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How to Get to Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest and most visited national park, but it may surprise you to know there is no airport in Banff. But don’t worry, the closest airport to Banff is just 1 hour away in Calgary, Alberta (a city of 1.3 million people). It’s easy to get from Calgary to Banff with a wide variety of ways to suit every style and budget.

We’ll cover the many different ways to get to Banff National Park from the Calgary International Airport. Whether you plan to rent a car in Calgary or visit Banff without a car, either way you’ll be able to have a wonderful and memorable trip in Banff!

the tiny, non-commercial banff airport is near the Cascade Ponds

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Calgary – The Closest Airport to Banff, Canada

If you are planning a trip to Banff, Canada you will need to arrange transportation from the airport. The closest airport near Banff is a 90-minute drive away in Calgary, Alberta – Canada’s fourth largest city.

you can see the Canadian Rockies from Calgary, the closest airport to banff national park

As the closest airport for Banff, it’s easy to find flights into the Calgary International Airport (YYC). If you are driving to Banff after a long flight, you may wish to stay at one of these top Calgary Airport hotels first.

Given most visitors to Banff will arrive via Calgary, Alberta, this post about how to get to Banff National Park will primarily focus on options from there. That said, there are a few alternate airports for Banff, albeit further away.

The 4 Closest Airports to Banff National Park

Luxury tours from Vancouver to Banff allow guests to enjoy the sea and the mountains
Vancouver, British Columbia

The drive from Edmonton to Banff is pretty boring, unless you take the long way via Jasper National Park, then down the Icefields Parkway (one of the most beautiful drives in the world). This extends the driving time to Banff to approximately 7.5 hours.

The drive from Kelowna or Vancouver to Banff is very beautiful as the majority of the drive is mountainous. Depending on your route, you’ll enjoy scenery from the through the Coast Mountains, Colombia Mountains and of course, the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Driving to Banff from Vancouver
Sinclair Canyon, British Columbia

Need Help Planning Your Trip?

Our Banff Travel Guide has everything you need to get the MOST out of your trip to Banff!

Banff Travel Guide - Ebook

How to Get to Banff National Park

When you are considering how to get from the Calgary Airport to Banff, you need to consider your transportation needs while in Banff National Park. Most visitors will choose to drive to Banff, but we also cover the many ways to get to Banff without a car – it’s surprisingly easy!

Banff National Park Canadian Rockies
Mount Rundle, Banff National Park

Driving to Banff National Park

1. Rent a Car for Banff

If you are primarily visiting Banff for outdoor adventures, then the best way to get to Banff is with a rental car. It is possible to visit Banff’s best attractions without a car, but for maximum convenience and flexibility, you can’t beat renting a car. Due to the intense competition for parking spots, make sure your Banff hotel has parking.

If you are travelling to Banff with 2 or more people, it’s often more affordable to rent a car vs. paying for bus or shuttle transfers for each member of the group.

If you are driving to Banff, you may also wish to consider staying in Canmore – a small mountain resort town just minutes outside Banff National Park. Despite sharing the same Rocky Mountain scenery, Canmore hotels tend to be cheaper than in Banff.

car rentals for Banff National Park

Insider’s Tip: Before you begin your scenic drive to Banff, we recommend you buy the Banff audio guide by Gypsy Tours. This entertaining and educational GPS activated audio tour begins in Calgary and covers all the main scenic drives in Banff, including the Icefields Parkway and the Bow Valley Parkway.

Calgary Airport Rental Cars

There are ten rental car companies operating out of YYC, including all the usual international brands. Find the best deal for your Calgary rental car by browsing the offerings of all ten companies at once using RentalCars.com.

Renting a Car in Banff

A hybrid solution is to use one of the many ways to get to Banff without a car, then rent a car in Banff only for the days you need one. In addition, Hertz has an office within the historic Banff Springs Hotel, one of the very best luxury hotels in Banff.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has a Hertz car rental agency onsite
Banff Springs Hotel
Other Banff Car Rental Options

It can sometimes get very expensive to rent a car in Calgary or Banff (especially in the peak summer season). If the cost of Calgary car rentals is too expensive, it can be useful to look at flying into an alternate airport and renting a car there.

