off by saying that it was nothing short of perfect. The nature, the scenery, the Rockies, the outdoors…. So much beauty in one week. We’ll go ahead and break it down..

Day 1

We flew into Calgary airport from Toronto Pearson via Flair Airlines. Flights cost us C$360.95 each with return including one checked bag.

Our hotel in Banff was around 1.5 hours away from Calgary airport so we booked a shuttle with Mountain Park Transportation to take us there. Our booking with Mountain Park Transportation was at 13:00 and our flight landed at 10:00 meaning that we had time to burn. Minutes after landing we received a call from Mountain Park Transportation telling us that they can move the pick-up time to 10:30. This was a really nice surprise since we were dreading that wasted time between 10:00 and 13:00.

We arrived and checked in at High Country Inn. Our first day in Banff really consisted of walking through Banff Avenue and already admiring the Rockies which surround the town. We had dinner, bought some groceries and called it a day.

Banff in late November - Banff Avenue
Banff Avenue

Day 2

Our second day was fully dedicated to Lake Louise and the surrounding area. We caught the Roam Transit from Banff High School Transit Hub to Lake Louise. The lake itself was as astonishing as we were expecting. This was even despite it being completely frozen. After taking in the lake itself we visited the Fairmont Chateau. We honestly didn’t get why a hotel would be a main attraction but after seeing the views from within the lounge, I guess we understood why.

We didn’t spend much time in the Chateau so we headed back out and hiked the Lake Louise Lakefront trail. With the temperature being that of around -12 °C, we decided not to take on any more trails in the area and headed back to Banff town using Roam Transit.

Banff in late November - Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff in late November - Lake Louise
Lake Louise

Day 3

We decided to take on the Tunnel Mountain Trail on our third day in Banff. We walked for about twenty minutes from our hotel to the trailhead. The trail itself is a moderate one and takes around two hours. It was quite icy and slippery on the way up and down. We would have preferred if we had ice cleats but we somehow managed anyway with only some minor slips here and there. The views at the summit and even on the way up are simply amazing. 

Banff in late November - Tunnel Mountain Summit
View from the summit of Tunnel Mountain

Day 4

First on our plan was the Bow Falls trail. This was also accessed by walk from our hotel and is an easy and short one. The views of the falls are quite nice, so well worth the short walk. 

Banff in late November - Bow Falls
Bow Falls

Next up was the Banff Gondola. Tickets for this were purchased a day prior from a local tour operator’s web site and we had selected the 11:50 gondola. A few hours before we were meant to be at the base, the tour operator called us and told us that the 11:50 gondola was not available and had to move to around an hour later. This did catch us by surprise since one would expect that if an option is available on a site, then it would be confirmed once purchased. Guess not. We recommend just purchasing directly from the official site to avoid surprises like this one.

Getting to Banff Gondola was a short bus ride from Banff Town to Gondola using Roam Transit. Since we had planned to be on the Gondola an hour before, we tried our luck and showed up a bit earlier. We got in with no problems or questions asked which did save us some time. Going up the Sulphur Mountain on the Gondola is a short ride (around 8 minutes). Once at the top there are a few things to explore including walking the boardwalk (stunning views), exhibits, a theatre, and a 360-degree rooftop observation deck. 

Banff in late November - Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola

On our return to the base of Sulphur Mountain, we caught the bus back to town and walked towards the Banff Christmas Market. Tickets for this were purchased a day before online directly from their official site. The market was a cozy one having fire pits, locally owned crafts, food and music.

Day 5

While here we noticed that Lake Louise Ski resort was hosting the downhill event of the FIS Ski world cup. This was a great opportunity to witness this top international circuit of alpine skiing competitions. Event entrance was free and we used the free ski resort shuttle to get there and back. The event itself was a lot of fun and the atmosphere was amazing.

Banff in late November - Lake Louise Ski resort FIS Ski world cup
Lake Louise Ski resort hosting the downhill event of the FIS Ski world cup

Day 6

We visited the Cascade of Time Garden which had been converted into a live Christmas story about an Owl who brings hope and gifts to humans. Was really cute and we can only imagine how much fun it would be for younger folks if it was so much fun for us.

Banff in late November - Cascade of Time Garden
Cascade of Time Garden

Later on, we visited the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site. What was really interesting here was the history of the museum itself and the “battles” it had to survive throughout the years to stay relevant with the times.

Day 7

We hiked the Fenland Trail which is an easy hour-long loop trail with some really nice views. As with almost all the trails we hiked during our stay in Banff, we also walked to the trailhead of Fenland from our hotel. Once again, we wished we had our ice cleats but got lucky and nobody got hurt!

Banff in late November - Fenland Trail
Fenland Trail

Later on, we caught a Roam Transit bus to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. This was quite the experience where you’re wearing your summer trunks/bikini in -2 °C weather before getting in 40 °C springs with postcard perfect views. Quite the experience for just C$8.48 each (we brought our own swimwear/towels and they provided keys to lockers).

Banff in late November - Banff Upper Hot Springs
Banff Upper Hot Springs

Day 8

Was time for us to head back to Calgary so we had Mountain Park Transportation pick us up from the hotel and take us there. Literally minutes before leaving Banff (we were already in the car), a deer passed right by us as if to say goodbye. Our time in Banff couldn’t have ended on a nicer note. 

We checked into our hotel in Calgary and used their free shuttle service to the airport and caught the local bus to Calgary downtown. We visited the Peace Bridge, the Calgary tower and Prince’s Island Park. 

Banff in late November - Calgary Peace Bridge
Peace Bridge

We finally flew back to Toronto Pearson the next day.

Banff takeaways and tips

Banff in November turned out to be a great time to visit and was definitely well worth it. We avoided the crowds and can only imagine how different the experience would have been in peak months for say Lake Louise, The Gondola and other places of interest for that matter. Certain things would have probably been nicer to experience in warmer weather but Banff in winter does bring a unique charm to it. Weather wasn’t bad as long as the proper clothing is worn. It rained for one full day while there but other than that, we were fine.

In terms of food, we kind of fell in love with this small bar/restaurant called Tommy’s Neighborhood pub which serves really good burgers and veggie burgers. We ate here at least 4 times but also tried Pho House Vietnamese and Banff Ave Brewing Co which were also good. 

Goes without saying that we’d love to go back one day. Everywhere you looked was so darn beautiful.

If you liked this post, you may want to check out our 2 day itinerary in Montreal.

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