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Getting from Vancouver to Victoria

As the crow flies, Vancouver and Victoria are less than 70 km (43 miles) apart–less than an hour’s highway driving. If only there was a highway.

Instead, BC’s largest metropolis (Vancouver) is separated from its capital (Victoria, on the southern end of Vancouver Island) by a large span of water, aka the Strait of Georgia.

So once you factor in a ferry crossing, that one-hour road trip becomes more like three hours–and even longer if it’s a holiday weekend with long line-ups.

Still, there are several ways to make the trip to Victoria from Vancouver. To figure out your best option, first ask yourself these questions:

Are you all about journey–or just the destination? 

  • The BC Ferries route between Tsawwassen on the mainland, and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island, is without question one of the world’s most scenic water crossings. On a clear day, the up-close views of sea life (whales, dolphins, seals, eagles) and the bucolic Gulf Islands are a photographer’s dream and the stuff of vivid travel memories. There are several crossings daily and the one-way trip takes roughly 1.5 hours, but depending on the season that time can easily double or triple with terminal waits.
  • On the other hand, various air services will deliver you harbour-to-harbour  in under half an hour and the views, though fleeting, are no less dramatic.

Are you on a tight budget or can you splurge?

  • A one-way ticket on BC Ferries for a walk-on passenger is $14.25; the car-and-driver fare is $47.25. There are student and senior rates available, as well as off-season fares and excellent package deals through BC Ferries Vacations. Note that if you are walking on the ferry at either end, you will need to find transportation to the city centre, either by charter bus (Pacific Coach Lines sells tickets on board the ferry); by city transit, or by cab.
  • One-way Helijet flight ranges between $149 (off-peak)  and $170, while a Harbour Air float one-way flight is $145. Stand-by and last-minute discounts are also available. (See: Cheap airfare to Victoria.)

How much time do you have?

  • Flying is the best choice for the time-stressed. If you have only two days available to “do” Victoria, don’t waste valuable time in a ferry line-up.
  • If, however, you must travel by car or you just like the idea of a mini-cruise, by all means take the ferry–but pay the extra $15 fee and make a reservation for a specific sailing. Especially on holiday weekends, you will want to choose this option and make your booking well in advance.

>>Related link:

>>Top 5 Ferry Daytrips in Canada