How to get to Alberta
The two main ways to get to Alberta Canada are to fly, or drive.
Getting to Alberta Canada by flying
Alberta Canada has three international airports, including Calgary, Edmonton, and Fort McMurray. You can easily fly into these three airports from most major cities!
To find the best deal on flights, I recommend using Skyscanner.
They always have the lowest prices, and if your travel plans are flexible, you can use them to figure out the cheapest way to fly!
Getting to Alberta Canada by driving
If you’re already in another region of Canada, or in the United States, you can easily get to Alberta by driving! It’ll take a bit longer than flying, but road tripping through Canada is a unique and fun experience in itself.
Getting around Alberta, Canada
Hiring a Campervan/Car:
If you have the chance, we 100% recommend driving in Alberta! We traveled all through Alberta in our converted campervan Helen, and it was an amazing experience.
It’s also super easy to rent a campervan/motorhome in Alberta!
If you travel through Alberta in a campervan, you can camp out next to beautiful parks and lakes, and really embrace the nature of the region.
There are also plenty of rental car options if you’d prefer to drive around and stay the night in hotels.
If you do decide to rent a campervan, I 100% recommend booking with Motorhome Republic!
They are the world’s largest campervan/motorhome price comparison website, where you can see all of the top rental firms side by side to easily select the best price for your travel dates!
A few other reasons to book with Motorhome Republic:
- Lowest prices: Motorhome Republic always shows you the lowest possible prices for your trip dates. They even do a price match!
- Customer support: Motorhome Republic’s customer support team can handle any and all of your booking questions to make renting a campervan as seamless as possible. They also have 24/7 customer support!
- Vehicle Guarantee: If your rental firm ever lets you down and can’t deliver your chosen vehicle, Motorhome Republic will step in and find you a comparable vehicle at no extra cost.
Other options for getting around Alberta
- Fly: Alberta is pretty big, and if you’re short on time and need to get from one area to another quickly, you can always fly between their three international airports. Skyscanner.com always has the cheapest prices for flights like this!
- Train: Another option to get around Alberta is by train. Alberta is serviced by VIA rail service, and has stops in both Edmonton and Jasper. Some train routes go straight through the rockies, a very scenic and unmissable experience.
- Bus/Private Shuttle: If you don’t feel like driving or taking the train, another option for getting around in Alberta is to take private and shared shuttles from place to place. There are tons of shuttles running to/from popular places to visit in Alberta, and you can find the best options here!
20 best places to visit in Alberta
1. Banff Town
Banff Town is nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and the gateway to incredible lakes, forests, and hiking trails!
Due to its central location, Banff Town is a great place to situate yourself as a homebase to explore the surrounding nature.
The town of Banff itself is a fun resort town, with a stunning mountain backdrop and lots of little shops, bars, and restaurants.
If you’re short one time, don’t want to drive, but still want to see all the highlights in the Banff area, consider taking a Banff National Park full one day tour! You’ll get to see Sulfur Mountain, Bow Falls, and also check out the Johnston Canyon Walk.
Another great way to see Banff National Park is on a horseback riding tour that takes you alongside Bow River with your horse, as you look out at the beautiful mountains.
There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting right outside of Banff- you can go out on your own, or you can book a minibus wildlife sightseeing tour where expert tour guides will show you the best places to spot wildlife.
2. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of the most picturesque sights in all of Alberta, and easily one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
The lake has vibrant turquoise blue waters, and is surrounded by regal mountains and the Victoria Glacier.
It’s only a short drive from Banff Town.
Aside from taking in the majestic views of the lake, there are plenty of hikes and places to hire canoes.
In the summertime, Lake Louise is quite popular, and understandably so.
It’s quite enjoyable to paddle around the lake in the summer heat, and to hike around it.
In winter, the lake transforms- it freezes, and many of the surrounding trails turn from hiking into cross-country skiing.
3. Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is another insanely gorgeous lake in Alberta.
Like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake also has stunning turquoise wears and a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.
Moraine Lake does have its own unique perks though- it’s surrounded by ten incredible mountain peaks, and those mountains with the vibrant waters creates some utterly jaw dropping views.
