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How to spend a day in Lake Louise

Lake Louise

With a soaring mountain backdrop and brilliant turquoise water, Lake Louise is one of the most iconic destinations in the Canadian Rockies. Nestled right in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, and a 40-minute drive northwest of Banff, Alberta, it’s one of Banff National Park’s most popular attractions.

Our First Passage to the West rail route travels between Vancouver and Banff or Lake Louise, so you can choose to start or end your journey in this charming hamlet. Our guests love to spend a couple of days at Lake Louise as part of their Rocky Mountaineer vacation.

It’s not surprising that the big draw in Lake Louise is the picture-postcard lake itself. However, there is a lot more to see and do around the area, so we’ve put together a guide on how to spend a day in Lake Louise.

Watch our video to discover the best things to do in Lake Louise and read our guide below for more ideas on how to spend a day at one of Canada’s most scenic wonders.  

A perfect day at Lake Louise

Take a stroll around the lake shore

When you arrive at Lake Louise, you’ll discover a landscape you’ve only ever dreamed of. Take a gentle stroll around the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail and admire the crystal water and the towering Victoria glacier.

As you walk around the lake, you’ll get a wonderful view of Lake Louise Boathouse perched on the waters edge. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the view, but make sure you walk far enough around the lake to get a lovely view of the fairytale Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

If you’re staying at the hotel, watching the sun rise over the mountains is definitely worth the early wake-up call. Seeing the sun light up the mountains whilst the water starts to shimmer is a magical experience.  

Rent a canoe and paddle by the glacier

For a truly memorable experience, rent a canoe from Lake Louise Boathouse and get closer to the dramatic peaks of the Victoria Glacier. As you glide through the calm water, soak in the spectacular mountain views and the turquoise blue water.

Canoes can be rented at an hourly rate making it the perfect thing to do if you have a day in Lake Louise. You can find the opening hours and rates on the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise's website.

Canoe at Lake Louise

Visit a historic tea house

For those looking for a gentle stroll, the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail is perfect. However, if you want a slightly longer walk, there are some beautiful hikes around Lake Louise. One of the most popular hikes takes you up to the famous Lake Agnes Teahouse. It’s a 6.8km (4-mile) roundtrip to the historic tea house which has been serving visitors from all around the world since 1905.

The tea house was originally built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a refuge for hikers. Today, it is a popular spot for visitors to enjoy a cup of tea and some homemade soup and sandwiches on the shores of Lake Agnes.

Photo © Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Enjoy spectacular mountain views

If you’re feeling adventurous, head up into the surrounding mountains for unparalleled views across the lake. The 4km (2.5-mile) roundtrip Fairview Lookout trail begins near the boathouse and rewards you with a view looking down and back at the lake and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Please note that the area has a high concentration of bears, so it is always best to check with the tourist office before setting off on any trails.

Fairview Lookout at Lake Louise

Indulge in the best regional cuisine

After exploring the lake and the surrounding area, it’s time to sample some of the delicious local cuisine. There are plenty of culinary options to explore during your day in Lake Louise. Experience the tradition of afternoon tea at the Fairview Restaurant in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, situated right on the edge of the lake. Or if you’re staying the night, reserve a table at the hotel’s alpine restaurant, Walliser Stube. Here you can enjoy stunning views of the lake and delicious local flavours in a truly iconic setting.

In town, The Station Restaurant serves up well-crafted comfort classics within the log-cabin architecture of the decommissioned 1910 Canadian Pacific Railway station. 

Fairview Restaurant at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Photo © Travel Alberta / Mike Seehagel

Make lasting memories at Moraine Lake

Only 20 minutes from Lake Louise lies another of Western Canada’s most beautiful lakes: Moraine Lake. Whether you’ve visited the Canadian Rockies before or not, the chances are that you have seen photos of Moraine Lake. Its vivid turquoise waters and rugged mountain peaks are so iconic that the lake was once immortalized on Canadian twenty-dollar bills.

Stroll along the shoreline or take a short walk up the rock pile to get a more elevated view of the lake surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It’s a view that must be seen to be believed!

If you have time, Moraine Lake Lodge offers canoe rentals from mid-June to mid-September so you can get closer to the vivid water and dramatic peaks!

Please note, as of January 9th 2023, Moraine Lake Road is now closed to personal vehicles year round. Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and commercial buses are permitted from June to mid-October.

Moraine Lake

Planning your trip to Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a destination that shines in all seasons. In winter, the lake is frozen over and dusted in snow creating a magical scene; whilst in summer, the turquoise waters shimmer in the sunshine.

Regardless of when you go, spending a day in Lake Louise is an enchanting experience. Learn more about our First Passage to the West rail route and search our carefully curated packages to find the perfect Lake Louise travel itinerary for you.