From skiing on the frozen lake surface during winter to simply strolling by the emerald green water during summer, Lake Louise offers a lot for travellers. The stunning lake town, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, is not simply a part of Banff National Park, it is a traveller's playground and a place for both adventure seekers and nature lovers. It is no surprise that Lake Louise finds itself on many travellers' bucket lists. Unfortunately, many get confused when deciding on the top things to do in Lake Louise. Many don't know that the stunning little town of Lake Louise offers an assortment of activities for all types of travellers.
We have travel insiders at Canadian Train Vacations who can help you create your itinerary with a list of the top things to do in Lake Louise. Let's dive into them in detail.
1. Bask in the beauty of the turquoise lake
Once you arrive at Lake Louise, you will immediately understand why it is the most photographed site in Canada. The bluish-green colour of the lake is a magical sight to behold.
Did you know that roughly for two years from 1882 to 1884, it was called Emerald Lake thanks to its emerald-green water?
When the snow from the Lower Victoria Glacier melts, the rocks crumble into tiny particles which then get deposited at the bottom of the lake. The fine fragments reflect light which makes the lake look blue. Stop and admire the phenomenal view — the reflection of the magnificent mountains on the lake makes the panorama even more captivating.
2. Take a walk on the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail
If you want to enjoy the stunning views with an easy, casual hike, with no elevation, then the Lakefront Trail is the one for you. Starting from the shore, the trail goes all the way to the back of the lake. This gives ample opportunities to relish the view and get stunning photos.
The complete trail is 4 km out and back, which takes about an hour to complete. There are benches all along the path so you can find a less crowded spot, watch the sunset and spend a beautiful evening admiring nature. The trail is also wide enough to allow easy passing of wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers.
3. Enjoy a bird's eye view from Lake Louise Gondola
Lake Louise is known for being Canada's favourite winter playground for skiing. And when the snow melts, the gondola serves as a popular tourist attraction. Take a ride up to Whitehorn Mountain to take in the beautiful views of Lake Louise Village, the turquoise lake, and the surrounding mountains.
If you get lucky, you may spot grizzly bears as the Lake Louise ski hill is a popular feeding ground amongst the bears in the summer and fall.
This is the ideal activity for someone who wants to see the scenery without having to trek up the mountain.
The summer Gondola experience takes about one to three hours and the services are open from June to September. The chairlift ride starts from $55.
4. Treat yourself at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Evolving from a log cabin to a chateau, the resort is flanked by the lake, soaring mountains, and glacier peaks.Spend a luxurious night, grab a lavish lunch, or go for a royal afternoon tea at this world-famous mountain resort. Enjoy dining at the Lakeview Lounge, which offers picture-perfect views from its oversized windows.
Or embrace some art making in nature. Get a $10 art kit from the Concierge desk. It includes a paint set and a small blank canvas. Grab a seat in the garden and try your hands at painting the scenery that nature has so beautifully created.
5. Go canoeing on Lake Louise
Imagine floating on the peaceful waters of Lake Louise in a canoe. It is one of the most popular activities to do in Lake Louise.
Canoes can be rented at the boathouse. It is better to go early to avoid waiting in line for the rentals. The canoe trips are operational from June to October and the cost starts at $135 for an hour.
6. Hike on the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail
This is a popular and rewarding hiking trail around Lake Louise. The trail is uphill until the end with an elevation gain of about 392m. The round trip is 7.7 km in total and takes about three to four hours to complete.
The trail starts in front of the hotel and ends at Lake Agnes. It winds around Mirror Lake giving a glimpse of the Big Beehive Mountain. Weaving between the forests, lakes and mountains, this trail offers unmatched views.
The best part is when you reach the Lake Agnes Tea House and you can reward yourself with some hot soup or sandwiches. Serving tea since 1905, this was the first tea house in Lake Louise. It started the popular tradition of sipping tea atop the mountain while looking over Lake Agnes.
7. Explore Lake Louise Hamlet
The small hamlet of Lake Louise is located in the heart of nature. Have a freshly prepared breakfast at Laggan's Mountain Bakery or browse through the local's artworks at the Samson Native Gallery. There is a visitor information centre and a sports shop, Wilson Mountain Sports, for all kinds of gear for outdoor activities, which you can buy or rent.
8. Grab lunch at the historic Station Restaurant
Once Lake Louise Station, now a restaurant, this unique eating spot is a must-visit for all train lovers and travellers.
Certain areas of the railway station, including the Great Room, East Room, Station Master's and Parcel room, along with the station itself have been converted into a beautiful restaurant. A heritage garden and an outdoor patio also add to its beauty. A few steps away is a special dining car called Delamere, which is only reserved for special occasions.
9. Drive to Takakkaw Falls
Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park is a short and scenic drive from Lake Louise. When the massive Daly Glacier melts, the water tumbles 384 metres off the ledge to create this spectacular waterfall.
