The world-famous Banff Springs Hotel is not only one of the best hotels in Canada, it’s one of the top attractions in Banff National Park. Guests at the Banff Springs can explore the wonders of this mountain castle hotel endlessly without ever getting bored. But, as beautiful as the Banff Springs Hotel is, it would be a shame for guests not to see the best that the Town of Banff has to offer.
The 10 Best Things to do near the Banff Springs Hotel:
1. Bow Falls
A wide and powerful waterfall, the amazing Bow Falls are a must-see natural attraction near the Banff Springs Hotel. Guests of the Banff Springs Hotel will enjoy the short 15 minute walk from the hotel to this beautiful Bow River waterfall.
Once you arrive at the shores of the Bow River, it’s a very short walk to the Bow Falls viewpoint. If you’d like, you can continue walking for another 10 minutes along this beautiful riverside Banff pathway to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge, with the shops and restaurants in downtown Banff only a few more steps away.
2. Banff Gondola
The ruggedly beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains are one of the top reasons to visit Banff National Park. As beautiful as the Rockies are from the valley floor, they are even more beautiful from the top of a mountain! Not interested in a difficult hike to the summit of a mountain? Not to worry, you can take the Banff Gondola to the top.
Easily one of the best things to do near the Banff Springs Hotel, the Banff Gondola smoothly whisks visitors to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in a matter of minutes. This top Banff attraction is just up the road from the Banff Springs Hotel.
Once at the summit of Sulphur Mountain, visitors can enjoy 360-degree views including the Banff Springs Hotel, the Town of Banff, Tunnel Mountain, Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle. Explore the Banff Interpretive Centre in the newly renovated Upper Terminal, or enjoy fine dining at the Sky Bistro.
Our favorite experience at the top of the Banff Gondola is the short walk along a boardwalk to the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site on nearby Sanson’s Peak. We also enjoy the hike up Sulphur Mountain on occasion, instead of taking the Banff Gondola.
The highly-rated Banff City Sightseeing Tour includes a visit to the Banff Gondola.
3. Horseback Riding
The storied history of the Banff Springs Hotel is closely tied to the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the settlement of Western Canada. Relive the spirit of the Wild West with a fun horseback ride, just minutes away from the Banff Springs Hotel. There is a guided horseback tour in Banff for every taste:
On the 1-hour long Spray River Ride, you ride your friendly horse to the Bow Falls, where you cross the tranquil, shallow Spray River. Follow the edge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course for a while before concluding with a pleasant ride through the forest on the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain.
The 4-hour Sulphur Mountain ride, you’ll enjoy views of the Bow Valley and the Banff Springs Hotel as you ride along the base of Mount Rundle (one of the most photographed mountains in Banff). You’ll pass the immaculate Banff Springs Golf Course, Bow Falls and the Spray River on your way back to the corral.
These fun Banff horseback tours come with basic horseback riding instruction, a helmet and of course, lead and tail guides for your ride.
You don’t need to limit your horseback riding to the Banff Springs Hotel area, with a wide variety guided horseback tours in Banff to choose from.
4. Surprise Corner Viewpoint
One of the best places to take a picture of the Banff Springs Hotel is the Surprise Corner Viewpoint. Located directly across from the Banff Springs Hotel on the north shore of the Bow River, the Surprise Corner Viewpoint is well worth the visit. Not only can you get spectacular pictures of the Banff Springs Hotel, but you can also see the Bow Falls from above at some of the nearby viewpoints on Buffalo Street.
As you can see in our collection of historic Banff Springs Hotel images, this has been a popular spot to take pictures of this iconic Fairmont hotel for over 100 years!
It’s a quick 7 minute drive from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to the Surprise Corner Lookout. If you have the time and energy, the 30 minute walk along the shores of the Bow River is very beautiful.
5. Banff Hoodoos
If you’d like to extend your walk, the hike to the Banff Hoodoos begins at Surprise Corner. This 5km (one-way) trail is one of our favorite easy hikes in Banff. It runs through a beautiful forest, following the Bow River along the base of Tunnel Mountain to the Banff Hoodoos. We highly recommend this easy Banff hike.
6. Banff Upper Hot Springs
The historic discovery of thermal hot springs by Canadian Pacific Railway workers led to the creation of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park. The close proximity to the Banff hot springs is one of the primary reasons the Banff Springs Hotel chose its location.
