From Oliver we headed to Banff. I guess, it’s quite popular in winter time because of all the skiing you can do there, but it’s good to visit Banff when you are in Canada anyway just because it’s situated in the heart of Canadian Rockies!
When you drive from Oliver to Banff, you see a sudden, but beautiful change in the landscape and nature around you! It’s a long trip, about 8 hours, but it’s worth it! You get to see how magnificent Canada really is!
Banff in summer is shopping, hiking, boat riding, lake sightseeing, and Banff Hot Springs.
When we arrived in Banff, it was quite late, we had difficulties finding our hotel: lots of tiny streets in Banff and it confuses you… Finally, we found our hotel – Banff Boutique Inn – Pension Tannenhof, which was one of the cheapest, but decent options available. I’ve done great research! All the fancy and nice hotels in Banff are super expensive (especially when you are traveling for one month in Canada), but anyway we wanted to keep our standards high, so that hotel was the best option! And we didn’t get disappointed: cosy, big rooms, free breakfast and parking, very close (a 5-minute walk) to downtown, clean, friendly staff and it’s located right in the woods! 🙂
Of course, you can stay at Fairmont Banff Springs, it’s fancy and famous, but far from the town and veeeery expensive. In every major city in Canada, you’ll find a Fairmont hotel, which will be of excellent quality, but expensive. When they were building the Canadian Railroad, they built those hotels first for workers and then for the royalty and celebs traveling through Canada.
But back to our journey…. We arrived pretty late, found our accommodation and went out to EAT!
Banff Avenue Brewing Co. was just the right choice for that evening! Excellent beer and delicious burgers!
The following day we went out to explore the area and understood how peaceful and beautiful the area was! We fell in love with it!
The first place to check out was Banff Avenue, the main street with shops, cafés, souvenirs, restaurants, etc. A nice street to get lost on… 🙂 (A funny thing about the streets in Banff – they are all named after animals: Wolf Street, Deer Street, Buffalo Street and so on.)
We had our breakfast at this waffle place whose name I, unfortunately, don’t remember, but it’s very easy to find (it’s right at the beginning of the street after the bridge, on your left side). The food was great, and the coffee even better! Recommended! We went there for breakfast every day when we were in Banff! And even our last, final waffel before we left Banff..
We took a stroll after the good breakfast to check out Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which is a part of the Canadian National Park system and a site of old hot springs which were discovered accidently by three Canadian railway workers. However, the place is not worth a visit, it’s just another park. In order to see the hot springs, you need to pay and go through the whole deal of line and waiting. You’d better go to the real hot springs at Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Lake Minnewanka was next on the list, “Lake of the Spirits”! We had to go there by car, a 15-minute ride from Banff, and it was a pleasant experience! We threw some stones into the lake, saw some chipmunks and mountain goats, enjoyed the magnificent views and ticked it off from my must-see list. 🙂 They say the aboriginal people of the area worshipped and feared the lake because of the spirits that lived in it, and the early Europeans called it Devil’s Lake. It’s a nice ride as well, you get to see some interesting spots!
They do some boat cruises on the lake, but save your money. If you really want to have a boat trip on a Canadian lake, do it on Lake Louise (which I’ll talk about in my next post) or Moraine.
And hurry up back to Banff to be thrilled at the gondola ride! YEAAAH! We did it! First, we didn’t even imagine what it was about, but when we saw people smiling and pointing at the high mountain top over the town, we figured out what they meant.
Banff Gondola is quite expensive, but you HAVE to do it! It’s a ride up to Sulphur Mountain, 2,281 meters (7,486 feet) up. It’s scary: the cable car is so small, it’s shaking, you can’t look down, oh mine! Even my fire fighter husband didn’t look that brave… But we are glad we did it! You see the whole Rockies area, Banff, the lakes, the railroad, experience the nature and even see some animals…
Can you imagine people hike up there? And then they take gondola for a half-price back down…. But how exhausted they must be!
There are some restaurants up there, but you know, the usual, crowds and crowds. Expect to stay a good half an hour in line to get back down!
But look at the views! How can you say no to gondola?
After a day like that, I must say, you are pretty tired, take a stroll to have your evening meal and nighty-nighty. We went to Boston Pizza, which I really enjoyed! If you are craving a real unhealthy, fast-food dinner, but a pub-style, with some good beer, this is your place, I’m not even mentioning sports channels on TVs in there… You can find this fast food chain almost everywhere in Canada! Really good fast food! 🙂 If you can call it fast food…..
Liked this post? Don’t miss the next post about Banff and Canadian Rockies adventure!
Planning a trip to Canada? Then this is for you!
Want to read more about our trip to Canada? Start here!
P.S. My ultimate “secret” reasearch tool for Canada was Lonely Planet Canada (Travel Guide)
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