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5 BEST Tours to Victoria from Vancouver – Chosen by a Local!

5 BEST Tours to Victoria from Vancouver – Chosen by a Local!

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The epicenter of beautiful gardens, mild weather, and walkable city streets, there’s no shortage of things to do in Victoria. As one of the best places on Vancouver Island, it’s well worth a visit for a day or two. And since it’s just a ferry ride or flight from Vancouver to get to Victoria, you might as well see what it’s all about!  

Whether you’re visiting for a day, looking to go on a whale watching tour, or just want to join in on a fun group activity, some of the best Victoria tours will get you transportation and amazing experiences all in one. It’s a win-win!

So let’s get into the 5 best tours from Vancouver to Victoria!

Our Overall FAVORITE Victoria from Vancouver Tour

Boats look on as a pod of orca swim in the coastal waters of British Columbia near Victoria and Vancouver
Look at the pod of Orcas!

For a truly unforgettable trip full of magical moments, there’s nothing quite like flying in a seaplane to Victoria and heading out on a whale watching cruise! This scenic full-day tour is sure to leave you with so many incredible memories – thinking back to that day still brings a huge smile to my face.

While it’s not the cheapest tour on this list at $604 CAD per person, it sure beats taking the ferry, and just this experience alone can make for the most amazing surprise for loved ones!

How far is Victoria from Vancouver?

Bailey enjoys the view on a sunset sail with BC Ferries to Vancouver Island, Canada

Even though it might look far on the map, getting to Victoria from Vancouver is a relatively short trip and super accessible if you’re leaving from Vancouver.

Both the ferry and the seaplanes run frequently, and most tours will take you on one or the other, and sometimes even both! 

The 35-minute seaplane ride from Vancouver takes you right into Victoria Harbor, offering some fantastic views from above.

The ferry takes you on a 90-minute ride from Tsawwassen Terminal to Swartz Bay, which might include some whale spotting if you’re lucky! The ferry schedules and tickets are available on the BC Ferries website.

Swartz Bay is about a 30-minute drive from Victoria, but most tours include transportation, so you don’t have to figure out the logistics. Because transportation from Vancouver is factored in, most tours start early and usually last around the 10-hour mark. Even though they’re a bit longer, it’s definitely worth it, and you’ll have some downtime on the commute to relax and enjoy the views! 

Why should I take a tour to Victoria from Vancouver?

The Empress Building and the water in Victoria, BC
Explore the city the easy way!

Victoria is a thriving and beautiful city, it’s certainly worth spending time there if you have a day or two to spare while you’re in Vancouver! While it is possible to organize a seaplane or ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria and back again, there are a few good reasons why you might consider taking a tour instead.

First off, a tour of Victoria will offer a personalized way of getting to know the city in a very short amount of time. You’ll often have a tour guide accompanying you along the way, and they’ll be happy to tell you interesting stories about the areas you’re visiting and answer any questions you may have.

If you’re looking to relax and not worry about the stresses of booking individual tickets, hiring transport, and so on, then taking a tour is a great option. All the logistics are worked out ahead of time, so you’re free to sit back and truly take in this beautiful city. Tours often include pickup from your hotel as well, so you really can let yourself feel relaxed every step of the way!

5 Best Tours to Victoria from Vancouver

1. Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour from Vancouver

Japanese gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
Japanese Gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
The-parliamentary-building-in-Victoria-BC-1
The history and architecture are rich in Victoria!

If you were to ask us what one of our favorite places to visit is in Victoria, Butchart Gardens would be right up near the top of the list! The gardens are a key focus in this full-day Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour from Vancouver and your admission ticket is included (bonus!).

The tour begins as you hop on a 90-minute ferry ride from Vancouver and sail through the beautiful Gulf Islands. It’s common to spot wildlife on the ride over, so I always like spending time looking for whales and sea lions from the outer deck.

Once you arrive at Vancouver Island, you’ll have time to see the historic city of Victoria and stroll along the Inner Harbour. There are two hours of free time in the morning, whether you want to pop into the boutiques or cafes on Government Street, visit Chinatown, or admire the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

After exploring the downtown, it’s off to see one of the most beautiful gardens in the world! Whenever our friends and family visit Vancouver Island, Butchart Gardens is a place we always, always recommend, so it’s nice that this tour includes your trip here.

This incredible place actually sprouted from the vision of one woman, Jennie Butchart, and first opened to the public more than 100 years ago. Now the fruits of the Butchart family’s labor really shine through and you’d never believe it started as a limestone quarry! There are 900 varieties of plants, five different garden styles, and 26 greenhouses to discover. It’s also beautiful throughout the year, so with this tour offered from March to November, there’s never a bad time to see Butchart Gardens.

The tour is easily one of the best Butchart Gardens tours from Vancouver and lasts approximately 13 hours in total. It’s a unique way to spend a day traveling to Victoria and back again! Tickets cost $275 CAD and include all your transportation and admission fees, so it’s a hassle-free way to see Victoria.

