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Lake Louise, Banff

When it comes to Instagram-worthy landscapes, Lake Louise is hard to beat. The village of the same name is little more than a small shopping centre with a selection of restaurants and cafés, but beyond this lies one of the most incredible natural wonders in Banff National Park.  It’s the type of scenery you’re used to seeing on postcards - a dazzling lake framed by soaring mountains - but nothing quite compares to experiencing it for yourself. So stunning is the expansive beauty and kaleidoscope of colours that you won’t be able to resist taking that picture-perfect shot.

When it comes to the most tourist-heavy spots in Banff National Park, Lake Louise clinches the top spot. Having said that, the mesmerising views make putting up with the crowds more than worthwhile. The area is a haven for wildlife too, with the chance to see one of nature’s most fascinating creatures - the grizzly bear. Hiking trails around the lake and in the mountains are plentiful, and there’s also the opportunity to go biking, horse riding and canoeing. And for those who want to take a more laid-back approach to sightseeing, picturesque picnic spots, gondola rides and historic tea houses invite you to take a well-earned rest and admire the views.

So whether you want to venture off the beaten track into the wilderness or enjoy a more leisurely sightseeing tour, you won’t be short on things to see and do in Lake Louise.

why add Lake Louise to your itinerary

Let’s face it, the main reason for visiting Lake Louise is the scenery, and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in these stunning landscapes is on foot. You can choose from a wealth of hiking trails leading from the lake, from gentle rambles to more challenging backcountry treks. If you want to take it easy, follow the forested path from Lake Louise that leads to Lake Agnes Tea House. This rustic tea house is a favourite stop-off for hikers, with breathtaking views of Lake Agnes and its waterfall. If you’re feeling more adventurous, the Plain of Six Glaciers trail offers magnificent alpine views of Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier. Other popular trails include Fairview Mountain and the Big Beehive.

Though you’ll definitely want to pack your hiking boots, there’s also the option to explore the lakes, forests and mountain scenery on two wheels or on horseback. During the summer, canoes and kayaks can be rented from the north-eastern shore for the chance to glide across the glass-like water and see the magical landscapes from a different perspective.

For bird’s-eye views of the lake and mountains beyond (and to give your legs a rest), hop on board the gondola. The glass-enclosed cabin follows a path up Whitehorn Mountain to a lofty viewpoint, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might spot a grizzly bear or elk grazing in the valleys below.

Lake Louise essential information

Where

Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park. The lake itself is 5 km (3.1 miles) from the village, just off the Trans-Canada Highway.

Opening times

Both the village and lake are accessible year-round, but if you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit is in spring or autumn. The famous tea houses are open from around mid-May to mid-October.

Getting in

Lake Louise is included in your national park admission fee.

Dress code

The weather in Banff National Park can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to wear layers. You may also want to bring a hat, swimsuit (though the water might be chilly) and some sturdy hiking boots. Oh, and don’t forget your camera!

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