Fairmont Banff Springs

Banff Town

Looming up beside the Bow River, the Banff Springs is a local landmark in more ways than one. Originally built in 1888, and remodeled in 1928 to resemble a cross between a Scottish baronial castle and a European château, the turret-topped exterior conceals an eye-poppingly extravagant selection of ballrooms, lounges, dining rooms and balustraded staircases that would make William Randolph Hearst green with envy.

Highlights include an Arthurian great hall; an elegant, wood-paneled bar; and the gorgeous hot-springs spa. Even if you’re not staying here, you’re welcome to wander around, and it’s worth splashing out on a coffee, a meal or a cocktail in one of the hotel's dozen or so restaurants, lounges and bars.

The hotel is best seen in winter, when the lights of its 700-odd rooms twinkle out from under a thick crust of snow.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Banff Town attractions

1. Bow Falls

0.22 MILES

About 500m south of town, just before the junction with Spray River, the Bow River plunges into a churning melee of white water at Bow Falls. Though the…

2. Surprise Corner Viewpoint

0.26 MILES

About 1.2km east of Banff Town, the Surprise Corner viewpoint looks out over the rushing white water of Bow Falls.

3. Old Banff Cemetery

0.72 MILES

Banff’s shaded cemetery is worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in the town’s history. Some of the gravestones date back to the 1890s; among the…

4. Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

0.76 MILES

The Luxton Museum recounts the story of Alberta's indigenous people, with a strong emphasis on the Cree, Blackfoot, Blood and Stoney nations. The displays…

5. Banff Park Museum


Occupying the oldest surviving federal building in a Canadian National Park and dating from 1903, this museum is a national historic site. Its exhibits –…

6. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Founded by local artists Catharine and Peter Whyte, the century-old Whyte Museum is more than just a rainy-day option. It boasts a beautiful, ever…

7. Upper Hot Springs Pool

0.95 MILES

Banff quite literally wouldn’t be Banff if it weren’t for its hot springs, which gush out from 2.5km beneath Sulphur Mountain at a constant temperature of…

8. Banff Avenue

0.96 MILES

A little over a century ago, Banff Ave was Banff. Initially, the central street was home to little more than a handful of hotels, homesteads and trail…