The ultimate itinerary for your weekend in Banff

Ask me to describe a perfect late summer or early fall weekend, and it would involve a healthy dose of outdoor adventure punctuated with great food and potent cocktails. Luckily, I don’t have to go far to get an invigorating escape. Banff is right on Calgary’s doorstep, and I just came up with the ultimate Banff itinerary for a weekend getaway. 

Banff weekend
Just imagine all this at your fingertips!

Banff Itinerary

Banff offers the best of everything alpine related, distilled into one picture perfect destination. When figuring out what to do on a two or three day weekend, your Banff itinerary should include a mixture of snaggletoothed spires, pungent pine forests and brilliantly blue waters.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with things to do in Banff in summer, but here’s a look at our favourite activities and eats on a weekend getaway to Banff. 

Banff itinerary
Mountain adventurers are wanted in Banff!

Friday Night in Banff

Now I don’t know if you’re coming into Banff on a Friday night, but if you want to kick things off right, I suggest a meal or at least drinks at The Radiant as soon as you get into town. This new restaurant is in a word: gorgeous! 

With velvet booths, art deco wallpaper and tin ceiling panels, it’s all very sumptuous, rich and en pointe. It’s a classy (yet unpretentious) joint with a cabaret, burlesque or drag show every week.

Banff cocktail bar
I went with a cherry/sage gin cocktail, but a nettle-infused tequila is next on my list.

You could wet your whistle with a killer #ginstamgram, but all cocktails are creative, ‘gram-worthy and scanning the ingredients, quite possibly medicinal. But if you’re a wine drinker, good luck finding wine on tap anywhere else in town. You can’t beat $1/oz!

The global menu is tapas-style and meant to be shared. Those with food sensitivities won’t have a hard time finding something savoury to nosh on, with several dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan options. Tandoori Chicken and Pakora Waffles were a hit, as was A Tuna Matata, a flavourful riff on poke with a panko’ed avocado and togarashi mayo.

The Radiant Banff
The Emperor is The Radiant’s take on a Caesar salad. It packs some heat, but the avocado mellows it out.

Via Ferrata Mt. Norquay

For the ultimate Rocky Mountain high, tackle the Via Ferrata at Mt. Norquay in the morning. If you like hiking and challenging yourself, but aren’t an actual mountaineer, you’re sure to love this heart thumping, high alpine climbing experience.

Banff Via Ferrata
Some routes are more challenging than others, so it’s good to work your way up.

After taking an incredibly picturesque sightseeing chairlift, you’ll gear up in a safety harness and get instruction on how to scale the Via Ferrata.

This is just the start!

Basically, you’ll be scaling the side of a mountain, along fixed anchors drilled into the mountain face.

Mt norquay via ferrata
Don’t look down! Not all routes have this ladder component, so don’t freak out:)

The exposure is real (as evidenced by these pics), but your risk is majorly minimized thanks to the cables you’ll clip into, plus the safety harness and helmet you’re wearing. Fret not, you’re led by a professional ACMG certified guide. Our rad, patient and friendly guide was Katsu (blue jacket below). 

banff via ferrata course
Did I mention kids LOVE this?

Celebrate your accomplishment at Cliffhouse Bistro before heading down on the chairlift. Their nachos are totally pimped out and they have lots of other fun appies and drink specials. The icing on the cake is a 10% discount given to Via Ferrata climbers.

banff appetizers
A half order of nachos on the right (still so large!) + some gorgeous crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms on the left. Great, now I’m hungry again.
Mt Rundle Banff
Literally drinking in the views from Cliffhouse Bistro.

Horseback Riding Banff

Slow things down in the afternoon with a spot of horseback riding. With so many options for trail rides with Banff Trail Riders and gentle, well trained horses, it’s an ideal activity for families.

I’ve done plenty of trail rides before, but never have I crossed a river on horseback, so the one-hour Spray River ride was right up my alley. The warm scent of pine wafted through the air as we moseyed through a sunlight dappled forest and splashed our way through Spray River, before coming upon Bow Falls. 

Banff trail ride
I can only imagine how gorgeous it’s going to be in Banff in the fall.

In my head I kept thinking how fabulous this was. To be out here in nature, doing something different, special even, yet not being physically taxed. (I’m a total slacker at heart.) Sure, I walked a bit funny after dismounting, but minutes later I was strutting just fine.

Banff horseback riding
Would you believe we’re still in Banff?

