Spending one day in Lake Louise is an unforgettable experience. From views of majestic mountains – Mount Victoria & Mount Lefroy to crystal-clear waters, hikes, and afternoon tea, there’s something for everyone. Here are some ideas for your Lake Louise itinerary, perfect all year round!
In this travel guide, we have added off-season, summer, and winter activities for you to enjoy in Lake Louise. We have been exploring the village and lakeside since 2011, and have experienced it in all seasons. So, let’s get started
One day in Lake Louise itinerary with Moraine Lake
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Welcome to Lake Louise – one of Canada’s most stunning natural attractions! Whether you’re looking for a tranquil stroll along the lakeside or an adventurous hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House, Lake Louise has it all.
With its breathtaking views and plethora of outdoor activities, a day in Lake Louise is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Here is a quick snapshot
Things to do in Lake Louise Banff National Park
- See the sunrise at Moraine Lake (summer)
- Drive to, and enjoy the Lake Louise shoreline walk
- Lake Louise canoeing or ice skating/snowshoeing
- Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
- Lake Agnes Tea House hike or Lake Louise Ski Resort (skiing, winters)
- Lake Louise Village walk
- Return or stay overnight in Lake Louise
Planning a trip to Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada
Lake Louise is located inside Banff National Park. It is one of the MOST photographed and loved places in the Canadian Rockies.
Lake Louise has served as the poster boy, a bucket list item for destination weddings and everything that summer in the mountains is known for.
The lake was named in honor of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848 -1939), who was the daughter of Queen Victoria. However, the lake was initially called the Emerald Lake, and it was named so when a Stoney First Nations guide showed the stunning body of water to Tom Wilson (in 1882).
Getting to Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta
The nearest airport to Lake Louise is in Calgary.
Many travelers head to Banff and then go on a day trip to Lake Louise as part of their Canadian Rockies itinerary.
It is possible to explore Lake Louise from Calgary on a day tour, or even from Jasper National Park while driving the Icefields Parkway route.
Travel by car/drive from the airport:
To get to Banff Lake Louise, renting a car is the best option.
- Calgary to Banff town is 1.50 hours by car
- And then Banff to Lake Louise is another 40+ minutes
Parking is free near Lake Louise.
Travel by bus from the airport:
Without a car, you can get to Banff townsite using shuttle buses and private transfers
Calgary to Banff transportation:
- From Calgary: Airport Transfer to Banff & Lake Louise
- Shuttle Transfer between Calgary International Airport and Banff
Banff or Jasper to Lake Louise transportation:
- Banff: Private transfer and tour from Banff to Lake Louise and nearby attractions
- Jasper: You can also book a transfer from Jasper to Banff/Lake Louise with Columbia Icefields
Getting around Lake Louise + Day tours
Once you are in the village of Lake Louise, you can walk to the lakeside, Fairmont Chateau, and indulge in activities there or go hiking.
There are shuttle rides available to get to the Lake Louise Ski resort and back.
Taking a day tour with a local guide or tour company is a great idea. We have recently done this (yes after years of driving to Lake Louise from Calgary and Banff), and it was actually a nice change!
We will list our favorite day tours below,
- From Banff: Best of Banff Tour with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
- From Banff: Lake Louise & Johnston Canyon
- From Calgary: Banff and Lake Louise day tour
Good to know: Banff National Park entry fees
To enter the Banff National Park boundaries for sightseeing, there are entry fees. You can purchase a day pass or an annual pass for an individual or family/group.
For an adult entry, expect to pay $10.50 CAD, or $21 CAD for family/car – per day. These daily passes are valid until 4:00 p.m. on the day after purchase.
Parks Canada Discovery Pass is valid for one year, and it allows unlimited admission to over 80 sites.
With all the practical information out of the way here’s how to spend a day in Lake Louise!
See the sunrise at Moraine Lake (summer)
Moraine Lake is one of the most iconic spots in all of Canada. Located a short drive from Lake Louise, this stunning lake will take your breath away.
If you are starting from Lake Louise (or Banff town), we recommend waking up super early to visit Moraine Lake. The driving distance from Lake Louise to Moraine is about 20 minutes.
Day tours will also cover this stop such as this one from Banff.
The reason for the early trip is that the parking space at Moraine Lake is limited and it gets very crowded during the day. Ideally, if you can be there by 5:30 am, you can enjoy the gorgeous sunrise and also embark on an easy hike or two.
Another option is to start late in the evening, but it can be hit-and-miss with parking, and you might be waiting 10-30 minutes to find an empty spot.
