Once in the shadow of the world famous town of Banff just 25km further west, Canmore has been transformed in recent years into a destination in its own right with an attractive downtown area, a fantastic selection of restaurants and cafes, and a wonderful variety of eclectic shops and art galleries. The town of Canmore also boasts an excellent network of local hiking and mountain biking trails, the fantastic Nordic Centre for cross country ski enthusiasts, and serves as the main gateway to the stunning Kananskis Country Provincial Park.
That being said, there are still many people for whom the main reason to stay in Canmore is its proximity to Banff and Banff National Park. So, if that’s the case, why would someone choose to stay at a hotel in Canmore rather than a hotel in Banff? Well, we think there are 4 main reasons:
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that hotels in Canmore tend to be cheaper than Banff hotels of the same standard. This is understandable – in Banff you are paying a premium for a location in a well established tourist destination within a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, Banff National Park is just a 5 minute drive from most Canmore hotels, and it takes just 20 minutes to get to the town of Banff, meaning that a 40 minute round trip can allow you to enjoy all that Banff has to offer while still enabling you to save money on accommodation by staying in Canmore. This is especially true for a longer stay when the potential savings might add up quickly.
Secondly, for anyone looking for a fully equipped suite or a condo with 2 or 3 bedrooms and a kitchen, rather than a standard hotel room, there is no doubt that Canmore has far more variety to offer in this area. Several of the newer properties in Canmore specialize in this type of accommodation and also offer many of the amenities that you might expect from a regular hotel such as a pool, hot tubs, and fitness facilities. This type of self contained accommodation also helps with the budget, as with your own cooking facilities you are not forced to eat out in a restaurant every day.
Thirdly, the town of Canmore, despite having become more popular as a destination, is still much less busy than Banff. In the middle of summer it can be difficult to walk down the main street in Banff due to the crowds of tourists, while in contrast, downtown Canmore is much quieter and has retained that friendly local atmosphere that some visitors prefer.
Lastly, for anyone visiting the Canadian Rockies from Calgary or Edmonton, Canmore is a shorter journey than Banff. Although it’s just a 15-20 minute difference, when leaving after work for a weekend in the mountains you might appreciate arriving at your hotel that little bit earlier, especially if you have dinner reservations or young children that need to get to bed.
There is no doubt that Banff is and always will be a popular destination, and there many reasons that people would choose to stay there, however, as you’ve seen, it is also true that staying at a hotel in Canmore can be a great alternative even when your primary goal is to visit Banff and Banff National Park.