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5 Best Butchart Gardens Tours from Vancouver + Our Favorite!

5 Best Butchart Gardens Tours from Vancouver + Our Favorite!

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Want to know the best tours to the Butchart Gardens from Victoria? Well, I’ve got you covered!

As a Vancouver local, I’ve visited the gardens many times, both on tours and on my own. So, I know how difficult it can be to sift through the tours online not knowing which one to book.

To help those planning to visit, I have sorted through the top tours so you don’t have to and come up with the 5 best options, including my top choice, which we did last summer!

So, if you’re looking for the best tours, keep reading so you can get back to enjoying your trip to Vancouver!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our personal FAVORITE tour is this full day Butchart Garden tour from Vancouver that includes your admission fee to the gardens and pick up at most hotels in Vancouver! You can book this top reviewed tour here as well as see over 1,300 reviews. PS if you scroll through the pages you may even spot our review.

If think you’ll need even more time, this 2-day tour of Victoria and Butchart Gardens with a hotel stay is also a great option! Although more expensive, it’s fantastic value because, lets face it, hotels in Victoria are not cheap!

5 Best Vancouver to Butchart Gardens Tours

1. Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour from Vancouver

Stairs leading up to a viewpoint at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Honestly, it’s memorizing!
The-parliamentary-building-in-Victoria-BC-1
The history and architecture are rich in Victoria!

This full-day Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour is perfect if you’d like to leisurely explore both destinations with lots of free time. I also love that this tour lets you skip the line at Butchart Gardens because it can get busy – especially in the summer!

The tour begins with morning pick-up from hotels in downtown Vancouver. You head straight to the ferry where you can get out and stretch your legs. I like grabbing a coffee and standing on the ferry deck to take in the views. It’s a bit like a scenic cruise – if you’re lucky you might even spot a whale or eagle!

Once the ferry pulls into the Swartz Bay terminal in Victoria, it’s time for the main event! You’ll head directly to Butchart Gardens with a handy guide and driver who will share some interesting stories and historical facts along the way. Because you already have an entrance ticket, you breeze past any lines and get to start exploring the gardens right away once you arrive!

If you have kids, make a beeline for the Rose Carousel with its hand-carved wooden animals from horses to orca whales and even a polar bear! Whether you’re with kids or not, make sure to head to the Italian Garden which feels like a little piece of Italy, complete with a spot to grab amazing gelato! For one of the best views (and photo spots!), head to the lookout point over the Sunken Garden.

After 90 minutes soaking up the garden in all its glory, you have 2 hours of downtime in Victoria. I recommend getting fish and chips from Red Fish Blue Fish, exploring Chinatown’s quirky alleys, and photographing the impressive Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress Hotel (that I think looks like a castle!). The waterfront area in Victoria is a photographer’s dream! 

After your time in Victoria wraps up, it’s back to Vancouver via the ferry in the evening – so hopefully you’ll have that gorgeous golden light or a sunset to watch, depending on the time of year!

It’s a long day since the tour is about 12 hours long, but I like that there are lots of opportunities to take a break and soak up the scenery – whether you’re sitting in the gardens or relaxing on the ferry ride. It costs $265 CAD per person which includes all your transportation, admission to the gardens, and your guide. You just have to pay for food and any souvenirs you buy while exploring Victoria! 

This 5-star tour is highly rated as one of the most popular Vancouver to Butchart Gardens tours, so I recommend booking this tour (it’s our top-rated) ASAP here!

2. Victoria and Butchart Gardens Day Trip from Vancouver

Japanese gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
Japanese Gardens inside Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
Bailey on the outside deck of the BC ferry on her way to victoria from Vancouver on a tour
Coffees on the outer deck – that’s the only way!

This tour to Victoria and Butchart Gardens was actually voted “Best Day Trip in the World” by TripAdvisor a few years ago and I think it’s pretty special. You get more free time in Victoria than the previous tour and the tour operators try to time your visits to popular spots to avoid the crowds which I appreciate.

Your day begins around 9 am with hotel pickup in a mini-coach before heading to the ferry. What’s really nice about this tour, is that your ride drives right onboard! But there’s no need to stay in the vehicle, head to the passenger decks to get some fresh ocean air and take in the views on the 90-minute journey. 

First up, is the gorgeous Butchart Gardens of course. You’ll have 1.5 hours to explore independently, so you can spend time in whichever garden you choose – there are five main gardens here to see! The Japanese Garden is the most serene spot. But for an iconic Instagram photo, the Rose Garden’s rose arches are calling your name!

Heading into Victoria after, a big plus of this tour is having three hours to wander around, rather than two hours or less like other tours. I definitely think it’s worth spending a little more time in one of our favorite places to visit in British Columbia. Your tour guide will help direct you to the best spots for lunch or a sweet treat, depending on what you’re craving.

You can stroll along Victoria’s cobblestone streets, take in the impressive architecture, and walk along the waterfront – which is especially beautiful in the summer. If you’re craving seafood, head to Fisherman’s Wharf where there are a lot of cute little restaurants and shops. Once your time is up, it’s back on the mini-bus to drive onto the ferry for the trip back to Vancouver.

This 13-hour tour costs $275 CAD which covers all of your transportation for the day and admission to Butchart Gardens.

If you’re ready to see why this day trip has hundreds of 5-star reviews, head here to book your spot on this tour from Vancouver!

3. Seaplane Flight to Victoria with Ground Transport and Butchart Gardens

Vancouver city from the window of a sea plane
Flying into Vancouver!
Bailey sits on a bench surounded by greenery at The Butchart Gardens
You won’t stop smiling!

I recommend this seaplane tour to Victoria with Butchart Gardens for a few reasons! First off, hello, you get to fly in a seaplane! That’s an experience in itself. Second, you get so much independent time at the gardens and Victoria. We’re talking roughly two hours at Butchart Gardens and four hours in Victoria – which is the most of any of the tours we’ve talked about so far. 

This tour is the quickest way to get to Victoria and I’d argue the most scenic too. Taking off from the harbor in Vancouver, the views from the air are just incredible. In 35 minutes, you’ll fly over the Georgia Strait, seeing the rugged Gulf Islands, Mount Baker in the distance (casually located in a different country), Salt Spring Island, and Butchart Gardens from above. Seaplane journeys don’t get better than this!

Arriving in Victoria, you have a bit of free time to see Victoria’s Inner Harbour before getting the shuttle to Butchart Gardens. In just over two hours, you can see precisely why this is one of Victoria’s best attractions. Marvel at the Sunken Garden’s green-covered walls, let the Italian Garden transport you to the Mediterranean and stop to smell the roses in the Rose Garden.

The shuttle takes you back to Victoria, giving you ample time to see the sights since you’ll have roughly four hours before checking in for your flight back to the mainland.

I highly recommend Tea at the Empress, a world-famous high tea experience. I mean, your finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries are served on china plates Queen Elizabeth II gifted the hotel in the 1930s! The food is paired with premium loose-leaf teas and live classical music. It’s one of Victoria’s best experiences, perfectly fitting into this schedule. It’s meant to be!

You can return from Victoria’s Inner Harbor in the afternoon or evening (you’ll organize this beforehand). But the last flight typically departs at 6 pm, getting back in time for dinner at one of Vancouver’s great restaurants.

This full-day tour costs $572 CAD and is a seasonal experience typically available from May to October. When you book online, you’ll select an available morning departure time and then arrange your return flight later on. The tour includes two seaplane flights, the shuttle to the gardens, and your entrance fee. Hotel transportation from Vancouver isn’t included, but you’ll take off and land back at Coal Harbour in Vancouver’s downtown, so it’s easy to take public transport or catch a taxi.

To maximize your time in Victoria book this once-in-a-lifetime seaplane tour online here!

Related Read: Speaking of transportation, read our guide to helicopter tours in Vancouver if you want to see more of the area from a bird’s eye view.

4. Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour from Vancouver 

Five steam ships from the Steamship Water Ballet in Victoria BC
Beautiful garden arches at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
So beautiful!

This Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour is perfect if you want extra time at the gardens and less time in Victoria (about 2 and 1.5 hours, respectively).

The knowledgeable local driver/guide on this tour is so good at giving you information and stories about the gardens and Vancouver Island before you get to explore on your own. Shoutout to our fantastic guide, Ocean, he was awesome!

After the scenic ferry ride over to Victoria, you’ll have two hours to explore the sprawling Butchart Gardens. With 55 acres (roughly 23 hectares) to see, I recommend spending your 2 hours sticking to the four central gardens: the Sunken, Rose, Japanese, and Italian Gardens. From the Sunken Garden’s overflowing green walls to the Rose Garden’s countless rose varieties, you’ll feel like you’ve been swept into a fairytale. Just remember to keep an eye on the time!

Back on the bus, you get a mini Victoria tour as your guide takes you past Chinatown and the Inner Harbour, spilling some cool facts along the way. With about 1.5 hours downtown, I recommend sticking to the Inner Harbour area and checking out the Fairmont Empress Hotel and BC Parliament Buildings. 

All too soon, it’s time to get the bus back to the ferry and return to Vancouver. Just so you know, BC Ferries has got you covered if you need a snack onboard. The ferries feel like mini cruise ships with how spacious they are!

This 13-hour tour costs $249 CAD. That covers transport from a few different downtown Vancouver locations, ferry tickets, garden admission, and a professional driver/guide. The tour is offered starting in late April for the spring blossoms all the way until October when the spectacular fall colors emerge!

If this tour sounds perfect for you, click here to secure your spot.

5. 2-Day Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour with Overnight at the Inn at Laurel Point 

Bailey at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
So peaceful!
Bailey walks down Fantan Alley in China Town in Victoria BC
Exploring Fantan Alley in our free time!

When I say this 2-day Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour is the ultimate package, I mean it. It includes ferry and seaplane rides, time at Butchart Gardens, an overnight stay, and a day in Victoria. It’s basically the best of all the tours I’ve talked about, so it’s perfect for travelers who want to see Victoria’s highlights without feeling rushed!

