Visit Canada's Winter Wonderland For A Picture-Perfect Getaway

Arriving in Banff National Park in the winter feels like stepping into a fairytale. Snow-covered streets, castle-like hotels, and rugged mountains towering in every direction create the perfect ambiance for the ultimate romantic winter vacation. Nestled within the rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is located in the Alberta province. The nearest major city is Calgary, which is about 80 miles away. The drive from Calgary to Banff takes about an hour and a half.

Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada, established in 1887, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It encompasses 1,641,000 acres of wilderness, including epic mountains, pristine lakes, glaciers, and thick pine forests. It's an incredible destination for outdoor recreation year-round, but the coldest months of the year are some of the most magical. With its subarctic climate, Banff usually receives its first heavy snowfall in November and quickly transforms into a winter wonderland.

For the perfect winter getaway, consider booking a cozy cabin or a luxurious room at one of the chateau-like resorts in town. During the day, you'll have the opportunity to ice-skate on glacial lakes, try out snowshoeing, go for a traditional dog-sled ride, enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, or take a romantic sleigh ride through the pine forests. Spend your evenings getting cozy with a cup of hot chocolate around a warm fireplace, dining at world-class restaurants, or watching the night sky for the stunning colors of the Northern Lights.

Winter recreation in Banff National Park

On a winter trip to Banff National Park, you'll find no shortage of ways to get outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery and crisp mountain air despite the frigid temperatures — most winter days range from the single digits to low 30s Fahrenheit. Still, sometimes temperatures drop well into the negatives. As long as you're prepared with proper clothing and footwear, there's no reason why you can't get outside and enjoy the beauty of the pristine natural surroundings.

Banff is well-known as an incredible destination for winter sports. It has one of the longest-lasting ski seasons in North America and more than 8,000 acres for skiing and snowboarding. The most popular ski areas include Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Area, and Mt. Norquay, with plenty of beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain. Experienced skiers love to visit Banff for the extensive backcountry ski areas where they can carve out their turns on fresh, unspoiled snow.

If skiing isn't your thing, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains and snow. Bundle up, enjoy a winter hike on gorgeous trails, or book a snowshoeing tour. Guided tours start at around $80. If you're looking for romance with a dash of coziness, consider a sleigh ride in which you can bundle up with your special someone and take in the majestic scenery wrapped in a warm blanket. Private sleigh rides start around $100 per person and last about an hour. Other popular winter activities include dog sledding, ice-skating, and soaking in the hot springs.

Lodging in Banff National Park

Banff National Park has plenty of options for accommodations, and there's something to suit every type of traveler, from luxurious 5-star resorts to cozy private cottages. There are even a few budget-friendly hotels and inns scattered around town for those who want to visit Banff without breaking the bank.

If you're looking for a perfect romantic winter getaway, consider staying at either of the phenomenal Fairmont hotels. The Fairmont Banff Springs resembles a fairytale castle and was originally built in 1888. It remains one of the oldest and most glamorous hotels and is located right in the center of town. The hotel features stunning décor, excellent dining options, and a massive state-of-the-art spa where you can relax and unwind.

If you want all the glitz, glamour, and romance without the hustle and bustle of downtown Banff, head to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which is just steps from the iconic glacial lake where locals and tourists enjoy ice-skating all season long. Many of the rooms feature breathtaking views of the lake and mountains beyond. The quiet setting is a perfect place to get cozy and enjoy the winter landscape. Rooms start at around $400 per night at both hotels.