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- Stayed October 2018
- Accommodation: Samesun Banff – great place! Good location. Lovely dorm rooms (we had a fireplace in ours, each bed had its own mini-fan and the bathroom had a hot tub). Free breakfast. Bar on site, the Beaver Bar, is very popular and has daily specials. Hostel runs activities such as hikes, pub quizzes, music bingo and Taco Tuesday. Easy place to meet fellow travellers and form new friendships.
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Banff is without doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The town is situated within Banff National Park and the natural beauty of the area – mountains, lakes, falls – is truly spectacular. I’m sure it is equally as lovely in the summer months but I felt lucky to visit in October as there was some early snow fall and watching the sun rise over snow-capped mountains – which allows visitors to observe the ‘Alpenglow’ (the mountains shimmer with dusky pink light) – is really quite special indeed.
To get to Banff, you can fly to Calgary and then book a shuttle to take you to Banff. The Banff Airporter shuttle can be booked online and they provided a very efficient service. The journey time is around two hours and the shuttle makes a stop in Canmore first.
Banff offers fantastic hiking opportunities in the day time and a very lively social scene in the evenings so it’s the perfect place to come if you want to get back to nature, recharge your batteries, and have fun. Banff downtown area, with Banff Avenue running through it, is very attractive, surrounded by mountains, with touristy shops, cool bars and a wide variety of eateries.
Suggested sights/things to do:
- Lake Louise – you can get a free shuttle from outside the high school. Lake Louise is an hour away from Banff downtown. I would recommend taking the 7.30 am shuttle as the lake is particularly beautiful when viewed early. You will see the full mirror effect and as the sun rises, the lake appears bluer. After a stroll along the lake side, you can get a breakfast roll and a coffee at the Fairmont Chateau hotel (beside the lake) at their Chateau Deli before taking the 11am shuttle back to town (I would take this one as the next one isn’t until 5.30 pm).
- Banff Upper Hot Springs – $10.20 gets you a towel and a locker. You can also hire a swimming costume if needed. We had a great experience here.
- Banff Gondola (only a short walk from the Hot Springs) – £67 but the view at the top is worth it, simply phenomenal. You can get free hot apple cider on the top level. Layer up though as it does get very cold up there – we visited after going to the Hot Springs and my hair actually froze!
- Nice walks: Bow Falls trail to the Bow Falls and Fenland Trail to Vermillion Lakes.
- Popular hikes: Sulphur Mountain and Tunnel Mountain.
- High Rollers – bowling, wide variety of craft beers (my favourite was the Blueberry Sangria), and food (the mac and cheese bites were amazing!). Daily specials on offer.
- Maple and Stump – big tequila menu and very tasty Mexican food (loved my veg quesadillas).
- Bear Street Tavern – £10 Stein beers on a Sunday with delicious pizza.
- Melissa’s Missteak – very popular party place.
- Devil’s Gap – don’t really remember much about being here but I know I had fun (too many shots …ha ha).
Note: when planning a visit to Banff, do take into consideration the seasons. When I arrived mid-October, I had no idea that I would be unable to do some things. The Banff Upper Hot Springs closed on 15th October for a couple of weeks for cleaning. The road to Moraine Lake is currently closed until May 2019. Some trips have stopped running, for example, I was unable to visit the Columbia Icefield as that is now closed off until May 2019 and this was a big disappointment as I’m told this is stunning and a must-do. If you intend to hike around this time of year, you will want to bring along hiking boots or get yourself some ice clips as early snow can make trails icy and very slippery.
Selection of pictures from my stay: