This picture-postcard provincial capital of British Columbia is regarded as North America's most English city. There is a touch of old-fashioned England represented in some of the areas streets, houses, pubs and shops. However, with an increasingly younger population, a quiet revolution has seen the lame tourist pubs, eateries and stores transformed into the kind of brightly painted bohemian shops, coffee bars and innovative restaurants. Discover the city on foot, but activity fans should also hop on their bikes: Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. The city is also host's BC's best museum, a park with magnificent views to the seafront and outdoor activities from kayaking to whale-watching! This city, is old fashioned with a twist to modern and contemporary!
Climate and temperature:
Victoria has a very low humidity ratio, and almost constant offshore breezes which keep summer days from becoming too hot, yet summer evenings can cool off; therefore a sweater or a light jacket is recommended. Temperatures in the Summer can range around 15-20C, but it can get hotter specially in July and August. Although winters are mild and rarely include snow, warmer clothing is recommended between the months of November and March with temperatures around 0-5C. The best time to visit Victoria is at the end of the Summer, September and October or between May and June. Summer months are also recommended but are busier and accomodation is much more expensive.
Getting to Victoria by ferry is the easiest option, however you can also fly by plane, either the traditional way to the Victoria Airport or by Seaplane! See below more information about each mode:Vancouver airport offers the quickest and most frequent flights to Victoria. Alternatively you can also take flights from other major cities in Canada with Air Canada and Westjet. The flight time from Vancouver is just over 25 minutes. When you land in Victoria Airport, there is no direct transport to the downtown. You need to take bus 88, which takes you to Mctavish Exchange, where you switch for the 72. This will take around 45 minutes to reach the downtown.
Another option, being as well, an adventure, is to fly by seaplane from Vancouver to Victoria! Harbour Air Seaplanes have been providing safe flights since 1982, and offer one way crossings from $99 (CAD), with a flight time of just under 30 minutes. You can book online or directly at the booking office at the Harbour. There are also flight tours, for those who just want a view from the sky!
If you are taking the ferry from Vancouver, and you are without a private car, the cheapest option first is to catch the Canada Line and ride the SkyTrain to Bridgeport Station. Then take bus 620 from Bay 11 to Tsawwassen ferry terminal, ride takes about 45 minutes. At the Ferry, purchase a ferry ticket for $17.50 to Victoria. Sailings generally start at 7 a.m. departing every hour on the hour with a few exceptions (see the schedule for details). The crossing time to Swartz Bay is one hour and 35 minutes. When you arrive catch the 70 express bus or 72 bus to Victoria with an expected travel time of one hour and 15 minutes or an hour on the express bus. For the return trip to Vancouver catch the 70 or 72 from the stop at Government and Superior Streets.
Once you have arrived in Victoria, busses are available to transit in the city, or if you are staying central, you can walk around, as Victoria is not a big city. However some of the major attractions are outside of the city so you need to either drive or take the bus. Bus passes for $5 (CAD) are available from the driver and are valid all day for unlimited trips. Single cash fares are $2.50 (CAD).
Below you will find the transportation maps for Victoria or alternatively check more updates and maps at the official page, BC Transit.
What to see and do?
If you are coming for just a day, or planning to stay for a few more, there is always something to see and do in Victoria. Walk around the picturesque Inner Harbour, where you'll find popular sites like the Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as cafes and restaurants boasting wonderful views of the water view. There is far more than just a city, get a feel for British Columbia's natural side: Spend some time at the renowned Butchart Gardens, hike through Goldstream Provincial Park or enjoy a ferry ride to nearby Sooke (and keep your eyes opened for whales). Make sure you save an afternoon for the Cowichan Valley, where dozens of small vineyards offer tours and tastings. Just some of the fantastic things to keep you busy during your stay. Below you will find more details:
When visiting Victoria, don't leave it till last minute to book accomodation. The island is very popular for tourism and locals come to Victoria very often, making the prices, specially during the Summer and weekends rise. Generally prices are good, when booking in advance with Hotels costing around $60, and on occasions $35-45 if staying out of the city centre. Private accommodation, Airbnb and Bed & Breakfast are also a popular option. There is also the possibility to book your trip to Victoria by organised tour, which includes transportation, hotels and activities, you can book from Vancouver tourism offices or online. Hostels and budget accommodation are available, but again, booking in advance is advised as it tends to get fully booked quickly.
Recommended stay duration:
When visiting Victoria, it depends how many activities and tours you wish to make. The actual city is small and within a day you are able to see it all. However to discover the natural beauty of the island and the activities which you can do around, then you will need a minimum of 3 nights to fully enjoy what Victoria has to offer. it also depends which season you come, during the Winter there is not much going on apart from Christmas markets or ice skating rings. In the Summer expect much more life and plenty to see, travel around and do!