How to Get From the Calgary Airport to Banff (2024)

Getting from Calgary Airport to Banff is a pretty straightforward endeavor. If you’re landing in Calgary with an amazing Banff itinerary planned, but have yet to sort out your transport, we’ll answer all your questions.

To get to Banff from the airport will take about one hour and 40 minutes, give or take, depending on road conditions and weather. There are shuttle buses like the Banff Airporter to get you to Banff, private transfer companies, or you can rent a car. Let’s dig into all the options below!


Is YYC The Closest Airport to Banff?

calgary airport to banff

If you’re curious about the nearest airport to Banff, then look no further than Calgary International Airport (YYC). This article predominantly revolves around travel in and out of YYC, which, in our view, stands out as one of the most delightful airports in North America. With its infrequent congestion and well-designed layout for a major city, YYC offers a pleasant travel experience.


How Far is it From Calgary International Airport to Banff?

Banff-Airporter

Calgary Airport to Banff is actually not that far. If it’s a clear day, you can even see the Canadian Rockies from Calgary! You can drive from Calgary to Banff in about an hour and 40 minutes, but you’ll start getting some absolutely great views of the mountains as you drive in around the 45-minute mark. As Canmore is closer than Banff to Calgary, if you’re traveling to Canmore, you are looking at one hour and 20 minutes from YYC. That being said, you can take a few different routes to get to Banff from the airport.

  • The Fastest Route from Calgary to Banff is on the Trans-Canada Highway. From YYC to Downtown Banff is approximately 144.0 km via AB-1 W. This route isn’t very scenic but does start to get really pretty once you pass the Stoney Nakoda Casino on your left-hand side. You’ll then see famous mountain peaks like Yamnuska before reaching Canmore. Right after Canmore, you’ll see Banff’s Parks Canada entrance gates. You can purchase your Banff Park Pass here if you don’t have one yet.
  • The Scenic Route doesn’t take much more time than the fast route, so I recommend it if you have an extra 30 minutes in your schedule. When driving from Calgary to Banff, you’ll take the exit towards Cochrane and take Highway 1A from Cochrane to Canmore. It’s a slight detour with different views. If you want to make it a little quicker, you can get on the 1A in Cochrane and get off near Morley before continuing to Banff on the TransCanada. It’s certainly far from the most scenic road in the Rockies, and just to throw options out there, I would recommend driving the Bow Valley Parkway, or Icefields Parkway during your trip as they are far more dramatic.

Important YYC to Banff Routing Notes

  • If time allows, consider driving each route to and from the Calgary International Airport. When driving from Calgary to Banff, take the 1A, and when driving Banff to Calgary, take the Trans Canada, or vice versa.
  • Expect the drive to take longer during winter months, especially after a big snowstorm. If driving in the winter, it’s best to rent a car with winter tires.
  • During the weekends in July and August, the TransCanada can become very congested, with Calgary and the surrounding region entering the mountains. This means it may take longer to get to Banff on a Friday night, and on Sunday evening, it will take longer to get back to Calgary. Keep this in mind if you have flights during these times.
  • Take extra care as you approach the mountains as Chinooks, gusts of warm air that descend from the mountain, have blown unsuspecting drivers off the road. This is a real threat in the winter months when gusts of snow can make the road disappear. Consider spending the night in Calgary if it’s a really bad storm. Other than that, the drive from the Calgary International Airport to Banff is pretty straightforward.

Calgary Airport To Banff Transportation Options


Calgary to Banff by Shuttle Bus

Several companies offer private shuttle bus transfers that go between Calgary Airport and Banff. Calgary to Banff buses operate on schedules and run multiple daily transfers. The two most popular are Banff Airporter and Brewster Express. Both of them are excellent options, and they have different offerings, so your travel plans may be better suited for one over the other. However, a few other companies will get you from Calgary Airport to Banff.


Calgary Airport to Banff Bus Option 1: Banff Airporter

banff-airporter

The Banff Airporter provides year-round transportation services connecting Calgary, Canmore, and Banff. With numerous scheduled times, passengers typically experience minimal wait times, usually not exceeding an hour upon landing at YYC. Pickup/dropoff locations include the Calgary International Airport, the Coast Hotel in Canmore, and different hotel stops in Banff.

The friendly staff ensures a pleasant experience, offering modern buses equipped with power points, comfortable seats, blankets, and water. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to Canmore and 1 hour and 45 minutes to Banff (as the bus waits in Canmore for a bit). Travel times may vary based on your specific location in Banff and road conditions. It’s worth noting that the service does not extend to Lake Louise.

