Canada’s province of Alberta might be our favorite place in the country, with jaw-dropping scenery and picture-perfect landscapes around every corner. These twelve must-see spots have proven to be some of the most beautiful places in Alberta!
The Most Beautiful Places in Alberta, Canada
1. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of the most photographed lakes in Canada, and for good reason! About an hour east of the town of Banff you’ll find yourself at this vibrant blue water lake, which comes about as close to a postcard picture as you can get.
Rent a canoe at the Lake Louise Boathouse, or hit the trails and take in the views from above. One of the most popular (and rewarding) hikes is the moderate “tea house hike” from the lake’s shores to Lake Agnes Tea House hidden in the mountains over the smaller – yet still beautiful – Lake Agnes.
Where to Stay in Lake Louise: If you want to be near all the best attractions in Lake Louise, we recommend staying two or three nights at Paradise Lodge & Bungalows. You’ll be close to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake for sunrise photos — the best time of day to visit if you want to avoid the crowds!
2. Town of Banff
Banff has the historical charm of a small mountain town, with all the amenities you need to have a fun, lively stay. Authentic saloons with mechanical bull riding are a plus for visitors looking for a taste of the local culture, as are the many farm-fresh restaurants and cool shops downtown.
While in town, make sure to get outside. Take the gondola for stunning views of the city, or ice skate at Banff Community High School rink downtown. Banff is also known for their awesome Upper Hot Springs and National Park’s Cave and Basin, so be sure to check them out.
Where to Stay in Banff: I recommend at least two nights at either Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa or Fox Hotel & Suites right in downtown Banff. You can explore the attractions nearby and you’ll be within walking distance to plenty of restaurants.
3. Maligne Canyon
This spot is beautiful year round, with lush green trees and waterfall views in summer and massive ice formations in winter. The safest way to view Maligne Canyon in colder months is with a guide, so come prepared with warm winter gear and a good camera!
Read our Canada Winter Packing Guide for tips on what to bring if you’re planning a winter visit.
4. Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake has the best of everything: crystal clear water, towering glaciers, and picturesque Spirit Island. While you can always splurge a little on a cruise around the lake and to the island, we recommend renting a kayak and seeing the sights on your own. Visit early to avoid the crowds and for a better chance of catching a glimpse of wildlife!
Where to Stay in Jasper: Depending on your budget and travel style, we highly recommend the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and Pine Bungalows. Both hotels are within a short distance from the town of Jasper and a short drive to all of Jasper’s best attractions like Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon, Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls.
5. Moraine Lake/Larch Valley
Moraine Lake is a surreal-blue lake backed by the Valley of the Ten Peaks. You can easily spend a day here, hiking around the lake or Canoeing through the glassy water — if visiting in warmer months. I also highly recommend a hike through Larch Valley. Fall is the best time to hike; the wildflowers and golden fall foliage amidst the evergreens is an exceptional view!
6. Two Jack Lake
Just north of Banff is Two Jack Lake — a small lake on the eastern end of larger Lake Minnewanka. Spectacular pink and purple sunsets make this a favorite photography spot, and an easy place to capture great time lapses!
Hike the shore-side trails, take a drive around the lake, or try your hand at cross-country skiing. The two well-maintained campgrounds to the east and south of the lake make this an easy place to spend a couple of days relaxing in the outdoors.
7. Athabasca Falls
Voted 2nd best waterfall in Canada by Reader’s Digest, Athabasca Falls might just be the crown jewel of Jasper National Park. The falls and limestone gorge it’s created are even more stunning before the Mount Kerkeslin backdrop!
There are many platforms to view the falls, but be sure to stay on the trails and never venture off to get a better look; the surrounds are slippery and often icy, making anything off the paved trails very dangerous.
8. Sunwapta Falls
Another set of falls with an impressive backdrop; Sunwapta and its accompanying lower falls aren’t known for their height but for their powerful force. For the best view, cross the footbridge that stands above the actual main waterfall itself.
Visit in the springtime when the snow is melting and water flow is at its peak!
9. Lake Minnewanka
This scenic glacial lake stretched beneath the Canadian Rockies is ideal for outdoor activities at any time of year — hiking and canoeing in summer, and snowshoeing in the winter. In warmer months you can even go scuba diving!
Try to plan your trip for winter months when the aurora borealis is at its peak; Lake Minnewanka is known to have the Northern Lights make an appearance in late winter through spring.
10. Johnston Canyon
Winter offers the most breathtaking views, as the catwalks through the canyon give you an up-close-and-personal look at the ice formations among the limestone cliffs. Book an ice walk if visiting during the winter — the frozen falls make for a spectacular experience!
11. Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake photos need no filters — the water really is THAT blue. The lake gets its vivid color from glacial rock flour that has settled from melting winter snow, and we can’t get enough of it!
Head to Bow Summit for the best viewing point of the entire lake; if summer crowds overwhelm the lookout you can hike to a separate, remote overlook via a trail from the wooden viewing point which leads into the forest.
12. Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway — or Hwy 93 North — connects Banff and Jasper and it gives you access to some of the best views of Alberta. Aside from the already amazing scenery, you’ll see plenty of wildlife and have the opportunity to stop for tours as well.
The drive can be done in as little as 3 hours, but I would recommend against flying through all of the spectacular spots along the way. Take a full day to go at your own pace and soak in everything the Parkway has to offer.
Where to Stay in Edmonton: After exploring Jasper, you can either drive back to Calgary (about 6 hours) or fly out of Edmonton airport, which is an easy 4 hour drive from the town of Jasper. We stayed in the brand new Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel, which is actually attached to the airport by a covered walkway. It’s the best place to stay if you have an early flight out of Edmonton!
Packing Essentials for Alberta, Canada
Layers: I cannot stress this enough: no matter what time of year you visit Alberta, always bring plenty of layers. A quality moisture-wicking base layer for your top and bottom, plus a fleece mid-layer and waterproof jacket are essential. You will thank me later.
Gloves: Another must-have item in case it gets chilly. We visited in early fall and it was VERY cold — especially in the early mornings and after sunset. It even snowed a few times! A pair of gloves are essential; I love colorful gloves that add a pop of color to my outfits.
Hiking Socks: These are SO comfortable and help prevent blisters!
Comfortable Shoes: If you plan to do any hiking, bring the right shoes — preferably something waterproof in case of mud on the trail.
Beanie: A beanie is another must-have to keep you warm!
Hand Warmers: If you’re visiting in the winter, you will want hand and body warmers. We used them a few times even in the fall.
Insect Repellent: This small spray pump is great for hiking!