Alberta (Banff)

Canada may not seem like the most obvious honeymoon choice, but you’d be surprised how romantic a trip to the United States’ neighbor-to-the-north can be. That’s especially true when you focus on Alberta’s Banff National Park region, located approximately 90 miles west of Calgary. Banff offers wholly unique scenery (snow-capped mountains, towering waterfalls, bright blue lakes, otherworldly glaciers) plus entertainment pursuits (low-key pubs, chef-driven restaurants, diverse local wildlife, outdoor adventures).

During the winter, there’s no better place for powder hounds than Banff. The area is home to three ski resorts—Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Banff Sunshine Ski Resort—couples need only purchase one lift ticket to access to all three mountain resorts. Even better: the ski season often extends into early May, thanks to significant amounts of snowfall through spring. Banff is also incredibly popular during summer, when day-trippers frequent the national park for leisurely hikes, swims in the lakes, and wildlife viewing (wolves, elk, moose, black bears—you name it, Alberta’s got it).

No matter when you travel, make time for a tour of Downtown Banff. The chateau-style facades that line the resort town are filled with stylish boutiques, cozy cafés, and charming souvenir shops. Just don’t forget to look up and admire the peaks of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade, part of the Rocky Mountain range. It’s hard not to, considering they dominate the skyline—and likely your honeymoon memories for years to come.

Read on for our ultimate guide to a Banff honeymoon in Alberta, Canada.

When to Go

Alberta is a year-round destination, but high season technically runs between May and October, while low season falls from October to May. Expect a winter wonderland during ski season (whether you’ve come to surf powder or post up for après cocktails) and a chockfull national park during the summer months (visitors arrive from all over the world to hike, bike, camp, kayak, play golf, and more).

Getting There and Around

Calgary International Airport (YYC) is your best bet for international arrival and departure. The airport is approximately two hours from Banff by car; you can opt for a shuttle transportation (Banff Airporter is a great option) or rent a car at the airport (which we highly recommend for maximum flexibility and exploration).

What to Do

Banff shopping

  • Skiing - Whether you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’ll find world-class terrain within Banff National Park. The three areas—Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Banff Sunshine Ski Resort — offer nearly 8,000 acres of terrain, accessible via one convenient tri-area lift ticket.

  • Hiking - A trip to Banff isn’t complete without hiking its incredible peaks. Couples have a choice of steep mountain trails that lead to rewarding vistas, as well as easier strolls through forests, canyons, and meadows. A few of our favorite hikes include Tunnel Mountain, Johnston Canyon, and Sulphur Mountain.

  • Kayaking and Canoeing - Banff offers a variety of kayaking experiences for all skill levels. Hop aboard with Banff Adventures or the Banff Canoe Club: The calm waters of Johnson Lake are perfect for beginners, while experienced paddlers can seek their thrills on Level 5-plus rapids.

  • Biking - The Banff region is home to some of the world’s most incredible road and mountain biking trails. We recommend starting with the Banff Legacy Trail, a scenic path that connects the towns of Banff and Cranmore.

  • Hot Springs - There are a number of hot springs in this area of the Canadian Rockies. Some, like Radium Hot Springs, approximately 80 minutes southwest of Banff, and Miette Hot Springs, in Jasper, are further afield. But the Banff Upper Hot Springs, fed by Sulphur Mountain, are right in town. Just pay a small admission fee to soak to your heart’s content in the outdoor pool of mineral water, naturally heated to 104 Fahrenheit. (Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit!)

  • Experience a Glacier - The Columbia Icefield, the largest glacier field in the Northern Hemisphere, is a relatively short drive from Banff. The Icefield consists of six major glaciers that feed three rivers. You can hike the area, camp overnight, take it in from above via helicopter tour, drive around in an all-terrain vehicle, and even walk on moving ice at the center of a glacier.

Where to Stay

Banff luxury hotel

  • Fairmont Banff Springs - This landmark property, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been nicknamed Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies.” Beyond its unparalleled mountain views, the luxury resort offers a 27-hole championship golf course, hiking trails, fishing and river rafting excursions, horseback riding, downhill and cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, skating, and more.

  • Storm Mountain Lodge - Established in 1922, couples who appreciate history will love the log cabin accommodations at this rustic-chic outpost. But every honeymooner can appreciate the delicious Canadian cuisine—pork and rhubarb pot pie, anyone?—at the on- site restaurant.

  • Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise - About an hour’s drive from Banff, this grand dame hotel sits right at the edge of Lake Louise. There are 522 rooms, numerous restaurants, shops, and even an adventure outfitter from which to rent ski gear. In winter, hit the surrounding slopes, take a turn on the ice-skating rink, or walk out hand-in-hand onto the frozen lake; during summer, swim in the crystal-clear water or take a guided tour with an accredited naturalist to the summit of Mt Fairview.

  • Sunshine Mountain Lodge - The premier amenity of this 84-room lodge: It’s the only ski-in/ski-out property inside of Banff National Park, located at an elevation of 7,200 feet. The only way to access the lodge is by gondola, giving the place an exclusive, tucked-into-the-mountain vibe. For even more privacy, post up in the West Wing; the spacious duplexes have private decks overlooking the chair lifts.

  • Post Hotel & Spa - This red-roofed chalet-style retreat, located in the village of Lake Louise, has a mix of 100 rooms, suites, and cabins. The rustic decor (stone fireplaces, private Jacuzzis, and Canadian pine accents), plus 120 miles of Nordic trails, make the Post feel like a little slice of Switzerland in the Canadian Rockies.

Where to Eat

Banff upscale restaurant

  • The Bison Restaurant and Terrace - The eclectic, locally sourced menu at this Banff standout features signature meat dishes such as bison ribeye, duck breast, short ribs, and steelhead trout. The carnivore-centric plates are the perfect complement to the rustic decor.

  • Grapes Wine Bar - Since 1926, this cozy spot at the Fairmont Banff Springs has been the ultimate choice for a romantic meal or a fine vintage.

  • Nourish Vegetarian Bistro and Tea House - Newlyweds can expect a fabulous tapas-style experience at this vegetarian joint on Downtown Bear Street. Mouth-watering menu items include the hickory nachos, wild mushroom ravioli, and gourmet falafel.

  • Park Distillery - Park Distillery will make all your chalet dreams come true. The menu is well-executed but still approachable (Swiss-style fondue, a 10 oz. burger with truffle mayo and Alberta cheddar). The drinks, meanwhile, thoughtfully showcase the small-batch spirits (vodka, rye, and gin) made on-site. Arrive early for a distillery tour, available daily at 3:30 p.m.

  • High Rollers - If you want to mix with the locals, head to this retro-mod bowling alley, open nightly until 2 a.m. The menu—New York-style pizza and 48 beers on tap—perfectly match the low-key vibes (unless you’re super competitive on the foosball table).

  • Whitebark Cafe - If you need to duck in the warmth for just a few minutes, seek out this cozy spot just off the town’s main drag, Banff Avenue. Set inside the Aspen Lodge, Whitebark is the ideal pit-stop for a cup of coffee or a frothy latté.