Banff Ski Holidays
Canada

Resort Banff Resort Banff Resort Banff Resort Banff Resort Banff Resort Banff

Description

The UNESCO listed Banff National Park is one of Canada's most beautiful and popular tourist destinations, known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, hot springs and, of course, some of the country’s fluffiest, driest powder snow. 


The village of Banff itself is pretty and, while you won’t find French or Austrian-style après-ski here, there are some wonderful bars and restaurants to enjoy after a hard day of skiing. Throw in the unique high-mountain scenery of the Canadian Rockies and Banff’s famous hot springs, and you’ve got a special winter holiday indeed.

Accommodation in Banff is varied, but most people stay in ski lodges and hotels. There are a number of packages to choose from with flights and transfers included, and you can even look at ten-day stays that offer great value for money.


Getting There

Holidaymakers interested in Banff can fly from London Heathrow to Vancouver, from which the resort is some 1.5 hours away.


When to Go

The ski season here runs from mid-November right through to late May, offering months and months of wonderful winter conditions each year. 


Where to Stay



Getting around


Apres

While you won’t find Val d’Isère or St Anton-style après here, Banff does have plenty of pubs, bars and nightclubs for great nights out. Plus, like many Canadian resorts, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming.


If you’re keen to try some ‘real’ Canadian beer, the Banff Avenue Brewing Co. brews all their own beers in-house using true rocky mountain water. Founded in 2010, the modern and friendly pub features up-scale pub food, a patio and a brewer’s lounge with pool tables.

If spirits are more your thing, the Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar prides itself on milling, mashing and distilling spirits by hand with the purest water from Rocky Mountain glaciers. Free tours are available at both venues. 

 Another favourite with visitors and locals alike is the British-style Pump & Tap Tavern, with live sports coverage from around the world, excellent drink specials and superb grub – including fish & chips, pulled pork sandwiches and chicken wings. For a true ‘old west’ experience, head to Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon. This venue features live bands, big screen TVs, an old west style restaurant and even a dance floor with line dancing.

A popular spot for a big night out is the Dancing Sasquatch Nightclub, where great DJs, a huge sound system and nightly events will keep you entertained. The Hoodoo Lounge and Nightclub is another excellent choice for partying into the wee hours, with special events throughout the week.


Eating out

As Banff is a mountain town, not a small ski village or purpose-built resort, there is an abundance of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to choose from. Whether you want a light meal or a three course fine dining experience, you’ll find something appetising here.


Melissa’s Missteak has established itself as Banff’s “Best Steakhouse and Family Restaurant” after some 30 years of strong business. With great food, reasonable prices and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s easy to see why. There’s a children’s menu with delicious favourites like chicken fingers, burgers, mini pizzas and grilled cheese. For adults, they serve deep dish pizzas made from scratch and a range of steaks, from sirloin to filet mignon. If you really want to splash out, Atlantic lobster is also on the menu.

The Old Spaghetti Factory is perfect if you’re looking for a well-priced, casual dining experience or if you have kids in tow. This restaurant serves a range of pasta dishes, seafood and grills for around $10-$15, which is fantastic value as all meals include free sourdough bread, soup/salad, spumoni ice cream and tea/coffee (or juice, milk or ‘pop’ for the kids).

Couples in search of a romantic fine dining experience should consider the Evergreen Restaurant, which serves contemporary Canadian cuisine with fine wines in a cosy, refined atmosphere. Another fine choice is the 1888 Chop House, set within the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The restaurant plates up prime cuts of Alberta beef, sustainably sourced wild game, Ocean Wise seafood and farm-fresh produce.

Decorated with antique ski gear, Bruno’s Cafe & Grill is known for its all-day breakfasts and hearty burgers. Featuring live music on Wednesday and Thursday nights and open until midnight, this is a great place to fuel-up before hitting the town.

Another great choice for a group of mates is the Elk and Oarsman, with nachos, potato skins and other yummy food combined with a great beer and whisky menu.

Below, you’ll find a just few top restaurants in Banff for families, couples and groups of friends, as voted by our ski experts.


Good for Couples

1888 Chop House

405 Spray Avenue

Banff

+1 403 762 6860

Good for Couples

Evergreen Restaurant

459 Banff Ave

Banff

01 403 762 3307

Good for Family

Chinook Family Restaurant

222 Lynx St

Banff

+1 403 760 3255

Good for Family

Melissa’s Missteak

218 Lynx Street

Banff

+1 403 762 5511

Good for Friends

Bruno’s Cafe & Grill

304 Caribou Street

Banff

+1 403 762 8115

Good for Friends

Elk and Oarsman

119 Banff Avenue

Banff

+1 403 762 4616

Good for Friends

The Eddie Burger and Bar

137 Banff Ave

Banff

+1 403 762 2230


Activities

Even if you took skiing out of the equation, Banff is an adventure playground like no other.