Calgary Airport to Canmore
TicketOne WayReturn
Adult$76.99$153.98
Senior (65+)$69.29$138.58
Child (6-17)$38.49$76.99
Kid Under 5FreeFree
Calgary Airport to Banff
TicketOne WayReturn
Adult$79.99$159.98
Senior (65+)$71.99$143.98
Child (6-17)$39.99$79.99
Kid Under 5FreeFree
Prices may slightly fluctuate with the cost of petrol

Calgary to Banff Bus Option 2: Brewster Express

Brewster-Express-winter
courtesy of Brewster Express

Brewster Express stands as the leading provider of group tours and bus services in and around the Canadian Rockies. Under its parent company, Pursuit, which manages key attractions such as Banff Gondola and Lake Minnewanka Cruise, Brewster operates group tour buses that transport visitors to the region’s main attractions.

Operating exclusively during the summer, Brewster Express establishes connections between Calgary Airport and various destinations, including Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Offering an extensive selection of pick-up and drop-off points, Brewster Express notably provides regular service to Lake Louise and a once-a-day shuttle from the Calgary Airport all the way to Jasper. Additionally, they offer shuttle services with hotel pickups in Calgary’s city center.

This option particularly appeals to those with time to explore Calgary during the summer months. The city offers exciting activities, including the Calgary Stampede, fine dining experiences, and attractions like Studio Bell. While Brewster Express also offers a winter service connecting ski resorts to the town of Banff, there is no service from Calgary Airport to Banff during this time.

Calgary to Banff
TicketOne WayReturn
Adult$81$137
Children$54$92
Prices may slightly fluctuate with the cost of petrol
Calgary to Lake Louise
TicketOne WayReturn
Adult$122$236
Child$80$130
Prices may slightly fluctuate with the cost of petrol

Calgary to Banff Shuttle Option 3: Discover Banff Tours

Discover Banff Tours operates shuttles connecting Banff, Canmore, Downtown Calgary, and the Calgary Airport. These daily coach services begin at $78 per person.

The shuttle service provides convenient pickups at designated locations in Lake Louise, including the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and most Banff hotels. In Canmore, pickups and drop-offs are exclusively available at the Coast Hotel, while in Calgary, passengers can be dropped off either at YYC or a choice of Downtown Hotels.


Option 4: Mountain Park Transport

Mountain Park Transport is a popular tour company in the Rockies. They are currently running shuttles to Banff in the winter and summer from YYC to either Banff or Lake Louise. Their prices start at $63 per person.


Option 5: Vivo Public Bus

Slightly cheaper than some of the options listed here is Vivo shared bus, this is a small-group shuttle bus between Calgary and Canmore or Banff. Drop off options include the Solara or Northwinds in Canmore or the Mount Royal in Banff. Prices start at $53 per person.


YYC to Banff by Private Transfer

Jasper-to-Lake-Louise-Icefields-Parkway

If you’re not looking to drive but prefer more flexibility, consider a private transfer from Calgary. You have the option to leave at any time or from any address in Calgary. There is a wide range of options for vehicles that range from taxis to charter buses and luxury sedans. You can also choose your destination anywhere in the region.

A taxi charges a flat rate of $250 as mandated by the government of Alberta. The local Calgary taxi companies include:

Many companies offer a private shuttle service, and you’ll likely get the best rate booking direct rather than your hotel/resort. A Best Transport and Tour starts around $350 with private shuttle service to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. While Banff Sedan offers several luxury vehicles that you can book, but they are slightly higher priced.

If you’re a large group these services can actually work out cheaper in the long run or similarly priced to the shuttle bus service with the added bonus of your own schedule. For example, a 10-person Sprinter van costs $587 for a private transfer and nearly $700 for the Banff Airporter.

Other Private Transfer Companies

  • Banff Transportation Group: Popular transportation group that will take you from Calgary to Banff or vice versa.
  • Banff Private Charters: If you have a large group, like a wedding party large this is a good option as they cater to up to 24 people.
  • Limo To Go: If you want to arrive to Banff in style, be it a luxury dean, luxury SUV, or even a limo Limo to Go has you covered.

Get a Rental Car and Drive from the Calgary Airport to Banff

Car-rental-canada

Driving from Calgary International Airport to Banff is easy peasy! We should know as we do it quite often! Renting a car at the Calgary Airport is one of the best ways to explore Banff and provides many advantages over public transport. There’s no need for a Calgary Airport to Banff shuttle with this option, and you’ll be able to pick up your rental vehicle right when you land in Calgary and be on your way!

