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Old 08-16-2011, 12:44 PM
 
Location: West LA
2,318 posts, read 7,209,047 times
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So I'm going to be in Vancouver for a limited amount of time and would like to squeeze in a day trip to Victoria. I'm planning to take the 9:00AM ferry out and get to Victoria downtown around 11:00AM. I then would take the 7:00PM ferry back and get to downtown Vancouver around 9:30. This would give me a good 6 to 7 hours to explore Victoria. I know this won't allow me sufficient time for an extensive exploration of the place, but I'm really just wanting to get a feel for what Victoria is like. Does this plan sound reasonable? Any advice? Thanks!
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:53 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, BC
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I think you're seriously underestimating how much time it take to get to Victoria from Vancouver.

It takes approximately 3-4 hours to get from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria ONE WAY via car/bus and ferry - not 90 minutes.

The quick breakdown:

- 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver to the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal
- 1 hour wait (give or take) to get on the ferry of your choice. If you're aiming for the 9am ferry, I'd aim at arriving at the ferry terminal at 8am or just after 8am. This means leaving downtown Vancouver at 7:15am to avoid rush hour.
- 90 minute ferry ride from Tsawwassen to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal
- 5-7 minutes or so to depart the ferry
- 35 minute drive from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to downtown Victoria

I'd aim at leaving a whole lot earlier in the day and coming back much later if this is your plan.

OR...

I'd plan on taking Harbour Air one way. The flights are 35 minutes one way - they're very scenic and they depart from downtown Vancouver's Coal Harbour and then drop you off in downtown Victoria's Inner Harbour right across from the Empress Hotel.

You can get a taste of Victoria and then when you're ready to head back, you can take the Pacific Coach Lines bus from right behind the Empress Hotel - they'll drive you from downtown Victoria to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal... they'll drive you right on the ferry... and during the ferry ride, your luggage stays on the bus, but all passengers hang out on the upper decks of the ferry (where there are restaurants, cafes, indoor seating, outdoor seating, private lounges, etc.)... and when you approach the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, the passengers go down to the parking decks, board the bus, and then the bus will be the first off the ferry... and then it's a 45 minute drive to the Vancouver Pacific Central bus station which is then just a short Skytrain ride away from downtown.

That's how I'd do it.

But to do the ferry both ways on a day trip is exhausting.

Also, most first-time visitors seriously underestimate how much there is to see and do in Vancouver. I always recommend 3 days minimum for Vancouver before recommending day trips to places like Victoria or Whistler.

Anyhow... hope this helps!
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Old 08-16-2011, 05:36 PM
 
Location: West LA
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Very helpful, thank you! I'm spending 3 nights in Vancouver and it is my first time visiting the PNW. I'm not sure when I'll get back up there again either so I feel like I need to make the most of my trip and hear Victoria is a must see. There's never enough time!
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Verde Valley
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I agree with Robynator, it is a lot to fit into one day but is doable.

Will you have a car? If so i'd reserve the ferry and remember you have to be at the ferry a minimum of 1 hour in advance of the sialing time or you lose your spot. that adds another 2 hours onto your day.

It is beautiful though (if it's not raining ).
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:08 AM
 
Location: Kalamalka Lake, B.C.
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We (Victoria) haven't had any rain to speak of in two months. Nice breezes, though. Probably the best weather I've ever experienced in my life, the last two months.
And the tourists, except for Butchart Gardens, don't leave the core city area anyway.
Save Butchart and the Saanich Peninsula for its' own trip; it's worth it. The city can be done in a day if you're fit for a lot of flat land walking.
And all buses lead to the Castle.
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:25 PM
 
Location: West LA
2,318 posts, read 7,209,047 times
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We are going to be bringing a car, and my wife and I are definitely no strangers to extended amounts of walking. Can't wait to visit Canada again! My last trip there was 5 years ago when I visited Toronto and Niagara Falls. Before that, all my experiences were contained to Windsor

Also, we've changed our plans to take the 9:00 PM ferry back so we can have more time in Victoria.

When you speak of visiting the castle, do you mean Craigdarroch or Hatley?

Thanks!

Last edited by LASam; 08-22-2011 at 04:41 PM..
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Old 08-23-2011, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Normally, when heading to Vancouver Island, we take the Horseshoe Bay/Nanaimo ferry, quicker to our destination.