Today, visitors to Banff can soak in the thermal mineral waters at the Banff Hot Springs facility, another of the top things to do near the Banff Springs Hotel. Located just a little further up-slope on Sulphur Mountain from the Banff Springs Hotel, the Banff hot springs are the highest operating hot springs facility in Canada. From this unique vantage point you’ll enjoy incredible vistas of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
7. Sulphur Mountain Trail
As discussed above, the vistas of Banff National Park from the summit of Sulphur Mountain are truly breathtaking. Most people take the Banff Gondola to the summit, but did you know you can also hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain right from the Banff Springs Hotel?
There are two hiking trails from the Banff Springs Hotel to the Sulphur Mountain trailhead. The first departs just south of the parkade at the southern end of the hotel while the other begins nearby at this location. After 0.8km of hiking, these trails converge and continue on for another 0.6km, passing below the 5-star Rimrock Resort Hotel to the trailhead. You’ll gain approximately 130m of elevation on this section of hiking trail.
The official trailhead for the Sulphur Mountain Trail is halfway between the Banff Gondola Lower Terminal and the Banff Hot Springs. From here, it’s a 5km (one-way) hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain with 740-m of elevation gain. The hike is a continuously uphill via a series of switchbacks which cross underneath the path of the Banff Gondola.
The scenery along the Sulphur Mountain Trail is amazing, and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment hiking to the top. Hikers to the top of Sulphur Mountain can still enjoy the facilities at the Banff Gondola Upper Terminal and can enjoy a ride down on the gondola for half price.
8. Tunnel Mountain
Not everyone has the desire to do the difficult hike to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Thankfully, there’s a much easier hike near the Banff Springs Hotel which also leads to the summit of a local Banff mountain.
The Tunnel Mountain trail is a very popular and rewarding easy Banff hike at the eastern edge of town. The red arrows in the photo below (taken from the Sulphur Mountain Trail) show the respective locations of the Banff Springs Hotel and Tunnel Mountain.
You can begin your Tunnel Mountain hike from the Banff Springs Hotel – the walk is around 2km and will take you approximately 30 minutes. From the Tunnel Mountain trailhead, it’s an additional 2.3km to the summit with 230m of elevation gain.
Visitors to the Banff Springs Hotel will enjoy the views of their magnificent hotel and golf course from the Tunnel Mountain hike.
9. Banff Springs Golf Course
Designed by Stanley Thompson nearly 100 years ago, the 18-hole Banff Springs Golf Course is one of the best golf courses in Canada, and indeed the world. The signature hole at the Banff Springs Golf Course is #4 Devil’s Cauldron, which has been named one of the best 18 holes in the world by Golf Magazine.
The Banff Springs Golf Course has been played by many PGA professionals including legends Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Other notables who have played the Banff Springs Golf Course are Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and British royalty, among others.
The Stanley Thompson 18 sits on an incredibly beautiful piece of real estate near the bottom of Mount Rundle, Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur Mountain. Seven of the Banff Springs golf holes hug the shores of the Bow River, with its icy-blue water.
18 holes of mountain golf too much? There is also a 9-hole Tunnel Mountain 9 intermingled between the Stanley Thompson 18 holes. It’s no pushover, as many believe this is the second hardest 9 holes within the Banff Springs Golf Course.
If you love to golf, do not miss this chance to golf one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
10. Cascade of Time Garden
Downtown Banff can get pretty hectic, especially on weekends in the summer. Anyone looking for a respite from the craziness need only cross the Bow River to discover this beautiful 4 acre garden park.
Built into a hillside, visitors to the Cascade of Time Garden love wandering its many pathways making wonderful discoveries along the way. Cascade of Time Gardens features charming gazebos, water features and many flowering plants in the spring and summer.
The Cascade of Time Gardens are an easy 15 minute walk along the Bow River from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Top Banff Springs Hotel Deal
Are you an Albertan looking for a staycation in the Rocky Mountains? The Banff Springs Alberta resident rate offers locals up to a 30% discount on room rates!
Not from Alberta? See even more Banff Springs Hotel deals.
Highlights of Banff Tour
You can see many of these top Banff attractions with the highly rated Banff City Sightseeing Tour. With convenient pickup from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, this Banff tour includes the Banff Gondola, along with visits to Bow Falls, the hoodoos and Lake Minnewanka.
We hope you enjoy these top 10 things to do near the Banff Springs Hotel!
More About the Fairmont Banff Springs
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.