Newest Review: ... highly recommend the property, the hot tub with views over Banff and the Rockies were a highlight of our trip. I will do a full review at... more
banff. the best middle of nowhere ever
Member Name: Pyrexx
Advantages: beautiful area, great wildlife, friendly people, amazing skiing, tons of ice hockey on TV
Disadvantages: walking home from dinner, chilly! pricey shopping
I've spent a lot of my life in ski resorts and Banff is by far the best I've come across. In the 4 months I lived there I found there was something for everyone in this beautiful town.
The town of Banff, in Banff National Park, is a real tourist town. Beautiful, secluded and the most amazing scenery I've ever seen. Every morning the mountains took my breath away. Walking through the town, it's like being in a film. Shopping is pretty much limited to gift shops, ski shops and supermarkets. Everything is expensive so if you wanted a day out shopping, a trip over to Calgary is probably the best idea. Out of town malls, Like Cross Iron Mills really provide everything you want.
Eating out in Banff is so easy! Lovely bars and restaurants line the streets, there's such a huge variety with Spanish, British, Italian, Mexican as well as traditional Canadian food on offer. One of the best things about Banff is it's unique nightlife. Bars and clubs to suit every taste, although these tend to be something else that can be a little expensive.
Other things to do in Banff are the brilliant museum, located at the far end of the town, where you can see a huge variety of displays on the history of the area, and my favourites, the amazing local wildlife. (But of course if you don't want to go to the museum, you're bound to see a great range of wildlife wondering around the area!) Sulphur mountain is walking distance from the town, you can take a gondola or hike to the top, and try out the famous hot springs baths. Period style swimwear is available to hire, and always brilliant for a laugh!
Where to Stay
Banff Fairmont Springs is the most beautiful building I have ever seen in my life. A short walk out of town and surrounded by forests, rivers, lakes and of course the mountains, this place is well worth a walk past, even if you don't have the budget to stay there. Hotels, lodges and youth hostels in and around the town can suit every pocket. I would suggest staying a short walk from the town giving you freedom to explore.
When you get to Banff, you're not going to have any idea where you ski. Busses call at loads of stops through the town to take you up to the resorts. The nearest, Norquay, is only a few minutes away. It's a little small for more advanced skiiers and boarders but it has a great snow school as well as offering floodlit night sessions.
About 20 minutes out of town is Sunshine Village. With 1 gondola and 9 chairs, Sunshine consists of 3 mountains; Goats Eye, Lookout and Standish. As well as offering a much wider range of terrain than Norquay, Lookout mountain has a great freestyle terrain park. Sunshine Village reaches over into British Columbia and has some the best offpiste I've ever seen, including the notorious Delirium Dive. The Sunshine Village ski school is one of the friendliest and creative I've ever seen.
Further out of town again is Lake Louise. I don't know too much about LL, as I only rode there a few times. It's brilliant for anyone wanting to see some first class scenery, although due to snow cannons, it does get a little icy.
More adventurous people might want to travel to Kicking Horse. This new resort, about an hour away in BC is not for the faint hearted. Ridges and natural terrain parks making this a challenging and beautiful resort. Kicking Horse also has it's very own bear sanctuary! Early spring is a great time to visit, I managed to see a few on the bears off the the ski lift as they were coming out of hibernation!
Lift passes for Banff are available for either the tri-mountain area (norquay, sunshine and LL) or any one of those three. Kicking Horse packages are available from agents in the town. If you were only going to get one pass, I'd make it sunshine.
Summary: the most canadian place i've ever been, amazing experience, everyone should try go
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