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12 Best Things to Do in Alberta in Winter

12 Best Things to Do in Alberta in Winter

Winter in Alberta is nothing short of magical. As the snow blankets the landscape, the Canadian Rockies transform into a breathtaking winter wonderland offering plenty of activities!

So, bundle up, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to discover more of the top things to do in Alberta during the frosty season—each one guaranteed to leave you with memories that’ll warm your heart for years to come. Read on!

Go skiing or snowboarding at Banff’s Mount Norquay

Go skiing or snowboarding at Banff's Mount Norquay's Homepage


Address: Mt Norquay Scenic Dr, Banff, Alberta

Contact details: +1 403-762-4421

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 8 AM to 8 PM

Mount Norquay is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Banff, so you can spend the day skiing or snowboarding without wasting time driving. We love that It has a fun, laid-back vibe and way smaller crowds than Lake Louise or Sunshine Village.

You don’t need to worry about ski gear, by the way, since there’s an on-site rental shop over there.

If you’re a beginner, go for the Magic Carpet and Cougar lifts, which give access to nice, wide runs that are perfect for finding your snow legs. Intermediates will love the long, winding runs off the North American lift. 

Be sure to stop for a snack at the historic Cliffhouse Bistro, which has been operating since 1942!

Local Tip:  Lift tickets are very affordable, especially if you go midweek so you can save even more by booking a ski-and-stay package in Banff.

Take a dog sled ride near Canmore

Take a dog sled ride near Canmore's Homepage


Address: 1206 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, 

Contact details: +1 403-678-0992

If you’re looking for the ultimate Canadian winter adventure, you’ve got to try dog sledding in the breathtaking Canadian Rockies near Canmore. It’s seriously the coolest thing you can do this winter!

Now, fair warning: it’s going to be super cold–like, way below freezing–-and the wind chill from the sled moving will make it feel even colder. So make sure to wear your warmest clothes, a hat, insulated gloves, and winter boots to stay cosy.

When you get there, you’ll meet your team of super excited huskies, malamutes, or other sled dogs. Be sure to chat with the mushers to learn more about the different dog breeds and their roles on the team.

Most sled rides last about 10–30 minutes, and after your ride, you can warm up by a fire, sip some hot cocoa, and share your epic adventure stories with fellow sledders!

Go ice skating at the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise

Go ice skating at the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise's Homepage


Address: Samson Mall, 201 Village Road, Lake Louise, Alberta

Contact details: +1 403-762-8421

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 6 PM

One of the most magical winter experiences in Alberta is ice skating on Lake Louise. Each January, the lake hosts the Ice Magic Festival, a celebration of ice carving and winter activities. 

The lake provides the perfect natural setting for an open-air ice rink, with the stunning Victoria Glacier as a backdrop. You can rent skates right on site if you don’t have your own. 

Spend the afternoon practising spins and stops, racing friends, or just leisurely circling the rink to take in the views. The ice is well-maintained, but you’ll still want to bundle up for hours of outdoor skating in the Canadian Rockies.

If skating isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to experience the winter wonderland.

  • Go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride along the lake shore
  • Rent snowshoes or cross-country skis and trek through the snowy trails
  • Take a dog sledding tour and mush through the backcountry with a team of huskies
  • Join a guided ice climbing or winter hiking excursion
  • Warm up inside with a mug of hot cocoa, a hearty meal, and live music at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Visit the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier

Visit the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier's Homepage


Address: Highway 93, Icefields Pkwy, Improvement District No. 12, Alberta

Contact details: +1 866-606-6700

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

For something epic, you’ve got to check out the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier. This enormous icefield stretches across the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies, covering over 200 square miles of glaciers and ice. 

The best way to see this icy wonderland is by taking a guided icefield tour. And trust us, the giant Ice Explorers are where it’s at—they’re like massive SUVs with huge tires that’ll take you right onto the Athabasca Glacier.

These 90-minute tours start at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Center and take you on a 6-mile journey across glacial ice, climbing up to 900 feet in elevation. How cool is that?

As you cruise across the ancient ice, your guide will point out all the cool geological features and share fun facts about how glaciers are formed and how they’ve shaped the surrounding landscape over thousands of years.

