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The Ultimate 6 Day Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip

The Ultimate 6 Day Vancouver to  Calgary Road Trip

The road trip from Vancouver to Calgary is one of the most epic and scenic drives in all of Canada.

In fact, it may be one of the most beautiful road trips to take in the entire world!

I did this road trip a few years back, and my friends and I spent 6 days driving from Vancouver to Calgary.

It was a pretty rushed trip, but we actually managed to see quite a bit during our trip.

We visited at the end of May and got to enjoy the spring weather, which was mostly cool weather!

Adam and I *hopefully* plan on doing a 2 week Calgary to Vancouver road trip this summer, but we’ll obviously see how things go.

Here’s a look at how to do the ultimate 6 day Vancouver to Calgary road trip!

Be sure to also follow me on Instagram and TikTok – I share a lot more content on those platforms that don’t make it to the blog!

If you’re planning your road trip from Vancouver to Calgary, you might enjoy these posts:


Tips for your Vancouver to Calgary road trip


Pack for cooler weather

Yes, Banff gets warm during the spring and summer, but that doesn’t mean the mountains don’t stay cold.

Pack at least a light jacket in case you find yourself in the middle of a snowstorm – which we did, in May!

It might be nice to have a rain jacket, especially since Vancouver is known as “raincouver”.

Download offline Google Maps

Most of the Icefields Parkway has absolutely zero service, which means you won’t be able to call anyone or look anything up on the internet.

If you rely on Google Maps to get you places, download the entirety of Banff and the Icefields Parkway so you can view it even without internet!

Download music or podcasts

On that note, you’ll also want to download enough music or podcasts to keep you entertained the entire time you’re driving without any internet or cell service.

I’ve got a blog post all about the best podcasts for your road trip!

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10 Best Dessert Places in Vancouver

Keep your gas tank full

There aren’t all that many gas stations in Banff, and you don’t want to find yourself in a sticky situation.

In fact, there’ a whole stretch of Icefields Parkway where you won’t find a gas station for two whole hours!

We made this mistake and almost found ourselves stuck, but luckily we had just enough gas to get us to the next gas station.


6 day Vancouver to Calgary road trip


My friends and I decided to go on a spontaneous spring road trip from British Columbia to Alberta.

We only spent about a day and a half in Vancouver, but since it isn’t a particularly large city, we did manage to see some of the main touristy spots.

Here are some other posts to help you plan your perfect trip to Vancouver:

If you’re looking for even more fun activities and things to do in Vancouver, be sure to check out some local tours!

Day 1: Downtown Vancouver & Cleveland Park

Granville Island

We missed our flight from Toronto to Vancouver (lol) so we had to take the next flight.

We ended up arriving in the afternoon instead of the morning, and we headed straight to Granville Island for a little exploring.

It kinda resembled Toronto’s Harbourfront neighbourhood, but was much cuter, had better food options, and was actually by the ocean.

LOCATION: 1669 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC | Website

Granville Island in Vancouver
Photo by Jerry D.

Downtown Vancouver

Afterwards, we drove to downtown Vancouver and did a little bit of exploring in the main part of the city.

We checked out FlyOver Canada, a touristy virtual ride inside a theatre, which was actually really cool.

I highly recommend paying it a visit if you get the chance – it’s totally not a tourist trap!

Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
The view from Canada Place, where FlyOver Canada is located.

Gastown

We also explored the historical neighbourhood of Gastown, which is actually the oldest part of Vancouver.

There are tons of adorable cafés and restaurants here, and we stopped for some refreshing nitrogen-infused cold brew at a place called Timbertrain Coffee Roasters.

Nitrogen cold brew from Timbertrain Coffee Roasters in Gastown, Vancouver
Nitrogen-infused cold brews from Timbertrain Coffee Roasters.
Timbertrain Coffee Roasters in Gastown, Vancouver
Photo by Henry Z.

We then went to La Casa Gelato for a little treat – they have 238 different flavours of gelato!

It’s one of the best dessert places in Vancouver.

