Skip to Content

7 Best Butchart Gardens Tours and Day Trips (2024)

So you want to visit the botanical wonderland of Butchart Gardens from Victoria, Vancouver or Seattle?

Blooming brilliant decision!

These gardens aren’t just one of the best gardens in Victoria, BC (dubbed the “City of Gardens”).

They’re also celebrated as one of the world’s most beautiful gardens.

Jennie Butchart’s early 20th-century vision dazzles over a million yearly visitors today.

They come to admire the floral splendor in the iconic Sunken Garden, the dancing fountains, the flower-filled Italian Garden and lily pond, the 2,500 rose bushes in the stunning Rose Garden, the tranquil Japanese Garden and serene landscapes like the Mediterranean cypress garden – all nurtured by 50 passionate gardeners.

The gardens are a National Historic Site in Canada – visiting them is a must-do Victoria activity.

Now you just need to know how to visit Butchart Gardens.

Is there a shuttle from Victoria? What are the best Butchart Gardens tours for an effortless and unforgettable day trip?

We live in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. We’ve visited Butchart Gardens many times, and we know the best tours to Butchart Gardens!

We’ve organized the 7 best tours and ways to get to this garden oasis as follows:

  • Shuttle bus and tours to Butchart Gardens from Victoria
  • Day tours to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver
  • Day tours to Butchart Gardens from Seattle

All of them are highly rated.

Best Butchart Gardens tours
Butchart Gardens is a feast for the eyes and a must-visit botanical oasis

Planning your Butchart Gardens tour or day trip

Where are the gardens located?

Butchart Gardens is located in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula, 13½ miles (22 km) north of Victoria.

The drive from downtown Victoria takes about 30 minutes by car (longer if you go by express shuttle or public bus).

How long does it take to walk through Butchart Gardens?

You can see the highlights in 90 minutes or so. But for a more leisurely stroll, allow about 2 hours.

Honestly, we’ve happily whiled away 3 hours at the gardens, simply basking in the beauty of the blooms.

Butchart Gardens' Sunken Garden occupies a former limestone quarry.
Cloaked in lush greenery, the Sunken Garden occupies a former limestone quarry

Can you have afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens?

Indeed!

A delightful way to wrap up your Butchart Gardens visit is to treat yourself to afternoon tea at their lovely onsite restaurant, The Dining Room. (Reservations are required.)

It was once the original Butchart family residence.

What’s on their gourmet high tea menu?

Delicacies run the gamut from savory sandwiches to their signature house scones (with strawberry preserve and whipped mascarpone), English trifle and other house-made sweets like Baileys almond truffles.

Afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens
Mmmm… Look at this scrumptious afternoon tea! (Credit: Butchart Gardens)

Butchart Gardens tours from Victoria, BC

1) Victoria to Butchart Gardens shuttle and public bus

Is there a shuttle to Butchart Gardens from Victoria?

Of course! (It’d be silly if there wasn’t one.)

Hop on the Butchart Gardens Express Shuttle for shuttle service direct from downtown Victoria to Butchart Gardens.

The coach service is operated by the global sightseeing tour operator Gray Line through CVS Tours. The shuttle bus leaves from the Sightseeing Victoria Kiosk in front of Victoria’s famous landmark hotel, the Fairmont Empress.

With multiple departure and return times available throughout the day, you’ve got the flexibility to plan your visit just the way you like it. The drive takes about 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: The shuttle service doesn’t include your tickets to the gardens, which are an additional cost.

Once you arrive at Butchart, let your inner botanist roam free, as you explore the gardens at your own pace.

Be sure to pop into the gift store before you leave. You can pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts there. (We’ve bought flower seeds, butterfly glassware and wind chimes from this lovely gift shop.)

The Fountain of the Three Sturgeons is a striking bronze fountain near the Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens.
The Fountain of the Three Sturgeons is a striking bronze fountain near the Japanese Garden

Public bus to Butchart Gardens

Alternatively, you can take the public bus. It’s the cheapest way to get to Butchart Gardens.

Board the #75 BC Transit bus at the stop at Belleville St. and Government St. (beside the Fairmont Empress Hotel). The ride takes about 55 minutes to an hour.

2) Private tours to Butchart Gardens

A private half-day Butchart Gardens tour from Victoria is a great way to maximize your time – and see some of Victoria’s top tourist attractions too!

It’s especially ideal if you’re visiting Victoria for the day on a cruise, or by ferry from Seattle.

As it’s a private tour, you can customize it as you wish. If you’d like to spend more time at the gardens, just ask your driver tour guide.

Also, at Butchart Gardens, your guide will accompany you part of the way. They’ll point out must-see sections and hidden gems that you shouldn’t miss.

Beautiful white and purple orchids at Butchart Gardens
The orchids are beautiful at Butchart Gardens!

You have a couple of 5-star-rated options. (Note: The admission cost of your Butchart Gardens tickets is extra.)

Private 4-hour tour

This private 4-hour tour costs a flat rate of $440 USD ($580 CAD) for a group of up to 6 people. It includes:

  • Pick-up and drop-off in Victoria (e.g., hotel, Clipper or Coho ferry terminal, seaplane terminal or cruise ship port)
  • Brief stops at Fisherman’s Wharf, historic Chinatown, Craigdarroch Castle, Government House, Beacon Hill Park and Emily Carr House
  • Visit to Butchart Gardens – about 2 hours at the gardens

Private 5-hour tour

This private 5-hour tour gives you an extra hour, so you get to spend a little more time at each Victoria attraction. (Or you could ask to linger longer at the gardens.)

