Is it even possible to have a bad view in Banff? Everywhere you turn, there’s a spectacular mountain vista. Or a waterfall. Or an unbelievably blue alpine lake. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to pull your Tiguan over and take in the jaw-dropping scenery—and when you want to get out to stretch, there’s plenty to do.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888, with extensive renovations completed in 1928, the Banff Springs Hotel is one of Canada’s premier railway hotels and a National Historic Site. And even if you don’t stay in one of its 757 guest rooms, the hotel still offers lots of scope for eating and relaxing: try their famous weekend brunch, formal high tea in the Rundle Lounge, or traditional Bavarian fondue at The Waldhaus restaurant, located off-site just a few steps from the Bow Falls.
Road trip to Canmore
Canmore, another popular Rockies destination, is a 20-minute drive from Banff. For the ultimate drive, take advantage of the Volkswagen Tiguan’s 400-watt Fender Premium Audio system and cue up your favourite playlist as you cruise down the highway. Head in for dinner at Tapas restaurant—one of the country’s 100 most romantic restaurants—then check out local art and theatre at the Carter-Ryan Gallery. And for a truly dreamy drive, let the mountain stars shine through the Tiguan’s panoramic sunroof on your way back to the cottage.
Popular with locals (and the only Indian restaurant in town) Masala offers a dinner menu with dishes from across India, highlighting the country’s diverse culinary styles. If you’ve already got dinner plans, head over for their lunch buffet, or check out Cooking Class Tuesdays for a hands-on experience with authentic Indian food.
Banff Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain
To get incredible mountaintop views without a leg-busting climb, hop on the Banff Gondola up to the summit on Sulphur Mountain. With a world-class interpretive centre, an outdoor boardwalk highlighting the history of Canada’s national parks, and three restaurants—including the truly spectacular Sky Bistro—Sulphur Mountain will leave you breathless.
The Juniper Hotel has one of Banff’s best patios if you prefer al fresco dining, and floor-to-ceiling windows if you’d rather sit inside. With a menu that’s heavy on local fare (think game meats like bison, wild boar, or rabbit, along with handmade pasta sourced from nearby Canmore) you’re sure to get a taste of Banff cuisine no matter what you order.
Just in case Alberta beef doesn’t do it for you, Nourish is Banff’s vegetarian hotspot. Small plates encourage sharing, and inventive cocktails with local ingredients will get your tastebuds humming well before you start eating.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Tourists and locals alike have been “taking the waters” at the Banff Upper Hot Springs—the highest hot springs in Canada—for more than a century. The mineral-rich waters, naturally heated deep in the earth, are sure to relax tired muscles. Get there early to avoid crowds—and if you’d like a little history with your hot springs, get a “Thermal Waters” pass and visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the birthplace of Canada’s national parks.
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
If you run into a rainy day—or you just feel like spending a couple of hours inside—the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is a fascinating look into the art and history of the iconic mountain range. It includes visual art, historic artifacts, and historic log homes and cabins.