Arguably one of the most scenic provinces in all of Canada, Alberta is stunning! Not only that, but it’s also home to two of the oldest national parks in the world. This alone makes this province incredible, but there are so many epic and best places in Alberta that are too incredible to miss.
There’s so much outdoorsy stuff to do here all year round (even for people who aren’t usually keen on time outdoors) that Alberta is just the perfect holiday destination, regardless of the time of year you visit.
For starters, they do seasons here properly. Winter is winter, complete with heaps of snow, frozen bubble lakes and more ice skating than you can handle. That being said, in summer it’s scorching, just as summer should be.
All in all, Alberta is incredible at any time of the year. And, truth be told, this is exactly why we’ve headed to visit the best places in Alberta in all the seasons. The whole province changes so much with the seasons as it’s incredible.
Now, this then begs the question; where should you visit in Alberta? Obviously, you’ve got some iconic places like Banff, Jasper and the cities like; Edmonton and Calgary, but there is so much more to Alberta.
Anyway, I’m rambling on but I really wanted to show you some of our favourite and best places in Alberta you should really think of visiting.
1.) Banff (region and town)
Banff constantly tops the list of the world’s most beautiful national parks and it’s easy to see why. It really is one of the best places in Alberta to explore.
Established in 1885, it is Canada’s oldest national park and is located in the ruggedly wild Canadian Rockies. With trails, lakes, forests and mountains to keep you enthralled, Banff is every outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination.
Honestly, the whole area is incredible and it’s hard to bullet point into a few sentences. That being said, check out our full 1-week Banff itinerary to explore Banff National Park. It really is incredible.
2.) Medicine Lake
Located not far from Jasper town (it’s actually in the National Park), Medicine Lake is often described as a sinking lake that has holes in the bottom of its bed.
It’s something of an anomaly and it’s so much more fascinating than I can describe on here. Also, mostly because, I’m pretty sure my attempt at describing the geological/geographical phenomenon that makes this lake disappear would actually be quite bad. Ha!
Think of it like a bathtub without a plug that’s essentially constantly filled faster than it can drain off.
As a result, Medicine Lake has two distinct “looks” one where the lake fills with more water than it can drain away and it appears deep and bottomless. Whilst the other is when it all disappears through an underground system leaving the lake to shrink to the size of a stream.
Calgary is also a great entry spot for Banff National Park so if you plan on visiting Banff, you might as well spend some time making the most of city life in Calgary.
After all, it’s only around 180-minutes away (tiny in Canadian terms). Ha!
4.) Waterton Lakes National Park
What do you get when flat prairies meet the Canadian Rockies?
The amazing Waterton Lakes National Park; it’s easily one of the best places in Alberta to visit as it’s totally beautiful.
For me, the jewel in the park’s crown is the sparkling sapphire lake and hilltop castle that make it look like something out of a movie.
So, if you looking to escape the crowds and still make the most of that stunning Canadian natural scenery, Waterton is really where you should visit.
5.) Jasper National Park
First off, I totally love Jasper National Park!
It’s absolutely stunning and such a great place to visit. If you ever wondered what Nature showing off looks like, then come to Jasper National Park and you’ll soon find out. It really is one of the best places in Alberta to visit in any season.
Deep canyons sliced by roaring waterfalls (Hey Maligne Canyon), jade-coloured forests, frosty mountain peaks and emerald lakes. Jasper National Park is nature untamed and quite the showstopper.
6.) Lake Louise
Sculpted out of liquid sapphires, Lake Louise is the Prima Donna of Banff National Park (so much so that it gets a separate highlight from the afore-mentioned Banff National Park).
Plus, the whole region is surrounded by fantastic hiking trails and tea houses that you can’t miss. If you fancy a luxurious few days, check into the Fairmont Lake Louise and relax on the lake edge.
In winter, this place is totally magical and the rooms are gorgeous inside, too. We loved staying here!
Oh yeah, you can also organise the Fairmont’s guide to take you out to explore some of the wider area, too. We headed out to hike Johnston Canyon with them and loved the frozen waterfalls. It really is one of the best places in Alberta to visit.