Kananaskis White Water Rafting

On your second day in Banff, get that adrenaline pumping again by racing down the Kananaskis River on Class 2 and 3 rapids. Probably one of the most fun activities in the Rockies is riding the rapids. Half day rafting excursions with Chinook Rafting won’t steer you wrong.

kananaskis rafting tours
How refreshing does this look?

The best part? All these activities from rafting to horseback riding to Via Ferrata are currently 20-30% off!

family whitewater rafting
Even kids can handle it!

Dinner in Banff

There’s no shortage of restaurants in Banff, but after a day of doing ALL the things, you just might be up for something casual, yet hearty. For that, head to Bear Street Tavern and pray for a spot on their gorgeous, pet-friendly patio.

pizza in banff
You’ll really have earned your pizza at Bear Street if you skied or hike prior. (Credit: Noel Hendrickson)

Ask any local and they’ll tell you this is the best pizza in town. Pizzas are hand stretched and personal sized at around 11”. As much as I adored the crust and the toppings on The Godfather (prosciutto arugula, olives, confit garlic and truffle oil), it’s how they jazz it up that stands out.

All pizzas come with a rosemary chili oil and honey, that you’re encouraged to dip in. So very more-ish! Here, I really wanted to order a punch bowl of their summer sangria (that good!), but when cocktails and glasses of rose are $8 apiece, you want to shop around.

Bear St Pizza
A little drizzle and you’re all set.

Breakfast in Banff

For a healthy breakfast in Banff, look no further than Seed n Salt. This new addition to Banff’s dining scene sports smoothies, toasts and other breakfast items, in addition to rice and quinoa bowls. Everything is chock full of good for you ingredients. You’ll leave feeling nourished, satisfied and likely quite virtuous.

Smoothie bowl
Smoothie bowls never looked so good!

Best is that it’s licensed, serving up local brews, kombucha ciders and Okanagon wine from 50th Parallel and Quail’s Gate.

Affordable Banff hotels

Right now, there’s several affordable Banff hotels, resorts and motels offering discounted prices. We bed down at Tunnel Mountain Resort, a lovely property that’s been recently renovated with a wood burning fireplace (you can make s’mores inside!), full kitchen and patio.

Our room could’ve slept 8 – for real! There were two queen beds in the loft, a pull-out couch and a separate queen bedroom. Though we stayed on a weekend it was surprisingly quiet and wasn’t sold out.

loft hotel guest room
I can’t tell you how much I loved our loft.

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Banff Itinerary
From Mt. Norquay, you’ll get stunning views of Banff townsite and Rundle Mountain.


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About The Author

102 thoughts on “The ultimate itinerary for your weekend in Banff”

  1. I havent’been to Banff very often, but when I go I like to find hikes and explore and look for wild life along the way-from a distance :). I already enjoy your blog & FB page.

  2. Sharon Targett

    My favorite Banff activity is shopping. Lol
    I follow on Facebook and Instagram

    1. I haven’t spent much time in Banff. I’d love the opportunity to explore. Thanks. Follow you on FB.

  3. Heather Howard

    Oh my gosh!!! This would be fabulous! We just moved to AB from NS and while my husband and I have lived here before, our children have not. We just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary yesterday and weren’t able to do anything other than grabbed a meal at Denny’s(while good, not very exciting…LOL). Getting to the mountains for a mini vacation would be great! I have never stayed overnight in Banff but would love the opportunity! Thanks for the chance! Good luck everyone!

    My favorite Banff activities are hiking and taking pictures of wildlife.

    I follow via email and I follow on facebook!

  4. Lynette James

    Everywhere I travel, I always say my fave activity is simply to “ walk and gawk”. Banff is such a beautiful place to amp it up a bit and progress into more of a hike than a stroll. I’m following you on fb and Instagram

  5. Michelle Kohl

    I think that this is the best contest you e ever had! I desperately want to try the via Ferrata! My favourite activity is a big, gorgeous hike, followed by an incredible meal. I follow on everything so give me lots of entries!!!

  6. I love going for hikes and the food! Already following on fb and subscribed to the newsletter.

    1. Hope maxwell

      My favorite Banff activity is eating a delicious meal after a long day in the great outdoors

  7. Janice Tetreault

    I love Banff it is one of my most favorite places to go & walk around the town or hike. Just taking in the sights of the beautiful place so close to home. I feel an instant sense of peace & relaxation so it’s a great place to escape the pressures of home.
    I follow & subscribe to your blog.
    Thank you

  8. I enjoy the mountains breathtaking views. I follow on Facebook and subscribed to the newsletter. Have a wonderful day!

