Banff and Canmore: 1 Day Itinerary

June 10, 2024


Banff National Park has some of the most beautiful views in Alberta, Canada making it well known worldwide. Not only that, the nearby towns of Banff and Canmore are quite picturesque. These towns show a preview of the incredible views and landscapes you will experience in Banff National Park.  When I first took a day trip to Banff, I had no idea how I could do everything I wanted to in just one day. I recommend spending at least a day in Banff if you can, but I had only 6 hours to see both Banff and Canmore.

If you are taking a day trip from Calgary, Lethbridge, or one of the other nearby cities, how can you get the most out Banff in just one day? Here’s an itinerary that I recommend for getting through both Canmore and Banff in less than 24 hours.


Canmore Hotel in front of foggy mountains

I had never heard of the town of Canmore before I researched for my trip to Alberta. It is a small town about 15 minutes from the town of Banff. Once I found out more about it, I knew I had to stop by.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. sign with mountains in background, Canmore restaurant

The downtown area of Canmore is beautiful. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants, one of which was the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. We stopped in this chic restaurant for a lunch of salads and flatbread pizzas. It was a delicious meal, and I would definitely visit again!

Grow local eat local sign and pizza oven in rocky mountain flatbread co. canmore

Pepperoni Pizza at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. in Canmore, day trip from Banff, Canmore restaurant

All Beef Pepperoni Pizza

Among the other interesting sights of downtown Canmore is the old barracks of the North West Mountain Police. You can go inside, but they were not open to visitors on the day we visited.

North West Mountain Police Station in Canmore

You can also see Canmore’s most famous mountains: the Three Sisters.

Three Sisters Mountain in Canmore Alberta Canada

Something that I really made a point to visit was the Canmore rope swing that had a view of the Three Sisters. I had seen gorgeous photos of people swinging high above the forests with the mountains in the background. So after driving around trying to find the trail that leads up to the swing, we hiked a short way only to find what looked like a clearing where a swing would be, but no swing. It had been removed!

Disappointing? Yes.

A waste of time? No!

Panoramic view of Canmore and Three Sisters Mountains

We found this incredible view of the mountains, including the Three Sisters, and stopped for some pictures. If you want to find this lookout point where the swing used to be, this is the map I followed. There is an obvious trail leading up from a playground in a residential area. When you get to the top of the hill, take a right, and it’s about a five minute hike.

There was also a bit of wildlife on our short hike, including this cute little red squirrel!

Red Squirrel eating a pinecone on a log

We were going to keep looking for the swing (at the time we didn’t know for sure if we had reached it) when we noticed bear droppings on the trail; that was our sign to head back (immediately!).

Canmore has a lot more to see, but we were running short on time if we were going to see Banff, too. And so, we headed to Banff!

The Town of Banff

Before heading to the beautiful lakes and nature around us, we stopped in the mountain town of Banff. The bustling town was beautiful and clean; it was probably the most touristy town we visited in Alberta, but it was still a lovely place!

Cascade Mountain view from Banff Avenue, Banff Alberta day trip

We didn’t have much time to visit the shops, but we did walk down the main street, Banff Avenue, and got a good view of Cascade Mountain. Next, we stopped for a dessert at Beaver Tails. No, this is not an actual beaver tail!

Cookies and Cream Beaver Tail dessert in Banff, Alberta day trip

These scrumptious treats are fried dough with sweet toppings of your choice, such as cinnamon, icing, hazelnut spread, and others. I chose the cookies and cream flavor, which was so delicious!

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Fairmont Springs Banff Hotel, Banff Alberta day trip

This hotel was on my list of things to see in Banff because walking around the grounds and inside of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel was like visiting a fairytale castle. I was really impressed by the ballroom, staircases, and the overall scenery of the hotel.

Fairmont Banff Springs tower of hotel with flowers

We didn’t stay overnight here because it was out of our budget, but it is free to walk around. Be aware that parking prices are high due to being charged per hour, but we finished our quick walk-around in less than an hour. You can also eat in the restaurants here, but be ready to pay high prices.

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake and mountains in Banff with turquoise water, Alberta Banff day trip

One of the most famous lakes in the world is the beautiful blue Moraine Lake. When you visit Banff, you have to visit Moraine Lake and see the turquoise waters beneath the majestic snow-capped mountains. About an hour’s drive from the town of Banff, this lake attracts a lot of tourists, but we thankfully didn’t have to wait long for our turn to take photos.

Moraine Lake mountains and pine trees covered by clouds

These are the mountains that stand over Moraine Lake. This was the only photo I got of the mountain tops before the clouds covered them.

Like the photo (above) of the Moraine Lake mountains? Get a fine art print from my Etsy Shop.

Moraine lake in Banff wide panoramic shot

We expected to get some rain the day we visited Banff; however, the skies stayed clear until we reached Moraine Lake. You can tell from the pictures that it was very overcast, but it wasn’t rain that was falling. We were so excited that we got to see snow fall during our trip in June! This was the coldest part of our trip, but it was worth it. This is one of the most beautiful views I saw on my trip, and maybe one of the most beautiful views in the world! Moraine Lake is definitely a must-do for your trip to Banff.

Girl in flannel in front of Moraine Lake and Mountains in Banff

Other Things to Do

We only had a limited time to explore Banff, but there are plenty of other things to do and sights to see. Lake Louise is a very famous lake only a few minutes drive from Moraine Lake. It was highly recommended to us, but we simply ran out of time. I definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

You could also ride the Banff gondolas or take a swim in the hot springs. Next time I hope to be able to kayak on that beautiful blue water!

Johnston Canyon is another famous hike in Banff that has beautiful waterfalls and trails. Some of the trail was closed off at the time we visited (I’m not sure why), but again, time did not allow us to hike there. It is on my list for when I return!

If you are making a quick stop in Banff or Canmore, hopefully this itinerary will help you hit the highlights during your day trip! They are truly beautiful places that I would highly recommend visiting.

If you have been to Banff or Canmore, which do you prefer? What are some of your favorite things to do there? Let me know in the comments.

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Discover the hidden gems of the Canadian Rockies on a breathtaking day trip to Banff and Canmore, Alberta. Explore the awe-inspiring beauty of Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, marvel at the majesty of the Three Sisters Mountains, and indulge in the luxury of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Let your adventure begin in this unforgettable Canadian paradise.


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  1. Your photographs are beautiful. They make me feel like I am visiting Banff and Canmore myself. I always love a travel post that breaks down the most important spots to visit. I will add Banff and Canmore to the list of places I would like to visit.

  2. Lauren says:

    Great itinerary! So much to see eh! Its hard knowing where to go and what to do without feeling like you’re missing out! It’s too bad you didn’t get a clear sky for Moraine lake! That’s one of my favs !
    I also love the squirrels. I’m from Canada but moved to New Zealand and we sadly do not have squirrels here haha

    • Mary Marino says:

      Yes, a clear sky would’ve been nice, but I feel like the clouds gave a different view than the one you always see on instagram. Plus the snow was just amazing!

  3. Lydia Yang says:

    I love Banff! I wish I can experience it in Spring or Autumn the next time I am there, so your guide will prove useful. Thanks Mary!

  4. Kay says:

    It is soo beautiful! I want to visit during the winter and the summer!

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