Banff had been one of the few places I wanted to revisit for a long time. I finally brought my family there on Easter long weekend of 2019. It was a fabulous trip with totally different scenes! Below is my full Banff Itinerary in April.
Note: All prices below are CAD.
Our plan to get to Banff is to take a flight from Vancouver to Calgary and then drive a rental car there. Driving from Vancouver to Calgary is possible, but it isn’t the best way for a 4-day vacation.
Domestic flights on long weekends can be expensive. Fortunately, I could use credit card reward points to redeem round-trip tickets for three of us.
- Me: 15,000 RBC Reward points + $104.90 taxes and surcharges
- Mom: 15,000 RBC Reward points + $104.90 taxes and surcharges
- Sister: 16,900 CIBC Reward points + $79.65 taxes and surcharges
I got 30,000 RBC Reward points after applying for RBC Visa Infinite Avion when there was a Black Friday special. Normally, the card only offers 15,000 points as the welcome bonus, but they run promotions several times a year and offer 20K to 30K welcome bonus points with the annual fee waived for the first year. The taxes and surcharges were higher because there is a carrier-imposed surcharge of $24 per ticket.
The CIBC Reward points are from CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card. It is one of the best travel credit cards because it also comes with Priority Pass membership with 4 free airport lounge passes. I got 20,000 points and the annual fee rebate for the first year during the promotion last year.
The benefit of booking with points is that I can choose the best time to fly and pay the same amount of points and taxes. I also saved almost $900 ($300 per person) on flight as the cash price for my desired flights was about $400 per person.
Hotels in Banff and Canmore can be super expensive in the busy season. Again, I was able to use points to save a few hundred dollars.
- Quality Resort Chateau Canmore – 2 Queen Bed Beds, No Smoking, Suite – 44,000 points for 3 nights
I purchased those points last year during Daily Getaways promotion, and the cost for 44,000 points was about $300. This means that on average, I only spent $100 including taxes per night, which is a tremendous value. The cash rate at that time was around $200 plus taxes.
I booked my car rental directly with National this time. Earlier this year, I got Executive Elite status (their highest level) when they offered it to any American Express cardholders in a promotion. The price of the 3-day rental was $303.72. With the status, I was able to choose any vehicle from the lot and go. I randomly picked the Mitsubishi RVR, a crossover SUV. There were fancier cars I didn’t notice, but at least we didn’t have to cram in a tiny car this time.
Day 1 (Fri, Apr 19)
We arrived in Banff in the afternoon. We went to Cave and Basin first and wrapped up our day with the hot spring.
- Plaza Premium Lounge YVR (Domestic Departure)
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site [Banff]
- Dinner @ Ramen Arashi [Banff]
- Banff Upper Hot Springs [Banff]
Day 2 (Sat, Apr 20)
We visited multiple lakes and walked along Bow River in Banff before we enjoyed the awesome Albertan steak.
- Breakfast @ Chez Francois Breakfast & Brunch [Canmore]
- Two Jack Lake & Lake Minnewanka
- Lake Louise
- Vermilion Lakes [Banff]
- Bow River Walk [Banff]
- Dinner @ Chuck’s Steakhouse [Banff]
Day 3 (Sun, Apr 21)
The main event for the day was climbing up Sulphur mountain.
- Breakfast @ Rocky Mountain Bagel Co [Canmore]
- Sulphur Mountain Hike & Banff Gondola [Banff]
- Dinner @ The Grizzly Paw Pub [Canmore]
Day 4 (Mon, Apr 22)
We decided to return to Calgary early and had dim sum for brunch.
- Lunch @ Silver Dragon Restaurant
- Chinook Lounge YYC
Ths Banff Itinerary does not include all the must-visit destinations. We skipped Johnston Canyon on Day 3 because we simply didn’t have the stamina to do another hike. Most of the lakes were still frozen, so we only visited two.
It was a much needed short trip for all of us. Many parts of Banff looked completely different due to the weather, but the views were still memorable. It feels super great when I saved a lot of money by using points!