Last Updated on 2 May 2021
Are you wondering what the quintessential things to do in Alberta are? Well whether it’s your first or third time travelling in this stunning province, here are the top things to see in Alberta on any trip! Indisputably one of Canada’s most beautiful provinces, Alberta has something for every type of traveller – perfect for adventure travel, outdoor pursuits, road trips, honeymoons or those seeking mountainous escapes. So whether you are captivated by the beauty of Banff, enchanted by the allure of Lake Louise, or encapsulated by the magic of Moraine Lake, a trip to Canada should definitely be on your bucket list!
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Quintessential things to do in Alberta, Canada
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Visit Lake Louise
(the quintessential Canadian experience)
Located in Banff National Park, the beauty of Lake Louise will take your breath away. Perhaps one of the most famous lakes in Canada given its awe inspiring location, a trip to Alberta would not be complete without a visit to Lake Louise!
The aqua blue waters of this glacial lake perfectly reflect the colour of the sky. And, you will find some beautiful mountain walks there too. Be sure to dip your toes into the icy cold waters. Or, perhaps grab a kayak and paddle across the lake to enjoy a 360° view of the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
How to get to Lake Louise: Located 140km west of Calgary just off of Highway 1. Lake Louise marks the beginning (or end – depending on your direction of travel) of the scenic Icefields Parkway mountain road.
Marvel at Moraine Lake
When you imagine Canada or see a travel brochure for the Rocky Mountains, Moraine Lake may be one of the places you envisage or see. And, for good reason. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Located a mere 14km southeast of Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is another glacial lake located within Banff National Park that is famous for its vivid blue-green waters.
Tip: The road that leads from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake is closed during the winter months, and only opens from May-Oct. And, if you want to see the turquoise waters, then you should carefully plan when you are going to visit – Moraine Lake does not begin to melt until the end of June.
For one of Alberta’s million dollar views, be sure to wander up to the top of the Rockpile Trail (be careful not to lose your balance whilst sitting on a rock and nearly plummet to your death like me). From the top of the Rockpile Trail you will get the postcard perfect picture of the lake. And, you will be able to watch on as people take their chances in trying to run across the logs that have congregated on a narrow edge of the lake, whilst trying to avoid plunging into the icy cold waters.
How to get to Moraine Lake: From Lake Louise village, take Lake Louise Drive. Then, turn left onto Moraine Lake Road and follow until you reach the parking lot.
Wander Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller
Horseshoe Canyon is a u-shaped canyon with an abundance of hiking trails. Imagine the Grand Canyon, but (a lot) smaller and a bit greener! Horseshoe Canyon is one of the incredible spots you have to visit in Alberta for stunning canyon views! Whilst marvelling at the view, let your imagination transport you back to a time where dinosaurs roamed wild and free, and cowboys rode on horseback across the land!
How to get to Horshoe Canyon: Located 17km southeast of Drumheller on Highway 9.
Go to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in Drumheller
If you have children, are a big kid, or just a Palaeontology fanatic, then you are going to love the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum located in Drumheller. The Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum brings the prehistoric past to life, with its impressive display of fossils and life size dinosaur remains. It is one of the most fascinating and unique things to do in Alberta. And, it is home to one of the worlds largest displays of dinosaurs in the world!
How to get to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum: Located 6km northwest of Drumheller, on the North Dinosaur Trail.
Camp at Honeymoon Lake Campground
If you are looking for somewhere to camp overnight in Jasper National Park, then Honeymoon Lake Campground is one of the incredible spots you must visit in Alberta. The campground is located right on the shoreline of the picturesque and mountain-surrounded Honeymoon Lake.
Tip: Spaces are allocated on a first come first serve basis, and the campground is small (can accommodate both tents and RVs). There are basic amenities on site – a toilet, cooking shelter, water, rubbish bins and fire wood.
In amongst the woodland that surrounds the campground, there are magical little picnic areas where you will find fire pits perfect for toasting your marshmallows. If you fancy a weekend break in the wilderness of Alberta or are on a quintessential campervan road trip in Canada, then be sure to factor Honeymoon Lake into your itinerary.
How to get to Honeymoon Lake Campground: Located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) in between the Columbia Icefields and Athabasca Falls.