Unfortunately, the daily cost of renting a car at the Calgary Airport in 2022 is extremely high. If you have the flexibility, you can often save 50% or more by renting a car in Edmonton or Kelowna instead.

Compare rental car prices from Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Vancouver.

Getting from Edmonton to Jasper to Banff National Park via the Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway – Banff National Park

2. Rent an RV for Banff

Many visitors come to Banff National Park to be surrounded by the beautiful, rugged wilderness of the Canadian Rockies and simply get away from it all. A fun way to get to Banff and also spend more time outdoors in the Rocky Mountains is to rent an RV.

If you decide to have a RV vacation to Banff, be aware that you will need a campsite reservation, especially during the peak camping season in Banff. Learn more about camping in Banff, camping in Canmore or camping in Kananaskis.

Banff National Park RV camping in the Canadian Rockies

You can’t drive on the TransCanada Highway in camping season without seeing a CanaDream RV rental. Another good alternative is to look at Outdoorsy, the RV sharing service.

Getting to Banff Without a Car

If you simply plan on strolling up-and-down scenic Banff Avenue, enjoying the views of the Canadian Rockies, world-class shopping, restaurants and museums, then you won’t need your own car. In fact, you’ll likely be happy to not have a car in Banff as traffic can be congested and premium parking spots are not free. Plus, visiting Banff without a car is a great way to travel to Banff on a budget.

getting around Banff without a car

Getting to Banff without a car means life within the town will be so much more relaxed. But don’t think you are trapped in town if you don’t have a car – check out the incredible hiking with these Banff hikes without a car!

See below for your best options to get to Banff without a rental car.

Getting around banff national park without a car via Roam public Transit to Lake Minnewanka Banff

If you are traveling to Banff without a car, be sure to read our read our posts on Getting Around Banff Without a Car and Best Hotels in Banff if you Don’t Have a Car.

1. Calgary to Banff Shuttle

Most visitors to Banff who opt not to get a rental car will simply take one of the many Calgary to Banff shuttles. We live in Canmore, so we typically drive our own car to YYC, but we occasionally treat ourselves to a Calgary Airport shuttle. We love how simple and how relaxing the experience is.

A passenger enjoying an airport shuttle from Calgary to Banff

There are three main companies which offer a Calgary to Banff shuttle service:

  1. Banff Airporter: The Banff Airporter offers transportation from the Calgary Airport to Banff. The Banff Airporter will drop you to any hotel in Banff or the Canmore Coast Hotel.

  2. Brewster Express: The Brewster Express offers a wide variety of pick-up and destination options. Most Brewster Express shuttles run from the Calgary Airport to the Canmore Coast Hotel, any address in Banff and also a variety of hotels in Lake Louise, including the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

    Several departures each day add stops in downtown Calgary and the Stoney Nakoda Resort.

    In the peak summer season, you can take the Brewster Express shuttle from Calgary to additional Canadian Rockies destinations including Saskatchewan Crossing, the Columbia Icefields and Jasper.


    3. Discover Banff Tours: The Discover Banff Tours shuttle from Calgary to Banff is unique in two regards: it offers door-to-door service to Canmore hotels and they are the only airport shuttle which offers a year-round shuttle from Calgary to Jasper, although you’ll need to change buses in Banff during the winter months.

    Discover Banff Tours offers shuttles originating from downtown Calgary and/or the Calgary International Airport with drop-offs in Canmore, Banff and Jasper.
The Lake Louise boathouse in October
Lake Louise, Banff National Park

If you need to take a shuttle back to the Calgary Airport, be sure to schedule your ride with some time cushion. Especially if visiting Banff in winter, a winter storm can blow through on the TransCanada Highway, forcing the bus to slow way down due to road conditions. I recently took an airport bus from Canmore to Calgary (in March) and it took about 40 minutes longer than expected due to a winter storm.

2. Bus to Banff from Calgary

The On-It Regional Transit is the cheapest way to get to Banff from Calgary, but it’s also the least convenient.