We weren’t brave enough to try their wasabi, garlic, seaweed, or other weird flavours.

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The dragonfruit flavour was really good and the durian flavour was pretty smelly (as to be expected).

La Casa Gelato mural, Vancouver, British Columbia
A mural in the parking lot outside La Casa Gelato.
La Casa Gelato, Vancouver, British Columbia
Dragonfruit and durian gelato!
La Casa Gelato, Vancouver, British Columbia

Cleveland Park

The last stop of first day in Vancouver was Cleveland Park, a pretty park in North Vancouver.

We actually came to the park to visit the Cleveland Dam, and it was really cool to take photos of.

Then we did a little bit of hiking in the park.

LOCATION: North Vancouver, BC | Website

Cleveland Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Cleveland Dam in Vancouver
Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver, British Columbia
This isn’t as dangerous as it looks.
Cleveland Dam, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Told ya it wasn’t that dangerous!
Cleveland Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Cleveland Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Cleveland Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Where to stay in Vancouver

Hotels can be a bit pricy in downtown Vancouver, but here are some of the best ones to stay at:

We stayed in an Airbnb in Burnaby because it was a lot cheaper than staying in Vancouver.

There are tons of Asian restaurants in the area, and we had dinner at a pho place nearby.

If you’re thinking about booking an Airbnb, I’ve got a blog post all about how to find the best Airbnbs!

Pho restaurant in Burnaby, British Columbia

Day 2: Stanley Park & Lynn Canyon

Stanley Park

We started off the day biking along the Stanley Park Seawall.

I biked for the first time in probably 7 years and I was surprised I still knew how to balance myself.

However, I did forget how to brake, and had to scream “go faster” to my friends because I was totally going to crash into them.

LOCATION: Vancouver, BC | Website

Stanley Park Lookout, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Prospect Point lookout.
Lion's Gate Bridge from Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
A view of the Lion’s Gate Bridge from Prospect Point.
Biking along Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Lighthouse at Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver skyline view from Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia
Lion's Gate Bridge from Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Lion's Gate Bridge from Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, British Columbia
Biking along Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia
Photo by Henry Z.
Lion's Gate Bridge view from Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia

Lynn Canyon

The last place we visited during our quick 48 hours in Vancouver was Lynn Canyon.

I expected the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge to look a lot cooler, but it really wasn’t anything special.

The gorge was really nice though.

And the trails were really fun to walk around!

LOCATION: 3690 Park Rd, North Vancouver, BC | Website

Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia
Looking down the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge!
Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, British Columbia
Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver, British Columbia
The stunning gorge at Lynn Canyon.
Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Staying overnight in Blue River

Since we were heading off to Banff the next day, we headed out of Vancouver around 4 PM.

We briefly stopped in Kamloops for dinner and didn’t arrive in Blue River (where we were staying for the night) until past midnight.

It was a long drive, but the views were worth it.

And the boys were the ones driving anyway 😉

Kamloops, British Columbia
Kamloops, British Columbia

Day 3: Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, & Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic highways in the world, which is why Henry wanted to drive along it from British Columbia to Alberta.

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We stopped along the highway many times because the view was so astonishing.

Here’s a bunch of nice photos of the highway from the entire trip!

Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta
Driving along Icefields Parkway in Banff, Alberta

Village of Jasper

We took a 2 hour drive over to the village of Jasper for a little morning of exploring and breakfast.

It was really cute, and I wish we had more time to explore the village!

We then headed over to Athabasca Falls.

Coffee in Jasper, Alberta
Photo by Jerry D.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls was a nice area to walk around.

There were so many tourists here – I guess that’s what happens when you visit Banff during the busy spring and summer seasons!

You can do river rafting here as well, which is definitely a unique way to experience Athabasca Valley!

LOCATION: Jasper National Park, Jasper, AB | Website

Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta
Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta

Jerry and Henry hopped over the fence to take photos by the waterfall, thus ruining all the other tourists’ photos.

We thought it was hilarious (although I’m sure we annoyed many people trying to get nice photos).

Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta

Afterwards, we went to the lake area at the falls.

The photos below are nothing compared to how the scenery looked like in real life.

It was really beautiful here.

Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta
Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta
Athabasca Falls, Banff, Alberta

Columbia Icefield

We wanted to go on the Glacier Skywalk, but it was closed by the time we decided to finally purchase tickets.

The next time I visit Banff, I definitely want to check out the Glacier Skywalk!

Instead, we just visited the Columbia Icefield glaciers.

The Icefield was a little difficult to hike up, especially because I twisted my ankle earlier that day.

Nevertheless, the scenery was beautiful and the hike was fun.

If you’d rather go with a guide, you can do a full day tour with roundtrip travel from Banff to Columbia Icefield, which also includes the Glacier Skywalk!

LOCATION: Jasper National Park, Jasper, AB | Website

Columbia Icefield in Banff, Alberta
Columbia Icefield in Banff, Alberta
Columbia Icefield in Banff, Alberta
Columbia Icefield in Banff, Alberta

Lake Louise

We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn that night.

We stopped by Lake Louise, and although it was gloomy outside, it was still a gorgeous sight.

The Fairmont Lake Louise was right by the lake, so we ate there for dinner.

The food was pretty good, especially considering it was a hotel restaurant!

If you’re looking for places to eat in the area, I’ve got a post all about the best restaurants in Banff!

LOCATION: Lake Louise, AB | Website

Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta
Hotel Restaurant in Fairmont Lake Louise, Alberta
Dinner at the Fairmont Lake Louise.
Fireplace in Lake Louise, Alberta
Our cozy fireplace at the Lake Louise Inn.

Day 4: Bow Summit

Breakfast at the Fairmont Banff

We also ate at the Fairmont the next day for lunch before heading out for the rest of our adventure.

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It was more of a chill and relaxed day, so the only thing we had on our plan was visiting Bow Summit.

Hot chocolate cocktails at Fairmont Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta
These hot chocolate cocktails were delicious.
Burger at Fairmont Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta

Bow Summit

We hiked up the Bow Summit to get a view of Peyto Lake, but it began snowing pretty hard within minutes of us arriving at the top.

Once the snow and fog hit, we could barely see anything.

So yep, it snows in Banff even in May.

We ended up leaving soon after, but it was fun while it lasted!

LOCATION: Hwy 93 North, Improvement District No. 9, AB

Banff, Alberta
Bow Summit, Banff, Alberta
Bow Summit, Banff, Alberta
Bow Summit, Banff, Alberta
Bow Summit, Banff, Alberta

Old Tyme Candy Shoppe

We visited the Old Tyme Candy Shoppe earlier in the day after visiting the Fairmont for lunch.

It’s a cute little candy shop located in Lake Louise, with all kinds of candy, snacks, and even ice cream.

We picked up a package of Bean Boozled jelly beans to play with in the evening.

Trust me, you never want to taste the barf flavoured jelly bean.

But it’s still a fun game to play with your friends!

LOCATION: 5c Samson mall, Lake Louise, AB | Website

Bean Boozled jelly beans

Day 5: Cave & Basin, Johnston Canyon, & Banff Gondola

Our next day in Banff was dedicated to exploring Cave & Basin, hiking Johnston Canyon, and going up the Banff Gondola.

Town of Banff

We spent the morning exploring the town of Banff, and it was really cute.

The mountain views from town were absolutely incredible!

We had a quick breakfast at McDonald’s before heading out for a day of wandering around Banff.

LOCATION: Banff, AB | Website

Town of Banff, Alberta

Cave and Basin National Historic Site

We went to the Cave and Basin Historic Site, not really knowing what to expect (as Henry had added it to the itinerary).

There were some historical artifacts and spaces as well as a small hiking trail.

While we did have fun wandering around, this can definitely be skipped if you’re more interested in seeing the beautiful scenery in Banff.

