A 2-Day Lake Louise Itinerary

Author: Celine Brewer

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While we believe that there’s so much more to do around Lake Louise that could easily fill much more than a 2-day Lake Louise itinerary, we also recognize that not everyone has unlimited time.

We recently took a weekend in Lake Louise to enjoy many of the best Lake Louise attractions. While we are locals and get to visit Lake Louise area often, it’s fun for us to make a staycation out of it and stay in Lake Louise.

In this post, we’ll share the top things to do in Lake Louise in 2 days. This won’t cover everything in the area, but we’ll also share some alternatives and other places in or near Banff National Park to explore if you have more time.

This is a Lake Louise itinerary for summer only that could be added on to a Banff itinerary.

The vibrant turquoise water of Lake Louise is incredible from the viewing platform on the Fairview Lookout hike.

This post contains compensated links.

2-Day Lake Louise Itinerary

Bow Valley Parkway Scenic Drive

The Bow Valley Parkway is a scenic drive in Banff National Park that gives visitors a good chance at spotting wildlife. The Bow Valley Parkway parallels the TransCanada Highway #1 from just outside to the Town of Banff to Whitehorn Road (at Lake Louise).

If you are traveling after June 25th, you an access the Bow Valley Parkway just 6 km west of Banff town. If you are visiting before June 25th, you’ll need to drive an additional 24 km west and access the Bow Valley Parkway at Castle Junction.

There are plenty of stops along the Bow Valley Parkway, two we recommend for this itinerary are the Johnston Canyon hike and Silverton Falls hike.

Low clouds shroud Castle Mountain as seen driving on the Bow Valley Parkway scenic drive in Banff

Johnston Canyon Hike

The Johnston Canyon hike is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park, so you’ll time this perfectly by doing it first thing in the morning. Johnston Canyon hike is an easy hike that takes visitors through the canyon along elevated boardwalks to both the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls.

Hiking Johnston Canyon in Spring

The hike is easiest to the Lower Falls then it gets steeper to the Upper Falls. The one-way hiking distance from the main parking lot to the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls is 1.2km. It’s an additional 1.3km to hike to the Johnston Canyon Upper Falls (for a total of 2.5km one-way).

Depending on how early of a start you get, you can continue on past the Upper Falls and hike to the Ink Pots. Hiking to the Ink Pots is a total of 12 km return from the parking lot.

Summer hike in Banff to ink Pots

Silverton Falls Hike

Silverton Falls hike is a short hike with a great payoff! Not only will you get some views across the valley, if you love waterfalls then Silverton Falls won’t disappoint. You’ll find the Silverton Falls hike along the Bow Valley Parkway right at Castle Junction. If the parking lot is full, there’s another parking lot directly across the parkway.

a woman hikes towards a beautiful Banff waterfall along the Silverton Falls trail.

This 2.1 km hike is considered easy because of the short distance, though be aware the final section is a little steep. It’s a great family-friendly hike in Banff, just watch your kids closely as you get closer to the falls.

a young girl sits on a rock admiring the Silverton Falls after a short family hike in Banff National Park.

After Silverton Falls, we recommend continuing on the Bow Valley Parkway to enjoy this scenic drive. Keep a watch for any wildlife and keep to the posted speed limits! One of the great things about the Bow Valley Parkway is the slower speed limit and getting to enjoy this drive in Banff National Park.

You’ll pass one of Banff’s famous viewpoints, Morant’s Curve, along the way. Make a stop here if you have the time.

Lake Louise Gondola

When you come to the end of the Bow Valley Parkway at Whitehorn Road, where you’ll go right to the Lake Louise Ski Resort (the Lake Louise Village is to the left).

