Where to Stay in Banff (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Tucked away in the majestic Rocky Mountains, Banff is a small town bursting with stunning sights, outdoor adventures, magnificent nature and incredible food.

But knowing where to stay in Banff is super important. That’s why we put together this epic guide to the best places to stay in Banff.

Written by travellers for travellers, this article breaks down the best neighbourhoods and towns near Banff, so you’ll know exactly where to stay based on your travel interests.

So whether you’re looking to hit the slopes, party all night long, enjoy a relaxing vacation in nature, or simply find the cheapest bed in town, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s jump right to it. Here is our guide for where to stay in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Banff

  • Where to stay in Banff first time – Banff
  • Where to stay in Banff on a budget – Banff
  • Best area to stay in Banff for nightlife – Calgary
  • Coolest place to stay in Banff – Canmore
  • Best neighbourhood in Banff for families – Golden

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Banff
If you’re visiting Banff for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than in the town itself. Set in the magnificent Rocky Mountain range, Banff is a town surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty. From towering peaks and snowcapped mountains to lush forests and striking valleys, you seriously won’t believe your eyes as you explore this rustic town.
Places to Visit:
  • Explore the lush landscapes of the pristine Sunshine Meadow
  • Browse the exhibits and the displays at Buffalo National Luxton Museum
  • Wander throughout the Cave and Basin National Historic Site

 

Where to Stay in Banff

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Banff.

 

Best Hostel in Banff: Samesun Banff

This awesome hostel comes complete with spacious dorms, amazing views and a social on-site bar. Set at the heart of Banff, this hostel is close to restaurants, bars and the town’s top attraction. They also offer a delicious free breakfast. This is the best hostel in Banff.

If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Banff!

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Best Hotel in Banff: Hotel Arts Kensington

The Hotel Arts Kensington is in a fantastic location, a short distance from Calgary’s top tourist attractions, bars and restaurants. It has elegant and comfortable rooms with all the essential amenities. This hotel offers luggage storage and on-site bike rental. It is our pick for the best hotel in Calgary.

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Banff Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Banff

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Banff

  • If you’re visiting Banff for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than in the town itself. Set in the magnificent Rocky Mountain range, Banff is a town surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty. From towering peaks and snowcapped mountains to lush forests and striking valleys, you seriously won’t believe your eyes as you explore this rustic town.
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Banff

  • Banff town is also our pick for where to stay if you’re travelling on a budget. Dotted throughout this rustic mountain retreat are a good selection of backpacker hostels and cost-conscious boutique hotels. So no matter what your situation, you’ll be able to enjoy all the perks of Banff.
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Calgary

  • If you’re someone who wants to enjoy a great night out after a day in the mountains, you’ll want to make your base in Calgary. Less than a 90-minute drive east of Banff, Calgary is the fifth largest city in Canada. It boasts a youthful and vibrant atmosphere and is home to a great selection of bars, pubs, nightclubs and restaurants.
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Canmore

  • A short twenty-minute drive outside of Banff is Canmore. This resort town is packed with great options for shopping, dining, drinking and exploring. It is well-equipped to welcome travellers any time of year and boasts panoramic views of this stunning region.
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Golden

  • Golden is a town packed with family-friendly fun and adventure. From skiing, sledging and all variety of winter sports, to hiking, biking, white water rafting and kayaking, there’s plenty to do no matter what time of year your visit.
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A world-class ski resort and one of the most beautiful places in Canada, Banff is a spectacular destination. Set in the western province of Alberta, Banff sits nestled in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by peaks and valleys, forests and rivers.

This relatively small rustic town is well-equipped for hosting tourists. But what if you’re looking for something a little different? Thankfully, there are a whole host of resorts, lodges, towns and neighbourhoods nearby for travellers to stay in.

This guide will break down the five best places to stay in and around Banff.

Starting, of course, with Banff itself. This mountain town is considered the gateway to Banff National Park and stunning Lake Louise. It is where you’ll find a great variety of shops, restaurants and unbelievable views.

Travel south from here and you’ll arrive in Canmore. One of the coolest towns in the region, Canmore is home to a myriad of outdoor activities as well as outlet shopping, world-class dining and hip microbreweries.

