7 Reasons To Put Banff On Your Bucket List

Banff National Park in Alberta has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sparkling lakes, dramatic mountains, rolling hills of pine trees, wildflower and waterfalls, not to mention it’s rich wildlife. Established as a national park in 1885 it is Canada’s oldest national park and attracts millions of visitors every year.

Although I could think of a million, here are 7 reasons why you just have to put Banff on your bucket list:

1. The Mountains

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The sheer beauty and magnificence of the mountains have been capturing the hearts of travellers since the dawn of time and the Canadian Rockies showcase some of the best in the world. Banff town is situated amidst Mt. Rundle, Cascade Mountain, Sulphur Mountain and Mount Norquey, so no matter where you look your eyes are soon greeted by magnificent snow kissed peaks. Waking up and opening your curtains to these kind of views surely never gets old.

2. The Wildlife

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Unfortunately I didn’t get to spot any in my brief time here, but Banff National Park is abundant with wildlife! It has 53 species of mammals roaming it’s green forests, with deer being know to wander right into town and surprise drunken  backpackers on their way back home!

If you keep your eyes peeled on the drive from Banff up to Lake Louise, this is meant to be a good time to spot animals such as deer, elk and even bears and moose. To reduce animal fatalities on this busy highway they have put a fence all along it, with animal overpasses and underpasses. These animal crossings allows the wildlife to cross safely and roam free. Clever right!

3. Lake Louise

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By far one of the greatest attractions of Banff National Park. Lake Louise is that place on all the Canadian Rockies postcards. You know the one of the magical emerald lake, overshadowed by great snowy mountain peeks? Unreal. Except of course this time of year it’s all frozen over! The frozen lake however brings it’s own enchanting beauty, you can walk on it!

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Walking across the lake really is an amazingly unique experience. I went from one side to the other and the whole time was in such awe of the mighty surroundings of the mountains. Towards the far side of the lake, on the right hand side, there is a spectacular frozen waterfall. You can spot a few ice climbers clambering up its emerald face and just stand and take in all of nature’s wonder.

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TIP: If you’re by a water hole, have a spare bottle of water and a handy Australian nearby who doesn’t mind standing on thin ice, then grab yourself some Lake Louise water for the finest, freshest drink imaginable! 💙

4. The People

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Banff is very much a tourist and a party town. Backpackers, weekend trippers, winter sports enthusiasts and the odd local all mingle together in a bustling hub of enjoyment. Whether it be a quiet few down the Irish Bar, cheap beer at your hostel wateringhole or a night of boogying at the Dancing Sasquach, there’s something for everyone here.

Due to Banff being greatly targeted at tourists, the hostels, tour groups and skii trips are filled with travellers all year round and a great place to chat and meet people from all over the world. Well when I say all over the world… I mean Australia, you guys were everywhere! 😂

5. The History

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As Canada’s oldest national park, Banff has a rich history of how it was first found and explored, as well as its development and battles with protecting it’s unique nature. If you take any of the tours (I used Discover Banff) then the guides are very informative about this kind of history.

6. The Outdoor Sports

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This is the big one. Visitors arrive in flocks during the winter season to make the most of the mountains skii and snowboarding season. Lake Louise Skii Hill is a particular popular area, with views overlooking the lake and buses leaving regularly from the town.

Aside from skiing and boarding, you can also try dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, ice climbing, ice skating and more. During the summer kayaking, canoeing, fishing, golf and more hiking trails all open up to enjoy.

7. The Hot Springs

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The closest hot springs to Banff are the popular Banff Upper Hot Springs. If you’re coming from the centre of town these heated pools are just a quick drive from Banff Avenue, hop on the 1 Roam bus toward Sulphur Mountain if you don’t have a car.

In the daytime there is a lovely view across to Mount Rundle and in the evening it’s a good way to ease those achey muscles after an adventurous day.

So there you have it, 7 pretty good reasons to grab that bag and get yourself to Banff! It certainly doesn’t disappoint I promise. 😊🗻🌲

J x

Falling In Love With Quebec City

Quebec City, what a wanderful place, Quebec City, ain’t no empty space. It means..  ok I’ll stop the terrible Disney reference! Oh you didn’t get that? Awkward.

Let’s start again, Salut! I’ve just spent a wonderful 3 nights in the city of Quebec and what can I say. I fell in love.

I stayed in the Old Quebec section, within its iconic walls and characterful old buildings. To be honest apart from going to the airport and the riverside I didn’t really venture outside those walls at all. I was having to much fun inside them! I love the fact that you feel like you’re in a small, French town though whilst still having the big city just a stones throw away.

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I stayed at HI Quebec, one of the hostel international places. It was a big old building close to the main road through town and the rooms on the top floor had some wicked views! The hostel also organises tour trips and group activities, so the first day I spent in Quebec I jumped aboard a walking tour around the old quarter followed by a trip to the ice hotel!

Old City Tour

The tour was taken by a local volunteer guide called Claude, he was really informative about the history of the city and it was a great way to get a feel of the place and of course take a bazillion photographs!! Here are a handful:

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The Fairmont Château Frontenac was especially spectacular!!

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Ice Hotel Trip

Next up was the ice hotel which I didn’t even know existed if it wasn’t for the hostel, so that was a cool (ha…cool) surprise. It’s literally a hotel, made of ice. People sleep there!!!!

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Apparently you get given this crazy warm duvet and you’re meant to wear minimal clothes so that you don’t sweat as that makes you more cold! So what I took from that was that you’re basically meant to sleep naked… in a fricking ice room!! Just don’t go sitting on the polar bear I guess!

Aside from the bedrooms there’s also a bar:

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So of course I had to try a drink from an ice goblet:

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Then there was stuff like ice penguin sculptures, a chapel where people can hold weddings and conferences, an ice slide and a few sugar shacks! Worth a quick trip for sure, but I’m not braving staying there just yet!

Cafés

The rest of my time spent in Quebec was pretty much alot of eating and drinking coffee. There was this mad snow storm one of the days, so I spent some time walking around taking photographs and diving into coffee shops every 20 minutes.

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I’d  heard about this place La Maison Smith from another travel blog and managed to stumble across it on my wandering. It’s famous for its macarons so I went inside to buy a couple and ended up staying for hours and eating 6 macarons… 😂

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It was so ridiculously hipster inside, students on their macbooks, groovy lights and maps all over the walls. A great place to chill and watch the snow float by.

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Rue du Petit-Champlain

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Once the snow had eased off slightly I got ridiculously snap happy walking around in this winter wonderland. My favourite area was the Petit Champlain neighborhood, an old section by the port that looked like something from a Christmas movie.

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To get to the street you can either take the stairs or this fun glass lift called the funicular. It’s only $2.50 and although it only takes two seconds to transfer you, you can grab some pretty great fleeting views of the port around you.

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Here are a few more photos of this picturesque area:

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I had to nip into a souvenir shop at one point to get out of the way of a snow plough  (as you do) and came away from it with this awesome compass!!

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There’s no excuse for me getting lost now!

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I spent a while here just taking in the lovely surroundings, I think it’s the most peaceful I’ve felt so far this trip. What a friendly, homely place 😊 loved it.

I’ll finish off with a few more photos from my snow day, currently rinsing some WiFi at a Starbucks in Banff as the Internet has been eluding me for a few days! 😂 More on that in my next post!

Much love from cosy Canada

J x

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