First of all, the surrounding National Park is World Heritage Listed and an absolute marvel to explore. A top pick for the itinerary is a snowshoe hike through Johnston Canyon, which is 30 minutes away from town between Banff and Lake Louise. The walk alone is beautiful, flanked by tree lines and frozen ponds, but the final destination is spectacular: a massive, icy-blue frozen waterfall. Of course, there’s plenty more terrain to explore around the sprawling National Park, and snowshoe tours are offered by a range of companies for all ability levels.


Visitors to Banff can also try the quaint Canadian pastime of curling at the local Recreation Centre, as well as ice skating – a winter holiday staple. Other activities include dog sledding, snowmobiling and ice climbing, and Banff is also home to a few art galleries and museums.

For a unique experience that is not to be missed, holidaymakers should visit Banff’s famous natural hot springs – a magnificent way to relax ski-sore muscles. While they have all the amenities of a modern facility, the spas and bathhouse have been in use for more than a century. 100% natural mineral water flows at the springs with the temperature kept between a toasty 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, and the views over the National Park are absolutely stunning. Towels, swimsuits and lockers are all available for hire.

A trip to the resort’s tourist office will offer lots of useful information on resort activities, but here are just a few ideas to start you off.


Hot springs

Banff

+1 403 762 1515

Ice Skating & Curling

100 Mt Norquay Rd

Banff

+1 403 762 1238

Johnstone Canyon Icewalk

215 Banff Ave

Banff

+1 403 760 7629


Ski School


Getting around


Family ski

Less of a ski resort, more of a general base for outdoor adventure, Banff has plenty to offer families – with the mountain towns of Sunshine Village or Lake Louise just a bus ride away – but you do have to travel out to the slopes. There’s a good range of child-friendly terrain within reach of Banff, and swift lifts, excellent snow coverage in the area during the winter season, and minimal lift queues make it a popular option for parents. The ski schools are excellent, too, with a broad selection of classes for learners of all ages and abilities. It’s also worth noting that winter is actually Banff’s low season, so accommodation here is great value when the snow falls compared to towns closer to the pistes and lifts. 

In Banff Sunshine Village, there are two starting points for families taking to the slopes - Goat’s Eye station and the Village. Most of the family-friendly services and facilities are located at the second stop on the gondola ride – the Village – and parents with kids mastering the basics will find the best terrain beneath the Strawberry Chair. Here, there’s a wonderful selection of green and blue runs for building confidence on the snow. Nearby at the Daycare Centre, there are two magic carpet lifts for little children learning the basics. 

Parents in search of slightly more challenging terrain to push the kids’ abilities on the snow can check out the pistes around the Wolverine and Jackrabbit chairs. Nearby, the Kid’s Play is a great terrain park aimed at families and children, with gentle hits and kickers for budding freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

If you’re looking for childcare options in Banff Sunshine Village, there’s a great range of facilities and services to turn to. Tiny Tigers offer indoor and outdoor childcare services to youngsters aged from nineteen months to six years of age. At Tiny Tigers, parents can choose from a range of services including morning or afternoon half-day childcare, or one-, two, three, or four-day full-day childcare. For the full-day childcare programmes, parents can add on lunch for a further fee and ensure the kids have all they need for outdoor adventure on the slopes. 
The Kids Kampus programmes are aimed at children aged from six years to twelve years of age. Here, the basic childcare timing options are the same as Tiny Tigers, but there’s a much stronger emphasis on ski tuition. Kids can master the basics on the snow and make progression in a controlled and safe environment, with experienced instructors and optional lunch add-ons. 

If the kids are in need of a change of scenery, or is bad weather keeps you off the snowy slopes, there’s a massive range of adventurous and exciting family-friendly services and activities to turn to in and around Banff Sunshine Village. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore Sunshine Meadows the way the village’s early explorers did – it’s the perfect way to burn off the kids energy in a fun and adventurous way, and the route and terrain choices are seemingly endless. Marked trails lead bold explorers through the wilderness landscapes – with terrain suited to all different fitness levels – and guided tours for those who prefer to leave the map at home. For a little extra adventure, you can even book a snowshoeing tour followed by a delicious Swiss-style fondue at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge’s Chimney Corner Lounge. And for something a little more simple, you’ll also find a great range of gentle pathways and trails in and around Banff, such as Cascade Ponds, the Fenland Loop Trail, the Bow River Trail, and the Marsh Loop and Sundance Trail. 

