Planning a road trip through Western Canada? Start by checking all the best places to visit in Alberta off your bucket list!
From the vast wilderness of Banff & Jasper National Parks to the glacier- and mountain-backed turquoise hues of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, the Western Canadian province of Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most iconic travel destinations and most incredible natural scenery.
Not sure what to do on your trip to Alberta? Start planning the ultimate itinerary with this guide to the best things to see & do in Alberta…
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Where to go in Alberta
Banff National Park
Visiting Alberta without setting foot into Banff National Park would be absolute heresy. This stunning slice of nature is one of the best places to visit in Canada. And with good reason.
As you make your way through the vast wilderness of Banff National Park you’ll discover exactly why Canada is on the bucket list of every serious outdoor adventurer.
Banff is chock-loaded with some of the finest scenery on earth, and as Canada’s oldest national park, it’s not difficult to experience thanks to its well-developed infrastructure.
There are a ton of great hiking trails in Banff National Park, leading you towards world-class natural destinations like Peyto Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Bow Lake, Moraine Lake, Plain of Six Glaciers, and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
Overall, the best time to go to Banff National Park is in the summer months of July and August when the area’s hike & walks are at their most accessible and the glacial lakes are no longer frozen.
For peeping the colourful autumn leaves in Banff, visit between the end of September and mid-October.
If you’re a winter sports enthusiast, visit Banff in winter and take to the slopes. The three main ski resorts in Banff—Lake Louise, Sunshine, and Mount Norquay—are among the best places to ski in Canada.
Located in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is iconic enough to warrant its own mention among the top places to visit in Alberta.
A stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies and the Victoria Glacier greets you as you approach the shoreline of this famed Canadian lake. It’s truly one of Canada’s most spectacular scenes. (As the crowds here in peak tourist season will quickly remind you!)
Beside enjoying the lake itself, there’s a ton to see & do in Lake Louise. Combing the lakeshore and powering up into the mountains, you’ll discover a host of amazing hikes around Lake Louise including the famous Lake Agnes Trail, The Big Beehive, The Devil’s Thumb, and Moraine Lake.
Although it’s a great destination year-round, the best time to visit Lake Louise is either in summer when the hiking is at its best, or during winter when you’ll be to strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes on the lake or carve the pistes of Lake Louise Ski Resort, one of the biggest and best ski resorts in Canada.
Jasper National Park
Next to visiting Banff, one of the highlights of any trip to Alberta is Jasper National Park. Set in the Rocky Mountains north of Banff (via the scenic Icefields Parkway), Jasper offers another world-class alternative for your Canadian outdoor adventure plans.
From waterfalls and glaciers to mountain peaks and lush pine valleys, there are a ton of things to see in Jasper National Park. As you roam through the vast terrain on some of the top hikes in Jasper, keep on the lookout for gems like Maligne Canyon, Maligne Lake, Athabasca Falls, and Miette Hot Springs.
The park is also home to the incredible Columbia Icefield. Located on the border of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park along the Icefields Parkway, the Columbia Icefield is one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world and easily one of the best things to see in Alberta.
From its two most famous national parks to its most popular urban destination, Calgary is the largest city and one of the most interesting places to visit in Alberta for travellers who prefer culture to nature.
And while it’s perhaps not as well known as the three other major Canadian cities that trump its 1 million+ population, the top tourist attractions in Calgary will definitely keep you busy whether it’s searching for street art & heritage buildings along Stephen Street or taking a relaxing walk on the Bow River Pathway System.
If you decide to visit Calgary in summer, set aside time to check out the Calgary Stampede. Crowned the “greatest outdoor show on earth,” the Calgary Stampede stomps into town for 10 days every July, bringing with it fun activities, great food, and plenty of wild entertainment.
Waterton Lakes National Park
As if Alberta’s two other national parks weren’t quite enough, let’s also throw Waterton Lakes National Park into the mix.
Situated on the U.S. and southern Alberta border and sharing protected status with Glacier National Park in Montana, Waterton Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site replete with lakes, mountain peaks, rare flora, and an abundance of wildlife.
Aside from its spectacular scenery, there’s a wide array of outdoor activities you can seek out on a visit here. In winter, you’ll find cross-country skiing trails to zip along. In summer, you’ll discover the park’s 255 kilometres of hiking & biking trails at their best.
With all of the amazing things to do in Alberta, the Albertan capital of Edmonton doesn’t often get much attention. Don’t let its lack of press fool you: Edmonton’s a great place to roam around for travellers!
Most compelling among the top Edmonton points of interest is undoubtedly its parklands. The city’s riverside location has given birth to the humungous North Saskatchewan River Valley park system. This vast stretch along both sides of the North Saskatchewan River paints the fringes of central Edmonton with deep greenery, hiding in its midst parks, golf courses, and ponds.
If you’re visiting Edmonton with kids, don’t miss out on the West Edmonton Mall. It’s the biggest shopping mall in all of North America and is home to an array of kid-friendly attractions including an amusement park, waterpark, and a full-size pirate ship.
Although just 90 minutes northeast of downtown Calgary, Drumheller feels like a different world compared to other top places to visit in Alberta.
The small town of just 8,000 is the main base for exploring the eerie Canadian Badlands. In this unique area, you’ll watch the Great Plains dip into canyons peppered with wind-carved hoodoos.
Beyond exploring its odd landscapes, there’s plenty of other interesting things to do in Drumheller. Even more famous in Drumheller is its (very!) ancient history. The former coal-mining town attracts palaeontologists from around the world to explore its ground for the bone of the dinosaurs that once roamed these lands.
The nearby Royal Tyrrell Museum in Midland Provincial Park, unsurprisingly, contains one of the world’s biggest collections of dinosaur fossils. Kids will also love the positively gigantic 26-metre-high T-Rex in the middle downtown Drumheller.
Nestled just inside the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies, the former coal-mining town of Canmore is an outdoor paradise par excellence. While spending time in the town itself is pleasant, the true gift Canmore delivers to the world is its wide variety of outdoor adventures.
Among the top things to see & do in Canmore, you’ll enjoy a wealth of excellent hiking trails, cycling routes, and epic rock climbing opportunities exposing the beautiful natural scenery of the Canmore area and the nearby Kananaskis Country region.