Lake Louise Gondola Location - Lake Louise Ski Resort

The Lake Louise Gondola is another opportunity to spot some wildlife as the chairlift passes over a wildlife corridor. While it’s never guaranteed, grizzly bears can be spotted from the chairlift. We’ve been twice, but haven’t spotted a grizzly bear yet. We did get to see a lynx on our most recent visit which was almost more exciting to see since we don’t often get to see the wild cats that live in the mountains.

a lynx walks through the forest near Lake Louise, Banff National Park.

We recommend grabbing some lunch at the Lake Louise Gondola (either a packed lunch from the base or at one of the excellent restaurants). The Whitehorn Bistro has some of the best lunch views around!

Take some time at the top to visit the viewing platform then head down to the interpretive centre to learn more about the local wildlife! If you have time, you can do a short hike from the Lake Louise gondola, just make sure you have bear spray!

hiking with kids at Lake Louise Gondola

We love that you can see Lake Louise from across the valley here at the top of the Lake Louise Gondola! The ride down offers spectacular views the entire way!

Fairview Lookout Hike

We were fortunate to be staying at the Chateau Lake Louise for this itinerary, which made visiting Lake Louise next easy because we didn’t need to worry about parking. If aren’t staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or one of the hotels within walking distance (Deer Lodge or Paradise Lodge & Bungalows), you can skip the Fairview Lookout hike and do a hike from the top of the Lake Louise Gondola. You can then do the second day with a Parks Canada shuttle to Lake Louise.

Rental canoes on Lake Louise - seen from Fairview Lookout.

We drove from the Lake Louise Ski Resort to the Chateau Lake Louise. While the lakeshore was incredibly busy and the canoe rentals had a huge line up, we continued past to hike to Fairview Lookout.

Even on a warm Saturday afternoon in June, we had most of this short Lake Louise hike to ourselves! We passed a couple of groups coming down and there was a group at the top when we arrived, but they left shortly after and we had it all to ourselves.

Man and children on Lake Louise Fairview Lookout Platform.

The hike to Fairview Lookout is similar to the Silverton Falls, it’s short and steep but worth it! The views of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise rival the views from more difficult hikes around, but with far less effort or time required! While we love the other lake Louise hikes, like the Big Beehive hike or Plain of Six Glaciers hike, it’s not always easy to fit it all in!


Looking for the PERFECT Lake Louise Souvenir?

Rooftop Illustrations - Lake Louise in Summer

If you love Lake Louise as much as we do, you’ll want to bring a piece of it home with you. This Lake Louise in Summer illustration by Diana Boyle at Rooftop Illustrations is the PERFECT souvenir!

See more Banff Souvenirs by local artists here.


Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail

If the Fairview Lookout hike isn’t possible for you or you have more time, then the Lake Louise lakeshore trail is a great alternative. This easy walking trail takes visitors along the shores of Lake Louise for just over 2 km before you’ll turn around and return the way you came. The Lake Louise shoreline trail is a pleasant walk that is good for almost anyone!

The Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail is one of the best easy hikes in Banff National PArk

Take in Scenic Views at Chateau Lake Louise

The evening is the perfect time to take in the scenic views from Chateau Lake Louise. As guests of the hotel, we enjoyed a meal at the Louiza restaurant. After dinner, we returned back outside to walk along the shores of Lake Louise, enjoying the less crowded views.

The views of Lake Louise, the Victoria Glacier and the surrounding Rocky Mountains from the front of the 5-star Fairmont hotel.

Moraine Lake Sunrise

Visiting Moraine Lake for sunrise has been slightly out of our grasp for the past few years as we didn’t want to get our kids up in the middle of the night for the chance of getting parking at Moraine Lake for sunrise.

With the 2023 change of the Moraine Lake road closing and the increase of shuttles available to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise, we took the opportunity to have a guaranteed way of getting up to Moraine Lake. Plus our kids are now at an age where we felt they could handle a 3am wake-up, without completely ruining the next day! If you have kids, you understand this dilemma!

For Moraine Lake sunrise, we set our alarms for 3:20 to give us enough time to get to Lake Louise village to catch our shuttle. We were pleasantly surprised how quiet it felt at Moraine Lake.

Read More

Wondering how to get to Moraine Lake now that the road is closed to private vehicles? Don’t miss our post on how to get to Moraine Lake in 2024.

Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.

We had a perfect warm morning without much wind. The sky was clear and we were able to see the sunrise light the peaks of the mountains. While seeing the sunrise at Moraine Lake wasn’t overly interesting for the kids, even they could appreciate the beauty!

We finished off our visit with paddle boarding on Moraine Lake during the final moments of the sunrise as the peaks continued to glow in the morning sun. We were fortunate enough to be the only ones on the lake that morning and it was a truly peaceful and amazing experience!

Paddle boarding on Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.

Lake Louise Canoeing

We had thought about renting a canoe at Lake Louise on the previous afternoon, but after seeing the line up, we decided to put this off for the next day. We could have also done it in the evening, but given we were traveling with kids who needed to be up at 3:30am for the Moraine Lake shuttle, we knew it would be best to prioritize sleep at this point!

When we returned from our Moraine Lake sunrise experience, we first when for breakfast at the Fairmont Lake Louise. The buffet breakfast was exactly what we all needed after being up for several hours! If you aren’t staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or a hotel within walking distance (Deer Lodge or Paradise Lodge & Bungalows), then you’ll need a Parks Canada shuttle to get to Lake Louise if the parking lot is filled up.

Canoeing at Lake Louise with Kids.

By around 9am, we were ready to go canoeing on Lake Louise. While we we knew this wasn’t as early as we wanted, it was the only way for us to fit it in. As we approached the Lake Louise Boathouse, we could see that it was already lined up on this beautiful Sunday morning. Thankfully, with a hotel guest priority line, we were able to walk right up to the front of the line.

After our safety briefing, we were in our canoe (the fifth last one available) and on our way. We rented the canoe for one hour rather than 30 minutes, as we felt the 30 minutes would have been too short. With one hour, we were able to go to the end of the lake and back.

The views were just spectacular on the lake with the mountains surrounding us and the Victoria Glacier as the backdrop.

Canoeing in Lake Louise - Banff National Park.

The number of canoes on the lake was not that dissimilar to the previous afternoon, but it didn’t feel crowded once we were on the lake. Though it couldn’t compare to our recent experience paddling on Moraine Lake without anyone else around.

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike

To finish up the this two day itinerary at Lake Louise, we recommend doing one of the Lake Louise hikes that leaves from the shores of Lake Louise.

hiking to Lake Agnes tea house with kids

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike is the most popular one. It takes hikers up past Mirror Lake then on to Lake Agnes and the Lake Agnes TeaHouse, where you can enjoy a tea and snack (don’t forget cash).

If you have more time, continue on to Little Beehive or Big Beehive, both are hikes with impressive views. The Big Beehive hike takes you to the end of Lake Agnes then up to the top of the Big Beehive with some of the best views looking down over the valley. The Little Beehive hike is easier and shorter and also rewards hikers with spectacular views over the valley.

View of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from hiking trail to Little Beehive lookout

The Plain of Six Glaciers hike is one of our favorite Lake Louise hikes that we’d also recommend. The hike continues past the end of Lake Louise and also rewards visitors with a tea house near the end of the hike. You can continue past the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house to get a closer view of the glaciers before turning around and returning the same way you came.

The hiking trail to the Plain of the Six Glaciers lookout in Banff National Park

If you were feeling very ambitious and wanted to see it all, you can hike the entire Beehive Circuit (we describe it fully in this link). This Plain of Six Glaciers and the Beehive hike on Alltrails has a map of exactly this. It’s 20 km round-trip and 1,140 m elevation gain. It would be an epic day of Lake Louise hiking but you’ll get to see it all!

What’s Next For This Lake Louise Itinerary?