While it’s certainly possible to visit Banff without a car, a vehicle allows you to avoid crowds, make up your own schedule, and explore all of the various parts of Banff. If you have plans to do a lot of hiking in Banff or Kananaskis, you’re going to need your own rental car while in the Rockies.

Of course, if you don’t want to drive, you can book tours or use public transport around the park. If you have plans to visit the most popular sites, it might make more sense to use tours and public transport.

Parking at sights like Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon, and Moraine Lake can be far more difficult than a public option, and there are public transport options to get to these places. However anything even vaguely off the beaten path will require your own set of wheels.

Calgary International Airport hosts a variety of well-known car rental companies, offering a diverse selection of vehicles. During the Banff summer months, opting for a truck or SUV is not necessary unless you want the space. However in the winter and shoulder season months, a car with at least all season tires is recommended.

For those mindful of their budget, renting a car from the Calgary city center can be a more cost-effective choice. Typically, prices are $50-$100 cheaper compared to rentals at the airport, however you will have to factor in the cost of getting yourself from YYC to the car rental company in the city center.

Visiting Banff in Winter
driving-in-banff-in-winter

If you plan to visit Banff in the winter, make sure you rent a car with winter tires on it. If you are visiting between November and April you should get a car with winter tires. Inform your rental car company you are driving to Banff and they should know what to do, but make sure they actually did their job when you go to pick up the vehicle and inspect it.

Remember that if you plan on driving on the Icefields Parkway winter tires are necessary for the winter. Snow tires or chains are required by law for travel on Hwy #93N / Icefields Parkway) and Hwy #93S / Banff-Windermere Highway (Banff and Kootenay National Parks) between November 1 and March 31.

Canadian Rockies Car Rental Resources


Unconventional Options to Get Between the Calgary Airport and Banff

Driving-Icefields-Parkway
  • It’s worth noting that there is no Calgary to Banff train, but there are talks of it happening in the future.
  • There’s always Uber, however I wouldn’t rely on this service as many drivers will require a return fare to justify the drive and cost of taking you all the way to Banff from the Calgary Airport.
  • Like BlaBlaCar in Europe, Poparide is a rideshare company where you can find drivers already making the drive between Calgary and Banff, though it may be more difficult to find those going to and from YYC. Prices vary, but typically it’s not much more than the cost of fuel. Keep in mind this might not be the best option to rely on when you are dealing with flights.
  • There are plenty of Bow Valley Facebook groups with drivers and passengers often seeking others to ride with. Of course, this is a riskier option that I wouldn’t recommend to most visitors, though Canada is very safe. However, if you are on an extreme budget, it is an option.
  • Hitchhiking is not common between Calgary International Airport and Banff.
  • Turo is like Airbnb for cars. If you can’t find great car rental prices or options, check out Turo.

Where to Stop Between the Calgary Airport and Banff

Barrier Lake

The mountains hold most of the excitement, but there are delightful activities between Calgary and Banff if you want to spend some extra time exploring.

  • Explore WinSport, a charming small ski resort, for a winter adventure in Calgary.
  • Experience the thrill of interacting with wolves in a controlled environment at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
  • Take a pause at the scenic Bowness Park as you bid farewell to Calgary.
  • Discover the beauty of Barrier Lake in Kananaskis, not far from the Trans Canada. While it’s a bit of a detour, the stunning setting makes it an ideal spot for a lunch break in both the winter and summer.
  • Enjoy the picturesque Lac Des Arcs on the right-hand side of the road while driving from Calgary to Banff.

You Have Made it to Banff!

banff-gondola

Do a little dance because you are in one of the prettiest places in the world! There are many things to do, restaurants to at, and places to stay.

Things to do in Banff

  • Go up the Banff Gondola: One of the most popular things to do in Banff is head up the Banff Gondola to get fantastic views over the Bow and Spray Valleys.
  • Lake Minnewanka Cruise: In the summer, enjoy a cruise on beautiful Lake Minnewanka and head to the famous Devils Gap.
  • Have a BBQ at Cascade Ponds: Head here with your family and some BBQ goodies for a fun dinner or lunch in a stunning setting. Please remember to Leave No Trace and pack out what you bring in.
See more things to do in Banff!

Hopefully, this helped you plan how to get from Calgary Airport to Banff.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.


Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service that will connect you right from YYC to the town of Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee. All support is much appreciated!

Leave a Comment