Day Trips to Old World Victoria

Day Trips to Old World Victoria

Jan Lee's Travellin' News
Photos by Jan Lee

Getting to Victoria
Victoria's harbour at sunset.

Ask any recent traveller to British Columbia to list their 3 favourite locations in the province and they will most likely mention Victoria as one of them. Perhaps it is the variety of the activities it offers to the day traveller that makes it one of Canada's most popular sights. It is easily accessible from British Columbia's mainland by either car or bus. During the summer, the ferry runs every hour from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. The cost of "hopping a ferry" is

affordable as well, especially if you take the bus.

Travelling to Victoria from Vancouver includes the following easy options:

  1. Pick up the Pacific Coach Lines bus at the bus terminal at 1150 Station Street in Vancouver. Pacific Coach Line buses leave every hour from 5:45 am to 7:45 pm and cost under $30.00, one way or about $50.00 round trip. The bus stops in Victoria, right behind the Empress Hotel. Or to be picked up on route to the ferry, call the bus for reservations (see below).
  2. Pick up the bus on the ferry (you will have to drive or arrange a ride to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal). The walk- on fare costs under $10.00 for the ferry and similar for the bus. The bus will take you from Swartz Bay, where the ferry docks, to Downtown Victoria. You can purchase your bus ticket on board the ferry at the bus counter. Be prepared to walk a bit to board the ferry. If you are a senior citizen and a BC resident, your ferry ride is free Monday-Thursdays. Pacific Coach Lines will not deduct that "freebie" from your bus fare, so be prepared to pay the whole fare if you decide to ride the whole distance by bus.
  3. Drive to Victoria. The most expensive option. Fares vary according to the day you travel and the type and size of your vehicle.
  4. Other options include the hydroplane from downtown Vancouver, or flying from the Bayshore Hotel near Stanley Park. Both take you directly into Victoria and both are expensive.


A quiet street in Old Victoria.
Enjoying Victoria

Once you have arrived in Victoria, the choice is yours as to which of its many sights you wish to see. You can catch several different types of tour buses from outside the Empress Hotel on Government Street. A couple of dollars will take you to Oak Bay, down Antique Row and past picturesque Willows Beach. You can tour the city in the Grand City Drive for under $20, or you can take a double decker bus that goes directly to Butchart Gardens. The tour takes a minimum of 3 hours round trip, costs about $40 and includes admission. There are also numerous other tours you can take, and they all begin in front of Empress Hotel.

Other tour options include a personal tour in a horse-drawn carriage, or a smaller bicycle-drawn rickshaw cart. Both are very popular.

Sunset in Victoria.

Additionally, if you are up to walking short distances, many of Victoria's popular sites are reachable by foot. Maps can be obtained on the ferry, or from Tourism Victoria, 1 block north of the Legislative Buildings on Government.

The Royal British Columbia Museum is directly across from the bus terminal on Belleville and Government. The museum is a mandatory visit if you enjoy northwest history. One of its newest features is its popular IMAX movie theatre.

The Provincial Legislative Buildings are also located west of the museum and provide free tours every 45 minutes from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (no tour at 12:00 noon).

If you enjoy street fairs, take a stroll along Victoria's Inner Harbour, just outside the Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel. I once asked someone if the City hand picks the musicians that play on the boardwalk. The variety and versatility of talent is amongst the best I have ever heard in street festivals. Apparently, the talent represented here is just the luck of the draw. Government Street is one of Victoria's most famous walks. Many of the buildings along Government, Yates and Warf Streets have been painstakingly restored or replaced with historical plaques that describe the City's history. A self-guided tour is available from Tourism Victoria.

A romantic carriage ride in Victoria.

Murchies Tea, located about 4 blocks up Government from the boardwalk is a must if you like fine tea or coffee. Murchies is a fixture of old Victoria, much like the Empress or Craigdarroch Castle. Started in 1894, Murchies was at

one time THE place to buy tea in Canada. So, where else to visit its store, than in Victoria? Local musicians play outside its doors throughout the day, providing an enjoyable atmosphere for sipping tea.

Yates Street is about 5 blocks up Government, and connects your passage with Warf Street, to the left. Warf St. is filled with restaurants and shops and will take you back to where you began, at the harbour. If you enjoy museums, there are countless numbers and kinds along the way, from maritime to miniature themes. Consult the Victoria Free map or Tourism Victoria for information.

Local musicians playing on Government Street.

Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel costs about $30.00 and seatings must be reserved. The price may seem a bit steep, but there is no finer symbol of old world Victoria than high tea at the Empress. Seatings are at various hours from 12:30-5:30.

If you like old castles and incredible architecture, visit Craigdarroch Castle. The castle is 4 stories high and has no elevators, but it was worth the trip. You can reach Craigdarroch Castle by local transit, by private tour, or by tour bus.

To return to Vancouver by bus, purchase your bus ticket at the bus depot (Douglas and Belleville), or at the bus counter on the ferry. To make your trip most enjoyable, allow for plenty of travel time, or purchase your tickets a head of time. Victoria is best enjoyed at leisure, and taking in the sunset off of Warf Street (or off the ferry) provides a perfect end to a great day.

Information Contacts
Pacific Coach Lines
Vancouver Info: 604-662-8074 or 800-661-1725
Victoria Info: 250-385-4411
BC Ferries
888-223-3779 (anywhere in BC)
Tourism Victoria


Copyright Jan Lee

Jan Lee

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Day Trips to Old World Victoria