On any Western Canada itinerary, marvelling at all of the best things to do in Lake Louise is a must.
Among the most popular places to go in Banff National Park, Lake Louise attracts travellers from all around the world to dazzle at its turquoise hues set to a stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.
Not sure what to do in Lake Louise? Get started planning your trip to this top Canadian destination with this guide to the best places to visit in Lake Louise, Alberta…
What to do in Lake Louise
Well, this one’s obvious… If you’re just starting your quest to discover all the best things to do in Lake Louise, there’s a simple answer: Lake Louise itself!
This stunningly beautiful lake shimmers with turquoise hues, backed by mighty snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, ringed by deep pine forests, and fed by the crystal-clear waters melting off of Victoria Glacier.
In fact, the panoramic mountain & lake views from the shoreline is one of the most iconic scenes in all of Canada!
Besides checking out the lake from the “classic” northeast panorama point near the Fairmont Chateau, there’s an array of ways to take your visit up a notch.
Visiting Lake Louise in winter, there’s a number of activities on the lake itself including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and even horse-drawn sleigh rides.
If you’re planning to travel to Lake Louise in summer, take to the waters on a canoe or kayak or slip on some hiking shoes and go for a leisurely hike along the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail—and beyond! Such as…
Lake Agnes Trail
One of the best hikes in Lake Louise, the Lake Agnes Trail moves upward from the lakeshore via Mirror Lake to the 466-metre level where you’ll find the historic Lake Agnes Tea House.
This famous tea house, built on the shores of Lake Agnes at the turn-of-the-century in 1901, is among the most interesting historic places to see in Lake Louise is a great place to stop to rest your legs to lovely lake views.
(NOTE: The teahouse is only open between early June and mid-October.)
If a little more hiking is in the cards, you’ll find some more challenging hiking trails just beyond Lake Agnes like…
The Big Beehive Trail
Continuing along the northern shore of Lake Agnes and looping along its east, you’ll slide up & along The Big Beehive Trail, one of the top tourist attractions in Lake Louise.
The Big Beehive Trail is a moderately challenging hiking trail, summiting the mountain of the same name.
After getting a moderate burn on your quads during the ascent, you’ll be treated to spectacular views over the Canadian Rockies and Lake Louise.
Even with all of its glory, Lake Louise has a mega competitor for the title of the most beautiful lake in Banff National Park: Moraine Lake.
This insanely popular glacial lake is near the top of any list of things to see in Lake Louise thanks to its deep blue colours fringed by the rugged Rocky Mountains. The scene at Moraine Lake is so iconic that it actually made its way onto the Canadian twenty-dollar bill in the 1970s!
The only caveat to visiting Moraine Lake is its growing massive popularity. With its off-the-charts Instagrammability, Moraine Lake fills with visitors daily. Almost instantly. Get to the parking lot as early as possible in the morning to avoid the rush.
If you’ve got a little extra time on your visit, consider checking out Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass, one of the area’s best hikes and one of the top places to see fall colours in Banff National Park. The trailhead for the Larch Valley trek departs from the right side of the parking lot.
Moraine Lake is located just 30 minutes south of Lake Louise, about half an hour closer than visiting from Banff. Be aware that the road to Moraine Lake closes from mid-October until mid-May due to avalanche risk.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Located less than a 10-minute drive from Lake Louise Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort is near the top of any list of what to do in Lake Louise in winter.
The resort features 145 world-class runs for skiers & snowboarders to zoom down the Rocky Mountains among some of Canada’s most spectacular mountainside views.
Besides skiing & snowboarding, the resort offers an array of hiking trails for your summer Alberta adventure. (Be sure to keep the bear spray handy!)
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
While best known as one of the best places to stay in Banff National Park, the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a destination all to its own—whether you decide to stay here or not!
This legendary luxury hotel, dating back to 1890, was built alongside a flood of grand railway hotels that swept across Canada during the boom era.
Even if you don’t want to cough up the cash to spend a night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, grab a glass of wine and an alpine-inspired Germanic meal at Walliser Stube or a sophisticated cocktail at the elegant Lakeview Lounge for a taste & a sip of Canadian history.
Plain of Six Glaciers
Another top hike in the area, the Plain of Six Glaciers is famous for its spellbinding mountain views and vistas towards Lake Louise and its legendary luxury hotel.
The popular trail leading the Plain of Six Glaciers isn’t the easiest in the area, but the moderate difficulty is well-worth the panoramas you’ll get to experience when you reach the end.
Be sure to bring plenty of water along as the 14.6-kilometre return trip can be challenging—particularly in the heat of summer! If you want to escape the tourist crowds, delay your visit until the fall shoulder season.
Where to stay in Lake Louise for sightseeing
Unlike many other top Canadian travel destinations, the biggest challenge to choosing where to stay in Lake Louise is availability.
There’s a very limited selection of accommodations here with just a few options by the lakeside and handful of others around Lake Louise Village and off of the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A).
Many travellers choose, instead, to stay in Banff where there’s a much larger selection of hotels.
- Lake Louise Inn: More of a resort than an inn, this excellent accommodation option includes awesome extras like a heated pool, hot tubs, private balconies, fireplaces, and two restaurants & bars.
- Baker Creek Mountain Resort: Offering private rooms, suites, and chalets, this mountainside resort is a great choice for exploring the area. There’s a handful of great amenities here including a fitness centre, stream room, and sauna plus activities like horse riding and ice skating in the winter. The resort is located on the Bow Valley Parkway about 20 minutes south of Lake Louise Village.
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: One Canada’s most legendary hotels, this 5-star property is the top luxury hotel in the area. Built on the lakeshore in 1890, this hotel offers sophisticated rooms and luxurious amenities including a spa and an excellent selection of on-site eating & drinking options—with spectacular lake views to boot!
When to visit Lake Louise
The best time to visit Lake Louise is between late June and early to mid-September.
In the summer months and the fall shoulder season, the area’s top hiking trails will be opened & accessible and the glacial lake unfrozen, showing off their full dazzling blue colours.
If you don’t mind the colder temperatures, winter is another great time of year to visit. The area is ablaze with tons of winter activities from cross-country skiing to snowshoeing to ice skating. Of course, the skiing here is also fantastic, and offers some of the desired runs in Canada.
From Banff: Lake Louise is located about 60 kilometres northeast of Banff Town. The drive along the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) takes about 40 minutes. The scenic alternative route from Banff to Lake Louise via the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) running along the Bow River will take about an hour and a half.
From Calgary: One of the best day trips from Calgary, Lake Louise is 182 kilometres from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1). In good conditions, the journey is about two hours.
From Jasper: Lake Louise is located 233 kilometres southeast of Jasper. The drive along the beautiful Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) is about 3 hours.