5 Day Alberta Itinerary

Alberta has some of the most instagramed natural beauty that Canada has to offer. Dinosoars, turquoise lakes and snow capped mountains are just some of the highlights. With so much to do and see, it might seem impossible to make the most of a short trip, but it’s definitly can be done. Use my 5 day Alberta itinerary to pack as much of it into your tight schedule as you can.

Day One

Fly into Calgary International airport and rent a car before heading to your Airbnb or hotel. After a big travel day, it’s a good day to stretch your legs and explore instead of hopping back into your car for a long drive. Spend the day at the Calgary Zoo, exploring the manicured walkways and expansive animal habitats. In the evening, grab a tasty treat at Village Ice cream before driving up to Cresent Heights Hill for a spectacular view of the city lights.

Looking for more to do in Calgary? Check out my city guide here.

Day Two

Hop in your car and drive the hour and a half to picturesque Banff. You could easily spend a few days here exploring the town, hiking and exploring. I’ve scheduled only one day here to model it after my tight schedule, but I’d recommend two to really enjoy it.

Coffee and a View Travel Tip: Seriously, this town is postcard perfect! However, the secret’s out and tourism is booming. If you can visit during shoulder seasons ( fall/ spring), it will be much less crowded.

If Lake Louise is a must see for you ( which it should be if you’ve never been!) I’d head here first because it tends to be the busiest. The turqoise water really is that colour, so take as many photos as you can. Once you snap your photos, strollo the trail around the lake to enjoy a little tranquility. Many tourists just stay at the main area closest to the parking lot. When your finished, enjoy a picnic lunch you packed, or head into the Fairmont for a fancy lunch or high tea.

Coffee and a View photo tip: If the water isn’t looking as blue, wait until the sun is shining or move into the light. It’s the sun reflecting on the minerals in the glacier-fed water that creates the turquoise colour.

After lake Louise, head back into the city of Banff to enjoy the cute snow-bunny town. Pop in a few shops if you like, or stroll along the river trail to enjoy the mountains surrounding you. If you’re using Calgary as your base, head back to the city. If not, spend the night here to wake up to some mountain views ( but be warned, that view comes at a steep price unless you are able to camp)

possible extension: Not done exploring yet? Drive a bit further into Jasper national park. This rugged and mountainous landscape is the perfect place for some nature sightings. We saw mountain goats, elk, jackrabbits, and bald eagles. We drove as far as the Columbia icefields, but had to turn back because of bad weather.

Day Three

Wake up and spend a leisurely morning with some coffee at higher grounds café before strolling the Bow River Trail. This newly renovated promenade is beautifuly landscaped and makes for the perfect natural escape in the city. Continue strolling to Inglewood ( or catch a cab anywhere you get tired). This popular neighbourhood retains its OG feel and boasts endless vintage shops, from record stores to clothing and used books. There are also a ton of trendy eateries scattered along the main street.

Day Four

Head out early on your long drive to the Royal Tyrell Museum. This museum houses one of the largest collections of dinosaur bones and fossils in the world! They had me at the word dinosaur, so this was huge on my list and it didn’t disappoint.

After getting your fill of dinosars( if that’s even possible) continue on to the Alberta badlands and check out the Hoodoos. These natural formations are impressive against the blue open skies. Just be aware that they are smaller than they tend to appear in pictures. This doesn’t make them any less impressive, just be warned so that you’re not disappointed.

Take the scenic ride back to Calgary on the backgrounds and experience a small sample of the praries and Alberta farm land.

Day Five

I like to balance busy days with slower days, so today we spend one more slower day exploring the city. Check out the architecture of the city today by stopping by the newly opened Library. I was very impressed with this building! A lot of detail has gone into the architecture and the services. Even if you’re not checking out a book, its fun to explore.

From here, wander towards the core shopping centre. Not for some retail therapy ( although there’s plenty of that), but to check out the Devonian Gardens; a garden oasis on the top floor. peaceful classical music plays while you sit on a secluded bench amongst lush gardens and fountains. The perfect place to enjoy on a cold Alberta day.

Spend the evening exploring Kensington, a trendy hipster neighbourhood with shops, bars and eateries. Try dinner at Pho HOuz, it was one of my favourites!

If you’re looking for more of an adventurous day head back to Jasper national park or explore the icefields. This will be a bigger day ( about a 3 or 4-hour drive from Calgary, but the views are worth it!

Do you have anything you would add to a 5 day Alberta itinerary? Comment below!

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