Location: Banff is located in a picturesque National Park in Alberta, Canada. It was named by the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884 after his hometown Banffshire in Scotland. With one of the longest ski seasons in North America, Banff has access to over 8,000 acres of ski terrain spread across is three ski areas – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. With the Ski Big Three ski pass, you can ski anywhere within these areas; one of the most popular is Lake Louise which is a 40-minute drive from Banff and offers 145+ runs suiting all levels of skier.
Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, Banff offers an endless vista into the outdoors surrounded by mountains and lakes – they even engineered the first street they built here to give the best possible view of Cascade Mountain.
Getting there: Daily flights depart to Calgary from London Heathrow with Air Canada and West Jet operates twice weekly flights from London Gatwick.
Banff is a 90 minute drive from Calgary Airport. You can either drive yourself (they even have one-way car hire drop offs), hop in a taxi, take a private transfer or ride one of the regular shuttle buses.
Where to stay: If you don’t have a car then it is worth staying centrally in Banff, however most of our recommended accommodations are all within walking distance of Banff town. One of our favourites is The Moose Hotel & Suites which is an elegant mountain lodge, just a few minutes-walk from the centre of town. Its European chalet feel & spa is what sells it for us! For those wanting to stay somewhere a bit more modern then The Mount Royal Hotel is the one for you. It is located right in the heart of Banff meaning you are close to all the action for that buzzy vibe – and our favourite part… is the rooftop outdoor hot tubs, where you can sip on a cocktail post ski, warming up those ski legs and taking in the stunning views over Banff and Cascade Mountain.
Highlights: Banff looks and feels like a film set and personifies mountain culture – don’t expect to find anyone in town who doesn’t love skiing and the outdoors. Its town culture almost outweighs the snowy peaks but when the snow is good it’s fantastic. Don’t look elsewhere if you want your evenings to be as packed as your day on the slopes as this town has lots of restaurants and bars to enjoy.
Downsides: When the conditions aren’t great, be prepared to head 40 minutes to the Lake Louise ski area where conditions can be more consistent. The ski hills are all a shuttle bus away so do have to travel to ski.
Best piste run: Enjoy the Strawberry Express, the high speed quad, and you’ll find some great snow on Star Trek or Donkey’s Tail in Sunshine.
Best off piste skiing run: If there are good conditions at Sunshine, get yourself some safety kit and a guide and head off to Delirium Dive via the Mount Standish Express.
Where to Eat at Banff Sunshine: Head to the Lookout lodge – where we love the burgers from The Sunshine Burge Company or relax on a sofa by the fire in the Alpine Grill.
Where to eat in Banff: If you fancy some pastries and coffee in them morning head to Wild Flour Artisan Bakery. In the evenings you can’t go wrong at Chucks Steakhouse which is the best place for a steak in Banff. If you want an atmospheric bar with great food head to Park Distillery, here you can sample one of the many cocktails in the bar where you can see the distillery. If you fancy some pizza look no further than the Bear Street Tavern, where their speciality is drizzling honey on the pizza!
Après bars: Perfect place for a post ski beer would be the Banff Ave Brewing co and when clubs are back open, you can be bound to get dancing at Dancing Sasquatch.
Best guide: Jorg Wilz is a CMH guide who also guides his hometown via On Top Mountaineering. There’s not a huge amount of off piste skiing to find in Banff so they’d prefer you to ski tour around Rogers Pass to find the powder.
Whether you’re looking for some off piste skiing advice or to warm up your skiing legs before a heli skiing trip, contact the off piste skiing and heli skiing experts at Pure Powder!