Getting Around Banff Without a Car

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

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… We are here to answer all your questions about getting around Banff without a car.

A road leads to Banff National Park

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Benefits of Visiting Banff Without a Car

We’re glad you are considering an eco-friendly trip to Banff National Park. There are many great reasons to go to Banff without a car:

When visiting Banff in summer, traffic can get really congested around the Town of Banff and Lake Louise.

Parking can be very difficult to find around the top attractions in Banff, especially at Lake Louise. In fact, it got so bad that Moraine Lake parking is no longer an issue because the Moraine Lake Road has been closed to private vehicles.

Renting a car to come to Banff National Park can get very expensive, especially in the peak seasons.

The air in the national park is so clean, people around the world buy cans of Banff air – for real! Less cars on the road is simply good for everyone. Less traffic jams, fewer overloaded parking lots, and best of all, cleaner air!

So, Do You Need a Car in Banff?

Question 1: Can You Get to Banff without a Car?

Chances are that if you are reading this post, you have already figured out how to get to Banff National Park without a car. But, in case you didn’t realize that Banff is an hour away from the nearest airport (Calgary International Airport – YYC), you should read this post about the many ways to get to Banff National Park.

Question 2: What Do You Want to See in Banff National Park?

The Top Banff Attractions

If you plan on spending most of your time around the most popular sites within Banff National Park, such as the Town of Banff, Lake Louise, Lake Minnewanka, Johnston Canyon and Canmore, then you can easily visit Banff without a car. As you will see below, you have several ways of getting to the most popular attractions within Banff without a car.

Remote Mountain Wilderness

If you are coming to Banff National Park to get away from the crowds and explore its remote wilderness areas, you may find it slower and more difficult to get to remote areas without a car. That said, if you are coming to Banff to enjoy hiking, you can still reach a surprising number of hikes in the Town of Banff and the best Banff hikes without a car.

Roam Transit to Lake Minnewanka Banff

5 Ways to Get Around Banff National Park without a Car

1. Walking Around the Banff Townsite

Built in a charming rustic, mountain village style, getting around the Town of Banff by walking is a pleasure. As one of the best free things to do in Banff, you’ll love enjoying the views of the surrounding majestic Canadian Rockies 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, especially if you are visiting Banff with kids!

Getting Around Banff on foot - A group of friends walks along Banff Avenue

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 0.9 km (0.6 miles) 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.

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2. 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 for bus fare, simply download their app and pay for your Roam fares on your phone.

A Roam bus pulls up to the Roam Transit Hub

The Roam public transit system operates four year-round routes around Banff National Park which are all good for Banff sightseeing without a car:

Roam Route 1 – Sulphur Mountain

The Sulphur Mountain Roam 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.

Banff attractions along Roam Transit Route 1:

How to get to the Banff Gondola without a car
Banff Gondola

Roam Route 1 maps and schedules

Roam Route 2 – Tunnel Mountain

The Tunnel Mountain bus 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.

Guests who stay at the Banff Springs Hotel without a car enjoy free Banff public transit
The Roam Bus stop outside the Banff Springs Hotel

Roam Route 2 maps and schedules

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.

Banff Attractions along Roam Transit Route 7:

do you need a car in banff?
Surprise Corner

Roam Route 7 maps and schedules

Roam Route 8X – Lake Louise / Banff Express

Lake Louise is a magical place within Banff National Park, but it’s 59 km away from the Town of Banff. Wondering how to get from Banff to Lake Louise without a car? Easy… you can take the bus to Lake Louise with Roam route 8X. The Roam bus to Lake Louise has convenient stops near the Chateau Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Village.

Despite having massive parking lots, it is frequently difficult to find free parking at Lake Louise. Even if you have a rental car, you should consider taking the Lake Louise bus from Banff.

Reservations for Roam Route 8X to Lake Louise are highly recommended. Reserve your Roam 8X ticket to Lake Louise as early as possible.

paddle board lake louise
Visit Lake Louise without a car

Roam Route 8X maps and schedules

There are also three Banff bus routes operated by Roam during the peak summer season which are excellent for Banff sightseeing:

Roam Route 6 – Lake Minnewanka

There are many excellent Banff sightseeing options available on the Lake Minnewanka bus.

