How to get from Calgary to Banff includes quite a few options. Our article has details about all transportation options with costs breakdown for all budgets.
The below detailed breakdown covers several frequently asked questions:
- how to get to Banff National Park
- which is the closest airport to Banff
- options for transport from Calgary airport to Banff
Going to the Rockies? Read these:
As someone living in Calgary who has done the ‘Calgary to Banff’ drive a hundreds of times, I can tell you the views are breathtaking. Once you leave the city’s boundaries, the prairies will slowly disappear and the Rocky Mountains will be greeting you. No matter if your transports provide wifi or not, enjoy the mountain views!
Things to know before you book or rent transport from Calgary to Banff
- the closest airport to Banff is in Calgary
- Banff is 145km from Calgary International Airport, around 1,5 hours by car& 2 hours by bus
- the connecting Trans-Canada Highway is toll-free
- there is no public transit (bus or train) from Calgary to Banff available, everything is run by private companies
- Parks Canada announced they will put regular service in place but no dates were provided when this will be available
- If you’re driving, you need to pay an admission fee (or you can do it online), more info here once you enter Banff National Park
- For road conditions and closures in Alberta, check out 511 Alberta
Free water – some bus companies provide free water on board, however, Canada has drinking water which is 100% safe so you can bring your own water bottle and fill up on the go.
Below are all the options for transport from Calgary to Canmore (just outside of Banff NP), Banff & Jasper.
Calgary to Banff by bus
1| On-It regional transit – bus
- Available on weekends and holidays from May to September
- Departing from Calgary downtown (or Crowfoot LRT – C-train station) to Canmore & Banff train station or High school
- 10 CAD one-way (to Banff or Canmore) including the public transport Roam in Banff for the same day
- Bathroom on board
2| The Banff Express – minibus/shuttle
- Provides transport from downtown Calgary or Foothills Hospital to Banff train station
- Takes 2 hours
- 2 daily departures (morning and evening) both ways
- One-way 30 CAD (+5% GST)
- Return 60 CAD (+5% GST)
- Child 6-17 – 17 CAD one-way, 34 CAD return (+5% GST)
3| Banff Airporter – minibus/shuttle
- Provides transport from the airport to any hotel in Banff
- Takes 2 hours
- Several daily departures from 10:00 to 22:30
- One-way 67,99 CAD (+5% GST)
- Return 135,98 CAD (+5% GST)
- Child 6-17 – 33,99 CAD one-way, 67,98 CAD return(+5% GST)
4| Brewster Express – bus
- Provides transport from the airport or downtown to any hotel in Banff
- Wi-Fi on board
- Takes 1 hour 45 minutes
- Departures from 9:30 to 22:00
- One-way 72 CAD (+5% GST)
- Return 72×2= 144 CAD (+5% GST)
- Their website states 15% off for roundtrip but didn’t work online when I tried
Greyhound bus for 22 CAD one-way used to be the best option but unfortunately, Greyhound canceled all services in Western Canada in October 2018.
Calgary to Banff by campervan
This is, without doubt, the most budget-friendly option.
The gas to get from Calgary to Banff will cost you around 18 CAD and you can save hundreds of dollars on accommodation by sleeping in the campervan. You will only pay your National Park admission fee and campgrounds. Parking nearby popular attractions is free.
The freedom you will have to stop whenever you like is priceless!
For parking in Banff, check out this website for detailed info and availability.
Calgary to Banff by car
You can rent a car from international well known rental companies which are located at the airport or in downtown. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest going by public transport to downtown and rent a car there. Renting directly from the airport is always more expensive (but also more convenient).
We’ve tried 3 different companies – Budget, Enterprise, and National, and had the best experience with National. The basic rental car usually costs around 45 CAD a day (+insurance and GST).
Or, you can rent a car from local Calgarians through Turo. It works on the same principle as Airbnb where locals rent out their own rooms/apartments. Turo will let you choose a car from locals who will rent it to you.
Get $25 off on your first rental when you sign up through this link.
We personally haven’t tried this option but heard travelers and backpackers using it often.
- Facebook group – I need a ride to Calgary/Canmore/Banff
Hitchhiking from Calgary to Banff
We are members of the Couchsurfing community and a few of our surfers were successful and enjoyed hitchhiking in Canada. We even picked up a few hitchhikers ourselves.
Make your way to Valley Ridge neighborhood by taking a C-train to Crowfoot station and then bus #408 and you can start hitchhiking from there.
Other options for transport from Calgary to Banff
There is also an option to go by private transport (charter your own minibus), limo or taxi but since it would cost you hundreds of dollars and in my opinion are the worst options, I’m not including info about that in this article.
Transport in & around Banff
Roam public bus
Public buses are available to get around Banff or to Canmore.
A few shuttle buses run by Parks Canada are now available from Banff to Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise & Moraine Lake.
Daily shuttle buses in Banff National Park run from:
- Banff to Lake Louise, seasonal schedule, Roam public bus route #8, 8S, 8X (8 CAD one-way)
- Banff to Johnston Canyon, several times daily June 21 – September 15, Roam public bus route #9 (4 CAD one-way)
- Banff to Canmore, daily year-round, Roam public bus route #3 (6 CAD one-way)
- Banff to Lake Minnewanka, from May 17, Roam public bus route #6 (2 CAD one-way)
- Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, May 24 – October 14 (6 CAD one-way, starting 8:40am)
- Lake Louise to Moraine Lake ‘early bird’ for hiking, June 24 – September 29 (8 CAD one-way, from 6 am – 7:30 am)
- Lake Louise overflow camping to Moraine Lake, September 10 – October 8 (free)
- Lake Louise Gondola to Lake Louise village & Lake Louise, in summer (free)
The bus schedule was updated in April 2019, check out this website for the most recent schedule as Parks Canada is adding more.
Hop on Banff
You can ride a yellow school bus from May 25th to October 2nd, 2019 for 60 CAD a day (tax included). Like other hop on, hop off buses around the world, this concept is the same – you can get on & off the bus wherever you like. It can drive you to Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise & Moraine Lake.
Calgary to Canmore
Canmore is a popular town in the Canadian Rockies and tends to be less crowded than Banff. Transport to Canmore is provided by most of the companies since it’s on the way to Banff:
- On-It regional transit – bus
- The Banff Express – minibus/shuttle
- Banff Airporter – minibus/shuttle
If you would like to visit Banff, staying in Canmore is a very good option. It’s only 25 km away and there is a regular public bus Roam driving between Banff and Canmore.
What’s even better, the biking path Legacy Trail between Banff and Canmore is a beautiful scenic option how you can easily visit both mountain towns.
Calgary to Jasper
Jasper National Park is a neighbour to Banff National Park and both of them offer endless outdoor activities and dramatic mountainous landscapes.
The closest airports to Jasper are Edmonton (365 km) and Calgary (412 km). Even though Edmonton is closer, I recommend flying to Calgary. The road from Calgary to Jasper has many gorgeous places you don’t want to miss out (including famous Moraine Lake, Lake Louise & Peyto Lake).
Jasper is 412 km away from Calgary and it takes around 5 hours to get there if you’re driving without stopping. The road from Banff to Jasper, better known as the Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic routes in the world. Take a look at our post to see the most beautiful landscapes on the Icefields Parkway. I recommend taking at least a full day to slowly travel from Calgary to Jasper.
If you’re in a rush, these companies provide transport from Calgary (downtown or airport) to Jasper:
- Brewster Express (167 CAD one-way +5% GST)
- Sundog Tours (135 CAD one-way +5% GST)
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