Discover skiing in Canadian Banff

If you haven't tried going on a skiing holiday to Canada before, it may be time to do so. With the small town of Banff in the state of Alberta as your starting point, you can easily reach some of Canada's most beautiful ski resorts, which are also snow-sure destinations with a ski season that often starts as early as November and then extends a bit into May. Banff is actually Canada's highest town and is surrounded by high mountains and stunning scenery and is a popular destination for nature experiences both in summer and winter.
Lake Louise

The ski areas around Banff

When it comes to skiing, there are no slopes directly accessible from the town itself, instead you have to go a bit outside to find the ski areas. The closest from Banff is Mount Norquay, which is only 8 kilometres outside and it takes just over ten minutes to drive from central Banff here. This is a fairly small ski area with only five lifts and just over 15 kilometres of pistes. However, this is a fun area to explore as almost half of the descents are black slopes.

Those who want more skiing for their money, so to speak, head to Sunshine Village instead. It's a bit longer drive to get to this ski area, normally it takes half an hour to drive, but for the skiing it's worth it. There are 12 lifts in total, one of which is a gondola lift, and these lifts provide access to more than 100 kilometres of ski slopes. Three quarters of the slopes are either red or black, so it is a perfect ski area for experienced skiers.

The third ski resort that can be easily reached from Banff is Lake Louise which is 60 kilometres away, about a 45 minute drive. This is also the most famous ski resort in the area, largely due to the fact that they have held many Alpine World Cup downhill competitions here. The fact that many downhill competitions have been held here obviously tells you something about the challenging skiing that can be found here, but there are also plenty of easier slopes, making this one of Canada's most popular ski resorts with families. Although they only have 11 lifts, which doesn't sound that impressive, the number of kilometres of slopes you have access to is all the more impressive. In total, there are around 140 kilometres of groomed pistes, of which 30 percent are black, 45 percent red and thus 25 percent of the easier blue kind.

In summary, it can be said that with Banff as the starting point of the ski trip, you can easily reach three fine ski areas, and all of them offer plenty of challenging slopes. The fact that all these ski resorts, right around the town of Banff itself, are located in an incredibly beautiful area in the middle of the Canadian Rockies makes the ski vacation even more special considering the nature experience you get in addition to the skiing.

Getting from Banff to the ski resorts

Getting from Banff to the ski resorts is no problem at all. As the city is for many the starting point of the ski holiday in this area, access to the ski slopes has been arranged in the best way.

To both Mount Norquay and Sunshine Village there are free buses from Banff with several departures daily, and these buses are free whether you plan to ski or not. As the focus is obviously to get from Banff to the skiing, the buses go to the respective ski resort in the mornings and back in the afternoons.

There are also free buses from Banff to Lake Louise, but only those who have a ski pass ride here for free. The buses go through Banff and pick up the skiers at some of the more popular hotels, see the bus schedule and hotels where you can hop on here.

Accommodation in Banff

Banff is a small town but due to the tourism among skiers, and also summer tourists who go there to enjoy the great nature, there are a lot of hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, vacation homes and other accommodations to rent here.

In terms of luxury accommodation, there are two five-star hotels here, one is the classic Fairmont Banff Springs, which is just outside the center and dates back to 1888 and is built in a style inspired by a Scottish castle. The other is The Rimrock Resort Hotel Banff, which is about 3 kilometres outside and has, among other things, an indoor pool.

Among the top-rated four-star hotels, you will find the centrally located Moose Hotel and Suites, which has both an indoor pool and a heated outdoor pool. Another is Hotel Canoe and Suites that is also centrally located and is highly rated by its guests.

See above hotels as good examples of good accommodation, but you can explore more hotels and other types of accommodation in Banff here.

Stay in Lake Louise

Mount Norquay and Sunshine Village are fairly isolated ski areas and have no villages or direct accommodation around them, but Lake Louise which is a small village has some accommodation options. Just outside the village you will find the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, a gigantic five-star hotel in the best The Shining-style, with, among other things, six restaurants, an indoor pool and, of course, a spa. There are also some more affordable accommodation options within the village of Lake Louise.

How to travel to Banff from Europe

As Canada is a gigantic country, it is necessary for almost everyone to take a flight to get here. The closest big city to Banff is Calgary, and the airport to search for flights to is, in other words, Calgary International Airport.

There are some major cities in Europe that have direct flights to Calgary, such as London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Another option is to fly to one of the major cities in the eastern parts of the US or Canada, and then fly directly to Calgary from there. As Calgary is one of Canada's largest cities, there are direct flights here from almost every major city in the US and Canada.

Banff is about 150 kilometres from Calgary and with a rental car it takes about one hour and forty-five minutes. There are also plenty of buses and shuttle services from the airport to Banff and the price is between $60 and $80 (Canadian dollars that is, a bit lower valued than USD) for a one-way ticket. Here are some of the bus and shuttle companies that take you between Calgary Airport and Banff, and some can even take you all the way to Lake Louise if you have are planning to book accommodation there:

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Something Banff is known for, apart from its nature and beautiful scenery, is their film festival called the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This festival started back in 1976 and focuses on films in a mountain environment with contributions from all over the world. Nowadays, you have a kind of world tour with the festival concept itself, but if you want to experience the real film festival on site, it usually takes place around the end of October to the beginning of November, right before the ski season starts in other words.