Walk on the Columbia Icefields
One of the best things to do in Jasper National Park and located on the Icefield Parkway, the Columbia Icefields should definitely be added to your bucket list of natural wonders! The Columbia Icefield is the largest glacial icefield in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The glacier is continuously dancing; retreating back and advancing forth to shape the regional landscape!
When visiting the Icefields, you will have the opportunity to ride in a beastly Ice Explorer; a ride which is both thrilling and slow (due to the terrain). When you step out of the Ice Explorer for a precarious wander around the ancient sheets of the Athabasca Glacier, take a moment to stand next to the wheels of the Ice Explorer, which will be as tall or taller than you!
How to get to the Columbia Icefields: Located on Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), 104km south of Jasper. Start at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre.
Ride in a Gondola up Sulphur Mountain, Banff
A ride in the Banff Gondola up to the summit of Sulphur mountain is one of the quintessential things to do in Alberta! From the summit, you will have the opportunity to absorb panoramic views across the Canadian Rockies. You will be blessed with jaw dropping views of the jagged snow capped mountains and winding aqua rivers. Be sure to take a wander on the mountain boardwalk when you visit, and keep an eye out for wildlife! If you are visiting in summer, then take some mosquito repellent because the mosquitoes seem to like the summit views too!
How to get to Sulphur Mountain Banff: Banff is located off of Highway 1. Take Banff Avenue and after crossing the bridge, turn left onto Spray Avenue. Then bear right onto Mountain Avenue until you reach the end.
Read more: The best places to travel in 2021.
Visit the town of Jasper
A small mountain town in Alberta, Jasper is the perfect base for exploring the Canadian Rockies or immersing yourself in adventure activities! You can do all the usual small town things here, like take a wander of the shops, and grab a frothy coffee and bite to eat. Why not spend a few hours in Jasper, enjoying a spot of retail therapy in the midst of stunning mountain scenery?
How to get to Jasper: Located on Trans-Canada Highway 16 (which runs east to west). Or, take the scenic Icefields Parkway road (Highway 93). Jasper marks the end (or beginning – depending on your direction of travel) of the Icefields Parkway.
Be blown away by Athabasca Falls
One of the top sights in Alberta, Athabasca Falls should definitely be on your bucket list for Canada! At 23 metres high, it’s by no means the highest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies, but the sheer volume of water flowing down through the gorge is phenomenally powerful. Athabasca Falls is fed by the water running down from the Columbia Icefield and into the Athabasca River.
Standing on the bridge which goes over Athabasca Falls is an experience which will cause jelly legs for the faint hearted, whilst you witness the scary fast water flowing beneath your feet and hear the roar of the falls! There are a network of pathed trails around Athabasca Falls which you can enjoy on your visit.
How to get to Athabasca Falls: Located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), 32km south of Jasper.
Try to spot a Black Bear
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as moose or elk as you are driving through Alberta. You may be lucky enough to spot a black bear, especially through forested areas. Just be sure to slow down, keep moving to avoid causing a bear jam (a traffic jam caused by cars watching bears), and give bears ample space if they are on the side of the road. Seeing a black bear in its natural habitat in the most beautiful province in Canada is a travel experience which you will carry in your heart forever (I do)!
View Peyto Lake from Bow Summit
One of the best things to do in Banff National Park, Peyto Lake is another one of Alberta’s glacier fed lakes with stunning aqua blue waters. Peyto Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway, 44km from Lake Louise. Be sure to head to the lookout point at Bow Summit which sits above Peyto Lake, where you can enjoy views over the emerald waters and tree-cladded snow capped peaks!
How to get to Bow Summit at Peyto Lake: Located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), 44km north of Lake Louise.
Drive the Icefields Parkway scenic highway
Icefields Parkway has been mentioned a few times in this post about the best things to see in Alberta, and you might be wondering what or where it is! The Icefields Parkway (or Alberta Highway 93) is a scenic 227km expanse of double lane highway, stretching from Lake Louise to the town of Jasper.
Weaving through the Canadian Rockies and by the abundance of glaciers, mountains, lakes, wildlife, and waterfalls which live there, the Icefields Parkway has to be one of the best road trips to go on in the world! Many of the places on this Alberta bucket list are located along the Icefields Parkway – Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Bow Summit, Honeymoon Lake, Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Falls, and Jasper.