fbpx

Banff Without A Car – Comprehensive Guide (2019)

| |

Exploring Banff Without A Car

Doing Banff without a car is absolutely possible! We love Banff. You Love Banff. Everyone loves Banff. We’re so lucky to live so close to Banff! It’s only a short drive away and it’s always such a pleasure to visit for any reason (food, beer, day trips, staying in hotels). What if you don’t have a car though? We don’t. We’ve never had a vehicle. How can you get to Banff without a car, AND have a good time while visiting? It’s not that hard at all, and there’s lots of things to do in Banff without a car.

Take the bus to Banff! It’s cheaper than you think, environment friendly and stress free. No traffic to worry about. No having to pay for parking. No having to worry about how many craft beers you’ve had (within reason! haha), taking a comfortable bus to/from Banff from Calgary is good times. You can turn any weekend into a mini vacation in the mountains.

Don’t forget! You’ll need to buy a park pass when visiting Banff National Park, even on the bus.

Getting To Banff With On-it Regional Transit

On-it Regional Transit offers bus service to Banff from Calgary for only $10, each way! You can also take it to Canmore if you need to go there. New for 2019! Service is now available on Friday nights throughout the summer, in addition to weekends. At this time On-it Regional Transit only operates one bus on Friday nights, and service throughout the weekend (and holidays). Note: pets are not allowed and if you need them, wheelchair accessible buses are available by request.

Bus Pickup/Drop off Locations

Nitty Gritty

On-it Regional Transit is owned and operated by Southland Transportation (the school bus company). Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We’ve used On-It Regional Transits services in the past and really enjoyed the experience, so we reached out and asked if we can work together here we are.

Banff without a car

On-it Regional Transit Social Media

You can message/DM them for information and assistance with things, if you need.

On-It Regional Transit Schedules To/From Banff

Service is broken down into two schedules, Spring/Fall and Summer. Friday night service is only available during the summer schedule.


Traveling From Calgary to Banff

Spring and Fall service is available on Saturday/Sunday and holidays.

Spring Schedule

May 18thJune 23rd

Fall Schedule

September 7th – September 15th

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Schedule


Summer Schedule

June 28th – September 2nd

Friday Night Service

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Friday Schedule

Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Service

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Schedule


Traveling From Banff to Calgary

Spring and Fall service is available on Saturday/Sunday and holidays.

Spring Schedule 

May 18thJune 23rd

Fall Schedule 

September 7th – September 15th

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Schedule

Summer Schedule

June 28th September 2nd

Friday Night Service

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Friday Summer Schedule

Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Service

Banff Without A Car On-it Regional Transit Schedule


Things To Do In Banff Without A Car

Once you get to Banff there’s so many things you can do there without bringing your own vehicle!


Visit the Banff Hot Springs, Banff Gondola and Rimrock Hotel

From downtown Banff, take route 1 to the Upper Banff hot springs (you can rent a swim suit, towel and locker) and soak in the 100% natural mineral water.  The Banff Gondola is a 5 minute walk from the hot springs! Take it up to the top of Sulphur Mountain and see Banff like you never have before. Another 5 minute walk away is the Rimrock Hotel, which has some amazing views and excellent Scotch. There’s a ROAM Transit bus stop outside the hotel too, or you can also just get back on the bus where you got off in the first place.

Banff Without A Car hot springs rimrock gondola


Visit The Cave And Basin

The birthplace of Canada’s national parks starts in Banff! The Cave and Basin was discovered in 1883 by 3 railway workers, when they noticed steam coming from the rocks in the side of a mountain. The followed it back to the source, a mineral pool in a cave, and they saw an opportunity to make some money by charging people to soak. When they applied for land titles and were denied, the government of Canada stepped in and used the chance to create what we now enjoy as our national park system!

Banff Without A Car Cave and Basin


Try To Escape From An Escape Room

Eureka Banff has 2 escape rooms: Marv’s Diner Deluxe (Intermediate) and Warden’s Cabin (Advanced). At present time Warden’s Cabin has a success rate of only 13%!. Best of luck.


Go See A Movie

Hit up Lux Cinema Banff and grab a matinee or an evening showing (cheaper than Calgary prices in some cases) and settle in for the tiny theatre experience with new releases. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are deal days, and they are licensed so you can take your brew in with you! Stick around after the show and check out the shops under the theatre!


Explore The Malls

Behind, under, above, and attached to almost every business and street in Banff is a little secret set of businesses and unique art and treasures. Every time we visit, we find something new! Don’t forget to look up! There’s some great art hanging from the ceilings. This goes for the hotels too. Wander all the halls, especially the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Rimrock Resort, to find little shops and art pieces (not to mention some great dining options!)


Thrift Through The Thrift Shops

Hidden under the theatre is The Last Temptation, our favourite eclectic thrift store on the planet! From combat fatigues to platform shoes to Borat’s questionable swimsuit, you’re going to find all the things you never knew you needed!

