Taking a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria sounded like the perfect way to round off an incredible two weeks in Canada. Vancouver is in British Columbia, and wrongly, I just presumed it was the capital of the province.
It was only on this, my 5th time to Canada and my third time to BC, that I realised its capital is actually Victoria, on Vancouver Island.
There are a few ways to get from Vancouver to Victoria, but I decided to go on a day trip from Vancouver, with V2V Vacations. They offer a range of Vancouver Island day trips to choose from, and their ferry goes from downtown Vancouver, right into the heart of downtown Victoria.
A winner when you’re a bit short on time like I was.
They do have a Vancouver to Victoria ferry, and of course, vice versa too, but I chose to fly over with Harbour Seaplanes, and use their Victoria to Vancouver ferry to come back.
For just a day trip from Vancouver, the timing worked out perfectly.
My day in Victoria, on Vancouver Island
– My seaplane flight left downtown Vancouver at 9am, arrived at 9:45am.
– I joined the 11am foodie cycling tour around Victoria.
– Went for cocktails at the Empress Hotel.
– Caught the 4:30pm sailing back to Vancouver.
– I was back in Downtown Vancouver for 8:30pm.
Vancouver to Victoria day trip
– Post in collaboration with V2V Vacations
The Harbour Air Seaplane
Errmhagod, this bit was SO exciting. I was booked onto a 12-seater seaplane to fly the 30ish minutes across from Vancouver to Victoria. I arrived at 8:30am to a bit of a queue. This is a commuter route, as well as a fun recreational one. My handbag was weighed, I was given a voucher to present when the flight was ready, and told to enjoy the free coffee shop, especially for Harbour Air Seaplane customers.
The lovely barista gave me a complementary peanut bar too, which was lovely.
Seaplane ready! Time for take off.
The butterflies were all of a flutter as the plane glided over the water, the engines revving for take off. And up we went, gliding by the Northern Mountain range with the islands of Vancouver laid out below like a jigsaw shaken out of the box, waiting to be pieced together.
I had a window seat and my eyes only steeled away from the view to change from camera to phone to record the incredible vista below and beyond.
Forty minutes later, and a lot of nosing into people’s gardens, and we were coming into land. Victoria looked stunning from the sky.
I was excited that I’d chosen to do the Victoria to Vancouver route by ferry. It meant I could sail between the incredible islands I’d just seen from the sky and see them up close.
I arrived into the harbour of Victoria, right by the Canada sign, and into the action.
Bike ride round Victoria
My V2V Vacation package included a foodie bike tour around Victoria. With the two best ways to explore a place combined – on bike and through food – I was well impressed. And well up for it.
Turned out I was the only one on the tour, so I ended up with a private tour from the knowledgable Charles around his favourite eateries in Victoria.
We had pastries at an Italian deli, a kombucha tasting at a garden centre, ice cream bars at a creamery and dosas at a modern Indian. All interspersed with a joyful amount of cycling around Victoria. Charles would point out a few spots of interest, and answer my incessant questions. The tour was topped off with macaroons at a French patisserie in Chinatown to roll me on my way.
My Victoria tour lasted 3 hours and was a great introduction to the high streets, residential areas, bridges and places for brunch in Victoria.
Drinks at the Empress Hotel
You absolutely need to go for drinks at the Empress. Sit at a table outside if you can, for optimum people watching.
Inside you’ll find everyone tucking into their Afternoon Teas, but you’re here for the Empress gin cocktails.
The Empress Hotel was built back in the day when they built huge OTT grand hotels to try and get more people into the cities, onto the railway. The architect behind it (Francis Rattenbury) is the same guy who designed the British Columbia building you can see from the terrace.
He had a very interesting life, which basically overshadowed his work, but everyone loves a bit of scandal right?
If you want a less extravagant drink, or just a bit of a bar front bar crawl, I can also recommend the Steamship Grill & Bar. They have a wonderful happy hour with $3 Caesars (Canadian drink you must try!) and $1 oysters!
V2V Vacations Empress back to Vancouver
At 4pm it was time to catch my ferry back from Victoria to Vancouver.
My one day tour of Victoria had come to an end.
You can actually see where the V2V Empress leaves from, from both the Empress Bar, and the Steamship. But make sure you get there on time.
With a little cocktail buzz going on, it felt very grand to walk the red carpet up to the ship, so make the most of it.
I was shown to my seat, which on that day was at the front of a relatively empty ship. I was travelling Royal Service, basically VIP (just the way I roll these days). This meant I got a sparkling wine on arrival, and a light three-course meal too.
My review of the V2V Vacations Empress on YouTube
This Victoria to Vancouver ferry takes 3.5 hours to do the crossing and runs every day from March to 31 October. Check the V2V Vacations website for the most up to date information though.
The catamaran ferry was beautiful inside, and out actually. A First Nations artist designed the artwork on the side, making it the most colourful ship in the water.
On board the Victoria to Vancouver Ferry
On the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver you can sit back in the comfy leather seats and enjoy the Vancouver scenery as it passes you by. You’ll pass D’Arcy Island and even the US as the captain gives a tour of the most notable points over the loudspeaker.
On board you have a toilet, of course, TVs showing the route, panoramic windows and plenty of space on the balconies and upper deck to enjoy the trip from the outside.
Inside you have excellent WiFi, chargers and USB sockets, as well as a fully stocked bar and food to buy.
The difference in Premium Class and Royal Service basically lies in the ship’s butler, the meals and the comfort of the seats.
I really enjoyed my trip back on the Victoria to Vancouver ferry. It was so relaxing, the views from my seat, and from outside, were just magical, and the food was great. I was genuinely sad when it came to an end.
– My Victoria day tour from Vancouver was courtesy of V2V Vacations, and their ‘Sail & Fly’ partner Harbour Air, while the Victoria Day Trip Cycling Tour was courtesy of their partner Destination Greater Victoria. I was having such a lovely time I decided to make a video about my Victoria one day tour too. All thoughts and opinions my own, of course.
More on travelling in Canada
The Best Places to Visit in Canada During Summer
Christine D Binder
Sunday 12th of December 2021
British Columbia is a province in Canada. Not a state as you called in your article. Kindly review your details for accuracy before posting or you come across as a typical ignorant US person.
Wednesday 15th of December 2021
I've updated that now. Thanks for your comment. I'm a forgetful British person, rather than an ignorant US person, but I get what you mean.
Thanks for reading.
Sunday 5th of December 2021
V2V ceased all operations permanently in the middle of the pandemic, but the Harbour Plane remains an option.
Wednesday 15th of December 2021
Thanks for the update Gordon – it's hard to keep up with all the changes!
Friday 23rd of August 2019
It seems that you really had a great day from Vancouver to Victoria, the truth is that I only know Ontario from Canada, however as you tell me that was all your experience I certainly plan to try to make a trip like this, I would love to recreate yours!
Tuesday 17th of September 2019
Oh it was a fabulous day out! Really enjoyed it.