Continue travelling east out of the mountains to Calgary. The fifth largest city in Canada, Calgary is a young and vibrant metropolis with options for entertainment, nightlife, dining, shopping and exploring.

And finally, on the west side of Banff, over the border in British Columbia is Golden. A quaint and charming town, Golden is an ideal base for anyone who’s keen to get back to nature or enjoy a peaceful holiday.

Still not sure where to stay in Banff? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

 

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Banff’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail at the five best neighbourhoods to stay in Banff. Each is a little different from the last, so be sure to pick the one that’s right for you.

 

1. Banff – Where to Stay on Your First Visit

If you’re visiting Banff for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than in the town itself. Set in the magnificent Rocky Mountain range, Banff is a town surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty. From towering peaks and snowcapped mountains to lush forests and striking valleys, you seriously won’t believe your eyes as you explore this rustic town.

But, there’s more to Banff that beautiful scenery. This charming town is also home to a good selection of boutiques and upscale bistros, relaxing bars and boisterous pubs. No matter what time of year you visit Banff, you’re in for a rocking good time!

Banff Neighborhood, Banff

 

Things to See and Do in Banff

– Hike the beautiful Parker Ridge Trail.

– Explore the lush landscapes of the pristine Sunshine Meadow.

– Trek along the Tunnel Mountain Trail.

– Drive the scenic Bow Valley Parkway.

– Go for a stroll along Banff Avenue.

– Browse the exhibits and the displays at Buffalo National Luxton Museum.

– Take in the incredible views at Surprise Corner.

– Wander throughout the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

– Spend a night at Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon.

– Grab a pint at Mad Trapper’s Saloon.

– Enjoy a great night out at Pump and Tap Tavern.

– Sip a glass at Grapes Wine Bar.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Whitebark Café.

 

Best Hostel in Banff: Banff International Hostel

Thanks to its fantastic location on Banff Avenue, this is a great hostel in Banff. It is a short distance from the mountains, as well as bars, shops and restaurants. You’ll enjoy comfortable rooms, a cosy common area and a book exchange. Each reservation also includes a continental breakfast and tea and coffee.

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Best Hotel in Banff: Rimrock Resort Hotel

Set within Banff National Park, this hotel is close to hot springs, stunning views and hiking trails. It has a range of wellness amenities including a sauna, Jacuzzi and an indoor swimming pool. This four-star hotel has spacious rooms with luxurious facilities. There’s also a restaurant and bar on-site.

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Best Hotel in Banff: Canalta Lodge

This charming and rustic hotel is well situated for exploring the region. It is within close proximity to restaurants, cafes and bars. This hotel offers a myriad of great amenities including a Jacuzzi, an outdoor pool, and a relaxing sauna. Enjoy spacious rooms and stunning features at this three-star lodge.

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2. Banff – Where to Stay When You’re Balling on a Budget

Banff town is also our pick for where to stay if you’re travelling on a budget. Dotted throughout this rustic mountain retreat are a good selection of backpacker hostels and cost-conscious boutique hotels. So no matter what your situation, you’ll be able to enjoy all the perks of Banff.

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the scenery while getting in a good workout – plus, it’s a nice way to save a little money in this world-class region. Lace up your boots and hit the trails. Banff National Park is covered in routes and trails that are ideal for trekkers of all levels. So whether it’s your first time out or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a stunning trail that’s perfect for you!

Banff Neighborhood, Banff

 

Things to See and Do in Banff

– Indulge in a delicious local delicacy, a Beaver Tail pastry.

– Enjoy cheap drinks and great food at The Beaver Bar.

– Sip a succulent cappuccino at Evelyn’s Coffee Bar.

– Eat delicious American fare at Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub.

– Visit the Bow Falls, a stunning location any time of the year.

– See the picturesque and colourful Lake Minnewanka.

– Take in the amazing views on the Tunnel Mountain Drive.

– Marvel at the views at Lake Vermillion.

– Hike the Hoodoos Trail and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

– Trek along the Banff Legacy Trail.

– Wander throughout the gorgeous Cascade Gardens.

