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!
If you’re planning your road trip from Vancouver to Calgary, you might enjoy these posts:
- Looking for helpful advice for your road trip? Check out my road trip tips, listen to the best podcasts for your road trip, and be sure to wear comfy road trip outfits.
- Looking for somewhere to stay? Read up on my tips on finding the best Airbnbs!
- In need of packing tips? Peep out my posts on the ultimate carry-on packing list, how to pack for a weekend in a personal item, or how to plan your travel outfits.
- Searching for other helpful travel tips? Check out my tips for traveling on a budget, how to plan a travel itinerary, how to survive long-haul flights, and how to take perfect travel photos.
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!
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:
- 48 hours in Vancouver
- Winter weekend in Vancouver
- Best things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Gastown
- Things to do in North Vancouver
- Instagrammable spots in Vancouver
- Instagrammable cafés in Vancouver
- Best restaurants in Vancouver
- Dessert places in 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
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
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!
We also explored the historical neighbourhood of Gastown, which is actually the oldest part of Vancouver.
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.
The dragonfruit flavour was really good and the durian flavour was pretty smelly (as to be expected).
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
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:
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver ($)
- Hilton Vancouver Downtown ($)
- Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver ($$)
- Fairmont Pacific Rim ($$$)
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!
Day 2: Stanley Park & Lynn Canyon
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
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
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 😉
Day 3: Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, & Banff National Park
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!
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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
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.
It was more of a chill and relaxed day, so the only thing we had on our plan was visiting 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
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
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
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
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
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.
Fortunately, we did make it back!
LOCATION: 100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB | Website
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.
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.
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
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:
- Looking for things to do in Calgary? Check out the most fun things to do in Calgary or my 24 hour Calgary itinerary.
- Searching for places to eat? Hit up the best restaurants in Calgary, the best brunch spots in Calgary or the best ice cream spots in Calgary.
- Visiting Banff and Jasper? Check out my spring guide to Banff & Jasper or my winter guide to Banff & Jasper, as well as the best restaurants in Banff.
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