Dog sledding is another great family-friendly activity on offer in Banff, with a diverse range of tours available in different corners of the valleys. You can hire a toboggan from a number of hotels in and around the Sunshine Village area, or try your hand at tubing – but there’s an age-limit on tubing and participants must be at least 4 years old. Alternatively, explore Banff the old-fashioned way by horse-drawn sleigh – with scenic routes heading out along the beautiful Bow River.

If the kids are interested in history, there’s a superb range of museums to explore as well – which make an ideal diversion from the ski slopes. Galleries and museums of particular note include the Banff Museum, the Whyte Musuem, Banff Park Museum and the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, which shed light on the art, culture, and history of Banff and the famous Rocky Mountains. 


Group Ski

As far as ski resorts go, Banff bucks the trend in almost every way. The nearest ski lifts are all a bus ride away, and Banff acts much more as a base town than as a ski resort in its own right. But for groups keen to ski a wide range of resorts across one visit, it’s a great place to stay. The views from Banff are also worthy of note, with soaring snow-capped peaks rising high to the horizon and offering stunning views throughout the town.  

The ski lifts within reach of Banff are swift and modern, so there’s not much waiting around – a real positive for groups of skiers hoping to explore the terrain together. The snow record is very good (which is perhaps unsurprising, given that slopes here run up to nearly three thousand metres), and Banff offers a great range of terrain parks too – ideal for skiers and boarders keen to sharpen their freestyle and big-air skills. 

Banff is perhaps best suited to groups of skiers and boarders with a little experience on the snow. The resort does work well for beginners, but more advanced snow-lovers will generally get more out of Banff’s diverse terrain. If you are a group of lower-level skiers or boarders keen to make progress on the snow, though, the ski schools here cater wonderfully well to nervous beginners.
  
The town offers an outstanding selection of restaurants for diners in search of a good meal at the end of a long day on the slopes – with a broad range of cuisine to suit all tastes. And although the après ski offerings don’t quite match the eclectic dining options, Banff remains a great place to go for a beer. There’s also plenty to do away from the snowy slopes, so groups with non-skiers can rest assured there’s enough to see and do away from the pistes and terrain parks. 


Childcare

Besides having excellent ski schools and plenty of non-skiing activities, Banff is home to some fantastic childcare providers.

Childcare Connection offers a top-notch babysitting service in your own hotel. One of their professional babysitters can come to your accommodation, look after the kids in-house and take them on fun outdoor activities if desired.


There are also daycare facilities at each of the three ski resorts in the Banff National Park, which generally provide a combination of indoor and outdoor activities plus lunch/snacks. These include Tiny Tigers Daycare in Sunshine Village (for children aged 19 months to 6 years), Lake Louise Daycare (for children aged 18 days to 6 years) and Mount Norquay Daycare (for children aged 19 months to 6 years).

Programs for children that include ski lessons are also available, generally from 3 years+.


The Piste

Visitors to the charming town of Banff will have three ski domains to choose from: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and the smaller local hill Mount Norquay. All three areas are covered by a single lift pass, offering approximately 7,750 acres of skiable terrain with runs for all skill levels and incredible off-piste potential. However, it’s important to note that the three mountains are not lift-linked, and skiers will have to drive between them or make use of the convenient shuttle busses – free with the tri-area lift ticket.

Sunshine Village is some 25 minutes away, while Lake Louise is roughly 45 minutes from Banff. As even the local hill is a bus ride away, if ski in/ski out is essential to your perfect winter holiday you may want to try the equally illustrious resort of Whistler Blackcomb. If you don’t mind the travel, you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of possibilities.

With plenty of snowy bowls, terrain parks, steep gradient pistes and tree runs, advanced skiers will be in paradise. For the truly seasoned experts, Sunshine Village is famous for exceptional snow and off-piste, while the double black diamond terrain of the Lake Louise back bowls are sure to delight too. Heli trips are popular and are highly recommended for competent skiers.

Intermediate skiers will also find plenty to love here: all three mountains cater to this group with a number of cruiser runs to get your miles up. While Banff may not be the best destination for absolute beginners, newcomers to the sport will still find a good range of nursery slopes and gentle green trails, including some long winding pistes. Plus, the ski schools are top-notch!  


Ski School


Equipment Hire


Lift Passes





Resorts statistics

  • ALTITUDE

    1380m

  • LONGEST PISTE

    8km

  • HIGHEST SKI LIFT

    2730m

  • TOTAL LIFTS

    26

  • TOTAL PISTE

    200km






Ski chalets in Banff

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