Is Dining at the Sky Bistro Worth It?

The Sky Bistro, aka The Sanctuary in the Sky, is one of the top dining experiences one can have in Banff. Located atop the Banff Gondola with views out to the Sundance Range, having a meal here is on many visitors Banff bucket lists.

After years of living here, we were finally able to snag a highly coveted reservation to experience the Sky Bistro for ourselves. It’s a special experience and does not come cheap. So is the Sky Bistro worth the effort and high price tag?

Introducing the Sky Bistro

the sky bistro in the evening

The Sky Bistro is on the summit of Sulphur Mountain and is accessible by taking the Banff Gondola 8 minutes high into the sky. If you really want to work for your meal, you can also avoid paying for a gondola ticket and hiking up Sulphur Mountain.

Once at the top, you can enjoy the incredible views over the Bow Valley and Cascade Mountain before heading to the restaurant. The Sky Bistro mainly serves elevated Canadian cuisine, such as local Bison, Duck wings, and fire-roasted carrots with dukkha.

While the food is superb the main reason people flock to make reservations at the Sky Bistro is for the views. Looking out you’ll see famous peaks like Mount Bourgeou, Sundance Mountain, and Mount Cory. If you are lucky enough to get seats by the window, it may be the best meal with a view you’ll ever have!

A three-course meal is an experience here, whether it be for a celebration with friends and family or a date night with your spouse. The Sky Bistro is not just a dinner experience, either. It is open daily for lunch from 11 AM to 2 PM, Vista Hours Daily from 2 PM to 4 PM, and dinner from 4 PM to 9 PM.

Are Reservations Necessary?


A very limited number of tables are set aside for walk-ins every day, but you’ll want a reservation to guarantee lunch or dinner at the Sky Bistro. Reservations can be made through OpenTable up to 30 days in advance.

Because they can only be made 30 days or less in advance, it is hard to get a reservation on summer evenings and holidays. Reservatios here are highly sought after and book up fast. We waited until mid-April in Banff (off-season) until we were able to score a reservation here, and the restaurant was still very busy.

The Meal

natasha at the sky bistro

The Sky Bistro’s main lunch and dinner menu is an ala carte menu that has something for every palette. It includes fresh farm salads and unique appetizers like Bison Tartar and Red Fox Fungi Mushroom, as well as entrees from the land and sea like Albacore Tuna and Smoked Duck.

If you decide to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail and a three-course meal, it’s a decadent adventure that will take a few hours to complete.

Lunches are a bit lighter and quicker, as the menu is less extensive. However, you can still enjoy tasty items like Brisket Burgers, Bangers, and Mash! There is no kids menu, but kids are welcome to dine here.

The Entire Experience

walking the Banff Gondola boardwalk after dinner
Walking the boardwalk after dinner

The entire Banff Gondola + Sky Bistro experience is one for the books. Many visitors already have the Banff Gondola on their Banff itinerary, and the Sky Bistro is a great addition.

 The Banff Gondola takes just eight minutes to reach the top of the mountain, which is 2281 meters (7486 ft) above sea level. It’s likely the fastest you will ever climb, 698 meters.

interior at the sky bistro

Once at the top, you’ll have panoramic views of the Bow Valley and down towards Banff. It’s one of my favorite views of Cascade Mountain, and walking to Sanson Peak on the boardwalk is an incredible walk that allows you to take in the views from all angles. The Sky Bistro isn’t just a dinner; it’s an entire experience that ignites all senses.

Check For Packages

menu at the sky bistro

The Sky Bistro often runs Gondola+Lunch/Dinner combos. The Sky Experience Lunch Package includes a round-trip ride on the Banff Gondola, plus a set lunch menu, while the Sky Dinner Package includes the Banff Gondola and a pre-set dinner menu (you can still choose from different choices on the menu). These specials do not run all year, so check their website or call ahead if you want to book a combo experience.

How Should You Dress?

cameron at the sky bistro

Dress for the Sky Bistro is smart casual, though like most restaurants in Banff, you can really wear any attire you want. Mountain restaurants are laid-back like that! After the meal, you’ll want a jacket to explore the outdoor area. Even in the middle of summer, it gets cold in Banff, especially at elevation and in the evening. We always bring a jacket when we go up the Banff Gondola. In the winter, you 100% need a warm jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves!

A More Affordable Experience: Northern Lights Kitchen

northern lights kitchen

If you want to enjoy the views but want something slightly more affordable than the Sky Bistro, we recommend heading to the Northern Lights Kitchen right next door. This is a buffet-style restaurant. I know what you might be thinking – a buffet – really? But this isn’t Golden Coral; the Northern Lights Kitchen buffet is exceptional. The buffet costs $45 a person ($22/Child). There’s a carving station, pizza station, soup station, salad station, and a variety of other hot selections.

The best news is that all tables are next to big bright windows that provide similar views to the Sky Bistro. You can book the Northern Lights Kitchen on Open Table.

Is The Sky Bistro Worth The Money?

views at the sky bistro

Even as locals who see mountain views as every day, both Cameron and I really enjoyed our meal at the Sky Bistro. We each got an appetizer, split a salad, two entrees (bison), one dessert, and each got a drink. The total bill came to just over $220 CAD without the tip. We definitely went big and ordered the most expensive entrees on the menu and got cocktails, which most people seemed to also be enjoying.

sky bistro at night

It’s far from a cheap meal, but compared to many other fancy restaurants in Banff, like The Bison and Chucks Steakhouse, I did not find the price too bad. Considering the view and special experience, we felt it was a splurge-worthy experience. It’s certainly earned its right as the most scenic restaurant in all of Banff.

If you are celebrating a special occasion, we think taking the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain and reserving a table at the Sky Bistro is a great way to spend the evening.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

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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!

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