  9. Jessie Machell-Davison

    We love hiking around Lake Minnewanka, beautiful scenery and great exercise. Already subscribed 🙂

  10. Sandra Surbek

    Boat ride and hike around Lake Minnewanka. This year we saw a Mama bear and cub.

    1. Jennafer Rowley

      This giveaway looks awesome! My favorite thing about banff is the hot springs ????

  11. We love going for hikes around Banff. Lots of beautiful spots to go for all skill levels.

    1. I hannt been horse back riding in 20 years. That would be awesome. So far my favorite think to do in Banff is go to the candy store lol

  12. We love going to Banff for a hike and a pizza lunch at Tavern. (already follow you on FB and blog 😉

  13. Jennifer Howson

    I’ve always wanted to go horse back riding in Banff!! Thanks for the great tips. We are exploring Lethbridge after reading your posts/blog!!

  14. Holly Herman

    Our favourite activity in Banff is hiking. There are so many amazing family friendly trails and the scenery is always spectacular! That Via Ferrata looks damn hard! Heart pounding ????
    Thanks for the chance at this awesome adventure!
    (I subscribe and follow on Facebook too ????)

  15. EmilySimkin

    I love following you on Facebook! My favourite Banff activity in the spring is a walk along the Hoodoo trail to spot crocuses!

  16. Banff is where we had our honeymoon 37 years ago in the fall. We have often visited throughout the years to celebrate our anniversary. Always something new and interesting. Thanks for all the great tips for our next adventure.

  17. Arlene Donkin

    Haven’t been to Banff in a very long time!! But would love to go see waterfalls!

  18. Jen Postma

    I love the “feel” of Banff, the smells of waterfalls on a hiking trail cleanses my soul! I live the fresh air! And the feeling of accomplishment reaching an end of the trail!

  19. Love visiting Banff, can’t miss the Banff Tea company and I love Wild Flower cafe.

    1. Eva Steinke

      Already followed on FB and subscribed to newsletter. We love to go hiking in Banff.


    My favorite Banff activity was climbing up to the teahouse. Was a great experience and fantastic views. I already follow you on Facebook and thanks for the chance at what I feel is a fantastic weekend!

  21. Annette Wright

    My favorite thing to do in Banff is sight see around town and enjoy the quaint little eateries!!! ????

  22. Leisa Lair Miller

    Favourite thing to do in Banff :eat and site see. It really is a lovely area.

    I follow of FB,Insta and Twitter.

  23. Wow! What a great weekend you put together! Do something that scares you would be fulfilled times 100.

  24. Tanja Minder

    The Via Ferrata looks amazing! Right now my favorite activity in or around Banff is to go for little hikes, and then hit the town for delicious food and drinks!

  25. Banff – the mountains – travelling – hiking – camping – skiing ……so many reasons why I feel fortunate to have moved here from Australia (and Holland)!

  26. Ami Takeuchi

    I have always wanted to do the Via Ferrata! My fave Banff activity is visiting the hot springs… And the candy store!

    I follow and subscribe.

  27. Teresa Reimer

    I’ve only ever experienced a little in Banff , lunch and a stroll, this would be amazing if I won!!

  28. Barb matwie

    We love Banff. We have celebrated our anniversary almost every year in Banff. This is certainly the ultimate itinerary!
    We love taking the gondola tbe most, then enjoying a meal at the bistro at the top. The view is stunning and different every time!!
    I have taken every point I can get. Your review ismore than amazing!❤????

  29. Shar Scott

    I love whitewater rafting and golf course, but haven’t been to the hot springs and would love too

  30. Horseback riding in the mountains would be amazing ???????? The rafting looks a little daring but definitely a good time. J love your blog!! Im finding so many intetesting things to do here right in our own backyard since I started following. Thank you for all you do ????

  31. Laura Mollison

    favorite activities would be white water rafting and eating/dining (couldn’t chose just one. lol)

    i already follow on FB and have subscribed.

  32. Leeah Holle

    My favorite activity would be horseback riding in Banff! The scenery and adventure – Banff has it all!!

  33. Jodi Halpin

    I’ve been wanting to do Via Ferrata. It looks amazing!

    I follow on Facebook 🙂

  34. I love hiking around Banff and go into town for food. Your blog was perfect for recommendations. Thank you.

  35. Nancy Kenyon

    I love shopping in Banff! I also love walking in the Banff Springs Hotel. I love camping in the park. I subscribe to your newsletter and like you on FB.


