Many visitors to the Canadian Rockies arrive through Calgary as the gateway airport. This Calgary to Banff tour is designed to provide visitors with a free and entertaining introduction to visiting the Rockies.
The drive from Calgary to Banff takes approximately 1 hour 50 mins and is a flat drive on a two lane divided highway. The commentary includes all necessary directions to take you from the Calgary Airport or Downtown Calgary out onto the TransCanada Highway #1 towards Banff.
Along the way, we’ll introduce you to the Canadian Rocky Mountains and National Parks. We’ll provide suggestions and background information to help you decide how to plan and best spend your valuable vacation time while in the Rockies. As we get closer, the scenery and mountains grow more spectacular with every turn.
You can even listen to this tour if you are using a bus/shuttle transfer from the airport to Banff.
As you approach the entrance to Banff National Park, the audio will let you know when to switch over to the comprehensive Canadian Rockies Tour, that covers all of the sightseeing inside the National Parks.
Note: This tour operates only as a one way drive from Calgary to Banff. There aren’t any recommended sightseeing stops along the way as the drive is all fast-speed, divided highway. But you will hear loads of stories and helpful information to give you a great introduction to the Rockies and help you decide how best to spend your time.
Calgary Airport, or Downtown Calgary
Allow 2 hours driving time between Calgary (Downtown or Airport) and Banff.
Calgary Airport 144 km (89 miles), Calgary Downtown 130km (80 miles)
Calgary is a metropolitan city with a strong history of western culture and is famous for the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo and festival event, which is attended by a million people each year. It’s also known as the gateway to the Canadian Rockies.
Banff National Park is famous for its turquoise glacier lakes, majestic mountain peaks and endless outdoor adventures. Banff is Canada’s first national park and millions of visitors come here every year for activities such as hiking, biking, skiing and camping. Banff is a resort town located inside Banff National Park, and was the first municipality in Canada to be incorporated inside a national park.
The most popular times to visit Banff are in summer from June to August, and in winter from December to March. The shoulder seasons spring and fall offer fewer crowds and more reasonable accommodation rates.
There’s a lot that can be seen in the Banff Townsite within one day, as everything is fairly close. You can see some of the top highlights in half a day, including Lake Minnewanka, Bow Falls, Vermilion Lakes and Surprise Corner for views of the ‘Castle in the Rockies’. And allow more time if you’re visiting attractions such as the Banff Sightseeing Gondola.
To properly explore Banff National Park and see places like Lake Louise, you’ll want to spend at least two days and ideally up to a week.
It’s easy to drive from Calgary to Banff on the well-maintained Trans-Canada Highway 1, and the drive takes 1.5 – 2 hours.
The closest airport to Banff is Calgary International Airport, located approximately a two hour drive from Banff. There is no airport in Banff.