A guide on things to do in in the Calgary and Banff regions of Alberta, Canada.
Pour some maple syrup on it… eh? If you’re looking for things to do in Banff and Calgary, these photos will have you on the next plane to a mountainous paradise.
An international and domestic favorite, fly into Calgary for architecture and great eats, then road trip out to Banff’s legendary Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon.
Surprise after surprise, I discovered places that exceeded my expectations, and so many I hadn’t even heard of.
As a lover of the outdoors, I knew to soak up the sun in a hammock, but there’s more to Alberta than the slopes of the Canadian Rockies.
Calgary local Tamara Elliott introduced me to arts, parks, bars and restaurants at the heart of the city.
With so much to do outside and inside, exploring Alberta is not a matter of if I’ll return, but more so… how often!
Things to do in Banff and Calgary, Alberta — as told by photos.
Side note: big thank you to my partner Canada Keep Exploring, the official board of tourism for the invitation to #CaptureCalgary by film and photo. Double thanks to the Calgary and Banff locals who I met through social media: Tamara Elliott of Globe Guide and adventure photographer Jonathan Sinclair.
1. Get outside.
First and foremost, home of outbound, the Calgary and Banff area boast lakes, mountains, waterfalls and canyons. Consider these …
Kayak in the summer and ice skate in the winter, Lake Louise is the epicenter of Banff National Park. Pines and peaks frame the Lake Louise Ski Resort, amongst shopping, hikes and drive-up view points.
If you love Lake Louise for the winter slopes, you’ll be sure to fly back for summer picnics.
A true blue, Moraine Lake invites locals and internationals alike for glacier viewpoints and light hiking.
Situated in the Valley of Ten Peaks, catch the trails before the lake freezes over.
Thirty minutes from Banff, the Johnston Creek trail weaves together the Johnston Canyon cascade and the Lower Falls in Johnston Canyon.
About a thirty minute walk each way, you can easily reach the lower falls.
Arguably, one of the most iconic places to catch the sunset or sunrise in Banff National Park, the Vermilion Lakes is just off the highway and a must-stop.
CAVE AND BASIN
Looking to take your history out of the text book? This museum is a playground of caverns and limestone.
Be sure to explore all features including the indoor museum, the park trails and underground cave.
2. Eat and drink.
Hip and fun, Calgary and Banff alike offer everything from cocktails to coffee.
Recommended restaurants in Calgary:
Bocce for trendy Italian eats.
Anejo for tacos and margaritas.
Charcut Roasthouse for award-winning cuisine.
Una Pizza and Wine because pizza AND wine.
Cannibale, a funky barbershop that does dining.
The Ship and Anchor (local dive bar)
Recommended cafes in Calgary:
Phil and Sebastian’s Coffee Roasters
Recommended restaurants in Banff:
The Maple Leaf
Bear Street Tavern
Best cafes in Banff:
Evelyn’s Coffee World
Mario-carts for mountain children (of all ages), the Skyline Luge will have you winding down. If you’re visiting Calgary between May and October, sign up for a ride at the WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park (COP).
Alternatively, take a lift in the Banff Gondola for views of the valley, or rent from Ultimate Sports for laps around it.
If you love art and architecture, as much as I do, cycle through Calgary’s city.
Check out these Calgary spots:
Prince’s Island Park
The Peace Bridge
The Wonderland Sculpture (pictured)
The East Village and Ramsay Ruins
Where to stay in Calgary:
If all else fails, get a car or take a walk and get lost. Canada is marvel, all on it’s own.
I shoot with a DSLR and an iPhone. Check out these tools to get the best photos on your next trip to Calgary and Banff!
- Canon 70D, available via Overstock with a free extra battery + memory card.
- Canon 24-70 mm lens (standard zoom lens) available on Spring (with warranty) which is great for lifestyle photos.
- Canon Wide Lens 20 mm which is great for wide landscapes.
- I mostly take photos of myself by using the Manfrotto tripod; it folds up nicely.
If this all sounds a bit confusing, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Photography | Which Camera is Right for You post.
I also do a lot of iPhone Only Photography (check out my guide)
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