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Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

Rochester, New York
Level Contributor
83 posts
6 reviews
Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

Hi

We are flying to Vancouver via Toronto for a conference in Whistler, BC. We have 2 days before arriving in Whistler on January 13th. That time of the year, if we have an extra day or 2 prior to the conference, should we attempt to go to Victoria Island? Are the Christmas lights down at the Gardens by that time? I believe you take a ferry from Vancouver, then do a tour of the gardens. Is that a day trip or more from Vancouver? What else would you suggest we do/see if we have those days prior in Victoria or Vancouver? We are coming from NY..so it is an area we are visiting for the first time, unfortunately not in the best months to see the best of the arena. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

16 replies to this topic
Vancouver BC
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
10,934 posts
216 reviews
1. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

Unless you fly, the ferry is too rushed for a day trip.

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
6,333 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

If you want to take the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria for one day, you're looking at a 14 hour day. The Christmas Lights at Butchart Gardens will end January 6th. In mid-January you will most likely be experiencing some dreary days. If you wanted to see Victoria I suggest you fly right there instead of into Vancouver; although you'll most likely have to change planes in Vancouver. Spend a night or two in Victoria, then take the ferry back to Vancouver via the BC Connector bus.

http://bcfconnector.com/

Penticton, Canada
Level Contributor
20,259 posts
28 reviews
3. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

hi

Another option but it is based on leaving Toronto very early in the day so you get to YVR around noon.

Get a car when you arrive in Vancouver. Drive to the Tsawassen ferry terminal to go to Vancouver Island. the terminal on Vancouver Island is called Swartz Bay; it is then a 10-15 min drive to Butchart Gardens.

then drive to Victoria downtown which is also called Inner Harbour. There are lots of choices for hotels nearby in the James Bay neighbourhood.

Then next day drive to Nanaimo to catch a ferry to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland which gets you in position to drive to Whistler where you can drop off the car. Avis has a one way deal to Whistler.

https://goo.gl/maps/k3xP5BdxK382

the town of Duncan has totem poles in its downtown. https:/…

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,699 posts
62 reviews
4. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

Ok, so firstly, VICTORIA Island is in the arctic. VANCOUVER island is off shore of mainland British Columbia. The capital city of Victoria is at the very southern tip of Vancouver Island. Its a common mistake, but worth correcting due to the potential confusion when asking questions.

Now, the next thing that I'm catching is that you are coming to the area for the first time in January to go to Whistler, you are landing in Vancouver and then you are asking about going to Victoria with two spare days. My first question is why don't you spend that time IN Vancouver? It takes several hours or a flight to go to Vancouver island from Vancouver and with only two days and you've never been here before, it just seems like a lot of travel time to see very little. I would suggest you find your feet in Vancouver and then just save Vancouver Island for a future visit in the summer when you can spend two weeks there.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
725 posts
28 reviews
5. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

It's a common opinion on this forum that Victoria is too far for a daytrip.

I disagree - When my British relatives are in town I often take them from Vancouver to Victoria for the day. It's completely do-able, provided you have a rental car and are able to get up and make an early start.

BC Ferries operates large car ferries between Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver - pronounced suh-wassen) to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island (North of Victoria).

http://www.bcferries.com/

…staticflickr.com/2731/4057699266_4c89b2e5ca…

Downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen is about a 45-60 minute drive, Swartz Bay to Victoria is about 30 minutes. The ferry crossing is around 100 minutes. Reservations are recommended for peace-of-mind, but you can also just show up.

Here's my typical day-trip schedule -

- Drive away from Vancouver around 5:30AM, arriving the Tsawwassen ferry terminal at 6:15am-ish

- Board 7am ferry to Victoria (Ferry reservations recommended), eat breakfast on board in the buffet, admire views in Active Pass as it lightens up around 8am.

- Drive off ferry at 8:45, arrive downtown Victoria around 9:15.

- Visit the Royal Provincial Museum, tour the Legislature, walk around the inner harbour, take a harbour ferry water taxi to Spinnaker's for lunch.

- Leave Victoria around 3:30 PM for the 5pm ferry out of Swartz Bay

- Eat dinner of board

- Drive off ferry around 6:45, back in Vancouver 7:30 - 8pm.

You can also take an organized day-tour from Vancouver to Victoria and back that follows roughly the same itinerary, but includes the Butchart Gardens -

https:/…

...but they only go on certain dates in January.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
68,023 posts
66 reviews
6. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

Unless Victoria and Butchart have a particularly high priority for you, I would suggest you visit Vancouver for your two days pre-conference. We have Queen Elizabeth Park with its cultivated quarry garden and Van Dusen Gardens, a botanical garden. Both quiet and lying fallow but only a bus ride away from downtown @ $2.95 each, good for 90 min.

Butchart is also very quiet and lies fallow in January. Their opening hours are 9-3h30. The entry fee is the lowest in the year at $18.75.

Travelling to the Island by rental car will cost about $90 each way on the ferry for a car and 2 adults, plus rental cost.

Taking the WestCoast sightseeing coach will cost $212 each.

Landsea Tours, which ranks high in the TA reviews, does not go to Victoria at all in January. Nor does Pacific Coach Lines.

Sunrise/sunset on January 15th will be 8 am and 4h45 pm.

7. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

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Vancouver BC
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
10,934 posts
216 reviews
8. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

5:30 am to go to the ferry? So, get up just after say, 4am. Drive around in the dark. Return in the dark. Sure sounds like fun, but you're right it is doable. Just not for me.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,699 posts
62 reviews
9. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

While I totally agree that a daytrip is doable - do it myself - I question the worth of it for this particular traveler at that time of year, with short daylight hours.

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
Level Contributor
13,907 posts
152 reviews
10. Re: Vancouver to Victoria mid January?

I think the regulars here say Victoria for a day trip is doable...but it's a long day and I think it's important for visitors be aware of the time spent in travel versus the time exploring Victoria.

This time factor is one reason I prefer to recommend flying one way with Harbor Air in season's other than winter.

I have organized day trips to Victoria for a group of people more than once, including private bus to and from the ferry at either end. I can attest that at the end of the day people are very tired.

For visitors not familiar with the road system or the ferry system I think that renting a car and driving to the ferry is more difficult than for those of us who live here, especially for a one day visit.

To the OP I agree with the suggestion to simply spend your time in Vancouver. The city has a lot to offer, even in the dreary days of January.

If you give us a hint as to your interests we will have more than enough recommendations to fill your two days.

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