Biking, Banff, Beer and Beautiful Scenery: 6 Reasons Alberta Is Canada AF
Going to Alberta, Canada? Here’s our adventure-filled tips!
In pure socially awkward fashion, we're going to open the convo with weather; an icebreaker if you will.
Canada has so much to give and in any season. Not many countries have that luxury, like who wants to go sunbathing in Greece in December?
In a matter of days, we experienced Canada in every season and whether it snows, shines or even rains, one thing is certain: it is always S*T*U*N*N*I*N*G.
Alberta is famous for its national parks, epic wildlife and awesome ski resorts. Eddie the Eagle AND the Jamaican bobsleigh team made their debut at Calgary Winter Olympics (real champs). So where to start? Travel Alberta hooked us up with a jam-packed itinerary to keep us busy - read on for inspo on how to explore Alberta like a true local, eh!?
(Let’s see how many Canadian themed puns we can fit into this feature.)
Hit The Open Road
Ever fantasised about driving a Harley Davidson around the picturesque Canadian mountains? Yeah, us too – and Jasper National Park, and Jasper Motorbike Tours are making your biker dreams come true. Just you, a Harley, the open road... oh and don’t forget your lovely, professional rider Terry!
We hopped onto the back (AKA slipped into the sidecar) of a Harley Davidson for an unforgettable tour around the Great Canadian Rockies. We rode through the mountains staring out at the beautiful scenery and searching for wildlife hiding in the National Park. You even get to channel Christina Aguilera's iconic ‘Dirrty’ video, as you’re handed heated leather chaps, a bandana and tinted glasses to keep you toasty.
Jasper Motorcycle Tours offer 1 or 3 hour trips depending on how adventurous you’re feeling and if you’re really, REALLY brave your driver may pull some stunts with you in the side-car. Be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted!!
Get Fancy Under the Stars
For the avid stargazer, Jasper National Park has the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, but word on the mountains is that it’s actually the best . A dark sky preserve is an area of the sky protected from light pollution, allowing park visitors to see thousands of stars and the Milky Way itself (If you’re lucky enough, you may even see the Northern Lights).
We happened to be in town for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival, where local astronomers host daily events in the planetarium to educate stargazers on the mysterious world above us. Did you know the space station travels around the Earth so fast the astronauts on board see a sunrise or sunset every 90 minutes?
Don’t worry if you didn’t, you’ll be in the know once you’ve spent an hour in Jasper’s planetarium.
The renowned Jasper Park Lodge hosts a three course dinner once a year to celebrate the ‘Dark Sky Preserve’, ending with drinks on the decking overlooking a lake, watching the Edmonton Symphony Strings under the stars. If you get as lucky as we did, the clouds will clear and the stars will fill the sky.
The Symphony Under the Stars is a once in a lifetime opportunity and 100% worth planning a trip around. If you’re unable to attend the symphony, the lodge offers amazing canoeing followed by drinks around the open fire.
Phone Down, Look Up
Once you’ve drained every ounce out of the beautiful Jasper National Park head south to Banff National Park. We took a detour, opting to explore the beautiful, turquoise Lake Louise.
MTV Tip: Hire a canoe and paddle around the lake for the best views and to get some alone time away from the buzz of the tourists lingering around the bank.
If time isn’t an issue, there are vast numbers of lakes, trails, glacier hikes and mountains to conquer en route. At the very least, don’t forget to make regular stops to appreciate the picturesque backdrop; especially the Athabasca Falls for an epic photo.
Bottoms Up in Banff
After we checked into the newly renovated Mount Royal Hotel, we had a quick dip in the rooftop jacuzzi for a good look at the mountains surrounding Banff. The main avenue is lined with breweries and distilleries which offer tastings and tours - the sophisticated way to pre-drink. Banff Ave. Brewing Co. has the largest beer selection in town and everything is made in-house, including Oktoberfest beer. If you’re lucky the hilarious and ‘a little buzzed’ Jason will give you an unforgettable tour of the brewery; just don’t ask tricky beer-related questions!
After challenging Jason on his beer knowledge we’d recommend heading to Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar. The Master Distiller gave us an in-depth tour of how they make their spirits followed by a VERY generous tasting. Luckily the food is great and helps soak up the chilli-infused vodka.
Warning, Banff is not as innocent as it looks - this picture-perfect town can get wild – even on a Sunday!
Wash that hangover down with a few Caesars (a Canadian Bloody Mary with clam juice – tastier than it sounds) then head out of town for your own mountain adventure. We suggest to hop on the Banff Gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, take a stroll along the boardwalk for the most spectacular views of the valley and Bow river. Breathe in that clean mountain air!
Hiking in the Rockies can be tough stuff, so do yourself a favour and book in a stay at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge for some much-deserved R&R. This isn’t just a lodge, it’s a retreat hidden in the forest. The suites have two floors with a mezzanine bedroom overlooking the lounge, and floor-to-ceiling windows allow for the best views from your bed.
And better yet… they have a spa!
The Kananaskis Nordic Spa is situated deep in an alpine forest for those authentic feels. The spa has a variety of heated pools and even a plunge pool to freeze the nips. And don’t get us started on the treatments, you can indulge in a range of massages. After a long, tiring day of pampering there’s nothing better than heading to your room, turning on the wood fireplace and sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine.
‘Cos you deserve it, boo.
Canada’s Music Story
Going to Calgary? Then add Studio Bell to your to-do list.
Studio Bell is the home of the National Music Centre, and it’s an absolute must if you’re visiting Calgary (home of the Stampede festival). The building itself is breath-taking and clearly inspired by the Canadian topography and musical instruments.
The very talented Cam Bui gave us a private tour of the exhibits and the studios hiding iconic instruments, from Elton John’s piano to legendary Canadian band Rush’s drumkit (one for the ‘I Love You Man’ fans). The last stop on the tour is The Rolling Stone’s Mobile Studio where icons such as The Stones, Bob Marley and David Bowie recorded live albums. If you get a chance to hop onto the bus itself, try looking for some hidden drawers located around the mixer.
Once you’ve completed the tour, you’ll end up in the cornerstone of Canada’s music culture – King Eddy. You'll find yourself wishing the walls could talk in this legendary restaurant, bar and live music venue, where musicians have held after-parties and seen their careers take off.
Fun fact – they serve Park spirits if you need a top-up.
Canada is pretty big, BEAR in mind we’re talking a ten-hour flight. WOWAWOOWAH. And if you like to travel, it’s always best to pick an airline which you would like to fly (think of the air miles hun). We promise one visit to Canada is not enough.
WestJet pull out all the stops, from afternoon tea to generous drink top-ups (honestly never had an empty glass). They even called in a favour to have the Northern Lights illuminate the night sky on our return home. Whatta way to finish a trip! If you’re planning a holiday from Spring next year, you’ll be travelling on their new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. NTK: they’re the ones with lay-down beds, extra-large windows and for all the nervous flyers out there (like me) they are extra smooth - so you won’t feel the ROCKY turbulence.
Maybe we didn’t see a bear, but that’s okay. Alberta is a great place to visit if you’re into nature, beers and good times only.
The answer was six, by the way. We made six Canadian based puns.
MTV Travelled With… Travel Alberta and Westjet who offer affordable direct flights to Canada. Daily flights from London Gatwick to Calgary start from £285pp. For more information visit www.westjet.com. For more information on Alberta, please visit: www.travelalberta.com/uk