 

Best Hostel in Banff: Samesun Banff

This awesome hostel comes complete with spacious dorms, amazing views and a social on-site bar. Set at the heart of Banff, this hostel is close to restaurants, bars and the town’s top attraction. They also offer a delicious free breakfast. This hostel is our pick for where to stay in Banff on a budget.

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Best Hotel in Banff: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

This unique hotel is our pick for the best hotel in Banff. Set in Banff National Park, this hotel is close the Tunnel Mountain, the Banff Park Museum, and plenty of restaurants and shops. It boasts a range of popular facilities including a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a beautiful swimming pool.

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Best Hotel in Banff: High Country Inn Banff

Located in the centre of Banff, this three-star hotel is the perfect place to rest your head after a day in the mountains. It has 70 recently refurbished rooms with modern amenities. There’s also a restaurant and bar on-site, with plenty of other eating and nightlife options nearby.

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3. Calgary – Where to Stay for the Best Nightlife

If you’re someone who wants to enjoy a great night out after a day in the mountains, you’ll want to make your base in Calgary. Less than a 90-minute drive east of Banff, Calgary is the fifth largest city in Canada. It boasts a youthful and vibrant atmosphere and is home to a great selection of bars, pubs, nightclubs and restaurants.

A must for anyone staying in Calgary is a visit to the legendary Cowboys Bar. This world-famous dancehall has been the heart of Calgary nightlife scene for more than 20 years. Here you can enjoy a night of drink and dancing to the latest tunes, and you might even bump into a local celebrity or two.

Calgary Neighborhood, Banff

 

Things to See and Do in Calgary

– Marvel at the impressive Calgary Tower.

– Watch the NHL’s Calgary Flames in action.

– Listen to great live music at The Blues Can.

– Grab a pint at The Kilkenny Irish Pub.

– Dance the night away at legendary Cowboy’s Dance Hall.

– Go for a stroll along the Bow River.

– Visit Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

– Dine on delicious Italian dishes at Vero Bistro Moderne.

– Indulge in a cone at Village Ice Cream.

– Eat great Canadian food at Workshop Kitchen + Culture.

– Hear local DJs spin the latest tunes at Commonwealth Bar & Stage.

– Party all night long at Jimmy’s Nightclub, a Calgary institution.

 

Best Hostel in Calgary: HI Calgary City Centre

This hostel is located at the heart of Calgary. It is close to bars, restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Newly renovated, it consists of spacious dorms with comfortable beds, individual lockers, bed lights and free linens. It has a social common room, a fully equipped kitchen and a free all-you-can-eat breakfast.

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Best Hotel in Calgary: Hotel Arts Kensington

The Hotel Arts Kensington is in a fantastic location, a short distance from Calgary’s top tourist attractions, bars and restaurants. It has elegant and comfortable rooms with all the essential amenities. This hotel offers luggage storage and on-site bike rental. It is our pick for where to stay in Calgary.

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Best Hotel in Calgary: Homewood Suites by Hilton Calgary Downtown

You won’t find a better home away from home in Calgary. The Homewood Suites has 122 comfortable rooms with modern amenities. It offers a range of great features, including a rooftop terrace, a swimming pool, and a gym. Breakfast is available, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.

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4. Canmore – Coolest Neighbourhood in Town

A short twenty-minute drive outside of Banff is Canmore. This resort town is packed with great options for shopping, dining, drinking and exploring. It is well-equipped to welcome travellers any time of year and boasts panoramic views of this stunning region.

Canmore also gets our vote for the coolest neighbourhood in Banff. Despite being larger than Banff town itself, Canmore is often overlooked by travellers. This helps it maintain its authentic feel and laid-back Canadian charm, while also allowing it to stay off the beaten path. In Canmore, you can enjoy all the best bits of Banff without the throngs of tourists.

Canmore Neighborhood, Banff

 

Things to See and Do in Canmore

– Explore the subterranean world of Rat’s Nest Cave with Canmore Cave Tours.

– Hike the steep trail and enjoy the panoramic views from the top of Ha Ling Peak.

– Take in the views from the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake.

– Marvel at the colours of Grassi Lakes.

– Hit the hills at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park.

– Navigate the rapids as you raft down Bow River.

– Grab a drink at the Canmore Hotel.

– Eat incredible dishes at The Trough Dining Co.