Located a little past Lake Louise, Moraine Lake has some incredible hiking trails too! Some of the most popular include Sentinel Pass and Larch Valley.
Due to its popularity, parking is known to be a bit of a nightmare at Moraine Lake. The easiest way to get in and not deal with parking is to book a shuttle or a park and ride.
4. Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is another magnificent lake located in Banff National Park.
The lake is massive, and surrounded by forest and mountains.
If you’re looking to go on a boat tour in Banff, Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in Banff that allows motorized boats, so this is the place to do it!
The area surrounding Lake Minnewanka is brimming with wildlife- there is the potential for spotting tons of animals, including grizzly bears, elk, coyote, and even wolves!
Like the other lakes in the area, Lake Minnewanka is quite popular, and if you are visiting in the summer then your best bet for getting parking is to arrive in the early morning, or book a shuttle!
5. The Bow Valley Parkway
The Bow Valley Parkway is a scenic route that connects Banff to Lake Louise.
It’s approximately 50km long, and runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Driving the parkway is by far one of the best things to do in Alberta!
The windy road offers spectacular views of meadows, mountains, and forests.
There are also a number of stops along the drive that make it well worth it.
Some of the best stops along the Bow Valley Parkway include Castle Lookout, a lookout beneath Castle Mountain, as well as Johnston Canyon- an incredible canyon hike with a catwalk above the Bow River.
6. Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, and it’s DEFINITELY one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
Jasper National Park is remarkable to visit no matter what season you come.
In the winter, you can experience cross country skiing and snowshoeing, lovely snow peaked mountains, and frozen lakes.
In the spring, all of the meadows explode with blooming wildflowers.
In the summer, you can hike, hang out on the lake, picnic, cycle, and more!
If you’re hoping to see wildlife, you’re in the right place too- Jasper is teeming with wildlife, and you’re almost guaranteed to spot some elk while you’re there.
To see the best of the park, including Maligne Lake, Medicine Valley, and Spirit Island, you can book an all-inclusive park tour here.
For incredible views of the park, consider booking a ride on the Jasper SkyTram!
It’ll take you all the way up Whistler’s Mountain, and serve up some awesome views along the way.
7. Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, connects Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, and is known as one of the most scenic highways in the world.
It takes about 3 hours to drive the whole parkway, but you should definitely give yourself more time than this to account for the stops you’ll surely want to take along the way!
Some of the stops along the Icefield Parkway include the Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Glacier, and the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.
One thing to keep in mind throughout this drive is that cell service is pretty spotty, so it’s a good idea to have a map on hand or download your maps offline!
To enrich the drive, you may consider a smartphone audio driving tour. You can go at your own pace, and the tour will tell you all about the highlights and history of the drive.
8. Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier lies in the Columbia Icefield of Western Canada, and is the most visited glacier in North America!
The Columbia Icefield is the last surviving part of a massive ice mass from the Rocky Mountains, and the Athabasca Glacier is located in the midst of it.
The glacier has been slowly receding over the last 100 years, but it’s still impressively large.
When you’re there, information stands will show you pictures of just how large the glacier used to be!
It’s important to keep in mind that the glacier is just as dangerous as it is beautiful- for a fun and safe viewing, definitely stay behind the roped barrier.
If you’re visiting from Banff, you can take a full-day ice explorer tour that includes transportation, lunch, tickets to the glacier skywalk, as well as an all-terrain ice tour!
9. Columbia Icefield Skywalk
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk, also known as the Jasper Skywalk, is a magnificent viewing platform located above Sunwapta Valley.
The glass viewing platform rests 280m above the ground, and offers incredible views of mountains, glaciers, fossils, and waterfalls!
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk also offers opportunities for wildlife viewing- mountain goats tend to frequent this area, and if you’re lucky, you may get to see them daringly traverse the mountainside!
If you’re looking to score some awesome views of the Columbia Icefield, the skywalk is well worth it, and you can book your tickets right here.
10. Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake is one of the brightest, most stunning lakes and one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
This glacier-fed lake is located north of Lake Louise, and a must-see stop along the Icefields Parkway.
