Banff became established as a town in the 1880s, when the railway came to the area. Tourism began here after the railway workers discovered natural hot springs nearby, and a few years later Swiss mountain guides brought in to help with the railway introduced skiing to the mountains. Since it is a gateway for exploring the Canadian Rockies and the Banff National Park in the summer high season, there is plenty of good value accommodation available during the winter.
Banff town is the most vibrant and popular accommodation base for the three ski areas of Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay, with plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars, mainly focused on Banff Avenue. New on Banff Avenue is the Hotel Canoe & Suites, part of the Banff Lodging Co family of hotels (taking bookings for January 2024)- and Basecamp Suites Banff launches 21 new suites for 2023/24. There is a handful of places to stay in quieter Lake Louise (which offers the spectacularly-sited Fairmont hotel), and the only ski-in/ski-out accommodation in the area is the Sunshine Mountain Lodge at Sunshine. For nightlife, Banff town wins hands down.
For further Banff inspiration, see our guides to the resort’s best restaurants and après ski.
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