– Dig into delicious American fare at The Summit Café.

– Treat yourself at Le Fournil Bakery.

– Dine on fresh and delicious food at Communitea Café.

 

Best Hostel in Canmore: HI-Canmore / Alpine Club of Canada

In addition to its central Canmore location, this hostel has five comfortable and spacious rooms ideal for backpackers and budget travellers. It has a range of great features, including ski lockers for guests, a delightful terrace and a relaxing library. This is our pick for the best hostel in Canmore.

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Best Hotel in Canmore: Falcon Crest Lodge by CLIQUE

This is our recommendation for where to stay in Canmore thanks to its wonderful views, large rooms, and rustic décor. Set at the heart of Canmore, this hotel is close to dining, nightlife and outdoor adventure options. It has a great swimming pool, a helpful tour desk, and well-equipped guest rooms.

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Best Hotel in Canmore: Blackstone Mountain Lodge by CLIQUE

This elegant and modern hotel is a great place to stay during your time in Canmore. Situated in the town, this hotel is close to cafes, restaurants, shops and bars. Its stylish and comfortable rooms come complete with spa baths, kitchenettes and refrigerators. There’s also an outdoor pool, a Jacuzzi, and a fitness centre.

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5. Golden – Where to Stay for Families with Kids

For families visiting Banff, there’s no better place to stay than stunning Golden. This small town is located over the border in the neighbouring province of British Columbia. It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to drive between Banff and Golden, but along the way, you’ll pass magnificent mountains, stunning scenery and have the chance to see iconic Lake Louise.

Golden is a town packed with family-friendly fun and adventure. From skiing, sledging and all variety of winter sports, to hiking, biking, white water rafting and kayaking, there’s plenty to do no matter what time of year your visit.

This town is also home to an incredible farmer’s market. Browse the stalls while you get to know Golden’s friendly locals.

Golden Neighborhood, Banff

 

Things to See and Do in Golden

– Frolick with buffalo at Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch.

– Ski in the winter or hike in the summer at spectacular Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

– Enjoy amazing views of the Kicking Horse River.

– Grab a pint of the local brew at Whitetooth Brewing Company.

– Bike or hike along Rotary Trails.

– Navigate the rapids of the Columbia River.

– Hit the slopes of Chatter Creek.

– Marvel at the colours of Gorman Lake.

– Spend a night enjoy drinks and snacks at The Mad Trapper Pub.

– Eat well at Cedar House Restaurant & Chalets.

– Dine on incredible dishes at Eleven22 Restaurant.

– Indulge in a delicious slice from Red Tomato Pies Ltd.

 

Best Hostel in Golden: Dreamcatcher Hostel Ltd.

This beautifully renovated hostel is located just off Main Street at the heart of the town. It has 8 private and family rooms with en-suites, and all linens and towels are included. You’ll also enjoy a spacious common room, a large, modern kitchen, and free wifi throughout.

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Best Hotel in Golden: Holiday Inn Express GOLDEN-KICKING HORSE

The Holiday Inn Express is our choice for where to stay in Golden. It is ideally located for exploring the region. This three-star hotel has modern rooms with wireless internet, a fitness centre, and a beautiful pool. There are also a variety of eateries and cafes nearby.

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Best Hotel in Golden: Prestige Inn Golden

This superb four-star hotel is one of the best in Golden. Its rooms are large and comfortable and each has its own private bath and kitchenette. The hotel features a Jacuzzi, an indoor pool, and a seasonal golf course. There’s also a relaxing and luxurious on-site spa.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Banff

Banff is an unforgettable travel destination. It’s one of the most beautiful small towns in Canada and is home to some of North America’s most iconic scenery. Whether you’re keen to hit the slopes, hike the trails, or simply relax in nature, Banff is the town for you!

In this guide, we’ve highlighted the top five neighbourhoods in and around Banff, breaking them down by interest and budget. If you’re still not sure where to stay, here’s a quick recap.

Samesun Banff is our pick for the best hostel. Set in Banff itself, this hostel has spacious dorms, stunning views, and a satisfying breakfast is served daily.

Another great option is the Hotel Arts Kensington. Located in lively Calgary, this elegant and luxurious hotel has comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and is close to great restaurants and bars.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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