Once a hidden gem and underground alternative to popular Banff, the town of Canmore has become increasingly popular over the years and has expanded more and more as travellers start to take note and visit this fun place.
A former coal-mining town, it lies about 26km from Banff and sits at the threshold of some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. Less ritzy and flashy than Banff, Canmore has managed to retain its edge despite its burgeoning popularity.
We took a helicopter tour over the Canadian Rockies from here and totally loved it.
Just when you thought that Alberta couldn’t surprise you anymore. You see, Drumheller is so different from the other snowy and glacial landscapes you might be familiar with.
Drumheller dips down into Red Deer Valley and links Alberta with Dinosaur Trail, an area rich in paleontological secrets that’s too amazing to miss.
Prairies abound, there’s a heap of museums and excursions on all things dinosaur-related that I’m sure you’ll love. It’s honestly one of the best places in Alberta to visit if you love natural history.
9.) Columbia Icefield
The Columbia Icefield is part of the Icefield Parkway between Banff and Jasper. This unfathomably vast icefield covers an area the size of Vancouver and is easily one of the best places in Alberta to see in the milder seasons.
Even more mind-boggling is that this is the remnant of the last ice age and covers a large plateau (the largest in the Rockies) that feeds into eight glaciers.
You absolutely have to check out the Athabasca Glacier when you’re here, too. It’s totally iconic.
Nestled in the heart of Alberta farm country, Lethbridge is a former coal-mining town and provides a good base from which to explore the Oldman River Valley.
This 100m deep is bisected by the crème de la crème of steel railway bridges – The Lethbridge Viaduct (the largest railway structure in Canada and the largest of its kind in the entire world. It’s definitely worth a stop when you’re in the area driving south to Glacier National Park in the US.
If all the hiking, fresh air and fun has left you feeling weak of limb, kick back, relax and eat you weight in delicious food in the ultra-modern city of Edmonton, Alberta’s second-largest city and capital.
With a trendy downtown area that’s guaranteed to give you that much-needed fix of good old fashioned Canadian city fun, a trip to Edmonton is one that definitely needs to be on your travel plans.
Don’t forget, if you visit in winter, you’ll also get to see the city’s iconic Ice Castles, too. They are stunning and can’t be missed.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you’re looking to visit Jasper National Park, then you’ll probably need to fly into Edmonton. This means you should definitely set some time to enjoy the city, too.
12.) Lake Minnewanka
An ideal fun and an activity-filled area set in the heart of Banff National Park (another park offshoot totally worth a mention in its own right).
You see, Lake Minnewanka is an excellent place to go swimming, fishing, sailing and boating in the summer. Though, it’s just as beautiful to see in the winter, too. It really is one of the best places in Alberta to see at any time of the year.
Some of the easiest (and most beautiful trails) straddle its shorelines and the azure waters make the perfect spot to take a rest and admire the ridiculously picturesque views.
13.) Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake located about 14km outside of Lake Louise Village (yes, I know this is another Banff spot but it’s totally worth a mention).
It is (rather ideally, I might add) located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks at an elevation of 6,183 feet!
More rugged and remote than its well-known sister Lake Louise, the hike there takes you down a narrow winding path that offers dazzling views of the imposing peaks. It’s stunning.
14.) Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is one spot you definitely don’t want to miss when you’re in Jasper National Park.
Maligne Canyon is impressive to see at any time of the year but when it gets really special is in the middle of winter where the Canyon freezes over which not only allows you to walk through it and explore it properly but also filled the canyon with frozen waterfalls.
We loved it; even in the freezing cold!
15.) Banff Upper Hot Springs
The final item on this list is the thoroughly relaxing hot springs located in Banff National Park.
Gushing out from Sulphur Mountain, the warm waters are the perfect panacea for soothing your poor, overworked muscles. This is especially good if you’ve been skiing at Banff’s Sunshine Village and need some time to just chill.
It really is one of the best places in Alberta to just chill out and not break the bank, either.