How to Plan the Best Banff 7 Day Winter Itinerary
Banff Ave Main Street and Town in Winter

It’s no secret that Banff and Lake Louise are home to some of the best skiing in the Rockies – but there’s loads more to do in winter!

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta / Mike Seehagel
Winter dining at the Cliffhouse Bistro at Mt Norquay

Banff National Park is also home to a ton of activities ranging from icewalks, tubing, snowshoeing, sightseeing, snowmobiling, dogsledding and more – it’s enough to keep a family busy for days!

Here we have a comprehensive itinerary for visitors to mix and match with. Looking for skiing and icewalks? Pair day 2 with Day 4. Looking for a gentle family-friendly mix? Match day 1 with 3 and 6. Whichever adventures you choose, there is sure to be activities for everyone.

Day 1: Arrive in Banff and ride the Banff Gondola

Explore downtown Banff on a shopping trip with friends
Photo Credit: Noel Hendrickson

Begin your Banff vacation with the latest information and suggestions from friendly local guides at the Discover Banff Tours’ downtown store on Banff Ave. Their friendly local experts will help you with things to do and see in Banff with your time.  Pick up maps, brochures and other useful information.

Visit our Reservations Team at the Store on Banff Ave

Get your bearings at the Banff Gondola – journey up the Banff Gondola for a sky-high view of the Rockies and the Town of Banff. Newly renovated with an observation deck, interpretation floor, ‘Above Banff’ theatre, Sky Bistro licensed restaurant and more, this is an experience that deserves more than a couple hours. If you go around sunset, make a dinner reservation at Sky Bistro and dine while watching the sun set from the top of a mountain.

Winter Banff Gondola in Banff National Park
Photo Credit: Chris Amat / Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

Day 2: Skiing

Skiing at Lake Louise
Photo Credit: Reuben Krabbe / SkiBig3

One of the most popular winter activities for Banff National Park is skiing. Our Banff Canadian Rockies ski resorts (Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Banff Mt Norquay) are well known for their light champagne snow powder and mountains that offer terrain for all level of skiers and snowboarders. For advanced skier, expand your Banff ski holiday by indulging in the ultimate ski experience – heli-skiing – and surely the Canadian Rockies is the place to finally try it.  You don’t need to be an expert skier to participate, blue run skiers will also enjoy the deep fresh powder and long interrupted runs.

Heliskiing near Banff
Photo Credit: Joe Carter

The most popular day ski trip from Banff is the daily Powder Express to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, with pick up direct from Banff hotels to the ski hill in 1.5 hours. With runs as long as 4,177 feet, you will be pressed to ski six runs top to bottom over the entire day. Bowls, chutes and groomed runs allow for a day of free-riding.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Powder Express Shuttle from Banff
Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Additionally, we have the new Discover Banff Tours’ Panorama Ski Shuttle which brings you a family-friendly resort where 3,000 acres of terrain meets 4,000 vertical feet at Panorama Mountain Resort in the Purcell Mountains. This shuttle runs three days a week, so plan your ski days around Discover Banff Tours’ Panorama Ski Shuttle to fit in the most skiing available from Banff’s doorstep. The best part? Both shuttles include transport from Banff and still cost less than the price of a full-day lift ticket!

Skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort in Panorama, British Columbia
Photo Credit: Panorama Mountain Resort

Night or day, snow or shine, tubing at Mt. Norquay is a great family activity to start off a holiday in Banff with, and located just a five minute drive from downtown Banff. Glide down in groups or race down as singles. Norquay will be blasting the tunes and selling refreshments and hot drinks at the North American Lodge. On weekends it’s possible to do this at night under the lights, or anytime between 10:30am – 4:00pm.

Mt Norquay Snowtubing

Day 3: Visit frozen Lake Louise and go Dogsledding

Visit Lake Louise in winter
Photo Credit: Noel Hendrickson / Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Simply a must do for everyone traveling to the Canadian Rockies, whether it is summer or winter is to visit Lake Louise. The full-day Discover Lake Louise Tour combines the highlights of the scenic Bow Valley Parkway (where we might spot some wildlife!) as well four hours of free time at Lake Louise to try snowshoeing, ice skating on the lake, or enjoy a hot beverage inside the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel with some time for shopping.

Ice skate at Lake Louise on a full-day tour with Discover Banff Tours
Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

For those looking for a more active day, snuggle into cozy sleds under warm blankets while a team of happy hard working huskies sled you through trails heavy with fresh snow on a doglsedding tour.  The Great Divide Tour in Lake Louise includes 1.5 hours of dogsledding along the Continental Divide near Lake Louise for approx 16 km, and you’ll still have around two hours of free time at Lake Louise.