The On-It public transit bus passes the Three Sisters mountain on its way to Banff National Park

The On-It Banff bus only operates on weekends in the peak summer season. To catch the On-It bus, you’ll need to catch a Calgary Transit bus (Route #300) from the Calgary airport to downtown Calgary. The On-It bus is not the easiest way to get from Calgary to Banff, but if you have the ambition to save money, you’ll save nearly $50 per person vs. an airport shuttle.

3. Private Transportation from Calgary to Banff

Taking a shuttle bus is not for everyone. If you’d like to treat yourself to some personal service, you can arrange a private transfer from Calgary Airport to Banff.

a private transfer from calgary to Banff

You’ll pay a premium for the private driver to Banff, but you’ll love the convenience. Your driver will meet you at your arrival gate and will drive you door-to-door to your Banff accommodations.

If you are traveling with a larger group, the cost of a private transfer is often cheaper than buying individual airport shuttle tickets. Even if you aren’t looking for a little luxury, it’s worth doing the math…

A large selection of private transfers options from the Calgary Airport to Banff is available on Viator.

Traveling in style? Banff Sedan offers luxury sedans for transfers between YYC and Canmore, Banff, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. Vehicles are available for groups between 3-24 people.

4. Calgary to Banff Train

There is currently no Calgary to Banff train in operation, although discussions are ongoing about reviving this service.

You can get to Banff by train on the luxury Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver. Enjoy glass-dome coaches as you enjoy your all-daylight trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

How to get to Banff Canada by train - Rocky Mountaineer
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer

5. Take a Tour to Banff National Park

Perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable way to enjoy Banff National Park without a car is to join an organized tour. As you’d expect with a destination as popular as Banff National Park, there are a wide variety of tours to choose from.

When looking for a Banff tour, why not start with Trafalgar Tours? They offer a wide variety of Banff tours, many of which include a trip on the scenic Rocky Mountaineer. If you are looking for a more active Banff tour, we recommend G Adventures (who we’ve traveled with extensively around the world).

When cost is not an option, take a look at these incomparable luxury tours to Banff.

Banff tours typically visit Moraine Lake, one of the most scenic spots in Banff National Park
Moraine Lake

Don’t Forget Your Banff Park Pass

None of these options for getting from Calgary to Banff include admission to the Banff National Park. You will need buy a Banff Park Pass at the Banff Visitor Centre, shortly after you arrive. Alternately, you can buy a National Park Pass online before your visit.

Is there a Banff, Canada Airport?

Banff does not have its own commercial airport. The closest airport to Banff is in Calgary, Alberta (YYC). The drive from Calgary airport to Banff is about 90 minutes.

Which airlines fly to Banff National Park?

There is no airport in Banff, Canada. The YYC Calgary airport is a the closest airport to Banff. YYC is served by Air Canada, Westjet, Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, American Airlines, British Airways and KLM, Air Transat, Flair Airlines, Air North and Central Mountain Air.

What is the best way to get to Banff?

Banff National Park is huge. The best way to get to Banff is with a car rental. A rental car allows you the freedom to see the best of Banff National Park on your own schedule.

Do I need a car in Banff?

While having a car is the best way to get around Banff, you do not need a car in Banff. The Banff Townsite is small and very walkable, while the major tourist attractions in Banff, and many popular hiking trails are often served by public transportation.

Is Uber in Banff?

No, Uber does not operate in Banff. There are a variety of Banff taxi companies which will meet your Banff travel needs.

Is it easy to drive from Calgary to Banff?

Yes, it’s very easy to drive from Calgary to Banff. From the Calgary Airport to Banff, the very scenic 90 minute drive is almost all on freeways or highways, with very little city driving involved.

Is there a shuttle from Calgary to Banff?

Three companies offer a shuttle from Calgary to Banff: Banff Airporter, Brewster Express and Discover Banff Tours. All offer a shuttle from the Calgary Airport to Banff, while some offer pickup in downtown Calgary. In addition to Banff, each offers a drop-off in Canmore.

Is there a train from Calgary to Banff?

No, there currently is no train from Calgary to Banff. The idea of a train to Banff keeps resurfacing and may become reality in the future.

Planning Your Banff Vacation

Where to Stay in Banff

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Everything you need to know about getting to Banff National Park.  Includes a variety of ways to suit every travel style and budget.