How to spend 5-days in Vancouver and Banff National Park!
How to spend 5 days in Vancouver and Banff National Park! Need the logistics of how to see both in 5 days? Then you are in the right place. As background, this trip was an extension of the beginning of my parents Yellowstone/Grand Teton trip. After spending 3 days with them we flew from the Grand Tetons to Vancouver. This itinerary includes 2 days in Vancouver and 3 days in Banff National park!
Views from the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House Trail
Catch an early-enough flight to be able to see parts of Vancouver on your first day! Once you land, bus into the city and have the early afternoon and evening to explore Vancouver. I recommend exploring Gastown and Chinatown on the East side of Vancouver on your first evening. Gastown has a lot of trendy places to eat!
It was the original settlement of Vancouver and is now a historic district. Gastown is a cute neighborhood with its cobblestone streets and unique architecture! Full of great dining, shopping and a strong nightlife, Gastown is a growing and popular place to visit for locals and tourists.
Two of the most noticeable sights of Gastown include the Steam Clock and the Flatiron building, aka Hotel Europe.
Thursday morning, rent bikes (we got them free from our hostel), and explore downtown Vancouver and Granville Island. Ride bikes for miles and miles along the Vancouver Seawall and you’ll see tons of highlights including:
- Stanley Park
- Lions Gate Bridge
- English Bay Beach
- Port of Vancouver
- Granville Island market
Granville Island Market is a shopping district with a large public market located south of Vancouver, just over the Granville Street Bridge. There are many restaurants, boutiques and arts and crafts stores. For more information on available shops, hours and events visit Granvilleisland.com!
After biking, go to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. One of the larger and most popular suspension bridges near Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension bridge. However, it also costs ~$46 per person to visit the bridge. Therefore, my suggestion is to skip it and go to Lynn Canyon suspension bridge in North Vancouver for FREE. You can get to the bridge via bus 210, take a ferry/sea bus to lower Lonsdale from the Port of Vancouver and then jump on bus 228 or taxi. A taxi ride is your fastest route at 22 minutes, but also your most expensive between $30-40. Busing or ferrying/busing takes between an hour and an hour and a half, but will only cost ~$5-10.
Friday morning, catch an EARLY train ride to the Vancouver airport and fly directly from Vancouver to Calgary, Alberta. RENT A CAR at the airport and head to Banff!
- If you catch an early flight, you’ll land in Banff mid-morning in time to drive to Lake Minnewanka! We didn’t spend a lot of time here, because the weather was less than ideal and the views were less than optimal. Hopefully when you go, the weather will be better and you can pick a short and scenic hike!
- Either spend the rest of your day hiking around Lake Minnewanka or head back to town to explore downtown Banff. There are lots of shops and restaurants!
Saturday is an early morning, because this will be your first day inside Banff National Park and you DON’T want to be late!
- Surprisingly, we woke up to snow on the ground which resulted in poor views at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. This obviously won’t be the case for everyone, but I recommend spending your first day in Banff National Park driving up Icefields Parkway (hopefully not in a snowstorm like us!)
- Stop to see the sights that along the parkway until you reach the Athabasca Glacier. There is a parking lot at the foot of the glacier; you can opt to take a tour ONTO the glacier if that is something you are interested in.
- If you have time, stop in see Peyto Lake!
Sunday was probably my favorite day of the trip, because we woke up to much better weather and were able to see the peaks of the rockies and the brilliant colors of the lakes! I recommend using this day to take an EPIC hike in Banff National Park!
- First, as soon as you wake up, head straight to Moraine Lake to beat the crowds! After you take in the views, head to Lake Louise.
- I recommend doing the Plain of Six Glaciers TeaHouse Trail. It was amazing! You get epic views of Lake Louise from the top, jutted mountain peaks and a CUTE teahouse at the top!
For more information on Banff and the teahouse trail, click here!
This is a fun way to spend 5 days in Vancouver and Banff, but this trip can honestly easily be extended with a few more days in Banff to hike and explore surrounding parks. Banff is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. But, know that Banff’s growing popularity is effecting the accessibility. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to consider some of the close national parks such as Yoho or Kootenay in the Canadian Rockies near Banff.