It's a 50 minute drive from Lake Louise to reach the waterfall. From the parking lot, it's an easy, level path. This is a glacier-melt waterfall, so even during summer the water will always be super cold.
10. Try horseback riding
Another perspective on the Lake Louise area can be accessed through its popular cowboy trails. This breathtaking Western experience is offered by local outfitters — and you don't need any previous experience to try out this adventure.
Horseback riding in Lake Louise takes about one to three hours to complete and is usually available from June to October.
11. Take a guided tour of Lake Louise
Nothing can beat exploring the area with the help of local guides. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Louise as your guide takes you around the mountain roads. It is a great way to learn the stories, myths, secrets and legends surrounding Lake Louise. Admire the beauty of the landscapes, glaciers, wildlife, flora and fauna as well-trained guides fills you in on all the interesting information.
12. Take a scenic drive to the Icefields Parkway
Known as one of the world's most beautiful and scenic rides, the Icefields Parkway connects the two of the iconic spots within the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise and Jasper. It is possible to drive the complete parkway in 3 hours but you will want to spend a whole day on this Lake Louise activity. The road passes stunning waterfalls and beautiful glacier lakes that will make you pull over and appreciate the natural beauty. You can even spot ancient glaciers on the drive.
The Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, is a 233 km drive. Since it passes through the national park, you will need a valid Canada Parks Pass to drive along this highway.
13. Hike the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail
Along with the Lake Agnes Tea House, Plain of Six Glaciers is another teahouse in the mountains. If you are looking to hike off the beaten path, this wilderness trail attracts fewer hikers.
It is a 5.3 km hike from Lake Louise to the tea house, which has been serving tea and baked goods since 1959. The trail has 400m of elevation gain and can be completed in around four to six hours.
14. Visit Moraine Lake
The trip to Lake Louise will be incomplete without visiting Moraine Lake. This alpine glacier lake is a stunning turquoise blue. The towering peaks of ten mountains form an incredible backdrop to Moraine Lake.
The road to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise is open during the summer months from June to October. In winter, the road serves as a track for cross-country skiing to the Ten Peaks viewpoint.
15. Have a drink and relish the views of Lake Louise
Lake Louise is home to several pubs and bars that offer amazing seating with a scenic lookout. Enjoy a drink or two, take in the views, and have a one-of-a-kind experience. It is probably one of the top things to do in Lake Louise for someone who is looking for a laid-back vacation.
Whitehorn Bistro, Eden, and Cliffhouse Bistro are some of the most popular places in Lake Louise to have a relaxing drink in the company of tranquil views.
16. Go Snowshoeing
If you want to experience the snowy landscapes of the Canadian Rockies, then snowshoeing is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in winter. Strap on your snowshoes and crisscross your way through the fresh snow. While you are at it, keep an eye out for wildlife tracks, which will give you an idea about the animals that reside in that area.
Guided tours start from $82. Plan your visit between December and April to get the maximum fun out of snowshoeing.
17. Hike to Consolation Lakes
From Moraine Lake, near Lake Louise, it is only a short 3 km hike to Consolation Lakes. Walk through Moraine Lake Rockpile, see the remnants of an old rockslide off the Tower of Babel, and hike along the shores of Babel Creek. It is an easy hike with a slight 240 m elevation gain.
18. Explore Johnston Canyon
Enter another world by hiking across the limestone cliffs of the canyon. The well-bolted metal pathway takes you under and over the impressive canyon with the cool mist of the waterfalls rising from below. Both the Lower Falls and Upper Falls trails are easy and take about 1 to 3 hours to complete.
19. Go dog sledding
Lake Louise's dog sledding adventure lets you admire the stunning winter views while experiencing the power of a team of huskies. These smart creatures know as much about the area as knowledgeable guides do. Sit back and enjoy a thrilling ride as the sled slides and the guide point out the cascading glaciers, mountain peaks, and the local critter tracks.
20. Drive through Bow Valley Parkway
Instead of taking the Trans-Canada Highway from Banff to Lake Louise, take the more scenic route of Bow Valley Parkway filled with plenty of hikes and roadside pullouts. It is 48 km long and could easily be one of the most exciting activities in Lake Louise. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the wildlife of Bow Valley Parkway. You can stop to hike the Johnston Canyon, take a Gondola ride or leisurely have a picnic in many of the picnic spots along the way.
21. Walk the Bow River Loop Trail
From anywhere in Lake Louise village, start walking towards the Bow River. The whole trail follows the river giving astonishing views of the surrounding mountains and wildflowers along the Bow River. It is a 4 km non-strenuous trail and can take about an hour to complete. However, in August, part of the trail is closed for the bears to move freely to feed on the berries grown near the river. So, carrying bear spray is recommended on this trail.
22. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Old Tyme Candy Shoppe
Chase your imagination with a piece or pocket full of sweet, sour, or salty candies. Located in Lake Louise Village, the Old Tyme Candy Shoppe will take you down memory lane with its homemade fudge and varieties of frozen yogurt and ice cream. Pick some crunchy and chewy treats for your day hikes or treat yourself in the evening after a long day of exploration. Either way, the delicious sweets and candies make up for a great interval while watching the mountain slopes.
23. Take a day trip to Banff
Head on to the bustling mountain town of Banff for a day indulging in some of the best things to do, like visiting the Vermilion Lakes or riding the gondola up Sulphur Mountain. You can either choose to go on a guided tour to immerse yourself in the history of Banff or have a relaxing day by soaking in the Banff Upper Hot Springs and getting a beer at one of the breweries in Banff.
24. Enjoy a morning coffee and breakfast at the Trailhead Café
It is always best to start your day with an amazing breakfast and when in Lake Louise, start your mountain adventure with a delicious coffee and hot breakfast at the family-owned Trailhead Cafe in Lake Louise Village. They have daily specials and freshly baked treats along with serving the best coffee in town and their signature wrap or sandwich.
Canadian Rockies and West Coast
25. Have dinner and drinks at Bill Peyto’s Cafe
Fill up your stomach at this local's favourite cafe named after one of the famous guides of Banff. They serve a hearty dinner with plenty of appetizers and beverage options. It is rather packed with people at all times, so it is better to book your spot in advance or arrive early to avoid waiting in a long line.
26. Hike the Larch Valley Trail
Hiking through the Larch Valley takes you on a magical walk through the wide forest of larch trees. The popularity of this hike is quite extensive during fall due to the shining golden colour of the trees. Although, during summer, the trail still looks beautiful giving compelling views. Along the 8.6 km out-and-back hike, the path winds through evergreen forest and little mountain streams. Since Larch Valley is one of the famous spots of Lake Louise, expect to see a lot of people hiking this trail.
27. Hike to Skoki Lodge
Skoki is a backcountry lodge and to reach here you have to either hike or ski for 11 km beginning from the Lake Louise Ski Resort. It is a great place to have the best mountain experience like hiking, fishing and horseback riding in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Built in 1930, it is a rustic lodge which provides accommodation for 22 guests. And if you are not willing to stay, you can hang around the fireplace in the living room.
28. Ice skate or play Hockey on Lake Louise
Lake Louise's turquoise water completely freezes during the winter and forms a magical playground for skating or hockey on the ice. It is one of the coolest things to do in Lake Louise in winter and should not be missed. You can bring your own skates and glide freely across the frozen lake. But if you forget your pair of skates, you can easily rent them from the Fairmont Hotels.
29. Experience the Ice Magic Festival
Lake Louise hosts the Ice Magic Festival as part of the Banff SnowDays Celebration. The festival is an ice-carving competition where the artists gather to transform the giant ice blocks into incredible ice sculptures. The magic of the ice carving takes place on the Lake Louise shore next to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Visitors gather here every year to witness this amazing festival.
30. Check out Nightrise: A winter experience at the Banff Gondola
If you are thinking about things to do in Lake Louise at night, take the gondola up to the Sulphur Summit and watch the mystical transformation of the mountaintop. It is an after-dark experience where four digital art installations change the atmosphere through vibrant lighting, multimedia effects, video projections and music.
The event runs from December until mid-march from 5 PM to 10 PM and the tickets start from $ 58
Frequently Asked Questions
When to visit Lake Louise?
The most picturesque location in Canada offers something in every season. The road to Lake Louise is open year-round, offering the opportunity to admire the stunning lake in all its forms. Lake Louise is especially lovely during fall, when the changing leaves add pops of colour to the landscape.
How to reach Lake Louise?
By Road: The town of Lake Louise is connected directly to the Trans-Canada Highway. It is 57 km from Banff town, 183 km from Calgary, and 470 km from Edmonton.
By Air: The nearest airport to Lake Louise is Calgary International Airport which is only 130 km away. A shuttle bus is conveniently available right from the airport to Lake Louise.
By Train: If you want to take an adventurous train ride that takes you through picturesque views, you can opt for the Complete Canadian Rockies Tour by Fresh Track Canada.
Is there a fee for Lake Louise?
To visit Lake Louise, you will need to purchase a pass to enter the Banff National Park. A one-day pass for an adult costs about $10.50 and $9 for seniors.
Is parking free at Lake Louise?
The Lake Louise lakeshore parking lot is paid for during the summer months from May to October. The paid parking is from 7am to 7pm and costs about $ 12.25 per vehicle.
How to get to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise?
The Lake Connector shuttle runs every 15 minutes and connects both lakes. Seats fill up on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Is swimming allowed at Lake Louise?
The water temperature hardly gets over 4 degrees Celsius even in the summer, therefore, you shouldn't swim for more than 15 minutes, although it is allowed.
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