About Moraine Lake
Lake Moraine in Banff National Park is one of the most picturesque sights you will ever see. Its glacial waters, Canadian Rockies backdrop, and colorful kayaks make it an iconic image that will surely linger in your memory forever – it’s truly exquisite!
You can enjoy hiking, kayaking, or walking around the lakeside. This spot is a photographer’s paradise.
For those looking to hike, here are a few options,
- Larch Valley Hike: This is an easy hike of 1 to 2 hours, and is perfect for the fall season.
- Consolation Lakes: This is an easy hike, doable in 1 to 2 hours.
- Sentinel Pass: This trail continues the Larch Valley to welcome you to views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It’s a 12-km hike (7.4 miles) round-trip.
Good to know: Moraine Lake road access is closed in the winter, so this is a summer activity. It is open from mid-June through mid-October.
When visiting Lake Louise in the winter, you can skip this site. Instead use an hour to drive there from Banff town, and enjoy Lake Louise (more on that below)
Drive to, and enjoy the Lake Louise shoreline walk
Get to Lake Louise from Banff (or Moraine Lake in the summer).
There is parking space for your vehicle, as well as washrooms located by the lot near Lake Louise.
Once you have parked, enjoy a walk or a stroll along the lakeside. There is no elevation gain once you are at the lake.
You will find a boardwalk with views of the turquoise waters of Lake Louise and Victoria mountains.
As you move away from the boardwalk you will find more walking areas in and around the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
You can walk around the lakeside all year round. In the off-season (fall and spring) the lake may not be showing off its turquoise hues, and it is usually half-frozen.
Lake Louise canoeing or ice skating/snowshoeing
After enjoying a stroll by the lakeside, indulge in seasonal activities such as kayaking or ice skating.
Lake Louise is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. For those looking to explore the lake by water, kayaking is a great way to take in the stunning views that Lake Louise has to offer!
Rent a canoe at one of the local outfitters or on-site. Take in the views of snow-capped mountains, lush green forests, and turquoise waters as you paddle around the lake.
Horseback riding tours are also offered in the summer.
Fall and off-season
Lake Louise is the perfect place to take in the beauty of autumn! Hiking is a great way to explore the area and get some exercise at the same time.
Choose from one of the numerous trails around Lake Louise and take in the breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains, golden foliage, and crystal-clear waters along the way.
You may like this experience: Full day (6 hour+) guided hiking experience in Lake Louise
Winter is also a great time to visit Lake Louise!
In the winter, the lake is frozen and it turns into a wonderland of sorts with a natural ice skating rink.
Bundle up and lace up your skates for some outdoor ice skating on the picturesque frozen lake.
For those looking for a more challenging experience, try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing along the trails in the area.
Make sure to dress warmly – you don’t want to miss out on the incredible winter views!
You may like this experience: From Banff to Lake Louise Half-Day Winter Tour
For a truly magical experience, join a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow-covered terrain. The sound of jingling bells and crunching snow will make for a romantic experience.
After all your outdoor adventures, warm up by indulging in some of the delicious local cuisine or afternoon tea seating.
Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (all year)
Not into hiking? Get cozy and comfy inside the 5-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for afternoon tea.
Offered every day from 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm at the Fairview Restaurant, this is a beautiful treat that you don’t want to miss!
Sit by the large windows to soak in the views of the lake and the mountains while relishing in-house scones, sandwiches, sweet jams, and tea in royal china!
Afternoon tea for adults starts at $75 CAD, and reservations are highly recommended, as this is a popular activity. You can reserve a spot on OpenTable
Tip: Without afternoon tea, you can still head to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for refreshments at the Coffee shop. Or browse souvenirs from the Gift Shop.
Lake Agnes TeaHouse hike (summer) or Lake Louise Ski Resort (winter)
Lake Agnes Tea House hike (summer)
For the ultimate hiking experience with epic views set aside a couple of hours for the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Lake Agnes Tea House hike is a famous trail in Lake Louise that offers awe-inspiring views.
With an approximate distance of 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles), the trek climbs about 400 meters high with numerous attractive stops along the way.
It is rated as a moderately difficult trail on AllTrails, and takes about 2+ hours to complete.
The trailhead is located/ starts at the front of the lake near the Fairmont Chateau Hotel, and it is well-marked. You can stop along the way and take a breather, or stop to soak in the views.
Cross over 2 wooden bridges and reach the Lake Agnes Tea House for a break (where you can order tea and baked goods here, before returning).