Another Banff stop for fellow thrifters is Rundle United Thrift. Open Tuesday through Friday in the Rundle Memorial United Church, you can find deals on clothing, footwear, games, toys, music, movies, books, sporting goods, bedding, furniture, electronics, house wares, craft supplies and unique collectible items.

Banff Without A Car Thrift Store


Bow River Waterfalls Behind The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

You can walk down from the hotel itself, or along the Bow River pathway from Banff Ave.

Banff Without A Car Bow Falls

Bow Falls is really easy to get to from any direction. From downtown Banff, walk south across the bridge over the river then take the pathway on the left. It’ll take you right to Bow Falls. Alternatively, if leaving from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, you can simply just walk down the stairs/road/pathways to get there.

Here’s a trusty map:

Banff Without A Car Bow Falls Map

And a trusty video of Bow Falls. No sound, it’s real loud and doesn’t translate well over a cell phone microphone.


Go On A Virtual Scavenger Hunt

MysteryTowns run this app based trivia / virtual scavenger hunt game in Banff where you search for locations based on clues they provide. Solve puzzles, find hidden words, tour Banff while having fun doing it. It’s timed as well, so there’s bragging rights. Best used in groups with a team size of 2 to 4 people. This company operates in Calgary, too.


Horseback Riding Tours

Horseback tours are a unique and fun way to see Banff, and there are a lot of them to choose from.

  • Banff Trail Riders offer horseback tours along the Bow River, up to the Banff Gondola, through the Bow Valley, etc. Even lunch/dinner cookout options on horseback or in a wagon!
  • Brewster Adventures have 5 different summer trail rides, including full day expeditions. They have other options like horseback vacations. Go see.
  • Timberline Tours operate out of Lake Louise and have multiple options to choose from, including a short 10 minute themed ride for kids, a Peyto Trail loop, and all day rides.


The Spirit Of Christmas

Yeah Banff has a Christmas store! If you love Christmas, you’re in luck. Even if you aren’t a huge fan, at least worth looking through. It’s open all year.

Banff Without A Car Spirit of Christmas


Rent Mountain Bikes!

Riding bikes is fun! Rent a mountain bike and explore the mountains. There’s several places to choose from on renting.


Drop By The Rocks & Gems Store

You don’t even have to buy anything (though you should), simply walking through Rocks & Gems is an adventure in itself. The Banff Rock and gem store is packed with trinkets and jewelry and every type of rock you could imagine. I hope you can imagine igneous rocks because they have them.

Banff Without A Car rock and gem store

Banff Without A Car rocks and gems store


Go To A Museum

  • The Banff Museum is Canada’s oldest natural history museum ( and the oldest surviving federal building in any Canadian national park), built in 1903. It’s easily accessible from Banff Avenue and houses more than 5,000 historic botanical and zoological specimens.
  • Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies has landscape paintings, Rockies heritage exhibits & preserved examples of early Banff homes & cabins.
  • Buffalo Nations Museum is a fortlike museum with many artifacts showcasing the history of local indigenous Canadians.
  • Historic Luxton Home Museum is a museum in the 1905 former home of the prominent Luxton family, with antiques & vibrant gardens.

Located next to the Buffalo Nations Museum is a store called the Indian Trading Post, which has the legendary Banff Merman.

The Banff Merman

Photo source: Banff Lake Louise Flickr account


Check Out The Food In Banff!

Banff has so many delicious

Magpie & Stump Restaurant

Queso? Margaritas? Rooftop patio? Yes, we like all of these things and Magpie & Stump delivers! Mexican cuisine and killer hooch on a summer day, as you take in the gorgeous Banff views. Simply perfection!

Banff Without A Car Magpie and Stump Mexican Food

Eddie Burger + Bar

This place frequently has a lineup, and for good reason. One of the best burgers I’ve had anywhere awaits, where you can custom make them to what you like by marking off patty, bun, cheese, and topping choices with a marker on a laminated sheet. Also on the menu is dogs, sides, shakes, and a whole lotta fun booze! If I had to pick anywhere to watch sports, it would be here. Bonus snaps to them for having a great selection of local beers on tap.

Banff Without A Car Eddie Burger Bar

The Grizzly House 

Probably the biggest culinary institution in Banff resides within the little house on main street. The tales of the exotic meats and delicious fondue are almost as legendary as the ones about the crazy old decor and the phones at each table that allow you to call other tables. If you’re looking for THE place to eat on your Total Banff Experience, this is probably where you need to be. Reservations are almost always required.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by SAVEUR magazine (@saveurmag) on

Banff Ave Brewing Co. 

Visiting Banff Ave Brewing Co. is a must. Grab some noms and a pint of local suds to go with! They’ve got a huge selection of locally made craft beer (and sometimes stuff from other places) and a great sized menu, focusing on local ingredients and suppliers, with a great price point (especially for Banff!). Sadly, almost every food picture we have is of their legendary Harvest Poutine, which currently is off the menu. This dish (this picture in particular) is hands down the most controversial food picture we have ever shared to our twitter. See for yourself!

