How to Get to Banff National Park

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Banff National Park is Canada’s most visited national park, but it may surprise you to know there is no Banff airport. But don’t worry, getting to Banff is easy with a wide variety of ways to get to Banff to suit every style and budget.

YYC – 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, Canada’s fourth largest city.

The Calgary skyline with the Banff Rocky Mountains in the Sitance

As the “Airport for Banff”, the Calgary International Airport (YYC) is served by many major domestic and international airlines. The two largest domestic Canadian airlines serving YYC are Air Canada and Westjet, although you can also fly in via Air Transat, Flair Airlines, Air North and Central Mountain Air.

International carriers which fly into Calgary include Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, American Airlines, Aeromexico, Condor, British Airways, Hainan Airlines and KLM.

Explore flights to Calgary

What is the Best Way 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.

If you simply plan on strolling up-and-down scenic Banff Avenue, enjoying the mountain views, world-class shopping, restaurants and museums, then you won’t need your own car. You’ll likely be glad to not have a car as Banff traffic can be congested and parking spots are in limited supply.

Getting to Banff without a car means it will be harder (but not impossible) to enjoy the natural areas outside of the Banff Townsite, but it also means life within the town will be so much more relaxed. See below for your best options to get to Banff without a rental car.

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 get to some of Banff’s biggest natural attractions without a car, but for maximum convenience and flexibility, you can’t beat renting a car. Due to the parking situation in the Banff Townsite, make sure your hotel has parking.

If you have your own car, you may also wish to consider staying in nearby Canmore – a small city just outside Banff National Park. Canmore hotels tend to be cheaper than in Banff, but it’s only a few minutes’ drive to the Banff National Park gates.

If you are travelling to Banff with 2 or more people, it’s also worthwhile looking into a rental car even if you think you won’t need one as the price is often more affordable than paying for transfers for each member of the group.

Calgary Airport Rental Cars

There are ten rental car companies operating out of the Calgary International Airport, 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.

There’s also an option to rent a car in Banff, with three car rental locations in the townsite. In addition, Hertz has an office within the historic Banff Springs Hotel.

Calgary to Banff Shuttle

Most visitors to Banff who opt not to get a rental car will simply take one of the many airport shuttles from Calgary to Banff. We live in Canmore, so we typically drive our own car to YYC, but my wife took a shuttle to the Calgary Airport recently and she loved how relaxing the experience was.

A passenger enjoying transportation from Calgary to Banff

There are three main companies which operate an airport shuttle to Banff:

Banff Airporter: The Banff Airporter offers transportation from the Calgary Airport to the Canmore Coast Hotel or to any address in Banff (house or hotel).

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

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

In the peak summer season, additional Canadian Rockies destinations are added including Saskatchewan Crossing, the Colombia Icefields and Jasper.

Discover Banff Tours: The Discover Banff Tours airport shuttle is unique in two regards: it offers door-to-door service to Canmore hotels and they are the only airport shuttle which offers year-round shuttle service 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.

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 ublic 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. It’s 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.

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 happy customer enters her private transfer at the Banff Rimrock hotel

You’ll pay a premium for the private service, but you’ll love the luxury. 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.

Calgary to Banff Train

There is currently no Calgary > 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.

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 one at the stop at the Banff Visitor Centre, shortly after you arrive. Alternately, you can buy a National Park Pass online before your visit.

Experiencing Banff Without a Car

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.

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A beautiful mountain road in Banff National Park with text overlay of Getting to Banff National Park
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