When we asked for advice about where to visit when we travel to Vancouver, we found there to be two types of people:
- Those who had been to Victoria and said it was awesome; and
- Those who said they wished that they had found time to go.
With that in mind, we made sure we visited it 🙂
Getting there is easy but it isn’t cheap. To be fair, we didn’t plan too well in advanced and probably could have made it cheaper.
Your options to get there are via a ferry and a coach/bus/car which is by far and away the cheapest but takes 3-4 hours, or you can go by air with is easily the fastest (about 30 minutes) but it’s easily the most expensive (CA$210 – 250pp each way). To manage the cost and experience, we opted for the flight out and took a coach/ferry route back.
Starting with the flight… OH. MY. GOODNESS. What an experience?! The seaplane takes off from central Vancouver and then heads over the mountains and out to sea. We had particularly good weather for late May and the view was unbeatable. The little plane soars over the strait of Georgia and the archipelago before heading into Victoria. You can see all of the little islands and even the contours of the seabed under the sea.
The planes land in Victoria’s James Bay harbour which is pretty central to everything you might want to do. There’s a tourist information centre right outside and they are great at provide advice, maps and directions. We decided to explore on foot but there are lots of other options from tour buses to bicycles.
Heading north we stopped off at Jam Cafe for an awesome breakfast (https://jamcafes.com/victoria/) before wandering through the Old Town. It’s really nice around here with lots of quirky shops and restaurants.
Next we headed up to Craigdarroch Castle – probably about a 30 minute walk from the Old Town and mostly up hill. The ‘Castle’ is actually a big house that was built by a wealthy coal baron but it is pretty awesome inside and full of history.
From here we walked back to the sea via Cook Street – the lower half of which is full of great eateries for lunch.
After finishing a loop along the coast, we headed back to pretty much were we started to collect the bus back to Vancouver.
The bus takes about 3 hours which includes about an hour and a half on the ferry. We loved this mix of journey because to get such a different experience and you also get to see so many different things. The ferry leaves from Swartz Bay (north of Victoria) so you get a good ride through the countryside. After working its way back through the strait of Georgia it lands to the south of Vancouver and, again, you get a ride through a different bit of Canada.
Doing it this way is a full days trip but we felt that it was a great way to see Victoria and something I really recommend!