Local Tip: After your ice tour, you can head to the Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation platform 918 feet above the Sunwapta Valley. 

This award-winning attraction provides a thrilling view of the glacier and Columbia Icefield from high in the air. 

Check out the festive Banff Christmas Market

Check out the festive Banff Christmas Market's Homepage


Address: Banff Christmas Market 100 Sundance Road – Warner Stables Banff, Alberta

Contact details: Facebook: 

Operating hours: 

  • Friday and Saturday – 10 AM to 8 PM
  • Sunday – 10 AM to 4 PM

If you’re looking for a cosy and fun way to spend your winter days in Alberta, you’ve got to check out the Banff Christmas Market! This cool European-style market is open on weekends from late November through December, so there’s plenty of time to swing by.

At the Banff Christmas Market, you’ll find tons of awesome local artisans, yummy food, and some really entertaining performances. 

It’s the perfect place to chill with a warm cup of hot cocoa while you browse through all the cute stalls for unique handcrafted gifts for your friends and fam.

And the best part? The live music and performances will totally get you in that holiday mood as you explore the market. 

Go on a sleigh ride at Heritage Park Historical Village

Go on a sleigh ride at Heritage Park Historical Village's Homepage


Address: 1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary, Alberta

Contact details: +1 403-268-8500 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

At Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, you can bundle up for an old-fashioned sleigh ride along the wooded trails.

You can glide over the snow in an open-air sleigh pulled by magnificent Percheron draft horses. As the sleigh bells jingle, you’ll feel transported back in time as you pass historic buildings, like an 1860s fur trading post and a pioneer church. 

The half-hour ride takes you along the shores of Glenmore Reservoir, with scenic views of the Canadian Rockies in the distance. After your enchanting sleigh ride, you can explore the rest of Heritage Park’s historical village. 

You can tour restored homes and businesses from the 1860s to the 1950s, ride a steam train, and dine at a vintage diner or saloon. The park really comes alive at Christmas, with many of the buildings decorated in traditional holiday style. 

Local Tip: Dress warmly in waterproof boots, coats, hats, gloves, and blankets because of the cold temperature though, Heritage Park provides extra blankets.

Spot the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Spot the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) Homepage

The further north you travel in Alberta, the better your chances are of seeing the Northern Lights. Some of the best spots are:

  • Jasper National Park and Banff National Park: The mountainous landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for the lights.


  • Wood Buffalo National Park: This is one of the darkest places in Alberta, perfect for optimal viewing.


  • La Crete is a small town in northern Alberta within the Aurora Oval, a zone known for frequent Northern Lights activity.


The Northern Lights are unpredictable, but you can monitor the forecast to increase your odds. Look for a strong geomagnetic storm watch or warning, which means the lights are likely to be more active and visible. 

The lights may appear faint at first, so give yourself time to fully experience the show.

And since you’ll be outside at night, likely for hours, dress in insulated layers, winter boots, a hat, and gloves, and bring blankets.

Local Tip: The University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute offers an Aurora Forecast that predicts the intensity of the lights.

Ride on a fat bike in the Rockies

Ride on a fat bike in the Rockies' Homepage

A fat biking tour is a chance to explore winter landscapes you may not otherwise get to see.  Some tours ride right up to the base of frozen waterfalls and along the shores of icy lakes. 

It’s also a great thing that the wide tires of the fat bikes will give you stability over uneven, slippery terrain, so you can focus on the views instead of worrying about wiping out!

Most fat biking tours are suitable for all skill levels. Tours typically last 2 to 3 hours, covering 5 to 15 kilometres at a leisurely pace with plenty of stops for photos, snacks, and learning about the local ecology.

Local Tip: If you’re not quite ready to commit to a full-day fat biking tour, some outfitters also offer shorter introductory rides to teach you the basics.

Check out some of the best Albertan restaurants and pubs

Check out some of the best Albertan restaurants and pubs' Homepage

Alberta’s food scene has a lot going on, from fine dining to food trucks. Exploring the local restaurants is a great way to experience the culture, meet the people behind the food, and discover regional specialties. 