Banff Without A Car Banff Ave Poutine Food

Banff Without A Car Flight of beer

Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon

Wild Bill’s is located pretty much in the middle of downtown Banff and offers a fun atmosphere and big western style pub menu with lots of meaty BBQ goodness. They host a ton of events and even have weekly bull riding karaoke. Great views of the the street from their balcony too. Note: children not allowed.

Banff Without A Car Wild Bill's Saloon

Grapes Wine Bar in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Grapes Wine Bar is an intimate space located inside the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which is only open in the evening (check website for details). They offer a curated selection of the best house-cured meats and artisan cheeses, plus wine! Check out their menu.

Banff Without A Car Grapes Wine Bar Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Melissa’s Missteak

It’s my goal to have brunch pretty much everywhere I go in the world, and Banff has SO MANY GOOD ONES! Melissa’s offers a good variety of typical breakfast dishes that everyone in the family will enjoy. They don’t take reservations before 4pm, so you’ll have to get there early, or eyeball the lineup. Fear not though, if Mel’s is too busy, there’s about 5 more places right around the corner that will have you covered!

Banff Without A Car Melissa's Missteak

Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar

Park Distillery is both a restaurant and a distillery, so yes you can have foods there too. If you love good beer and food, drop by. I’d recommend trying their Maple Rye, or just straight up Classic Vodka. See all their spirits here. They also offer up tours of the distillery, if you’re interested.

Banff Without A Car Park Distillery And Restaurant


ROAM Public Transit Bus Routes

Your On-It Regional Transit ticket gives you free access to ROAM Transit routes 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7. You will need to purchase a separate ticket if you want to travel from Banff to Canmore, Lake Louise or Johnston Canyon. Prices vary. Tip: they have a Super Summer Pass option for $25 which will give you unlimited access to all of their routes for that day. Plan to hit several things at once and pay one price.

1 – Sulphur Mountain

2 – Tunnel Mountain

3 – Canmore – Banff

4 – Cave and Basin

5 – Canmore local

6 – Lake Minnewanka

7 – Banff Centre

8X – Lake Louise Express

8S – Lake Louise Scenic

9 – Johnston Canyon

To catch any of the buses in Banff, head to the downtown strip, Banff Ave. Here’s a map (from the 2019 ROAM Transit PDF Guide)

Banff Without A Car Roam Transit Downtown

Parks Canada Shuttles

These shuttles are accessible from Lake Louise, which you can get to by taking the 8X (express) or 8S (scenic) from Banff. The Parks Canada Shuttles accept debit/credit, but not cash.

Lake Louise Village and Campground Shuttle

Shuttles leave from the Lake Louise campground every 15 minutes from 8:15 am to 5:45 pm. The last shuttle returning to the village and campground leaves the Park and Ride at 6 pm. It’s free for everyone!

  • May 17th – October 14th

Lake Louise Lakeshore Shuttle

  • May 17th – October 14th

Shuttles leave the Lake Louise Park and Ride every 15 minutes from 8 am to 4:30 pm and travel to the Lake Louise lakeshore. The last return shuttle leaves the Lake Louise Lakeshore at 6 pm.

  • $4 round trip for Adults (18-64)
  • $2 round trip for Seniors (65+)
  • $2 round trip for Youth (6 – 17)
  • Free for children (0-5)

Moraine Lake Shuttle

  • May 24th – October 14th

Shuttles leave from the Lake Louise lakeshore every 20 minutes from 8:40 am to 4:20 pm headed to Moraine Lake. The Last return shuttle to the Lake Louise Park and Ride leaves at 5:40 pm

  • $6 round trip for Adults (18-64)
  • $3 round trip for Seniors (65+)
  • $3 round trip for youth (6 – 17)
  • Free for children (0-5)

Moraine Lake Early Bird Shuttle

  • June 24th – September 29th

Starting at 6 am, four departures from the Lake Louise Park and Ride are available until 7:30 am. Return shuttles from Moraine Lake to the Lake Louise Park and Ride will be available from 9 am to 5:40 pm daily.

  • $6 round trip for Adults (18-64)
  • $3 round trip for Seniors (65+)
  • $3 round trip for youth (6 – 17)
  • Free for children (0-5)

Banff Without A Car Lake Louise Shuttle Moraine Lake Roam Transit

 

Taxi Companies in Banff

If for some reason public doesn’t doesn’t work for you, call a taxi. Note: Uber does not operate in Banff. Nor does Limebike.

Conclusion

Getting to Banff has never been cheaper. If you don’t drive, the On-it Regional Transit option is a great solution. I’m really hoping that one day they expand service to/from Banff to be regular instead of seasonal. They have a rider survey on their site – go fill it out with your thoughts on having year round service from Calgary to Banff!

Banff without a car View binoculars

The following two tabs change content below.

Crackmacs

Award winning Calgary bloggers, we run @Crackmacs anonymously, writing in and about our city from the downtown core. We regularly share food, beer, events, things to do, interesting stories, tourism information, funny/weird photos, videos and anything else from #YYC.
Previous

Calgary Transit Just Dropped A Summer Patch (June 2019)

Buy A Praying Mantis Pet For $10, Support Charity

Next

Leave a Reply