LOCATION: 311 Cave Ave, Banff, AB | Website

Cave and Basin Historical Site, Banff, Alberta
Jerry beat me badly in a game of historical checkers.
Cave and Basin Historical Site, Banff, Alberta
Cave and Basin Historical Site, Banff, Alberta
The water in this cave smelled like rotten eggs, but it was at least pretty.
Cave and Basin Historical Site, Banff, Alberta
Every body of water in this area was a different shade of green or blue – it was really cool.
Cave and Basin Historical Site, Banff, Alberta

Johnston Canyon

We went to Johnston Canyon afterwards.

The hike one-way was about an hour long, and it was rainy and wet.

I personally think it looks better in photos than it did in real life.

We still had fun exploring though!

LOCATION: Banff National Park, Banff, AB | Website

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Johnston Canyon in Banff, Alberta
Johnston Canyon in Banff, Alberta
Johnston Canyon, Banff, Alberta
Photo by Jerry D.
Johnston Canyon, Banff, Alberta
Here’s the final waterfall at Johnston Canyon! Photo by Jerry D.
Johnston Canyon, Banff, Alberta
Photo by Henry Z.

Banff Gondola

Our last spot of the day was the Banff Gondola, which we took up to Sulphur Mountain.

We got there around 7 PM and were worried we wouldn’t make it for the returning gondola at 8:30 PM.

It would’ve been like the horror movie Frozen (not the happy kids movie).

Fortunately, we did make it back!

LOCATION: 100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB | Website

Banff Gondola in Alberta
Banff Gondola to Sulfur Mountain, Alberta
Banff Gondola to Sulfur Mountain, Alberta
Banff Gondola, Alberta
Banff Gondola, Alberta
Banff Gondola to Sulfur Mountain, Alberta
Banff Gondola, Alberta

Day 6: Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

Our last day in Banff was more like a half day, as we had to drive back to Calgary for our flight the next day.

We stopped by Lake Louise to drop off Irene (who was meeting her family), then headed off to Moraine Lake before leaving for Calgary.

Lake Louise

We revisited Lake Louise and enjoyed the sunny view we weren’t able to see a few days before.

It was packed with other tourists, but it was still lovely!

The water was so clear and blue – nothing like the waters here in Ontario.

Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta
Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta

Moraine Lake

We visited Moraine Lake as a last minute thing.

It was definitely one of the coolest places we visited during our 4 day Banff road trip.

We hiked up using the dangerous method of climbing up rocks, not knowing there was a makeshift “staircase” on the other side of the hill.

It was still well worth it though!

LOCATION: Banff National Park, Banff, AB | Website

Moraine Lake, Banff, Alberta
Moraine Lake, Banff, Alberta
Photo by Henry Z.
Moraine Lake, Banff, Alberta
Photo by Henry Z.
Chipmunk at Moraine Lake in Banff, Alberta
We befriended a chipmunk eating a chip.

Staying overnight in Calgary

We stayed the night in Calgary and flew home the next morning.

The Calgary International Airport is the closest one to Banff, just an hour and a half away by car.

Hotels in Calgary

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your trip to Calgary, here are some of the best hotels in Calgary:

  • The Alt Hotel is an eco-friendly 3 star hotel located right in the middle of downtown Calgary, in the East Village neighbourhood. It’s a quick walk over to the Bow River, where you can do all kinds of fun activities during the warmer months.
  • Hotel Arts is a beautiful and modern 4 star hotel in Calgary’s trendy Beltline neighbourhood, and there’s an indoor pool, outdoor pool, and fitness centre.
  • The Fairmont Palliser is a 4 star hotel located right in the heart of downtown Calgary, right beside the Calgary Tower. The rooms are a little more traditional, but the indoor pool is absolutely incredible.
Plan your Calgary trip

If you’re planning a trip to Alberta, here are some other posts to help you plan your perfect trip:


Have you done the drive from Vancouver to Calgary? What sights would you recommend on a 6 day road trip? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on what to do in Jasper and Banff during the spring, or any of my other posts on traveling in Alberta.

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Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog