With 6,641 square kilometers of breathtaking mountain scenery, Banff National Park is huge. Given the sheer size of Banff National Park, you may be wondering if you can visit Banff without a car…
So, do you need a car in Banff?
- If you plan on spending most of your time around the Town of Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and the most popular sites within Banff National Park, then you can visit Banff without a car.
- If you are coming to Banff National Park to explore its remote wilderness areas, you may find it difficult to get to remote areas without a car. A wide variety of rental car companies operate at the Calgary Airport and within the Town of Banff.
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Walking Around Banff
Built in a charming rustic, mountain village style, getting around Banff Town by walking is a pleasure to walk around. You’ll love enjoying the views of the surrounding majestic mountains while strolling along historic Banff Avenue.
If you can take your eyes off the mountains long enough, you’ll be treated to fun & enticing window displays from the local merchants and restaurants. The mountain candy and chocolatier shops are especially hard to pass by without going in!
You’ll appreciate how compact the Town of Banff is. The main commercial area of Banff Avenue, which runs from the Bow River (near Buffalo Street) to Moose Street, is a mere 0.9km long. It’ll only take you approximately 10 minutes to walk from end-to-end, but chances are you’ll find many reasons to stop along the way!
Many of the things to do in Banff are found in the town centre and are easily reachable by foot including the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Banff Park Museum, Central Park and the Banff Visitor Centre.
Getting Around Banff by Bus
Don’t think that you’ll be stuck in town if you come to Banff without a car. The Roam Public Transit system makes it easy getting around Banff National Park without a car. You don’t even need to carry a pile of loonies ($1 coins) in your pocket, simply download their app and pay for your Roam fares on your phone.
Roam operates four year-round routes around Banff National Park which are good for Banff sightseeing:
Roam Route 1 – Sulphur Mountain
The Sulphur Mountain bus route runs the full length of Banff Avenue, across the Bow River and up the side of Sulphur Mountain to the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Banff Gondola.
Attractions along Roam Transit Route 1:
Roam Route 2 – Tunnel Mountain
The Tunnel Mountain route runs from the Tunnel Mountain hotels and campgrounds, through the centre of the Banff Townsite to the world-famous Castle in the Mountains, the Banff Springs Hotel.
Roam Route 7 – Banff Centre
The Banff Centre bus route is a loop which runs from the Banff town centre to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Attractions along Roam Transit Route 7:
- The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (a performing arts centre)
- Tunnel Mountain Trailhead (St. Julien stop)
- Surprise Corner (a viewpoint of Banff Springs Hotel and Sulphur Mountain)
Roam Route 8X – Lake Louise / Banff Express
Lake Louise is a magical place within Banff National Park, but it’s 59km away from the Town of Banff. Wondering how to get from Banff to Lake Louise without a car? Easy… Roam route 8X will get you there. The Roam bus to Lake Louise has stops near the Chateau Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Village.
Parking at Lake Louise is typically at a premium, so even if you have a rental car, you should consider taking the Lake Louise bus from Banff.
There are also three seasonal routes operated by Roam which are excellent for Banff sightseeing:
Roam Route 6 – Lake Minnewanka
There are many excellent Banff sightseeing options available on the Lake Minnewanka bus.
Sights along Roam Transit Route 6:
The bus to Lake Minnewanka is seasonal and runs mid-May to mid-September. Check the Lake Minnewanka bus page for current service details.
Roam Route 9 – Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is one of Banff’s most fun & popular hikes and it’s possible to get from Banff to Johnston Canyon by bus with Roam Route 9. This route is seasonal and runs mid-June to mid-September. Check the Johnston Canyon bus page for current service details.
If Johnston Canyon is of interest to you, get more details from our article, Johnston Canyon Hike in Banff National Park.
Roam Route 10 – Moraine Lake
An emerald green lake surrounded by towering mountains; Moraine Lake is another must-see Banff attraction. Its popularity makes it difficult to get a parking spot, so taking a bus from Banff to Moraine Lake makes a lot of sense. This route is seasonal and runs late September to mid-October. Check the Moraine Lake bus page for current service details.
There are also two Roam routes which are more geared towards residents of Canmore and Banff:
Roam Route 3 – Canmore to Banff Bus
Canmore is a town that resides just outside the gates of Banff National Park. Roam Route 3 is simply the bus from Canmore to Banff (and vice-versa of course). This is a functional regional bus which doesn’t offer much sightseeing aside from the Banff train station and downtown Canmore.
Roam Route 5 – Canmore Local
The Canmore Local bus runs extensively through the mountain town of Canmore. It’s free!
Banff Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
If you’d like to see many of Banff National Park’s natural attractions in a single day, take a look at the HopOn Banff bus. With a single day ticket, you can visit Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise gondola, Lake Louise village, Chateau Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Banff Taxi Service
Uber doesn’t currently operate in Banff, but there are taxi services available for short local trips, sightseeing tours and even transfers to the Calgary airport.
Shuttle Buses from Banff to Jasper & Lake Louise
It’s also possible to get from Banff to Jasper and from Banff to Lake Louise year-round by shuttle bus. The Sundog Connector offers daily service between Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.
Getting from Calgary to Banff Without a Car
If you’ve decided to enjoy your Banff vacation without a car, learn how to get to Banff without a car, check out our companion post, How to Get to Banff National Park.