Banff , Canada
Banff is set within the spectacular and unspoilt Banff National Park. Everywhere you look you see a landscape filled with glaciers, jagged peaks and valleys which are brim full with wildlife.
The slopes (accessed by local bus service) have something for everyone, from steep couloirs to gentle cruising runs. Renowned for its excellent snow record and long season, the snow is some of the coldest, driest and most reliable you'll find anywhere in the world.
The locals are friendly and welcoming and the food (as with the rest of the resort) is great value. We recommend Banff for those who want to experience the wide open spaces of the National Park and a ski holiday atmosphere that is far removed from a European experience.
Pros & Cons
- Spectacular high mountain scenery
- Good value lodging as the winter is low season in the area
- Spotting wildlife around the valley
- Late season skiing
- Extensive skiing with something for everyone
- Split up ski area with lengthy journeys to Sunshine and Lake Louise
- Can be very cold
- Lack of ski resort atmosphere in Banff despite being fairly attractive
- Quite British
In Banff there are over 100 restaurants with a lot of choice. Italian at Giorgio's is recommended as is Korean at Seoul Country and Mediterranean in the Caramba at Banff Ptarmigan Inn is worth trying. The Magpie and Stump serves Mexican with a Wild West theme. Earl's is popular and lively for burgers and ethnic dishes as is Wild Bill's where there is dancing and live entertainment. Good steak restaurants include Melissa's, Caboose at the train station (also great crab) and Bumpers for ribs. Grizzly House serves fondues and a good selection of meats; The Old Spaghetti Factory is a good family choice and Tommy's Neighbourhood Pub has good reviews. The Banff Springs Hotel is one of the best for fine dining but also serves good Sunday brunch. Saltlik is a designer cool restaurant good for game, steak and fish.
Sunshine Village has a good choice of restaurants at its mid-mountain base. The Day Lodge offers quite a choice in 3 different restaurants. Mad Trapper's Saloon provides a western-style atmosphere in Old Sunshine Lodge. The Sunshine Inn hotel provides some of the best in the Chimney Corner Lounge for snacks or the Eagle's Nest dining room for a full lunch. At the base of Norquay the Cascade Lodge has a good reputation.
Mad Trapper's Saloon at the top of the Sunshine gondola is lively as the skiing finishes with a happy hour and they also do evenings with tobogganing, a buffet, live music and dancing followed by the gondola ride down. Apres-ski bars are generally pretty limited, but it gets lively later on in town.
There is a good choice from live country and western music and line dancing at Wild Bill's to Aurora for more serious clubbing. The Rose and Crown has live music and is pretty popular. The St James Gate Irish pub has a great atmosphere with good food and a wide selection of beers. Melissa's and Saltlik are popular. The Barbary Coast nightclub and the Outabounds are both pretty lively.