    We were just in Banff a few weekends ago, and we really enjoyed exploring the trail that runs along the bow river down to the Bow Falls. Gorgeous scenery and perfect for kids too.

  37. Nicole A Eberle

    Fave thing about Banff is enjoying the absolutely stunning scenery right in our country.

  38. Angela Davey

    This would be an Incredible experience for my hubby and I to do together..we are needing a little time away from the kids ????.

  39. Angela Davey

    This would be an Amazing getaway to experience with my hubby…we could use a little time away from out kids;).

  40. Angela Davey

    This would be an Amazing getaway to experience with my hubby…we could use a little time away from the kids;)

  41. Wendy Thiel

    This sounds so amazing and would be awesome to win since I start my holidays on the 7th!!! I am a subscriber to your emails and follow on Facebook. There is just so much to do in Banff that it’s hard to pick one I love the restaurants and shopping and the spa at Banff Springs Hotel is out of this world amazing ????

  42. We love hiking as a family in Banff, especially when we find water falls. I already follow on fb.

  43. Followed and subscribed to the blog. I love Banff. I love all things in Banff…sightseeing, walks, shopping, partaking in activities, and of course the food it offers! Banff is a fun place to visit!!

  44. Shawna Martens

    Awesome! My favourite activity in Banff is walking downtown and visiting all the unique shops! also can never leave without a beaver tail!

  45. Ally Newell

    My favorite thing to do in Banff is the horseback riding! And to take in the gorgeous views!

  46. Sybille Mikaelsen

    What an amazing weekend this would be. I’ve done the horse back trip and river rafting down the Kananaskis River, but never the Via Ferrata, would be quite the adventure!
    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to win.
    Following on FB and subscribed already!

  47. Love eating at the Bear Street Tavern. The pizza is so good! I recently hiked from the Banff Springs down along the river to the Vermillion Lakes and really enjoyed the walk!

  48. Hey Jody! I follow you on the socials! I love to read your perspective and reviews. This is definitely an adventure I wouldn’t plan out on my own….I’m definitely ruled by fear! This does sound amazing however!

  49. Sue Dalzell

    I’ve always been happy to get away from the big city and spend time in Banff exploring the town & stores and chowing down in the restaurants BUT my bucket list includes whitewater rafting & a trail ride with my granddaughter!
    I subscribed & am following on Facebook

  50. Sue Dalzell

    I’ve always been happy to get away from the big city and spend time in Banff exploring the town & stores and chowing down in the restaurants BUT my bucket list includes whitewater rafting & a trail ride with my granddaughter!
    I subscribed & am following on Facebook

  51. The feel and smell of the mountain air. The view from Main Street Banff. The Heritage of Banff National Park. This give away is on my bucket list

  52. Lori Nitah

    My favorite thing to do in Banff is to explore the mountains hiking or on my SUP.

  53. We love Lake Minnewanka and enjoy wandering the streets of Banff and checking out the cool stores.

    I follow you on FB!

  54. What’s not to love about Banff?! This prize pack sounds amazing.

    We enjoy Lake Minnewanka and wandering the streets and shops.

    I follow Travels with Baggage on FB!

  55. Delane Williams Williams

    This would be an amazing weekend! I’d love the opportunity to go!

  56. jacqueline Skelton

    love to walk the river to Spray Falls then up to the Hotel for drinks on the patio, already a Facebook follower and email subscriber

  57. Lilly Kavanagh

    I love hiking in Banff. One of my favourites if Tunnel Mountain since it gives you a great view of Banff when you get to the top.

  58. My favourite activity in Banff is just seeing the mountains, the view is breathtaking! Liked on Facebook and we already subscribe.

  59. Mathilde Denier

    I love hiking in the Banff area but I would like to try the via ferrata and go for a horse bike ride!
    I follow you on Facebook and receive your newsletter.

  60. Maria Keirstead

    My favorite activity is hiking in the Banff area! Followed by checking out the coffee shops :-). I follow you on Facebook and receive your newsletter.

  61. Jacob Buffalo

    Mountain biking is a Faster way to see sights and
    Sounds Banff has to offer with numerous trails
    Around the town and many with many options for a picnic Or dine in for lunch or dinner
    Definitely a must stop for all ages to come adventure

  62. I love that there are so many things to do in Banff. Would love to try the rafting or horse-back riding. I’m afraid of heights so the via ferrata would be out for me.
    I follow on Facebook.

  63. My husband and I love going to Banff, even though we don’t go very often. When we do, we love to visit the spa for a relaxing massage.

    Subscribed to your newsletter.

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