Sail or Soar From Vancouver to Victoria

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They say that life is about the journey, not the destination, and the journey to Victoria from Vancouver can be one of the best parts of your visit. BC’s capital city, located on Vancouver Island, is an easy day trip from Vancouver. But there is so much to see and do, you may want to spend a few days. Experience this seaside city’s history, exquisite gardens, museums and art galleries, and its thriving food and drink scene.

Wondering how to get to Victoria from Vancouver? You have options.

1. BC Ferries

Two cruise ships sail through deep blue waters and green islands.

Spirit of BC cruising through Active Pass. Photo: BC Ferries

Cruising through the Strait of Georgia aboard a BC Ferries vessel comes with many benefits, including fresh air out on the deck, breathtaking scenery you can only see from the water, and a good chance of spotting marine wildlife. Keep your camera ready, as whales, dolphins, and sea lions frequent this route, particularly in the spring and summer, and you’ll want to capture the scenery as you sail through Active Pass.

Another benefit of ferry travel is on-board amenities. Hungry? Food options include the Pacific Buffet, a cafeteria, and a coffee shop. Want a keepsake to remember your trip? Passages Gift Shop stocks west coast jewelry, clothing, books written by Canadian authors, and many other souvenirs. Your cruise starts at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, 30 minutes south of Vancouver, and ends at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Sidney, 30 minutes north of Victoria.

Insider Tip: Reservations are strongly recommended for vehicles travelling on busy weekends. If you prefer to travel without a vehicle, there is parking at the terminals, and connecting bus service is available.

2. Whale Watching

A yellow whale watching vessel speeds through the ocean.

Prince of Whales Whale Watching Vessel. Photo: Prince of Whales

Get a little closer to the action on a Prince of Whales Ultimate Day Tour to Victoria. The trip starts bright and early in Vancouver, where you board a whale watching vessel and cruise among the Gulf Islands, looking for whales en route to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The leisurely crossing takes about four hours. In Victoria, enjoy some free time to explore the city before taking one of four scheduled shuttles to the renowned Butchart Gardens (admission is included in your tour).

This 22-ha (55-ac) National Historic Site is a former rock quarry that draws more than a million annual visitors. Admire impeccably manicured floral displays, including the rose garden and the Italian garden, before meandering through the Japanese garden to a private dock, where your ride back to Vancouver will be waiting. Once you’re back on the boat, grab a seat, relax, and enjoy a sunset tour back to Vancouver. You may even see more whales!

Insider Tip: If you want to spend more time in Victoria, Prince of Whales is happy to let you break the trip into two or more days.

3. Float Plane

Two seaplanes are docked at a harbour as the Vancouver skyline rises in the background.

Harbour Air Seaplanes Vancouver Terminal. Photo: Rodney Houle via Flickr

To make the crossing in a decidedly West Coast way, fly with Harbour Air Seaplanes. Take off in the Vancouver harbour, and land about 40 minutes later in the Victoria harbour. The quick flight leaves you lots of time to experience Victoria for a day, and frequent departures allow for lots of flexibility. Arrive early (or pay a small fee) to get a window seat. You won’t regret it. The views over Vancouver, the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia, and the Victoria harbour are stunning.

Insider Tip: Be sure to make reservations in advance. These small planes have limited seating capacity, and they can fill up fast.

4. Helijet

Aerial view of Stanley Park and Downtown Vancouver.

View over Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver, toward the North Shore Mountains. Photo: @josieinbc via Twitter

Helijet is another great option if you prefer to see the sights from up high. The smooth helicopter crossing takes about 35 minutes, and Helijet offers several daily flights between Vancouver’s waterfront and Victoria’s. If you’re travelling with kids, book your flight in advance to take advantage of their Kids Fly Free offer, which allows for one child 12 years or younger to fly free with a fare-paying adult.

Insider tip: If you have lots of luggage, Helijet offers a generous luggage allowance of 50 lbs per passenger.

5. V2V Vacations

A luxury yacht painted white, black, and red sails into a harbour.

The newest way to travel between Vancouver and Victoria. Photo: @jondkeller via Instagram

The most recent addition to this list is the posh V2V, a luxury cruise that operates daily between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria. Choose from the progressively fancier Premium Comfort, First Class, and Royal Class, and enjoy such on-board perks as reclining leather seats, a plated three-course meal, and a place to plug in at every seat. The 3.5-hour crossing leaves Vancouver at 8:00 a.m., and leaves Victoria each afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

Insider tip: Packages are available, and they include everything from accommodation to rounds of golf.

With all of these amazing ways to get to Victoria from Vancouver, what are you waiting for?