Related Read: Once you’re back in the city, make sure to check out the best tours in Vancouver including this incredible sunset dinner cruise we’ve done twice!

2. Seaplane flight to Victoria with ground transport

View of Stanley park from the float plane traveling out of Vancouver towards Victoria, BC
See you later Vancouver!
Bailey walks down Fantan Alley in China Town in Victoria BC
Exploring Fantan Alley in our free time!

Nothing says West Coast like jumping on a seaplane, and if seeing Vancouver Island is on your to-do list, then this seaplane tour to Victoria is the way to go! Taking a seaplane in Vancouver was one of our all-time favorite activities we did while living here. Taking off and landing on the water is such a cool experience and obviously, the views were the highlight!

This tour includes a visit to Butchart Gardens and some free time afterward – perfect for the day-trippers who like to do a little adventuring of their own.

Starting from the seaplane terminal, you’ll hop on Harbour Air at your chosen departure time ranging from 7:30 to 9:30 am, for those who want to sleep in a little! From there, it’s a short 35-minute flight to Victoria, with amazing views of neighboring islands like Salt Spring and even as far as Washington’s Mount Baker on a clear day.

When you touch down in Victoria Harbor, a shuttle bus will be waiting to whisk you away to the beautiful Butchart Gardens. Admission is included and we enjoyed the commentary on the bus that was both informative and entertaining. At almost 120 years old, the 55-acre garden is incredibly curated and a designated National Historic Site! Plus, if it happens to be raining, the staff at the gardens actually hand out umbrellas. I think there’s something magical about a rainy day visit here.

Before returning to Vancouver on the afternoon flight, you’ll have spare time to explore boutiques, cafés, or historical sites in beautiful downtown Victoria. We popped into Fantan Alley which is actually the narrowest street in Canada and has a bunch of different little shops. It kind of has a Harry Potter feel to it!

Tickets start at around $572 CAD per person. So while it’s a bit pricier, this tour is a great option if you’re short on time but still want to see Vancouver Island.

Related Read: If you’re interested in the local craft beer scene, make sure to add on a Vancouver brewery tour while you’re in town!

3. 2-Day Victoria and Butchart Gardens tour  

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!
Stairs leading up to a viewpoint at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Honestly, it’s memorizing!

If a day trip to Victoria doesn’t quite cut it, this 2-day Victoria tour that includes your hotel and a trip to Butchart Gardens might sweeten the deal! This ranks high for me on the top tours of Victoria since it includes both a ferry ride and a seaplane trip on the way back, so you’ll see the BEST views from the water and the air.

Starting from your hotel in Vancouver, your shuttle will pick you up to take you to the ferry dock where you’ll head across the water to Victoria – keep your eyes peeled for whale sightings! Once you’re in Victoria, transportation and admission to Butchart Gardens are already organized, so you can enjoy a stroll around the gardens (they’re all amazing, but the Mediterranean Gardens are my fave!).

Afterward, you’ll get a little sightseeing tour of Victoria as you head to your accommodations in the stunning 4-star Inn at Laurel Point. Once you’re checked in, the rest of the day and all of Day 2 is up to you. I honestly love having some free time in Victoria and this tour gives you plenty of it. You can go boutique hopping, lounge at cafés, or take in museums and historical sites all around Victoria.

It’s a super pedestrian-friendly city, so you can easily explore on foot – in fact, we think it’s the best way! On the evening of your second day here, you’ll hop on Harbour Air for a seaplane ride back to Vancouver, including a complimentary shuttle to drop you right off at your hotel.

Overall, it’s a pretty awesome, hassle-free way to see Victoria! Prices vary for this tour, depending on hotel availability, but start at $699 CAD. We thought this tour is a fantastic bang for your buck, especially since it includes an overnight stay at the beautiful Inn at Laurel Point overlooking Victoria Harbor which can easily be upwards of $500 CAD per night in the summer.

4. Seaplane flight to Victoria and whale watching cruise

Daniel and Bailey about to board their scenic flight to Victoria from Vancouver
We were so excited!
An orca swims in the ocean near Victoria on a whale watching tour
How cool is this?!

If you’re anything like us, you won’t pass up an opportunity to spot beautiful whales in the wild! If you’ve never been whale-watching and are planning a trip to Victoria, there’s no better way to double up than on a seaplane flight and whale-watching cruise combo tour. This tour is commonly rated as one of the best whale watching experiences on Vancouver Island.

This tour kicks off at the Vancouver Seaplane Terminal where you’ll take off to enjoy beautiful views of the island and coastline to Victoria. When you’re booking, you also have the choice of an open-topped Zodiac boat or a covered Ocean Cruiser for whale watching in Victoria. We chose to hop on the non-covered Zodiac boat when we booked.

The whale watching tours take place in the Haro Strait which is where you can find lots of salmon… that’s a BIG draw for orcas around here! We definitely saw a few of them chowing down on our tour. You’re also likely to spot seals, sea lions, and sea otters.