Lake Louise Ski Resort (skiing in winter, open all year)
Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Canada.
Located near Lake Louise, this resort offers a variety of terrain for all skill levels. With over 4,200 acres of skiable area, there’s certainly something to suit everyone’s needs.
Beginners will love the variety of groomed runs and experienced skiers can take advantage of the steep terrain for a challenge. You can also join guided snowshoeing tours or go snow tubing
After an exciting day on the slopes, make sure to indulge in some of the delicious local cuisines at one of the restaurants at the base, or on the mountaintop.
Although popular in the winter, you can visit the Lake Louise Ski resort for summer activities as well.
The sightseeing gondola is open all year round showcasing breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and pristine lake as you make your way down the slopes.
Plus there are hiking trails in and around the resort that are open and accessible to visitors in the summer!
Tip: Head to the Ski Resort using free shuttles from Lake Louise hotels. Schedules here
Lake Louise Village walk
In the evening, take a stroll and admire the village centre of Lake Louise.
The picturesque village of Lake Louise is nestled in the midst of nature and named after its famous lake neighbor.
Here you’ll find a plethora of eateries and lodging accommodations, as well as shopping options at the Samson Mall.
You will find unique souvenirs in local stores, including traditional items such as moccasins and other knick knacks.
The Visitor Centre located at the village is home to a free exhibit on wildlife and geology of Banff. Plus there are also several outdoor cafes and pubs where you can relax and enjoy a meal or a drink.
Return or stay overnight in Lake Louise
After a full day of exploring Lake Louise, you can choose to either return to Banff town or stay overnight in the area.
If you decide to remain in Lake Louise for the night, you will find a variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury hotels to cabins, and camping sites.
The Chateau Lake Louise is perfect if you are looking to enjoy all the amenities of a five-star resort. During the evening, you can take a stroll along the shores of majestic Lake Louise and marvel at its serenity and peacefulness as the sun sets behind the mountains.
For visitors looking for something more rustic, camping at Lake Louise Campground is an unforgettable experience that allows for direct access to the lake’s beauty.
There are also a number of cabins around the area that provide rustic but comfortable lodging options.
Where to stay in Lake Louise Banff National Park?
Here are some of the cool places to stay in Lake Louise village
- Fairmont Château Lake Louise: Staying at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise is an experience of luxury and relaxation. The historic hotel is located on the shores of Lake Louise and offers spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and glaciers. You can enjoy a range of amenities including world-class restaurants that offer locally sourced cuisine, a full spa with therapies to relax and rejuvenate, and a range of activities that take advantage of the great outdoors. The hotel also offers luxurious accommodations with suites complete with Jacuzzis, fireplaces, and balconies with stunning views. Check availability and current prices here
- Lake Louise Inn: A 3-star property with beautiful interiors, a pool, a hot tub, and 2 restaurants on-site, the Lake Louise Inn makes for a delightful stay without breaking the bank. The staff members are very helpful. Book your stay here
- HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre: This mountain hostel offers fuss-free accommodation in the heart of the Rockies. Comfy beds, free wifi, and parking are offered to guests. Check availability here
Additional Travel Tips for Lake Louise
Extending this one day itinerary for Lake Louise
You can include this one day Lake Louise itinerary as part of your overall Canadian Rockies road trip.
When in Banff town, this can be explored as a day trip covering Moraine Lake (summers), Lake Louise, and even Peyto Lake.
A typical Banff itinerary will look like this
- Day 1 to 3: Explore Banff town, nearby lakes, gondola, and hikes (or winter activities)
- Day 4: Day trip to Lake Louise (where you can use this itinerary)
- Day 5: Exploring Yoho National Park (from Banff or Lake Louise – optional overnight stay)
- Day 6: Embarking on the Icefields Parkway to arrive at Jasper National Park
- Day 7 to 9/10: Exploring Jasper National Park and returning to Calgary to fly out
Lake Louise hike and walk
Hikers of all levels can explore the numerous trails that surround the lake, taking in stunning views at every turn.
The easy walks are by the lakeshore and nearby areas that give you a good view of the mountains as well the lake itself.
The Lake Louise LakeShore Trail and the Fairview Lookout Trail are perfect for newbies and photographers alike.
Lake Louise LakeShore Trail is an easy trail and takes about 1 or so to complete. The latter starts at the boathouse area and involves a climb to get to the viewing platform (it takes 45 minutes, and is easier than the Lake Agnes Teahouse trail).