This 2-day extravaganza starts with hotel pickup from downtown Vancouver and the ferry ride to Victoria. The first attraction you tick off the list is Butchart Gardens. You have about 90 minutes to see the best of the gardens while possibly popping into The Blue Poppy (the Butchart family’s former greenhouse) for lunch made from the freshest seasonal ingredients.

The awaiting coach takes you on a brief tour around Victoria before dropping you at the 4-star Inn at Laurel Point. The inn’s convenient waterfront location means the best of Victoria is waiting on your doorstep. You have all afternoon and the entire next day here in Victoria. I suggest enjoying dinner at the onsite Aura Waterfront Restaurant that night before seeing the Parliament Buildings magically alight.

The next day, visit the Royal BC Museum with its 7 million artifacts (you probably won’t be able to see them all!), indulge in afternoon tea fit for royalty at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, or squeeze in a whale-watching tour since this 2-Day Victoria tour you’re on is offered from April and October which is also the best time to spot whales!

At 5 pm, the coach will take you from your hotel to the float plane terminal for your scenic seaplane ride back to Vancouver. I think this is the best way to finish up a visit to Victoria and the timing couldn’t be better. The golden hour views over the Georgia Strait are straight (pun intended) out of a postcard.

Seriously, they take care of every detail making this the ultimate Butchart Gardens and Victoria tour from Vancouver! This 2-day experience starts at $699 CAD for two people for a standard room, although room upgrades are available. The cost increases in the peak summer months, so the best deals will be in May or October. The tour includes roundtrip hotel transfers, admission fees, ferry and seaplane rides, and one night’s accommodation.

When you’re ready to spoil yourself, you can check availability and book this overnight tour here.

Why should I take a tour of Butchart Gardens from Vancouver?

The amazing Butchart Gardens
A view of the sunken garden at Butchart Gardens

The number one reason I recommend taking a tour of Butchart Gardens from Vancouver is the fact you don’t have to worry about any logistics. There are quite a few moving parts to get from Vancouver to Butchart Gardens, so a tour takes all the stress out of the day by letting someone else arrange transport – often directly from your hotel.

The other reason I love tours is they offer you a personalized experience. Your knowledgeable guide shares fascinating facts and insider tips and can answer any questions you have.

But why visit Butchart Gardens itself? I’m so glad you asked! Nearly one million people visit the Canadian National Historic Site annually, and it’s one of the top attractions in British Columbia. Established in 1904, the attraction’s crowning glory is the Sunken Garden, which used to be a limestone quarry. There are literally millions of plants, including 2,500 roses in the Rose Garden alone! It’s a true feast for the senses. 

Another reason I think Butchart Gardens is a must-visit is because it’s a year-round destination. While spring and summer are the best for blooms, the autumn leaves are incredibly eye-catching, as is the magical Christmas transformation.

Of course, if you head to Victoria on your own, you can always take a tour of Butchart Gardens from Victoria.

Related Read: If you’re a nature lover, make sure you plan to see Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island. The natural forested area is absolutely beautiful!

Other Things to do while you’re in Vancouver

Bailey walks on the Lynn Canyon suspension Bridge, Vancouver
The Lynn Canyon suspension bridge is a must!
Bailey sits at the Boatshed Restaurant in Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC
Enjoying the sunset from The Boatshed restaurant in Kitsilano.

Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So after your trip to Victoria, be sure not to miss some of the top attractions and activities:

  • Go whale watching – It’s not just people who flock to Vancouver every year! From the beautiful black and white orcas to the lively humpbacks, going whale watching in Vancouver makes for a truly unforgettable memory. This half-day whale watching tour offers an amazing experience with a guarantee you’ll see whales!
  • Eat ALL the food! – Vancouver is a foodie destination. Showcasing cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, you really need to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-tos. For Asian cuisine, you can’t pass up Minami for sushi or Danbo for ramen. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in Gastown.
  • See Granville Island – Granville Island has such a fun energy and you can easily spend an afternoon wandering through the streets seeing the street performers or checking out the famous Granville Public Market. If you’re short on time or want a stress-free stop, there are some Granville Island tours we love like this VIP market access tour where you’ll get to sample all the best food!
  • Explore Kitsilano – One of our favorite areas in all of Vancouver is Kitsilano. This suburb is super trendy and has many cute stores, cafes, and restaurants that are well worth checking out. On top of that, Kitsilano Beach is one of the best beaches in Vancouver and the perfect place to relax. It’s also our favorite place to watch the sunset.

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, BC
Thanks for reading!

Once you visit Butchart Gardens for yourself, you’ll see exactly why it’s so famous. Getting there from Vancouver does take a little extra planning, but you can let someone else handle all the details by taking one of these tours we’ve talked about with transportation included. Your trip to these incredible gardens will be stress-free and you can enjoy the experience even more!

If you found this article useful, check out our other blogs about Canada here. We’ve visited spots all over Canada (and all over the world) and love sharing information and helping others have an incredible stay. Below, I’ve included some blogs about destinations in British Columbia to get you started.

15 BEST Things to do in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

35 EPIC Things to do in Tofino, BC

13 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Yoho National Park