Deep in the Canadian Rockies and nestled within Banff National Park, Banff is known for its natural beauty and is a treasured destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
The town has built an international reputation for being a welcoming port of call for skiers, however, there are also many hiking opportunities in Banff as well as plenty more mountain adventures to take on. Once you’ve finished exploring the surrounding pine forests or hitting the slopes, this small but mighty town has a bustling drinking scene that’s easy to explore.
From festivals to tours, cozy corners to bustling hotel bars, visitors have a variety of options to choose from, and, in a town that’s still pretty small, it’s easy to try many of them over a day or in just one night. Most are within a few blocks of each other and the proximity makes experiencing Banff nightlife fun and easy.
Award-Winning Breweries and Distilleries
If you aren’t ready to give up on nature after a day of exploring, make Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant your first stop. This “brewery in a forest” comes complete with plenty of patio space and a retractable roof designed to allow patrons to stargaze as they sample local brews. It’s also conveniently located on Bear Street, in the heart of Banff. Less than a five-minute walk from Three Bears is another excellent brewery—Banff Ave Brewing Company—which serves home-brewed ales by the flight, glass, or growler.
For those who want to experience more of the local beer scene, or have a penchant for craft brews, a great time to visit the town is during the annual Banff Craft Beer Festival in December. This festival features 30+ Alberta-based craft brewers who descend on the town for just over a week each year. Local bars and restaurants also get in on the action every year, with special promotions and beer-themed offerings only available during the event’s run.
If your dates don’t quite align with the festival, but you’d still like to taste a variety of local beers, I recommend signing up for the Discover Banff Bow Valley Beer Tour. Tours are for intimate groups of up to ten guests. Participants are picked up/dropped off at their hotel by a knowledgeable guide. Along the way, you’re treated to samples and get behind-the-scenes insights into the brewing process whilst also getting to chat to local experts.
Banff doesn’t just have breweries—it has a world-class distillery as well. While in town, make time to stop at Park Distillery, the only distillery in a national park in Canada. Centrally located on Banff Avenue (and just a short walk from both Three Bears and Banff Ave Brewing Co.), this craft distillery makes traditional and Canadian-inspired spirits. Grab a bottle of their award-winning Gin or pull up to their bar to try their signature cocktail—the Skoki—a Canada-inspired take on the famous Old Fashioned.
Popular Clubs and Pubs in Banff
Banff has many popular pubs that both locals and visitors love. If you’d like your pub to have a 360-degree view of the beautiful natural surroundings, grab a pint at the Elk & Oarsman, which boasts a beautiful summertime rooftop patio. For cooler days or nights, head inside and enjoy their stone fireplace while listening to live music.
When you’re ready to change venues, walk two minutes up Banff Avenue and cross the street. You’ll find yourself at Banff’s oldest pub, the Rose & Crown. Here, you’ll find great daily specials and lively crowds, as the bar has a reputation for being a gathering space after a long day on the slopes.
For a truly authentic pub experience, make sure you stop in at St. James Gate. Built and manufactured in Dublin, Ireland, it’s one of the premier Irish pubs in the world. Bartenders here have a reputation of being warm and friendly, which makes it a great place to visit if you’re looking to get recommendations or advice from knowledgeable locals.
And if you feel like dancing the night away, head to The Dancing Sasquatch, the Banff nightclub that’s known as the town’s wild party place. The Sasquatch attracts local and international DJs, and hosts some of the mountains’ craziest events. Or for something completely different, head to High Rollers for a night of pins, pints, and pizza. This Banff beer hall has it all, with six bowling lanes, pool tables, an extensive selection of beers, and New York-style Pizza.
Cocktail Bars in Banff for Spirits and Wine
Bars in Banff boast some world-class cocktail options. If you enjoy a good cocktail and like to try unique twists on popular cocktails, you need to check out Block Kitchen + Bar. The bar focuses on unique takes of fan favorites such as the Moscow Mule and the classic Canadian Caesar.
Visitors looking for a lively atmosphere should make their way to The Radiant, a hybrid cocktail lounge/performance space. The Radiant takes its design cues from 1920s flapper culture and plays host to everything from live music to drag shows to cabarets. Serving late into the night, it’s a great place to grab a classic martini. If you are with a group of five or more, try one of their famous “cocktail trees.”
Check Out Hotel Bars for the Best of Banff Nightlife
Some of the best bars in Banff happen to be in hotels, and the one hotel bar you absolutely need to visit while you’re in town is the recently renovated Rundle Bar at Fairmont Banff Springs. It’s charming and sophisticated and comes complete with scenic views. Nothing beats being in the bar of the most famous hotel in Banff—it’s a great place to people-watch or absorb an upscale vibe.
When you need a bit of glamour after a day of roughing it on some challenging trails, DIVAS at Rimrock Resort is the place to be. Full of old-Hollywood charm, it’s the perfect place to grab a martini in a relaxed atmosphere. It also has an extensive spirits menu with various Scotch whiskeys, cognacs, ports, and brandies sure to warm you up after a long day on the slopes.
Another place for hot, boozy drinks that’s worth a visit is Farm & Fire in The Elk + Avenue Hotel. It’s a casual space that also happens to serve up excellent wood-fired pizza. Swing by during their Happy Hour (weekdays, from 5–6p.m. on Monday to Thursday and 4–6p.m. on Fridays) to get 50% off food and drinks.
While Banff may seem like a small town, there’s a reason why thousands of people flock to this mountaintop oasis every year. It’s a ruggedly beautiful place and indeed a crown jewel for those who crave a bit of nature. It also packs a lot of cosmopolitan energy into just a few blocks. Let the proximity of these great establishments work to your advantage by doing a bit of bar-hopping while you’re in town. Plus, there are plenty of revitalising wellness activities to do in Banff that refresh body and soul the morning after.
Whether you prefer to spend days out on the hills or nights seeking thrills, there’s something for you in Banff. Check out our Banff Travel Guide to find planning and travel tips for this amazing destination.