Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most dramatic landscapes, where the prairies meet the mountains and snow-capped peaks dominate the skyline. The awe-inspiring glaciers and turquoise lakes of Banff and Jasper National Parks draw millions of visitors to this province each year. In winter, skiers take to the slopes, which offer some of the best skiing in North America. Known for hosting the annual Calgary Stampede , Calgary is a vibrant, modern city that has grown significantly in recent decades and offers a wealth of entertainment options. Further north, the provincial capital of Edmonton is home to West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping center in Canada, along with numerous other cultural attractions.
1 Banff National Park
Banff National Park, 130 kilometers west of Calgary, is the most visited tourist attraction in the province of Alberta and perhaps the most impressive national park in Canada. The area includes spectacular mountain scenery, major ski areas, beautiful lakes and the tourist town of Banff. Wildlife is abundant here, with grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, caribou and moose, many of which are often sighted along the highway through the park.
Hiking is one of the top summer activities in Banff and there are many backcountry and backcountry trails to choose from. However, many people explore the park from the comfort of their cars, stopping at the many lookouts along the way that offer impressive views of the mountains, lakes and glaciers.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Banff National Park
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2 Lake Louise
Lake Louise, the jewel of Banff National Park , is famous for its beautiful turquoise water that reflects the surrounding mountains and Victoria Glacier just across the shore. Located just a short drive north of the town of Banff, the lake is an easy day trip from Calgary. From the large Chateau Lake Louise , there are fantastic views right on the lake. A walkway runs along the coastline giving visitors a lovely place for a leisurely stroll to absorb the atmosphere. Canoes are also available for those who want to paddle on the lake. From the lakeside path there are popular hiking trails that lead up the mountainside or across the lake to the glacier.
In winter the lake is frozen and the paths are covered deep in snow. Many people come to Lake Louise this time of year to enjoy the nearby Lake Louise Ski Resort , one of Canada’s most popular ski destinations.
Lake Louise Village , just a short distance from the lake, has some tourism-related shops, small restaurants and coffee shops. However, there isn’t much here outside the main square. There is a large campsite nearby in a beautiful natural environment.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Lake Louise
3 Icefields Parkway at Columbia Icefield
The Icefields Parkway runs from Lake Louise to Jasper and is one of the most beautiful drives in Canada. This 230-kilometre-long highway passes lakes, mountains, glaciers and waterfalls, with a variety of stops where visitors can experience the landscape up close. Numerous hiking trails along the route, most of which are day hikes, lead to scenic views of the surrounding glaciers or lakes.
One of the main attractions along the Icefields Parkway is the Icefields Center . This large visitor center offers excellent displays at the Columbia Icefields and overlooks the Athabasca Glacier . From the road it is difficult to understand the layout and size of the ice fields, but models and photos at the center provide a unique perspective. Opposite the center it is possible to walk to the toe of the glacier. Alternatively, guided tours in specially equipped buses are available, which drive visitors to the glacier. One of the newest attractions is the Glacier Skywalk, a huge observation platform perched 280 meters above the valley, with a glass floor and glass railings. A shuttle service runs from the Icefields Center to the Glacier Skywalk.
4 Moraine Lake
beyond Lake Louise , at the end of a scenic eight-mile winding mountain road, lies Lake Moraine in the Valley of the Ten Peaks . Like Lake Louise, this is another scenic area with similarly turquoise water surrounded by snow-capped peaks, but it is much less visited. For many years it was the location of the image on the back of the old Canadian twenty-dollar bill.
Moraine Lake is dwarfed by ten peaks, each over 3,000 meters high, with the Wenkchemna Glacier. There are great views over the lake from a lookout point reached by climbing a short path known as the Rockpile Trail , located near the car park. In spring, the thunder of falling glaciers or landslides can be heard in the distance.
From Moraine Lake, there is a day hike to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass , one of the highest mountain passes in the national park. It is a somewhat tiring day walk, but the reward is the breathtaking view. This hike is often covered in snow in the upper regions until July. The area is particularly beautiful in autumn when the larches change colour. The hike to Sentinel Pass (2,611 meters) involves a total of six kilometers of climbing and 520 meters of ascent.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Moraine Lake
5 Waterton Lakes National Park (Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park)
The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the Rocky Mountains straddles the border between Alberta and the US state of Montana. On the Canadian side of the border is Waterton Lakes National Park, while on the American side the park is called Glacier National Park . Waterton Lakes is the smaller of the two parks, but features some fantastic scenery with mountains and the beautiful Waterton Lake . Overlooking the lake from a beautiful location on the north shore is the Prince of Wales Hotel , a National Historic Site of Canada. Nearby is the city site with tourist facilities. Many people come to the park to hike the alpine trails, camp, or take a sightseeing tour.