Although they can’t guarantee sightings, the tours run from April to October when the chances are higher that you’ll see whales. Our guide was super informative and entertaining, and we had a lot of fun sharing our excitement with our group!

Once your whale watching cruise is over, you can go directly back to the mainland via seaplane or choose to spend a bit of time exploring Victoria. The choice is yours! Just make sure to ask your guide for the last flight time of the day to return back to Vancouver.

The whole tour lasts about 10 hours, and you can grab tickets for $604 CAD per person. Since it’s an activity that relies on good weather, they have a great cancellation policy and will either refund you or rebook you if your tour can’t go as scheduled.  

Related Read: Close to downtown Vancouver, Deep Cove also makes for an amazing day out – highly recommended!

5. Victoria excursion from Vancouver by helicopter and seaplane 

View of False Creek from a sea plane in Vancouver
View of False Creek from a seaplane in Vancouver
Daniel on Government Street in Victoria BC
Exploring Victoria

This one is for aviation and adventure lovers! We love taking the ferry, but seeing some of the most beautiful places in BC from the air is truly unbeatable – so why not jump on a helicopter and seaplane tour to see Victoria in style?!

This tour makes a day trip pretty effortless, with transportation pre-arranged (including hotel shuttles) and free time in Victoria to create your own adventure for the day. This is one of those bucket list tours that’s great for families or couples looking for a romantic getaway in Vancouver.

To start your day, you’ll experience a helicopter ride departing Vancouver (which we loved!), taking you over the Strait of Georgia to Victoria with breathtaking coastal views on the way.

When you arrive, you’ll get the whole day to explore however you like, whether it’s a chill day at museums or visiting boutiques and enjoying Victoria’s laid-back vibe. At around 6 pm, Harbour Air takes you back over to Vancouver by seaplane to see those ocean-meets-coastline vistas once more, and a shuttle then drops you right back to your hotel doorstep.

The price tag on this tour starts at around $759 CAD per person, which we think is still a pretty awesome deal considering you get to ride in a helicopter and a seaplane in one day! 

Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver

View out the window of a sea plane over Vancouver, Canada
View from a seaplane!
Bailey walks on the Lynn Canyon suspension Bridge, Vancouver
Lynn Canyon

Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re here, be sure not to miss some of the top attractions and activities:

  • 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.
  • Ride in a Seaplane – Even if you don’t take a flight to Victoria, you can still explore Vancouver by riding in a seaplane. Taking off and landing on the ocean is super exciting, and then the views from the air are breathtaking. This seaplane ride lasts for 20 minutes and costs $168 CAD. It departs and returns to Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. The best part is that seaplane tours in Vancouver operate all year round, so even if you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter you can take to the sky!
  • Eat ALL the food! – Vancouver is a foodie destination. Showcasing cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, you really need to make an effort to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-to’s. 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 the area of Gastown.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter, the city books up very fast. Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure the best place to stay for you!

Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:

Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$

The Hyatt Regency Vancouver has the perfect location halfway between Stanley Park and Gastown. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is very highly reviewed! It has an outdoor hot tub, a gym, a Starbucks on-site, and is within walking distance to top sights.

Rooms start at $233 CAD and are clean, spacious, and very well-kept. So if you can afford to spend a little more, we recommend treating yourself to this hotel! You can check availability, prices, and book your stay here.

Times Square Suites – $$

For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park, you should opt for the Times Square Suites. It’s very hard to fault this hotel, and we think the location is amazing. Plus, the suites are spacious yet have a cozy feel with kitchenettes and gas fireplaces. This hotel feels luxurious yet still affordable, with prices starting at $207 CAD when you book ahead online.

The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $

The Cambie Hostel Gastown is an overall good budget choice. The location is in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants. Attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. The rooms are clean, but we felt the bathrooms were a little cramped.

It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is relatively cheap for being so central. Yet, it still offers quality accommodations. To snag this deal, you’ll want to reserve a room on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!

Click here to browse all hotels in Vancouver!

For more info on the best areas and hotels, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Vancouver. It breaks down everything you need to know before choosing the right hotel!

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 Phillips Brewery in Victoria, BC
Thanks for reading!

Taking a tour from Vancouver to Victoria is one of the best things you can do in BC! You’ll get the chance to see what this incredible city has to offer. Whether you’re going by ferry, seaplane, or even helicopter, these tours take all the guesswork out of planning your short trip to Vancouver Island and have some pretty unforgettable experiences along the way.

We hope this blog has been helpful in planning your trip! If you need any more ideas or tips about visiting the area, make sure to check out our other Vancouver Island blogs. Here are three other articles you might find helpful:

33 EPIC Things to do in Vancouver in Summer

6 BEST Walking Tours in Victoria, BC

10 BEST Stops on the Drive from Nanaimo to Victoria

12 Things to KNOW About Visiting the Malahat Skywalk, Vancouver Island