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Top Things to Do in Banff & Lake Louise in the Winter • The Blonde Abroad

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top things to do in banff in the winter
Banff in the winter is a dreamy escape for those seeking a perfect blend of adventure, luxury, and natural beauty. It’s a hugely popular destination year-round—I fell in love with summer in Banff when I visited a few years ago.

And, after traveling back to Banff just before Christmas, I have a hard time choosing a favorite season!

From the thrill of dog sledding to the indulgence of a stay at Fairmont Banff Springs, the breathtaking views from the Banff Gondola, and the exhilaration of skiing, every moment in this winter wonderland is a chapter in an unforgettable story.

Join me as we explore the top things to do in Banff during winter, where snowy landscapes meet thrilling activities and cozy experiences!

Dog Sledding Banff Snowy Owl Tours

Go Dog Sledding with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours

There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating adventure of dog sledding! We joined Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You have the option to self-drive your sled, which is so fun.

The baby and I were cozied up under a sheepskin in the sled while my husband commanded the pack. We sprinted along an evergreen-lined trail as soft snowflakes fell from above.

It was straight out of a fairytale!

We traveled to Banff with our 17-month-old toddler, and he was JUST old enough (from our experience) for the adventure. Remember, every child is different and this is an adventurous experience that might be better suited for an older kiddo!

We opted for the shortest “Powder Hound Express” tour, which is advertised as 2 hours, but it was more like 4 hours from start to finish with bus transfers. Things got a little hairy after we finished dog sledding because we pushed nap time, but our little one LOVED the dog sledding!

Fairmont Banff Springs Christmas

Stay at Fairmont Banff Springs

For a bit of indulgence in the heart of Banff National Park, book a stay at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs. Nestled against the backdrop of the Rockies, this castle-like hotel offers a blend of luxury and natural beauty.

Cozy up by the fireplace after a day of snowy adventures, or unwind in the heated outdoor pool surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

And don’t miss the 360° Dome, an enclosed dining room with panoramic views of Banff.

The Fairmont Gold accommodations are an extra luxury experience. It’s truly a hotel within a hotel with private check-in, concierges, and lounges – and the rooms are stunning.

If you travel to Banff during the holidays, you’ll experience extra magic here—they go ALL out for Christmas!

Sky Bistro at Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola and Lunch at Sky Bistro

Ascend to new heights with a ride on the Banff Gondola. Marvel at the snow-covered landscapes as you glide up Sulphur Mountain, where panoramic views await.

Once at the top, don’t miss a meal at Sky Bistro, where the menu is as impressive as the scenery. The views were truly incredible, and the food was delicious.

Be sure to book in advance to secure your spot!

Go Skiing

Banff is a winter sports paradise, and a massive highlight of traveling to Banff in Winter is hitting the slopes. That said, we traveled to Banff as a family, skipped skiing this year, and still had MORE than enough to do.

I love that Banff is a haven for adventurers but still has tons to do for leisure travelers.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, the local resorts cater to all skill levels. Strap on your skis and carve through the powdery slopes of Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, or Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

For a unique winter adventure, embark on the Johnston Canyon Ice Walk. Follow a frozen path through towering canyon walls adorned with glistening ice formations. The frozen waterfalls are incredible; you might even spot some ice climbers on them!

Take a guided tour with Discover Banff Tours for an in-depth look at Banff’s winter landscape.

Day Trip to Lake Louise

A trip to Banff wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lake Louise! Go ice skating on the frozen lake and cozy up on a horsedrawn sleigh. Fairmont Lake Louise is one of the most iconic hotels in North America. Book afternoon tea or a fondue dinner here for an opulent dining experience.

NOTE: The Fairmont Lake Louise is undergoing renovations, including creating a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly thermal wellness facility set to be completed in early 2025.

Banff Town Hot Chocolate

Explore Banff Town

No winter journey is complete without exploring the charming streets of Banff town. Wander through the snow-draped avenues with quaint shops, cafes, and art galleries.

The town comes alive with a festive ambiance during winter, with twinkling lights adorning the streets. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, pick up some local souvenirs, and immerse yourself in Banff town’s friendly atmosphere.

Lupo Banff

Cozy Winter Dining

There are many dining options around Banff, but some are extra special for a cozy winter meal.

Lupo for Italian

Nestled in the heart of Banff, Lupo is the perfect spot for some Italian comfort food. The design is very upscale and not what I expected in a small, rustic mountain town. From homemade pasta to wood-fired pizzas, each dish celebrates authentic Italian cuisine.

The Grizzly House for Fondue

Renowned for its fondue specialties, this iconic restaurant has been a Banff favorite since 1967. Choose from various fondue options, including cheese, oil, and chocolate, and cook your meal right at your table.

The Three Bears – Comfort Meets Craft Beer

Look no further than The Three Bears for a hearty dose of comfort food paired with locally crafted beers. This cozy eatery combines the warmth of a mountain lodge with a menu that satisfies every craving for comfort, from classic burgers and savory poutines to mouthwatering mac ‘n’ cheese.

Is traveling to Banff on your bucket list?

This post was written in partnership with Banff Lake Louise Tourism. I was invited to experience Banff and was hosted during my time there. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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