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/index.aspx
Where to Stay: Compare Prince of Wales Hotel Prices and Save
6 Jasper National Park
Like Banff, the name Jasper is associated with both the national park and the town located in the heart of the park. Jasper is the largest national park in Canada, covering an area of 10,878 square kilometers. It is an area with lakes, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers and forests, but has a slightly different appearance than the parks and nature reserves in the south. Both the park and the town of Jasper are less visited than Banff and have a more remote feel, especially in winter when many area amenities are closed. Unlike Banff, the town of Jasper sees very few tourists outside of peak season, making it much more seasonal in nature.
Some of the main highlights in Jasper National Park include Lake Maligne , which is often depicted in advertisements for the Canadian Rockies, Mount Edith Cavell with the stunning Angel Glacier , and Maligne Canyon . Hiking trails and scenic views can be found throughout the park. In winter, locals enjoy the Marmot Basin Ski Area .
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/jasper/index.aspx
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Jasper National Park
7 Calgary Stampede
Calgary is a vibrant modern city that is particularly proud of its cowboy roots. This is most evident during the city’s biggest event, the annual Calgary Stampede. This is a ten-day event held in early July, drawing rodeo competitors and fans from all over North America. Calgary becomes the center of attention for all Wild West fans, with rodeo attractions, cultural exhibits, country music and an array of other outdoor spectacles.
In addition to what happens at the Stampede Grounds, local establishments around Calgary also participate in the festivities by offering free “stampede breakfasts” throughout the week. Shops decorate their windows, cowboy hats and boots become the primary fashion, and temporary petting zoos and midway rides pop up in parking lots. During this week, the presence of the Calgary Stampede can be felt throughout the city.
Official site: https://www.calgarystampede.com/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Calgary
8 Sunshine Village Ski Area
Located just outside the town of Banff , Sunshine Village is one of Alberta’s most popular ski resorts, but it is also a beautiful area for hiking and walking in the summer. In winter the hill, which offers a good mix of intermediate and advanced slopes, attracts skiers from all over the world. In summer, after the snow has melted, the area is open to hikers. Buses transport visitors from the base of the hill where the gondola (functional only in winter) is located, to Sunshine Meadows . From here there are paths of varying lengths and visitors have the option of going for a walk or walking down the hill.
Sunshine Road branches south from the Trans-Canada Highway nine kilometers west of Banff. Another ten kilometers takes visitors to the parking lot and the lower station of the gondola. In winter, a twenty-minute gondola ride takes skiers to Sunshine Meadows, at the Sunshine Village Ski Resort. In summer, the only access is by bus and visitors must book in advance.
Official site: https://www.skibanff.com/
9 Drumheller en het Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
About 140 kilometers northeast of Calgary lies the small town of Drumheller, which proudly calls itself the ‘City of the Dinosaurs’. About 75 million years ago, several species of dinosaurs lived in this region and many fossils have been discovered in and around Drumheller. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology displays some of the finds and provides an in-depth look at the history of the area.
The landscape around Drumheller consists mainly of badlands . There are a number of interesting hiking trails that pass past hoodoos and through unique rock formations. The ” Dinosaur Trail ” is a circular tour that takes you through some of the area’s main attractions.
10 Kananaskis Country
About 80 km west of Calgary, along the four-lane TransCanada Highway 1, there is a turn south on Highway 40 into a beautiful landscape known as Kananaskis Country. This is a favorite spot for hikers in the summer. Kananaskis Village has resort facilities and a popular golf course.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is een van de belangrijkste hoogtepunten van Kananaskis, vooral voor degenen die wat tijd willen doorbrengen ondergedompeld in de natuur. Het park vormt het hart van het Kananaskis-gebied waar elanden, dikhoornschapen, berggeiten, grizzlyberen en zwarte beren vrij rondlopen. Het beslaat 508 vierkante kilometer, waardoor het het grootste provinciale park in Alberta is. In de zomer worden de lokale bevolking en bezoekers hier aangetrokken door het prachtige berglandschap, doorkruist door verschillende paden en bezaaid met alpine meren.
Officiële site: https://www.albertaparks.ca/kananaskis-country.aspx
11 West Edmonton Mall
De West Edmonton Mall is meer dan alleen maar winkels. Binnen dit enorme complex bevinden zich een waterpark, een ijsbaan, minigolf, een aquarium met liveshows, bioscopen en natuurlijk allerlei winkels en restaurants. Het winkelcentrum is een bestemming binnen Alberta, met name in de winter, waar gezinnen kunnen ontsnappen aan de kou en genieten van plezier binnenshuis.
Officiële site: https://www.wem.ca
Accommodatie: waar te verblijven in Edmonton
12 Calgary Tower
The Calgary Tower is one of the top tourist attractions in Calgary. The tower stands high on the city skyline and offers the highest 360-degree observation deck in the world. On clear days there are excellent views of the mountains and on any day the glass floor offers direct views over the city. The Sky 360 is a revolving restaurant located at an altitude of 500 feet, and directly above it is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse .
Official site: https://www.calgarytower.com/