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Biking day trip in Victoria

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los angeles
posts: 9
Biking day trip in Victoria

Hi tripadvisors

I'm taking a 4-day trip to Vancouver in July and would like to take a day trip to Vancouver Island to see Victoria and Butchart Gardens. Was wondering whether it's feasible to bike the entire trip while on the island. My wife and I plan to rent bikes in Vancouver and take them with us on the ferry. Or are there bike rental places in Swartz Bay?

According the the map, it's 13 miles from Swartz Bay to Butchart Gardens, then 12 miles from Butchart to Victoria. Has anyone done this before? Is it a scenic ride? A lot of hills or mostly flat roads?

I'd rather bike than sit on a tour bus. Just wanted some expert opinions as to whether this plan is ok. Thanks in advance!

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 13,949
reviews: 38
1. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

This is a very long day in a car, trying to do this in a day by bike is extremely ambitious.

The problem is going to be the Vancouver end of things. I'm not aware of any bike rental places down in Tsawwassen, and its quite a jaunt from Vancouver where you can rent bikes down to the ferry terminal.

We did this as an overnight a couple of years ago, using the wonderful Lochside trail between Swartz Bay and Victoria. Its 39 km into Victoria itself one way. We were parked in Tswwassen by 8 am in order to get on the 9 am ferry and I think we got into Victoria around 3 pm. Admittedly we were two families with kids and stopped often to keep it fun for them. Next day we had lunch around 1 pm and then did the ride back for the ...gosh, trying to remember...I think we got on the 7 pm ferry?

It is lovely cycling country, but the ferry is a big delay and eats up a lot of time. When I was a kid, we used to go over to the island for day trips on the bikes all the time, but we drove to and from Tsawwassen and often Victoria wasn't the destination. And it was primarily a bike ride. When you try to cram in some sightseeing as well, you start to really run out of time unless you book an overnight stay.

You might have an easier time doing this with a bike rental from Sidney on the island instead, and spending the night in Sidney before returning to the mainland.


los angeles
posts: 9
2. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

Thanks for the quick response Vancouverite67! I'm staying in Richmond, so I could probably rent a bike from there. (Or renting in Sidney might be an option as well.)

One of the ideas behind biking is to avoid extended time on a tour bus as well as the extra wait time getting on/off the ferry with a car. Is this assumption incorrect? If I walk-on the ferry with a bike, will I still need to arrive 1 hr early to line up?

Unfortunately, staying overnight is not an option for my schedule.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 13,949
reviews: 38
3. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

If you give up on Victoria and just cycle to Butchart, the you can probably do it. You probably still need to be there about 30 minutes ahead. You ride on to the car deck first, and then ride off first on the other side, but it doesn't save much time.

Even from Richmond, you still have to get the bikes down to Tsawwassen. You can put the bikes on the bus, or it would be a pretty flat ride, but either of those options will take the time that you are looking to save by not lining up with the car. And driving into Victoria takes 20 minutes, where riding will take a couple of hours, so you will lose any saved time there.

If you took an early public bus down to the ferry terminal, walked on, and then picked up the public bus on the other side into Sidney, then you could probably have your bike by noon, giving you four or five hours to tour around before getting the bike back to Sidney and then the public bus back to the ferry terminal.

Its a long day which ever way you slice it. The ferry is two hours, and you can't shorten that. The only other option would be to fly over. That would significantly shorten the journey. Fly to Victoria Harbour, then rent bikes to ride out to Brentwood Bay?

los angeles
posts: 9
4. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

Vancouverite67, again thanks for the knowledgeable insight. Perhaps the biking idea would work better with a scooter. Are there any scooter rental places in Swartz Bay or Sidney? Is this a feasible plan?

Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Victoria, Port Angeles
posts: 982
reviews: 54
5. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

one of the scooter rentals based in downtown Victoria, Cycle BC Rentals, http://www.cyclebc.ca/bicycles also has electric bicycles which i suppose could be a good compromise. http://www.cycletreks.com/ may also.

from the mainland you would get the pacific coach line bus pacificcoach.com/Bus-Coach-Travel/Crosswater… either on its way to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, or on the ferry, to downtown.

6. Re: Biking day trip in Victoria

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