Is it Better to Stay in Banff or Canmore?

If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies, you may be debating whether it is better to stay in Banff or Canmore.

The towns of Banff and Canmore are 22 kilometres (13.7 miles) apart; the town of Banff is inside Banff National Park while Canmore is just outside the park boundary.

As everyone has different budgets, needs, and interests, there is no correct answer to the question “Is it better to stay in Banff or Canmore?” But below, we’ve laid out some pros and cons for each town to help you decide. There are exceptions to every rule, but hopefully, these general observations will help.

We also have more detailed information here:

Banff Hotels

Canmore Hotels

What is the Difference Between the Types of Hotels in Banff and Canmore?

Banff and Canmore both have a wide range of hotels, although Canmore has more less expensive choices and Banff is home to large resorts such as the Fairmont Banff Springs.

Canmore also has many CONDO-STYLE LODGES offering multi-room units and kitchens. If you are travelling with a family or small group and like the convenience of cooking your own meals, these properties are excellent. Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge is an older Canmore property with kitchen units at reasonable prices. Silver Creek Lodge is a favourite of ours for its modern facilities, outdoor hot tubs, and a downstairs Japanese restaurant.

A self-contained unit at Silver Creek Lodge.

A self-contained unit at Silver Creek Lodge.

CANMORE HAS A FEW CHAIN MOTELS, and Banff is just one, so if earning (or redeeming) loyalty points is part of your vacation planning, choose Canmore.

Although there are only a few chains, each town has owners with multiple properties. Banff Lodging Co. is a local company with 11 hotels in Banff and two in Canmore. In Canmore, Basecamp Resorts is a newer player but has lodging choices ranging from mid-range chains to condo-style resorts.

CANMORE HAS A FEW SMALL BOUTIQUE HOTELS, offering a very different experience than staying at a regular hotel. Our favourite is the Paintbox Lodge.

What is the Difference Between Banff and Canmore Hotel Pricing?

During the peak summer season, hotels of a similar standard are generally LESS EXPENSIVE IN CANMORE THAN BANFF. Banff, most older motels have been redeveloped, but a few remain in Canmore, like Rundle Mountain Lodge, where summer rates start around $250. In Banff, the Dorothy Motel, from a similar era, is $400 per night in summer.

Dorothy Motel, Banff

The Dorothy Motel is an inexpensive choice in Banff.

In the low season (October to May), Canmore and Banff hotels are discounted greatly, and pricing is generally more similar.

which town has more Hotel Availability?

CANMORE HOTELS USUALLY HAVE MORE AVAILABILITY THAN BANFF HOTELS. This is important if you are making reservations at short notice in summer or you show up with no reservation.

What are Some Other Differences between Hotels in the two towns?

Although Canmore and Banff both have excellent transit systems, if you are using public transit, BANFF IS LINKED DIRECTLY TO ATTRACTIONS SUCH AS LAKE LOUISE. In winter, all Banff ski resorts offer free shuttle service from most Banff hotels.

PARKING AT CANMORE HOTELS IS EASIER, especially if you have a truck. Most hotels along Banff Avenue do not have parkades with truck clearance (or regular vehicles with skis on the roof) so you will need to find your own street parking.

Canmore has three HOTELS WITH WATERSLIDES (POCATERRA INN has the longest); Banff has just one (DOUGLAS FIR RESORT, with the best waterslides in the Canadian Rockies).