Experience dogsledding in Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies
Photo Credit: Banff and Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Banff's Best Winter Deals

See Banff's winter beauty on a group sleigh ride
Family Fun

Sleigh Ride + Hot Springs + Gondola

Combo Package; cuddle up on a sleigh ride, soak in mineral hot springs and soar to the mountain top. Included: Sleigh
All Ages
Dec-Mar
Try tubing at Alberta's largest tube park at Mt Norquay in the Canadian Rockies
Family Fun

Tubing + Hot Springs + Sleigh Ride

Combo Package; slide down snowy slopes, soak in mineral hot springs and cuddle up on a sleigh ride. Included: Tubing at Banff
4+
Dec-Mar
Try snowshoeing on a guided winter hike with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Icewalk + Snowshoe

Combo Package; explore a frozen canyon of ice, then stomp through fresh powder on a snowy forest trail. Included: Johnston
8+
Dec-Apr

Day 4: Hike to frozen waterfalls and warm up at the Hot Springs

See frozen waterfalls on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Photo Credit: Travel Alberta / Stevin Tuchiwsky

Three different ways to experience a unique winter experience. On the Grotto Canyon Icewalk, walk on a frozen creek bed through a canyon past unusual rock formations, ancient Native rock art and icefalls. Or, hike on steel walkways bolted to the walls on the Johnson Canyon Icewalk that give spectacular views of the canyon below and finally to the spectacular frozen Upper Falls.

See frozen waterfalls on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Enjoy an Evening Icewalk of Johnston Canyon that offers a whole new perspective to a dramatic setting. Following the light of your headlamp, this unique tour explores the canyon in the night. Guests are amazed by how much more they notice with the limited light of a torch, and the mesmerizing ice falls and canyon that are discovered. Top it off with hot chocolate and maple cookies on the trail, and it’s the perfect way to spend an evening in the Park.

Banff Icewalk

Complementing a day of adventure with a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a must – going in the evenings or mornings is best to avoid crowds, but going in the winter is simply the best time of year to enjoy this traditional soaking practice. Check out our tours and hot springs packages!

Enjoy the Banff Hot Springs in Winter
Photo Credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

Day 5: Snowshoeing in Deep Powder

Banff Snowshoeing Race with Discover Banff ToursDiscover Banff Tours offers two snowshoeing trips in neighbouring Kootenay National Park that are each unique in their own right. Although you will hear stories of past explorers using the traditional wooden snowshoes with rawhide lacings on the Snowshoeing to the Paint Pots Tour, with the new lightweight technology snowshoes, you will find it as simple as walking, and a fun activity for all ages.  Considered a sacred site by First Nations today, you can see the orange and red ochre beds, play in the snow fields, try a crazy carpet slide down the hill and enjoy a uniquely Canadian treat – hot maple taffy made on the snow by your guide.

Maple Taffy Treat on a Banff Snowshoe Tour with Discover Banff Tours

Our Marble Canyon tour takes guests on a series of bridges connecting each side of the canyon spanning over waterfalls, gushing crystal clear water, and geological rock formations sculpted over thousands of years’ worth of water, wind, and on the surrounding mountains, fire. Your guide will explore the facts and benefits of forest fire which swept through this area in recent years.

Snowshoeing to Marble Canyon

Day 6: Banff Sightseeing and a Sleigh Ride

Animals shelter themselves in the valley against harsh winter conditions, but you can still spot, elk, coyotes and sometimes moose and wolves.  They can be difficult to find, so go with local guides on the Discover Banff & Its Wildlife Tour, spotting for wildlife, while you visit Banff’s famous viewpoints.  Take a photo from Surprise Corner of the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel with a winter backdrop. Visit frozen Bow Falls, the eerie Hoodoos and Lake Minnewanka, Banff’s largest lake.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Winter from Surprise Corner
Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Banff with family and friends, in the woods surrounding the Banff townsite. Or snuggle on a romantic Banff sleigh ride just for two with an authentic Buffalo robe, chocolates and a delicious alcoholic beverage all included.

See Banff's winter beauty on a group sleigh ride

Finding ways to stay warm is something we know best – pair the cozy sleigh ride experience with a hot spring and gondola package to make it a day of sights, history, and staying cozy. Start off your day with a sleigh ride, venture up the gondola and perhaps have dinner at Sky Bistro while watching the sunset, then complement it with a soak in the hot springs (open until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends). All conveniently located on the Sulphur Mountain side of Banff, across the bridge from downtown.

Day 7: Experience the thrill of snowmobiling

Paradise Basin Snowmobile Tour
Photo Credit: Toby Creek Adventures

An adrenaline power adventure! Snowmobiling tours from Banff include Paradise Basin in Panorama, BC or Kicking Horse in Golden, BC (both with transportation from Banff), perfect for beginners. If you are an advanced snowmobiler then ask us about out the thrilling Powder X advanced snowmobiling tour!

Private Tours

Any of the above days and more can be packaged into a privately guided tour – each tailored experience is unique to the visitor and allows you to explore on your own schedule with one of our interpretive guides and pickup/drop-off at your hotel.

Sign up to our newsletter for news on special deals and events.

We promise to only send you the good stuff!