With the brilliant blue water, and dense surrounding forests Peyto Lake is truly a magical place.
Some of the most popular things to do around Peyto Lake include hiking, fishing, and camping!
The lake is open year round, so you can either come for deep blue hues in the summer, or for snow capped trees and a frozen lake in the winter.
As Peyto Lake is one of the few lakes open year-round, this is also one of the best places to visit in Alberta in winter.
There are tons of hikes surrounding Peyto Lake, and hiking up to places like Observation Point or Peyto Lake Panorama Overlook is the way to score a fantastic view of the lake.
11. Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, and a true natural wonder.
At its deepest points, the canyon is a whopping 55 meters deep!
One of the best things to do in Maligne Canyon is to hike. The canyon offers hiking for all different abilities and hiking levels.
The main hike here is called the Maligne Canyon Trail, which takes about 2-4 hours to traverse.
If you’re looking for an easier and less strenuous hike, feel free to only hike a portion of the loop and then turn back! You’ll still get great views, but it’ll be much quicker and easier.
Due to the water that flows through the canyon in the summer, in the wintertime, there are some awesome ice sculptures that form in the canyon.
You can also keep your eyes out on the canyon walls for fossils, which there are plenty of!
12. Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is a spectacular lake located in the heart of the Rockies and Jasper National Park.
With its crystal blue waters and mountainous backdrop, it’s by far one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
Some of the best activities to do along Maligne lake include hiking, kayaking, and visiting Spirit Island in the middle of the lake.
The hikes surrounding Maligne Lake are great for all levels, including short nature walks and multi-day adventures.
13. Spirit Island
Spirit Island is located in the middle of Maligne Lake, and it’s one of the most photographed sites in all of Canada!
Despite its name, Spirit Island isn’t actually an Island- it’s connected to the shore through part of the year!
However, due to its geography it’s not accessible by land, only by boat.
Because private boats aren’t allowed, the only way to get to the island (which is also a famous landmark!) is to book a boat tour, or to kayak there.
The island doesn’t have much to do on it per se, but it’s a pretty famous photo opportunity, and the boat trip is a really fun experience.
Canmore is a beautiful resort town and one of the best places to visit in Alberta Canada!
Set amongst the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore has that classic, Western old-town look combined with a sense of adventure.
Canmore is a great stepping stone to Banff National Park, and many other exciting natural landmarks.
One of the highlights in Canmore is to walk along Main Street! The Main Street is littered with bars, souvenir shops, and restaurants.
Other notable things worth checking out in Canmore include Policeman’s Creek, Canmore Engine Bridge, and the Police Barracks Museum.
One of the best hikes near Canmore is the Grassi Lakes Hike Trail. It’s approximately 3.2 kilometers long, and a fun loop that showcases the brilliant blue water of the lake (in the summertime.)
15. Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the best places to go in Alberta. It’s a beautiful park filled with lakes, meadows, and mountains.
The valley of the park was formed over 10 thousand years ago when glaciers melted to carve it out.
The park is a great place for wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, and enjoying the various beaches in the area.
One of the best parts of Waterton Lake National Park is that it doesn’t suffer from the same overtourism of many other parks in Canada.
If you’re really looking to get off the beaten path in Canada, Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the best Alberta destinations.
16. Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is a stunning red canyon located in Waterton National Park. It’s popular for hiking, picnicking, and even simply for a scenic drive!
The landscape here is unique in that it marks the dramatic change from the prairie, to the mountains.
The Red Rock Canyon marks the end of the Red Rock Parkway, a scenic, 9 mile road.
Driving along the parkway offers a great opportunity to spot wildlife like bears, sheep, moose, and more!
Once you get to the end of the parkway, you’ll arrive at Red Rock Canyon.
Red Rock Canyon has a solid trails system which offers plenty of hikes through waterfalls and creek beds.
On hot summer days, the water levels are pretty low and the canyon is a fun place to hang out and cool off for the day.
17. Downtown Calgary
Downtown Calgary offers a fun change of pace from the national parks in Alberta.
It’s a bustling, vibrant, and cultural area located in the heart of Calgary.