Bow River Loop Trail is another easy route that starts at the Lake Louise village (Bow River Bridge opposite the Lake Louise Station Restaurant).
It is a loop trail, about 7 km (4 miles), and takes about 3 hours to complete. It is a flat trail that follows along the Bow River.
Lake Agnes Teahouse is still one of the popular hikes as mentioned above. Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse is another challenging hike all of 10.6 km or 6.5 miles return trip.
Biking to the Lake Louise area
Without a road trip, an alternate way is to bike along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway. This is a 51 km (31.6 miles) route that can be done by driving, cycling, or hiking starting from Banff town to Lake Louise.
If you are biking, you will want to start in the Banff townsite, going past the Vermilion Lakes before heading out onto the parkway.
Keep in mind, that certain sections of the parkway may be closed to vehicle traffic and only accessible by hiking and/or biking.
Visiting Lake Louise in summer (when blue turquoise waters are guaranteed, from late June to August/early September)
Summer in Lake Louise offers an array of outdoor activities that are perfect for adventurers and families alike! This is the time when the lake shows off its pristine colors.
Keep in mind, this is a peak tourist season in Banff National Park, so expect crowds, waiting at the Lake Louise park area, etc., and expensive accommodation.
But summer has its own charm. Hikers of all levels can explore the numerous trails that surround the lake. For those looking to get on the water, kayaking and canoeing tours offer a unique way to experience the area’s beauty.
In addition to its outdoor recreational opportunities, Lake Louise hosts many exciting cultural events throughout the summer months.
Off-season (April – May, September – October, expect the lake to be slightly frozen)
Our very first trip to Lake Louise was in 2011 in May and the lake still had blocks of ice on its surface.
Later when visiting Lake Louise in spring or fall, we found that the site was not crowded as compared to summer (or winter) months, but the turquoise waters were definitely hidden from view.
Due to the off-season, some trails were closed, or not maintained. At the most, we could walk around the lakeshore and hang out at the Fairmont Chateaux or the Village.
We love Lake Louise in the fall right after the September long weekend – during this time the lakeside is still warm for long walks/hikes and you could still catch a glimpse of the stunning waters, minus the crowds.
Visiting Lake Louise in winter (Winter months are from November to April)
Visiting Lake Louise in the winter is a unique experience!
As the snow falls, you’ll be surrounded by some of Canada’s most stunning white-capped mountains.
Skiing and snowboarding are popular activities in the area, but there are plenty more things to explore!
Take a sleigh ride through beautiful meadows or go ice skating on one of the many frozen lakes.
Snowshoeing is also a great way to explore the area and take in amazing views. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable day!
There are also numerous festivals and events for the whole family to enjoy, such as the annual Ice Magic Festival in January – February.
Be sure to bundle up – chilly temperatures are common during winter months!
And don’t forget your camera— with the snow-covered trees, glistening lakes, and majestic mountains, Lake Louise is even more impressive covered in a blanket of white.
Packing for Lake Louise Banff Itinerary
There are some packing essentials for Lake Louise Banff National Park.
- Lightweight waterproof jacket: Always pack a lightweight waterproof jacket with you in the Canadian Rockies, including Lake Louise. This is a must when going on hikes and canoeing. Here is my favorite one
- Hiking shoes: Hiking shoes are essential when you go on trails. I love these ones from KEEN shoes
- Winter Parka: In the winter, warm outerwear or a parka is a must. Ensure the parka is long and has a hood and deep pockets. Click to view this winter jacket
- Base Layers: Wear base layers to stay warm and toasty at the lake. Click to view my favorite pair bottom and top here
- Winter Boots: Another must for winters are boots with sturdy outsole and insulation. Buy my favorite pair here
- Winter accessories: Pack colorful beanies, gloves, and warm socks as well – Click to view warm socks, warm gloves, beanies
Exploring Lake Louise in one day is an experience you won’t soon forget.
From the magical views to the exciting activities, it’s no wonder this destination remains a popular spot for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely stroll around the lake or test your hiking prowess on a challenging trail, there’s something for everyone at Lake Louise.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your visit to Lake Louise today!
Read our posts on Canadian Rockies,
- Banff: Banff in winter | Banff in the fall | When is the best time to visit Banff | Where to stay in Banff
- Jasper: 3 days in Jasper | Banff and Jasper itinerary 7 days
- Canmore: Things to do in Canmore
- Calgary: Things to do in Calgary downtown | Where to stay in Calgary | 2 days in Calgary itinerary