Cosy up by a fireplace and enjoy delicious comfort food and a pint of craft beer. Here are some of the best:

  • The Grizzly House (Banff)


This iconic fondue restaurant has been open since 1967 and offers dip bread, meat, and veggies into melted cheese, oil, or chocolate. 

It gives a unique and memorable dining experience, in addition to the rustic log cabin decor that adds to the charm.

  • Model Milk (Calgary)


This hip restaurant focuses on local, sustainable ingredients. The ever-changing menu features creative small plates, cheese boards, cocktails, and an extensive wine list.

  • Cilantro and chive (Edmonton)


This Asian fusion bistro offers high-quality, innovative dishes with unique flavour profiles. You can choose from a variety of dishes like duck confit bao buns, truffle kimchi fries, or sushi pizza.

They even have an extensive sake, wine, and craft cocktail menu as well

  • The Chuckwagon Cafe (Turner Valley)


For a taste of history, head to this iconic diner, which has been open since 1929. They serve up classic comfort foods like homemade soups, burgers, pie, and the famous Turner Valley pancakes.

The decor is a retro diner with red leather booths and a vintage jukebox. Cash only; open for breakfast and lunch.

Local Tip: Remember to ask the staff for other recommendations on what to order—they’ll point you to their favourites. And of course, save room for dessert!

Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs' Homepage


Address: Mountain Ave, Banff, Alberta

Contact details: +1 800-767-1611

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10AM to 10PM

Looking for the ultimate relaxation spot during your trip to Banff? You’ve got to check out the Banff Upper Hot Springs! 

These natural hot springs are the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the Canadian Rockies. Just imagine soaking in the warm, soothing waters while surrounded by stunning mountain views—it’s like a dream come true!

Not only do the hot springs feel amazing, but they’re also rich in minerals like sulphate, calcium, and magnesium, which can be great for your skin. 

So, head on over to the Banff Upper Hot Springs, grab your swimsuit, and treat yourself to a relaxing soak in nature’s very own spa. You’ll leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for your next Alberta adventure!

Local Tip: For a truly serene experience at the Banff Upper Hot Springs, try visiting early in the morning or during weekdays to avoid the crowds and have more space to relax in the soothing waters.

Go cross-country skiing on the Canmore Nordic Center trails

Go cross-country skiing on the Canmore Nordic Center trails' Homepage


Address: 1988 Olympic Way, Canmore, Alberta

Contact details: +1 403-678-2400

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 5:30 PM

If you’re a fan of cross-country skiing, or even if you’re just looking to try something new, you’ve got to hit up the Canmore Nordic Center Trails. 

This amazing spot, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offers some of the best cross-country skiing. With over 65 kilometres of groomed trails for all skill levels, you’re in for a real treat as you glide through the stunning winter scenery.

But it’s not just about skiing; the Canmore Nordic Center is also a fantastic place to hang out with friends and family. You can warm up in the cosy day lodge, grab a bite to eat, or even take a lesson if you’re new to the sport. 

So, grab your skis (or rent some if you need to) and head on over to the Canmore Nordic Center Trails for an unforgettable day of cross-country skiing in the breathtaking Canadian Rockies.

Local Tip: To make the most of your cross-country skiing experience at the Canmore Nordic Center Trails, check the trail conditions online before you go, so you can choose the best routes for your skill level and enjoy the freshest groomed tracks.

Experience a hockey game

Experience a hockey game's Homepage


Address: 10220 104 Ave NW, Edmonton, Alberta

Contact details: +1 780-414-5483 

If there’s one thing Canadians are absolutely passionate about, it’s hockey, and experiencing a live game in Roger’s Place should definitely be on your bucket list! 

Whether it’s an NHL match or a local game, there’s nothing quite like the electric atmosphere of a packed arena, with fans cheering and the action unfolding right in front of your eyes. 

From the moment you walk in and hear the buzz of excitement, you’ll be swept up in the energy, and you’ll quickly understand why hockey is such an integral part of Canadian culture.

So, grab some friends or family and head on over to a hockey game for a true taste of Canadian culture. The camaraderie among fans is infectious, and you might even find yourself becoming a die-hard fan before the game is over!. 

Local Tip: Don’t forget to grab some classic arena snacks like poutine or a hot dog and join in the excitement as you root for your new favourite team

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