Trips to Old World Victoria
Lee's Travellin' News
Photos by Jan Lee
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- Drive to Victoria. The most expensive option. Fares vary according
to the day you travel and the type and size of your vehicle.
- 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
© Copyright Jan Lee
Jan Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to read other
articles by Jan Lee in the BC Adventure Network