- Spa and massage
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Ski resort
- Castle and fortress
- Unesco World Heritage
I was making a journey across Canada by car when I visited Banff. On the occasion in question, I arrived from the east, from Calgary to be more precise, and I don't think I really appreciated the true scale of the Rocky Mountains until I actually saw them for myself. I must have said, "Wow, it's just so beautiful! " at least fifty times, with my face pressed against the passenger window. I have no doubt you'll be just as stunned by the area around Banff as I was.
The town of Banff itself is an interesting place to visit. Many people – the young or not so young; sporty, outdoor types; and tourists from all over the world – end up visiting Banff when staying in Western Canada. Banff National Park, incidentally, is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Created in 1883, Banff was Canada's first and the world's third national park. It's also one of the most beautiful, hence its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It's dotted with creeks, ancient glaciers, tree-covered mountains, clear blue lakes and vast resinous forests, all of which cover a staggering 6,641km².
It's one of Canada's top destinations and was a highlight of my trip. One of my best moments? The cable car ride that took up me up to 2,300m altitude! The breathtaking 360° view looks across 6 mountain ranges.
You can also go for a soak in hot, thermal springs and follow classic trails, such as the Plain of Six Glaciers hike, which takes a full day.
I loved Banff! The city is quite a posh resort, but not as much as Lake Louise. Its geographical location, in the shadow of the mountains, is simply perfect. The town just melts into the landscape. Here, even the buses have a distinctively Canadian style, with wolf and deer designs painted on their bodywork. The city attracts tourists because of the wide range of walks and activities on offer in the surrounding area. On Banff Avenue, between restaurants and shops selling ski gear and souvenirs, you'll also find a shop selling home-made fudge and chocolate. Each one tastes better to me than the last: tell me what you think!
I followed the path along the riverbank on foot as far as the hot springs at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. A visit to Cave and Basin is worthwhile: you enter the cave where the sulphurous springs flow, learning about a tiny, protected snail that lives there - and which doesn't exist anywhere at all. As you head back from Cave and Basin, you can read the signs that explain the local flora and fauna, or watch the birds from the shelter of the wooden platform. Even though you can no longer take a dip at Cave and Basin, you can bathe at the hot, natural spa of Banff Upper Hot Springs, which flow Sulphur Mountain. The outdoor spa pool, with a view over the mountains, has a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. It's simply awesome to spend a few hours relaxing here, even though the spa's not very big - and you have to put up with the smell! As you walk up the street that leads to the Hot Springs, you can also visit the Banff Spring Hotel, which is allegedly haunted. This nineteenth-century hotel is built in the style of a Scottish manor house, which makes it look more like a castle than a hotel on Lake Louise. Finally, if you do follow the road towards Lake Louise, I strongly recommend that you stop off at Johnston Canyon for an easy walk through the canyon, which is quite simply stunning!
For a relaxing trip to Canada, for sports, shopping, and dining, this is the right place for you.