BANFF is the unquestioned capital of the Canadian Rockies, and with its intense summer buzz it can be a fun, busy and likeable base – but if you’ve come to commune with nature, you’ll quickly want to leave. For a small town, it handles an immense amount of tourist traffic, much of it of the RV and coach-tour variety: up to fifty thousand daily visitors arrive in high season.
However you feel about this, some contact with the town is probably inevitable, as it contains essential shops and services and a range of restaurants and nightlife absent elsewhere in the park and even much of the region. And while many of the best local walks are some way from the town – you’ll need a car or bike to explore properly – some surprisingly good strolls start just minutes from the main street.
With some of the world’s most spectacular mountains on your doorstep, sightseeing in Banff might seem absurd, but it’s good to have some rainy-day options. Among these are a couple of small museums, a cable-car ride and people-watching on Banff Avenue, a thoroughfare lined with outdoor-clothing and souvenir stores.