• Catherine Goncalves

Top Experiences in Banff

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Happy Holidays Everyone!

It has been a whirlwind of a year, and I recently had the perfect opportunity to reflect, and recharge at HI Banff Alpine Centre. I really got to experience the best of both worlds there -The livelihood Banff offers and and a taste of the more laidback mountain life. If you're planning a trip anywhere in Canada this year, I would absolutely encourage you to check out HI Canada for an affordable and incredible stay.

There's something so absolutely calming about being surrounded by mountains everywhere you look. Ever since my two trips out to British Columbia this summer, I've craved spending more time in places that make problems feel small, worries, distant, and adventures close. When I think about the perfect little Canadian winter getaway, it looks a little something like this:

One of the highlights from this year was this spontaneous adventure of a trip. Waking up at Banff Alpine Center, heading just a few steps to Cougar Pete's to grab a cup of coffee and a fresh croissant, and take in the sunrise over the mountains allowed me to start the day with a clear mind, happy stomach and happier heart.

Since I didn't have access to a car in Banff the whole trip, the complementary bus pass to get into town was so convenient, but the days I did have access to a car, I was in the perfect spot for some day adventures.

Here's my list of the top 10 things you check out in and around Banff if you love photography and adventure

1. Okay, technically it's in BC but Emerald Lake is absolutely worth the hour drive if you have a car. We didn't even have the greatest conditions when I went, and I was still blown away by the views. Also: pro tip hot chocolate at the lodge makes everything a little cozier.

2. Lake Louise - Again some seriously stunning mountains, and bring/sharpen your skates because skating on a frozen lake in Canada here is definitely a bucket list experience

3. Johnston Canyon - I had no expectations with this one, but was really blown away about how much we were able to see in a quick 2 hour hike. This large canyon was formed by erosion over thousands of years. If you look closely at the walls you can see seashells where water used to be long ago. (BRING CRAMPONS/ MICROSPIKES if you're visiting in the winter. I only had hiking poles with me and had a few close calls.

4. Banff Gondola - Layer up! The summit is about -10 degrees colder then at the bottom of the mountain, and the winds can get pretty strong. Still, the views are absolutely . worth it, and the admission price). You can save by booking online earlier, or if you happen to be an Alberta resident!

5. Animal experiences! The Wolf sanctuary was something I really wish I had the chance to do personally while there, but I have heard amazing things from friends who have gone.

Fun with Friends

One of the greatest parts about staying at a hostel is how easy it is to make friends with travellers from around the world. HI Canada makes that easy with themed bar nights, board games, and plenty of community space to chat. My favourite night there was my first night where I stumbled down to the Storm Cellar Bar and jammed out to some karaoke with some new Australian friends. And while spending some time alone to reflect on this past year was something I didn't realize I needed, I'm still really glad I got to experience the views with some epic old and new friends.

No matter where you are reading this in the world, my wish is that your year is filled with more morning where you get to that the sunrise and sunsets, that you get to experience views that take your breath away, and leave you a changed person. That you practice courage over comfort more often, open your heart to new experiences you find scary, and fall in love with this thing called life.

Happy Travelling!