Visit Banff & Calgary on a Budget

Calgary Skyline
Calgary Skyline
Travel on a Budget

Visit Banff & Calgary on a Budget

Budget friendly tips and tricks from Calgary to Banff.

It’s no secret that Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. With beautiful views of endless natural wonders, Banff is a bucket list vacation destination. The vibrant city of Calgary is Banff's closest urban centre, and home to great attractions, dining, and entertainment. While you may think that Banff and Calgary could come with a hefty price tag, it's easy to have a great trip while being cost-conscious.  

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Banff National Park Summer

Enjoy stunning views in Banff (Photo credit: Paul Zizka/Parks Canada)

Memorial Drive downtown Calgary

Enjoy all that city life has to offer in Calgary

Banff and Calgary: The Perfect Pair

Paired together, Calgary and Banff National Park make the perfect vacation to relax and rejuvenate. While Calgary offers incredible nightlife, shopping, fine dining, and entertainment, Banff offers stunning views and world class natural wonders. Travelling to both destinations is a great way to enjoy the beauty of one of Canada’s most popular National Parks, while enjoying all that city life has to offer. It’s easy to enjoy Calgary and Banff while staying on a budget.

Town of Banff in the summer

Visit the town of Banff without breaking the bank (Photo credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism)

Banff on a Budget

There are many ways to vacation in Banff without breaking the bank. Here are some things you can check out to help keep your time in Banff on a budget.

Budget-Friendly Dining in Banff

For an inexpensive Canadian favourite on the go, check out the delicious pastries of Beaver Tails. The Beaver Tail is one of Canada’s most unique treats. A big, flat donut shaped like the tail of (you guessed it) a beaver, topped with candy, fruit, and other sweets.

One of the most popular eats in town for locals is Aardvark Pizza and Sub, serving up delicious pizza and subs with free delivery anywhere in Banff. For a great night with friends, check out Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub for some of the best bar food and daily specials in town.

hiking in the Sentinel Pass in Banff National Park

Hiking in the Sentinel Pass in Banff National Park (Photo credit: Paul Zizka, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism)

Money Saving Activities in Banff

One of the best things about Banff is that many of the best experiences are free, including a number of fantastic hiking options and areas to explore. Sentinel Pass and Tunnel Mountain are both easily accessible from the Town of Banff and are perfect for a quick and easy hike. Lake Louise has a number of trails in the area, for beginners and advanced hikers alike, and is known around the world for its epic views.

When you’re done exploring, take a relaxing dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, a rejuvenating experience with incredible views that costs less than $8.00. The historic Hot Springs were discovered in 1883 and explorers have been soaking in the natural mineral waters for over 100 years.

Exploring St. Patrick’s Island by bike

Exploring St. Patrick’s Island by bike (Photo credit: Roth & Ramberg/Travel Alberta)

Biking in East Village in Calgary

Biking in East Village in Calgary (Photo credit: Roth & Ramberg/Travel Alberta)

Calgary on a Budget

You won't run out of fun things to do on a budget in Calgary. A vibrant urban city, Calgary is bustling city with great attractions, arts, sports, dining, and nightlife to keep you entertained.

Inexpensive Eats in Calgary

There are a ton of fantastic options for dining on a budget in Calgary. For a casual sit-down meal, Clive Burger is a local favourite on trendy 17th Avenue SW, serving up made-to-order burgers from fresh Alberta beef. For a fine-dining experience without the 5 star price tag, check out CHARCUT Roast House, one of Calgary's most acclaimed restaurants. CHARCUT offers a $16 Lunch All At Once special Monday to Friday. 

Budget Friendly Things to Do in Calgary

Calgary is fantastic for lovers of the outdoors, with over 600 km of bike paths and beautiful green spaces. St. Patrick's Island is a popular destination for visitors and locals, with plenty of space to relax and explore. It’s close to the shops and restaurants of historic Inglewood as well as the active, riverside neighbourhood of East Village, home to special events and a growing culinary hotspot.

The Bow Habitat Station is a local fish hatchery in Calgary, and offers a unique hands-on learning experience suitable for all ages, as well as discounts on family admissions. The Bow Habitat Station features a Discovery Centre with an aquarium and exhibits that explore Calgary’s ecosystem and a trout pond where you can learn to fish. Take advantage of their $30.00 family pass for a Calgary attraction that won’t break the bank.

Glenbow is one of Calgary’s premiere museums. Learn about minerals, First Nation’s history, and world history at some of the permanent exhibits, as well as rotating art exhibits and special events. Adult admission is $16.00, with discounts for families, and free admission the first Thursday night of every month. 

Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and Interpretive Centre summer

Explore Banff National Park at the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and Interpretive Centre

Stay and Save in Calgary to Explore Banff 

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to see Banff is by staying in Calgary. Banff is just 90 minutes west of Calgary, making it an easy day trip out of the city. Staying in Calgary is a great way to save on accommodations and experience the best of both worlds – the energetic city life of Calgary combined with the majestic, peaceful nature of Banff.

A great way to save on your trip is by staying in Calgary and taking the On-It Regional Transit shuttle bus into Banff. Enjoy a scenic drive into Banff for $10.00, with tickets sold for one-way travel, so you can create a schedule that suits your individual plans. The shuttle runs during weekends and holidays from May 19 to September 3, 2018. Buses depart from Downtown Calgary (Southbound 1 Street at 8 Ave SW) and the Crowfoot LRT Station (141 Crowfoot Way NW). Buses depart Banff from The Banff High School (330 Banff Ave).

Once you are in Banff, Roam Transit is a great way to get around, with $5.00 day passes that will take you anywhere around Canmore, Banff, and other attractions in Banff National Park.

Aloft Calgary University Hotel Exterior

Aloft Calgary University in Calgary is a great place to start your adventure to Banff National Park

Budget Friendly Accommodations in Calgary

There are plenty of fantastic places to stay in Calgary. If you’re travelling by car, stay on the west side of the city for the easiest access to Banff and the Canadian Mountains. Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Suites Calgary West has easy access to the Trans-Canada Highway, which takes you straight to Banff.

Aloft Calgary University, located near Banff Trail LRT station, is only a 12 minute C-Train ride to the Crowfoot station, so you can easily access the On-It Regional Transit bus to Banff. That’s a great way to stay in Calgary and enjoy an inexpensive ride to the Canadian Rockies.

Backpackers should find their way to Wicked Hostel in Calgary for a low cost accommodations in the heart of the city. With free breakfast, internet, parking, and international long-distance calling, Wicked Hostel will leave you with money to explore the city. The common area is a great place to meet other travellers and it is conveniently located across the street from a Calgary Transit C-Train station, the Scotiabank Saddledome and Calgary Stampede