Recently though, opted for the Tsawwassen/Swartz Bay route for a nice change as the scenery is so spectacular! It passes through the Gulf Islands, very close at times and stunningly beautiful, especially on a sunny day.

Would have loved more time to poke around and explore some old stomping grounds in Victoria, but time being of a factor, headed straight through Victoria (on Blanchard St) to Dallas Rd and up the coast to Oak Bay before circling back to go up island.

Breathtaking! my favourite part of Victoria. Love the wild, rugged coastline, with it's many bays, each a wonder to clamour around and explore. Wonderful, easy walking trails along the ocean around the Beacon Hill Park/Dallas Rd area. Truly something to see, and smell. Nothing like that ocean breeze smell.

Every area we drove through in Victoria was lovely, houses full of character and gorgeous gardens everywhere. It's sure a beautiful city.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:00 PM
 
Location: West LA
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Had a great time in Victoria, thanks for all the suggestions! One thing I want to throw out there is that you can go to this little place on Fisherman's Wharf after 3:00 PM and get $1 oysters! Can't remember the name but there are only a handful of restaurants there. Definitely worth checking out! Also enjoyed seeing the houseboats at the wharf.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:34 PM
 
Location: galaxy far far away
3,111 posts, read 4,792,188 times
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Hi guys! I'm just getting ready to fly up to Seattle tomorrow for a wedding. Thinking it might be fun to spend 2 days in Victoria. I heard there's a new ferry that leaves from Seattle and goes straight up there. I was going to stay 2 nights so I'd have 3 days there. Is that realistic? Can I take my car onto that ferry? (it will be a rental, so maybe not... crossing borders and all...) Or is the bus someone mentioned a possibility on that ferry? I sent a couple of DM's - but thought someone might have some ideas.

Is there a good hotel chain to check out for 2 night stay? Any recommendations of where to visit and eat from this crowd? The official websites have plenty, but personal recommendations are good too. (I'm formerly a Hawaii girl, so I love fresh seafood.)

This is very exciting! Looking forward to visiting.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:26 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, BC
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Hey R-Cowgirl...

There's only one ferry that goes directly from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria, and that's the Victoria Clipper - a catamaran type vessel that takes about 2 hours and it's passenger-only - no cars.

There are ferries that you can take that will take cars, but they're a fair distance outside of Seattle. Look up the Coho Ferry (based in Port Angeles), the Washington State ferry (based out of Anacortes) and the BC Ferries (based out of Tsawwassen, just a 20 minute drive away from the border, south of Vancouver).

2 night stay in Victoria? Look up the Queen Victoria Hotel & Suites - I stayed there the last time I was in Victoria which was... back in January? February? Loved it. I'd happily stay there again. I've stayed at the Fairmont Empress (the famed Old Dame hotel in Victoria) and... not sure if it was the Comfort Inn or some other budget hotel, which was good... but if I were to recommend something downtown, I'd recommend the Queen Victoria Hotel & Suites in a heartbeat.

Where to visit and eat?

Royal BC Museum warrants 2-3 hours for its life-size natural history, indigenous history and contemporary history displays of BC. Soooo worth it.

Butchart Gardens is worth an hour, but it's a 40 minute drive north of the city. Unless you LOVE gardens, there's so much more to explore in Victoria.

The old cemetary (Ross? Douglas? I forget) is great... and the Chinese cemetaries around the waterfront are cool to visit.

Craigdarroch Castle is a Victorian-era mansion worthy of visiting if you want to learn about the wealthy Scottish coal baron family - a pioneer family - that helped found Victoria.

Government Street/Chinatown/Fort Street/Cook Street - warrants several hours of exploring. I honestly think a lot of short-term visitors short-change Victoria' downtown streets, but there are so many cool shops to explore. Don't miss Fan Tan Alley. Also check out Silk Road for their loose leaf teas - love it!

Dallas Road waterfront - a nice waterfront walk away from the touristy areas

Fishermans Wharf - cool take-out shacks.

For seafood? Red Fish Blue Fish - a takeout shack on the water on the Inner Harbour.

For all around good breakfasts? the Blue Fox.

For a coffee shop? Moka House on Cook Street.

For general good food - Rebar. It's vegetarian, but people love it.

For cocktails - Clives' Classic Lounge - the best in Victoria.

Note that City Data caters to Americans seeking info on American cities, so the Canadian forums are sort of an afterthought. There are really only a sparse few people that post here, and fewer that actually post credible/up to date info. So just take everything you read here with a grain of salt.
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