Transportation in Victoria, Brisitsh Columbia: How to Get Around this Canadian Town
Victoria, British Columbia, is easy to reach from either the U.S. or mainland Canada, and is also easy for visitors to traverse once they arrive. With an extensive transportation network throughout the island, Victoria's visitors will have fun as they pick and choose the unique routes and modes to reach all destinations and attractions on their itineraries.
ARRIVING IN VICTORIA:
Ferries run to Victoria from lots of different starting points, and offer a scenic way to get from a point of origin to Victoria!
- British Columbia Ferries: Runs between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, and can even carry cars and buses; the trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes, plus an additional 40 minutes between Swartz Bay and Victoria. Ferry terminal is 17 miles (30 kilometers) north of Victoria on Highway 17.
- Washington State Ferries: Runs between Annacortes, Washington and Sidney, British Columbia, through the San Juan Islands; the trip takes about 3 hours, plus another 20 or 30 minutes from Sidney to Victoria.
- M.V. Coho Ferry: Runs between Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria's Inner Harbor, located in downtown Victoria on Belleville Street; the trip takes about 1 ' hours, and crosses the Juan de Fuca Strait.
- The Victoria Express: Runs from Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria's Inner Harbor; the trip takes about one hour. This ferry only runs May to October, and carries passengers only.
- The Victoria Clipper: Runs between Pier 69 in Seattle, Washington, and Victoria's Inner Harbor; this catamaran carries passengers only, and the trip takes about 2 ' hours.
Victoria International Airport (airport code: YYJ) serves Vancouver Island and is located on the Saanich Peninsula, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) north of Victoria. Driving between the YYJ and Victoria gives visitors views of Sidney-by-the-sea, a popular resort town, as well as countryside of North Saanich, and Central Saanich itself. Airlines include Air Canada, Kenmore Air, and Horizon Air.
Via Rail runs between Victoria and Courtney. The train offers a great way to see some of the scenery of the Island without having to drive yourself along the Island Highway, which is a main thoroughfare and can be crowded and busy.
GETTING AROUND VICTORIA:
Victoria is a highly walkable city, especially along Inner Harbor and in downtown Victoria. Transportation modes for outlying areas include public buses, motorcoach tours, car rentals, trains, ferries and boats, helicopter or tour plane, cycling, and horsedrawn carriage.
B.C. Transit buses run throughout Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island, and feature handicap accessibility, as well as bicycle racks. The Bus depot is located at Douglas Street and Belleville Street, next to the Empress Hotel. The Victoria Regional Transit System has two zones: The first zone's boundaries are Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road on the Saanich Peninsula; the second zone is marked by Highway 1A and Dukrill Road, and Highway 2 west of Thetis Interchange. Traveling from one zone to another requires a two-zone fare. Transfers are available, within the zone, if requested upon boarding.
The E & N Railway runs between Victoria and Courtenay, and features views of Mount Baker in Washington State, as well as wildlife viewing opportunities.
By Ferry and Boat
There are numerous ferry services that run amid the Gulf Islands many times every day, such as The Mill Bay Ferry, and the many BC Ferries. Another unique transportation mode is the Marine Wildlife Tour aboard a cruiser or catamaran, and taking visitors around the waters of southern Victoria Island to catch views of many types of sea wildlife. Victoria also has a myriad of marinas and marine parks; visitors can bring their own boat, rent one, or take a guided cruise.
The Grand City Drive Tour offers a 90-minute trip around Victoria and includes all of the main sights and attractions, including Fairmont Empress Hotel, Chinatown, and Antique Row, as well as Cattle Point.
As the cycling capital of Canada, Victoria is very easy to navigate on bicycle — in fact, the entire city can be easily be explored by cycling! Ferries allow passengers to load their own bicycle on for a trip to Vancouver Island, or visitors may rent a bike from a bike shop or bike tour company once they arrive. Many of Victoria's streets have separate lanes, just for bicycles.