Banff Sights along Roam Transit Route 6:

A Roam Transit bus passes Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park

The bus to from the Banff Townsite to Lake Minnewanka is seasonal and runs mid-May to mid-September. Check the Roam Lake Minnewanka bus page for current service details.

Roam Route 9 – Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon is one of Banff’s most fun & popular hiking trails and it’s possible to get from Banff to Johnston Canyon by bus with Roam Route 9. The bus to Johnston Canyon is seasonal and runs mid-June to mid-September. Check the Johnston Canyon bus page for current service details.

How to get to Johnston Canyon without a car

The Johnston Canyon trail is so beautiful and fun, it should be on your list of must-do Banff attractions. Get more details from our article, Johnston Canyon Hike in Banff National Park.

Roam Route 10 – Moraine Lake

A turquoise green-blue lake surrounded by towering mountains; Moraine Lake is another must-see Banff attraction. Due to its immense popularity, coupled with a small parking lot, the Moraine Lake road is no longer open to private vehicles , so you’ll need to plan on taking a bus from Banff to Moraine Lake.

How to get to Moraine Lake by bus

Luckily for those visiting Banff in September, a new transportation option to Moraine Lake is available right in time for peak larch season. The Roam bus to Moraine Lake is seasonal and runs late September to mid-October. Check the Moraine Lake bus page for current service details.

There are also two Roam bus routes which are more geared towards residents of Canmore and Banff, but can also be used for sightseeing:

Roam Route 3 – Canmore to Banff Bus

Canmore is a mountain resort town located just minutes outside the gates of Banff National Park. Roam Route 3 is 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.

Take the bus between Canmore and Banff
Three Sisters Mountain, Canmore, AB

Alternatively, cycle the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail between Banff and Canmore, a paved pathway connecting the two mountain communities.

For those visiting Banff on a budget, you’ll find hotels in Canmore are more affordable than in Banff National Park. It’s a perfectly viable option to stay in Canmore and take public transportation to Banff.

Roam Route 3 maps and schedules

Roam Route 5 – Canmore Local

The Canmore Route 5 local bus runs extensively through the mountain town of Canmore. Best of all, the bus in Canmore is free! Route 5C runs from downtown Canmore to Cougar Creek, while Route 5T runs to the Three Sisters Mountain Village.

Roam Route 5C and 5T maps and schedules

Guide Along App

Recommended App

As you kick back and relax on the bus, use the entertaining and educational GuideAlong app to learn about the area!

Get GuideAlong

3. Banff Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

If you’d like to see many of Banff National Park’s top attractions in a single day, take a look at the HopOn Banff bus. With a single day ticket for the Banff Ho-Ho bus, you can visit Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise gondola, Lake Louise village, Chateau Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

There is no uber in Banff, but there is a hop on hop off bus!

4. Banff Taxi Service

Although there is no Uber in Banff, there are taxi services available for short local trips, sightseeing tours and even transfers to the Calgary airport.

5. Shuttle Buses from Banff to Jasper National Park & 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 National Park.

Where to Stay in Banff without a Car

If you’ve decided to come to Banff without a car, the next step in your trip planning is to find a place to stay. We’ve done the research for you and can recommend The Best Banff Hotels for Visiting Without a Car.

The Moose Hotel & Suites is located on Banff Avenue - a perfect place to stay in Banff without a car

Banff Rental Cars

Now that you’ve considered the pros and cons of visiting Banff without a car, many of you will still prefer your own car to get around Banff. Depending on where your trip to Banff originates, you can find rental cars at:

Planning Your Banff Vacation

Where to Stay in Banff

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Visiting Banff National Park without a car? Don't stress, this will tell you how to get around, how to get to popular hikes and more! Banff National Park without a car can be done!
Standing at Aylmer Lookout Banff National Park

Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.