If your Banff itinerary allows for extra days, from Lake Louise you can head up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park. If you don’t have enough time to go all the way to Jasper, you can still visit a portion of the Icefields Parkway and stop at places like Herbert Lake, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Bow Glacier Falls before driving back.

The brilliant turquoise water of Peyto Lake as seen from the easy hike to the viewpoint

Another alternative is to spend a day visiting Yoho National Park. In Yoho National Park, you can visit Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge, Takakkaw Falls and the Spiral Tunnels.

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park

What Park Passes Do You Need?

For this Lake Louise Itinerary, you’ll need to purchase a Banff Park Pass. It’s often referred to as a Banff park pass or a Banff National Park pass, but it is actually a Canada National Park Pass.

There are two types of Banff park passes you can purchase:

  1. Daily Admission Fees – Daily admission fees are good for Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park, Yoho National Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park, Waterton National Park and Elk Island National Park. The Banff day pass is good until 4pm the following day, regardless of time of purchase.

             
  2. Annual Discovery Pass – Valid for an entire year, the annual Discovery Pass will get you entry into ALL national parks in Canada plus National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites.

Read More

Get all your Banff Park Pass questions answered in our comprehensive post that includes who needs it and where to buy it.

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

There are plenty of options for where to stay in Lake Louise. We’ve rounded up the best Lake Louise hotels in this post, but here are a few we recommend for this itinerary.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (Luxury Lake Louise Hotel)

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel as seen from a canoe on the lake.

Surrounded on all side by towering Rocky Mountains, the Chateau Lake Louise is the the only hotel on Lake Louise. This envious lakeside location offers guests magnificent views of the massive Victoria Glacier and the emerald waters of Lake Louise itself.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel has the ideal location for this itinerary. You don’t have to worry about parking and can enjoy Lake Louise with less crowds! If you’d like to learn more about this hotel, you can read our full review of the Chateau Lake Louise.

Paradise Lodge and Bungalows (Hotel close to Lake Louise)

the Paradise Lodge are among the best accommodations in lake louise

If you are looking for the best non-luxury hotel in Lake Louise, take a good look at the Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. A family run business for over a half-century, the Paradise Lodge offers guests a choice between cozy, spacious hotel suites and newly renovated, luxurious cabins.

With its log construction and natural building materials, the Paradise Lodge blends in perfectly with its beautiful flower garden and evergreen forest surroundings.

HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre (Budget Hotel in Lake Louise)

best cheap hotels in Lake Louise

Located next door to the posh Post Hotel, the HI Lake Louise hostel has a wide variety of room offerings. As you’d expect with a Lake Louise hostel, the standard offering here is shared accommodation with 4-6 beds per room. But, this Lake Louise hostel also offers private rooms ranging from a basic double bed, rooms with a private washroom.

Guests looking for affordable, comfort food will enjoy having Bill Peyto’s cafe onsite. If you are looking to self-cater during your visit to Lake Louise (a great way to travel to Lake Louise on a budget), you are free to use one of the two onsite guest kitchens.

Lake Louise Inn (Family-friendly Lake Louise Hotel)

inexpensive lake louise canada hotels

The Lake Louise Inn is a large, kid-friendly Lake Louise hotel with a heated indoor pool and hot tubs. There are a wide variety of room options available at the Lake Louise Inn. As a family, we appreciated the ability to rent a 1-bedroom apartment, as the extra space helps everyone get a better nights sleep. When we stayed at the Lake Louise Inn with our two children, our room was recently renovated and was nicely appointed.

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Embark on a captivating two-day adventure in Lake Louise. Day one begins with exploring the Bow Valley Parkway and 3 short, easy hikes with incredible views. On day two, visit Moraine Lake at sunrise then indulge in the serenity of the lake's emerald waters with a leisurely canoe ride. Complete your day with a scenic hike to the awe-inspiring Lake Agnes Tea House. This two-day Lake Louise itinerary is full of adventure, tranquility, and natural splendor.
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.