If you are visiting Calgary, Banff, or Canmore, there is one crucial detail that every traveler has to figure out–transportation. How are you going to leave the airport? How are you going to get from one destination to the next?
Since we are talking about Banff here, let’s get a little more specific. Are you going to need an airport shuttle from Calgary to Banff or to Canmore? Have you considered a private car service? Maybe you want to look into a bus service or the best way to catch a Banff cab. Maybe you prefer your own hands on the wheel. There are a lot of options, and we want to help you find the best one for you.
How will you travel from Calgary to Banff (and back again)?
First, how to get from Calgary to Banff Without A Car
Calgary to Banff Airport Shuttle Bus
If you are arriving at the Calgary International Airport, the most popular option is to take a shuttle bus to Banff (or Canmore with one extra stop), which usually requires booking in advance. We offer airport shuttles with an abundance of pick-up and drop-off times to choose from. Not only do we have shuttles that depart often, but they can also pick you up or drop you off directly at your hotel or a personal address. While we take care of the details, the route, the navigation, and even loading your luggage, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and take in all of the picturesque views that you’ll see– right from your shuttle window.
Book your Banff to Calgary Airport Shuttle service through Discover Banff Tours for a daily airport shuttle that departs throughout the day, and takes approximately two hours from Calgary Downtown or the airport to your hotel or residence in Banff with a stop at the Coast Hotel in Canmore if you want to stop there.
Private & Group Transportation from Calgary to Banff, Around Banff, and Around The Rocky Mountains
Our private and group transportation option is a jack of all trades. We can pick you (and your group) up at a time that suits you from any address, including the Calgary International Airport. But unlike other services, this one is not limited to Calgary and has a lot more flexibility. We can pick you up and take you anywhere and everywhere within Banff, Alberta, and British Columbia. This means that your private transportation experience is specifically catered to your needs and can also take you sightseeing! This personalized Banff taxi/limo service offers comfort, convenience, snacks, and your choice of luxury vehicle from a sedan to a new mini-coach to get you from one destination to the next.
When you book your private transfer with us and we will take care of all the details. We will make a schedule to ensure that you get to the right places at the right times, so all you have to do is enjoy the ride (and the views!).
Calgary to Banff Bus Service
In the summer, you can catch the $10 bus with On-It Regional Service from Calgary Downtown to Banff. This service has limited stops and doesn’t pick up from the Calgary Airport but it’s a great low-cost option. Be sure to book early, buses fill up fast!
Once you get to Banff you can get around town and to some of the local attractions easily on the energy-efficient Roam buses at any time of year. The buses are operated by Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission and run regularly throughout the day for a small fee.
Drive Yourself Around Calgary, Banff, Canmore and Everywhere In Between
Skipping the airport shuttle, private car services, and buses, to rent a car (or drive your own) offers you a lot of advantages when visiting Banff. With this option, you can leave the airport whenever you please or skip the airport altogether. This can be a good option because some of the hikes and attractions are off-the-beaten-track and difficult to get to if you don’t have your own transport. However, if you want to take a break from navigating your own way, you can always book a guided tour and get picked up from your hotel directly. It’s worth bearing in mind that most hotels will offer parking, but that parking spaces in the town (and at the sites) can be limited. The new Banff Parking mobile site is an easy way to find free off-street parking availability from your smartphone.
There are only a few months in the Canadian summer warm enough for road work, so it is inevitable that there will be some construction happening if you are making the drive between late May and early November. Pay attention to the construction zone speed limits and watch out for road workers.
If you have your own car or you are renting a vehicle, you can drive from Calgary to Banff in about an hour and a half.
Calgary To Banff Highways
There are a couple of main route options from Calgary to Banff and back.
1) The Stoney Trail (Hwy 201)
The Stoney Trail is a faster route that skips the inner city section of Highway 1 and then connects past the Calgary city limits, so you will get to Banff sooner. It will only take you around an hour and 30 minutes to get there, so this is the route that most locals take when they want to get to Banff efficiently. However, there aren’t many stops along the way for food, fuel, or shopping so you will have to wait until you reach Banff.
2) Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1)
Highway 1 is a bit slower and it has a lot of stoplights within the Calgary city limits. You’ll pass some fast food stores, shopping malls, and grocery stores if you want to stop for food or supplies before your trip.
Remember – prices for food at the supermarket in Calgary will be cheaper than in Banff so you may want to stock up on snacks. You should also fuel up on gas before you leave Calgary, as the prices for fuel will be more expensive in the National Park.
Other Transportation Options:
Banff to Calgary By Train
Unfortunately, there is no train between Calgary and Banff, although we would love it if there was! We will be sure to keep you updated and let you know if a train that can take you around our area becomes available.
Take a Taxi in Calgary
There are many taxi cab companies in Calgary to choose from and the rates for the journey are fixed by the government. Some of the local Calgary taxi companies include Associated Cabs, Checker Cabs, and Calgary Cabs. The approximate cost from the Calgary Airport to Banff for the 140km journey is $250 one way.
Taking an Uber from Calgary to Banff
Taking an Uber around, to, and from Calgary to Banff is another viable option, although it is not quite as predictable. The average cost of an Uber ride, specifically from Calgary to Banff is approximately $150 – $300 depending on the time of day and service availability. Check the app for latest pricing.
Another Fee to Consider as You Choose Your Transportation
When you enter Banff National Park, you will need to pay the official entry fees for the park. You can purchase your Banff Park Pass online, or you can pay for it when you reach the entrance gate to Banff National Park on Highway 1. If you are considering staying in Banff for more than 7 days, it makes financial sense to buy an Annual Discovery Pass.
How Will You Get to Banff?
There is no wrong answer, and the right choice for you will depend on your budget, timing, and travel style. But no matter which route you choose, your Rocky Mountian journey will be truly spectacular. Your window views of the flat and dry Alberta prairies, colossal Canadian Rockies, rugged, sky-piercing peaks, the Town of Banff, and the Bow River are sure to start off your adventure well!
Trying to plan your trip? We can help! Depending on the season, where to go and what to pack can have radically different answers, and we have mapped them all out for you with our all-season guides on what to do and what to pack.