Victoria is a day’s journey by car and ferry from Vancouver (or just 30 minutes by float plane), but this beautifully British city is well worth the visit.
And if the weather is good, the journey there and its views are an experience in themselves.
Victoria’s Best Places to Visit
Some of Victoria’s best places to visit include the following:
- Beacon Hill Park (which is very nice, and free).
- The Empress Hotel (the city’s most famous landmark and a fancy place for afternoon tea).
- The Inner Harbour (Victoria’s beautiful harbour where yachts dock and the seaplanes land).
- The Royal BC Museum (which is a top-rated museum and a must see, assuming you like museums, and especially on a rainy day. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of museums, chances are you’ll still be impressed with this one).
- Butchart Gardens (which is a world-class garden definitely worth seeing, although expensive, and especially breathtaking in the winter with its evening Christmas lights and in the summer on Saturday evenings when they have fireworks).
In traveling from Vancouver to Victoria most people go one of three main ways:
- By BC Ferries via Tsawwassen: This is the most common way, with a one-way adult fare costing around $15, plus an extra $50 or so for the average vehicle. Advance reservations are extra, and can be worth the premium at the start and end of long (i.e., holiday) weekends, plus peak times in the summer. The ferry from Vancouver docks in Swartz Bay, which is still a 40 minute or so drive into downtown Victoria.
- By BC Ferries via Horseshoe Bay (and then driving the 90 minutes or so from Nanaimo to Victoria): This is a nice way to go if you want a change from the usual Tsawwassen route, or if you plan to head somewhere in central or northern Vancouver Island instead of going south to Victoria. The cost is close to the same as via Tsawwassen and the views are different, but equally spectacular on a sunny day.
- Taking the Harbour Air Seaplanes from downtown Vancouver to Victoria’s Inner Harbour: This is the fastest and most expensive of the three main ways to get to and from Victoria. It is also the most spectacular (provided that it’s a clear sunny day and you get a window seat). If the weather is nice, definitely try to get a window seat if you can. If you don’t, it’s just a flight. And if you do, you’ll get a spectacular view of Vancouver, the Coastal Mountains and the Gulf Islands. Flights take about 30 minutes and they are fun, assuming you don’t mind small planes that land and take off from the water.
Other less common ways to get to Victoria from Vancouver are to fly via Vancouver Airport (there are small planes that do this) or, if you have lots of money and want to go in style, flying by Helijet from downtown Vancouver.
TIP: A good time to visit Victoria can be during the last week of February. Weather-wise this isn’t a good season, as there is often lots of rain and the trees look bleak without their leaves. However, February is also when Victoria attractions and restaurants offer their Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown program, where you can get a book of tickets for cheap and get discounted access to dozens of attractions.