One thing that Calgary is particularly well-known for is its art. A rich culture and history of art brings many galleries and exhibits, as well as theatre performances and indie music concerts!
Aside from shopping and general exploring, some of the other fun things to do in Calgary include paying a visit to the Calgary Zoo, and the Calgary Tower.
The Calgary Tower offers sweeping, 360 degree views of the city- it’s an awesome experience, and you can buy tickets here.
The Calgary Zoo is also a really fun place to visit in Alberta, and it’s home to over 100 different species of animals!
18. Dinosaur Provincial Park
For a totally different change of scenery, visit Dinosaur Provincial Park.
This park is located in the Alberta Badlands, and home to incredible rock formations and dinosaur fossils!
In fact, Dinosaur Provincial Park is so rich in history it’s been named a UNESCO Heritage Site.
To date, 50 complete dinosaur skeletons have been discovered in the park.
If you’re fascinated by dinosaurs, you can book a tour to get up close to the fossils and learn even more about their discovery, and the specific species that existed here years and years ago.
There is a TON of hiking in the park. Some notable trails include the Prairie Trail, a 15 minute walk that’s fairly easy, as well as the .9km Trail of the Fossil Hunters.
19. Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass is a stretch of Canadian Highway that connects 5 historical mining towns: Bellevue, Hillcrest, Blairmore, Coleman, and Frank.
Back in the early 1900’s, these towns were booming with coal.
The prosperity didn’t last though, and eventually the settlers in this area were forced to change paths, and many got into the energy and ranching sectors.
There is a lot to do in Crowsnest Pass, especially for history lovers! Some of the highlights include checking out Canada’s deadliest landslide, and the Bellevue underground mine tour.
The landslide occurred in Frank, when over half a mountainside simply slid away, decimating everything in its path.
The Bellevue underground mine tour is an interesting and accessible tour into the mines that explain the history of Canadian mines.
20. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
One of the most interesting places to visit in Alberta is the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
This sanctuary is dedicated to educate people on wolfdogs, as well as raise awareness for wolfdog conservation!
There are three types of tours you can take at the sanctuary- the Sanctuary Walk, Intro Tour, and the Interactive Tour.
During the Sanctuary Walk, you’ll take a self guided walk where you can see several packs of wolfdogs.
During the Intro Tour, you’ll have a tour guide who can answer any of your questions about the wolfdogs, and you’ll also get to go on the viewing platform which takes you closer to the dogs.
The Interactive Tour is the most inclusive of the three, and includes all of the above plus a chance to interact close up with the dogs, including potentially feeding them a treat.
One of the coolest things about visiting the sanctuary is that all proceeds go directly towards funding the Sanctuary’s rescue efforts.
Alberta Travel Tips & FAQ
When is a good time to visit Alberta?
The answer to this question really depends on your interests!
If you’re itching to see the brilliant blue lakes in Alberta, then the best time for you to visit will be in the summer! Overall, the summer is a popular time to visit Alberta and you’ll get to experience incredible views, the blue lakes, and lots of fun hiking.
If you’re enchanted by snow, you’re pretty much guaranteed frozen lakes and snow in the winter- and if you like snow sports such as ice skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, you’re in for a treat.
How long should you spend in Alberta?
You could spend MONTHS in Alberta and still find there are tons more places you want to see and explore. We don’t all have months though, so I’d recommend at least 10 days to spend in Alberta.
What is a good budget for Alberta?
This greatly depends on your travel style, but I would say to budget at least $75 per day to travel in Alberta if you’re planning on doing some sightseeing, as well as paying for a campervan rental.
If you’re planning on staying in any of the beautiful campsites that Alberta has to offer, especially in the Rockies region, then you really need to book in advance if you’re traveling between June-September. They WILL fill up!
And remember, you can “freedom camp” in any of the national parks in Alberta, so if you don’t have a campsite you will miss out.
Use this website to make your reservations.
Where to go after Alberta
After exploring Alberta, you’re probably going to want to check out British Columbia next!
British Columbia is packed with rugged coastline, beautiful forests, and tons of lakes.