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If you’re visiting Vancouver and have the time, a trip to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is well worth the journey. Though as the crow flies, Victoria is only a short distance away, it requires a bit of planning to get there by land and water. The connecting ferry terminals are the Tsawwassen terminal on the mainland side, and the Swartz Bay terminal on the island side. On both sides, the ferry terminals are some distance outside their respective cities. The ferry ride takes approximately 90 minutes, and the trip from the cities to the ferry terminals can take anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes each, depending on the mode of transportation chosen. It can be a long day of travel if you’re just planning a daytrip (though many do so), but is definitely worthwhile for an overnighter.
By Scheduled Bus: Pacific Coach makes frequent trips from downtown Vancouver to the downtown Victoria bus terminal, located in the heart of the inner harbour. Check their website for fares and schedules. Moose Travel Network makes frequent trips from downtown Vancouver to Tofino and Victoria.
By City Bus: Though it takes a little longer, getting to Victoria by city bus is a doable, and affordable, option. Go to www.translink.ca for schedules. Take the Canada Line Skytrain to Bridgeport Station, and transfer to the 620 bus from here. This leg of the trip takes approximately 60 min. and will cost you $5.00 on week days, and $2.50 on evenings and weekends. You’ll then be a walk-on passenger on the ferry that takes 1 hr. 30 min. Go to www.bcferries.com for schedules and fares – generally between $10-12. On the Swartz Bay side, there is a bus stop right in front of the ferry terminal, where you’ll catch the "No. 70 Downtown/Airport" bus. The cost is $2.75. Check the Victoria Transit website for schedules.
If you are going to the Butchart Gardens, take bus #81 from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to the gardens. Then, from the gardens, you can take bus #75 to downtown, or the shuttle that costs $7.00 and takes 35 min.
By Sightseeing Tour: A great way to see Victoria and the Butchart Gardens in one neat tidy package is to take a sightseeing tour. You get picked up right at your hotel. The ferry, as well as admission to the Butchart Gardens is all included. Picks up at 9am in winter and 7 or 8 in the summer time. Providers are
West Coast Sightseeing and
By Car: Directions courtesy of Mapquest. From downtown Vancouver, head south on Granville street, towards the airport. You’ll be following the signs for Provincial Route 99. Turn Left on West 70 th , Turn RIGHT onto OAK ST / PROVINCIAL ROUTE 99. Continue to follow PROVINCIAL ROUTE 99 S. Take the RIVER ROAD SOUTH exit- EXIT 29. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto RIVER RD. Turn LEFT onto ELLIOTT ST. ELLIOTT ST becomes ARTHUR DR. Turn RIGHT onto 44 AVE. Turn RIGHT onto 50 ST. Turn RIGHT onto 44 B AVE. Turn RIGHT onto 50 A ST.
If you’re driving, reservations are HIGHLY recommended for busy sailings – in the summer, Fridays and Saturdays year round, and holiday week ends heading to the island, and Sundays coming back. Reservations are also HIGHLY recommended if you're taking an overlength or overheight vehicle (e.g. RV, boat trailer), as ferries can only accommodate a limited number of these. Reservations cost $15 extra and if you ever wait in a ferry line for a sailing or two in the sun, or the rain, with nothing to do for a couple of hours or more, you'll never again take your vehicle on the ferry without a reservation.
The costs escalate when you bring a car on the ferry – check the BC Ferries website for fares and schedules, or to make a reservation. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before the ferry departs if you have a reservation. At 29 minutes before the sailing, your reservation disapppears if you're not at the terminal to claim it.
If you're just going to Victoria for a day or two, consider leaving your car behind and renting a car in Victoria. There's a Budget car rental office in downtown Victoria where cars rent for about $60 a day.
By SeaPlane or Helicopter: The fastest travel option is by seaplane or helicopter. Seaplane and helicopter companies operate frequent scheduled service from the downtown Vancouver harbour direct to the Inner Victoria harbour. Check fares and schedules at Harbour Air and Helijet websites. You can also book a rental car when you make your float plane (seaplane) or helicopter reservation.
Flights take about 35 minute and with very frequent service, it is easy to make a day trip between Vancouver and Victoria. Luggage restrictions range from 25 lbs (12 kg) to 50 lbs (22 kg) per passenger. Ask the airline for details.
It is also possible to
combine a flight to Victoria with a bus and ferry return.
By Scheduled Bus: Pacific Coach also operates from Vancouver Airport (YVR) to downtown Victoria. Check their website for fares and schedules.
By City Bus: Take the SkyTrain Canada Line from YVR to the Bridgeport station. At the Bridgeport train station, change to the “No. 620 Tsawwassen Ferry” bus. This leg of the trip will cost $3.75 on weekday days, or $2.50 on evenings or weekends. Go to www.translink.ca for schedules. You’ll then be a walk-on passenger on the ferry. Go to www.bcferries.com for schedules and fares – generally between $10-12. On the Swartz Bay side, there is a bus stop right in front of the ferry terminal, where you’ll catch the No. 70 Downtown/Airport bus. The cost is $2.75.
By Car: You need to drive from Vancouver International Airport to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen. Catch the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. After disembarking from the ferry at Swartz Bay, drive to downtown Victoria. Detailed directions follow.
Directions courtesy of Mapquest. From YVR (Vancouver Airport), take the ramp toward RICHMOND CITY CENTRE / HWY-99 S / SEATTLE / FERRIES. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto SEA ISLAND WAY. Take the HWY-99 S ramp toward VICTORIA FERRIES / SEATTLE. Merge onto PROVINCIAL ROUTE 99 S. Take the RIVER ROAD SOUTH exit- EXIT 29. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto RIVER RD. Turn LEFT onto ELLIOTT ST. ELLIOTT ST becomes ARTHUR DR. Turn RIGHT onto 44 AVE Turn RIGHT onto 50 ST. Turn RIGHT onto 44 B AVE. Turn RIGHT onto 50 A ST.
If you’re driving, ferry reservations are recommended for busy sailings – in the summer, Fridays and Saturdays heading to the island, and Sundays coming back. The costs also escalate severely when bringing a car on the ferry – check www.bcferries.com for fares and schedules, or to make a reservation. You should arrive at least 30 minutes before the ferry departs.
By Plane: Flights are available on Air Canada between Vancouver Airport (YVR) and Victoria Airport (YYJ). Check website for fares and schedules. Pacific Coastal Airlines also offers scheduled service between the Vancouver Airport and Victoria. Their flights leave from the South Terminal rather than from the main terminal building. From Victoria Airport, car rentals, AKAL Airport Shuttle, and city buses are available to take you to downtown Victoria.