It can also accommodate a larger group size – up to 10 people.

The cost varies depending on the season, ranging from $543 USD ($715 CAD) in spring to $596 USD ($785 CAD) in summer. The tour includes:

  • Pick-up and drop-off in Victoria (e.g., hotel, Clipper or Coho ferry terminal, seaplane terminal or cruise ship port)
  • Visit to Butchart Gardens – about 2 hours at the gardens
  • Leisurely walk around the Inner Harbor
  • Brief stops at Chinatown, Craigdarroch Castle, Fisherman’s Wharf and Mount Tolmie Park

Butchart Gardens tours from Vancouver

You have three main options for a guided day trip to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver:

  • A day trip by ferry and coach from Vancouver (#3 below) – three different tours
  • A day trip by seaplane from Vancouver (#4 below)
  • A day trip by seaplane and ferry from Vancouver (#5 below)

3) Day tours by ferry and coach

For a ferry and coach tour, you have a choice of three different tours. They differ in the size of bus used and the amount of time allocated to visiting Butchart Gardens.

They all use BC Ferries to cross the Strait of Georgia to reach Victoria on Vancouver Island.

A BC Ferry cruising from Vancouver to Victoria
A BC Ferry cruising from Vancouver to Victoria

Your mini-coach or bus drives onto the ferry for the crossing.

During the 90-minute ferry ride, you get off the bus and walk upstairs to the passenger section of the ferry. Grab a meal in the cafeteria or sit outside and watch the passing Gulf Island scenery. It’s like a mini-cruise!

Then when the ferry approaches the Victoria ferry terminal, you get back on your mini-bus or coach to continue with your tour.

To find out what the ferry is like, see our guide on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria.

Small-group day tour by ferry and mini-coach

Let’s start with our preferred ferry-and-coach tour – a full-day excursion from Vancouver with Landsea Tours.

What sets this tour apart for us is the smaller group size compared to the other two options that follow. And it doesn’t cost that much more.

You travel by mini-coach (a 24-passenger mini-bus) for the ride to Victoria, via BC Ferries, and then on to the gardens.

A Landsea Tours mini-coach in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria
A Landsea Tours mini-coach in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria (Credit: Landsea Tours)

The small-group tour is a Viator Experience Awards winner, with 5-star ratings from almost 1,500 happy reviewers.

It’s an experience-rich Vancouver to Butchart gardens day trip and includes:

  • Vancouver hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Sailing on the ferry (a 90-minute scenic cruise each way)
  • Sightseeing mini-coach tour of Victoria
  • Free time (3 hours) to explore downtown Victoria on your own
  • Visiting the Butchart botanical gardens – you have about 90 minutes to explore the gardens on your own (entrance tickets are included)
Exotic flowerw in Butchart Gardens
The gardens are most beautiful from spring to fall

Day tour by ferry and larger coach

Another way of getting to Victoria and Butchart Gardens from Vancouver is to travel with the global sightseeing tour operator, Gray Line.

Like Landsea Tours above, Gray Line also offer excellent day tours from Vancouver to Butchart Gardens, using the ferry. But instead of a mini-coach, they use a larger full-size bus.

Gray Line’s coach and ferry day trip includes:

  • Round-trip coach transportation from downtown Vancouver to the ferry terminal (with optional hotel pick-up)
  • The 90-minute ferry ride each way
  • Visit to Butchart Gardens (tickets included) – you have 90 minutes to wander the gardens on a self-guided tour
  • Visit to Victoria’s Inner Harbor – you have 2 hours to stroll the Inner Harbor, see the Parliament Buildings, pop into the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, wander through Chinatown and shop

How do Gray Line’s tours of Butchart Gardens from Vancouver differ from Landsea’s day trips?

  • Gray Line operates a larger coach than Landsea.
  • Gray Line’s trips are an hour shorter. You have 2 hours of free time in Victoria, rather than the 3 hours on Landsea’s excursions.
  • Once in Victoria, you go to Butchart Gardens first. Then you visit Victoria. (With Landsea, you start with sightseeing in Victoria, then you go to the gardens.)

Day tour by ferry and larger coach (with more time at Butchart Gardens)

Your third transportation option for a guided ferry-and-coach tour from Vancouver is this 13-hour gardens-and-city tour with Pacific Coach Travel Services. They’re a British Columbia coach tour operator.

Starting with Butchart Gardens, their tour gives you a little more time at the gardens than the previous two tours (shaving some time off from the city visit).

It includes:

  • Round-trip coach transportation
  • The 90-minute ferry ride each way
  • Visit to Butchart Gardens (tickets included) – you have 2 full hours at the gardens
  • Free time in Victoria – more than an hour

4) Day tour by seaplane

An exhilarating alternative to ferrying to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver? Fly!

You go with Harbour Air (spelled the Canadian way), which is North America’s largest seaplane airline.

A Harbour Air float plane taking off from Vancouver's Coal Harbour
A Harbour Air float plane taking off from Vancouver’s Coal Harbour

The 5-star-rated day trip by Harbor Air Seaplanes is more expensive than taking the ferry.

But you save travel time and avoid the extra drive to and from the ferry terminals associated with the ferry.

You take a 35-minute scenic seaplane flight direct from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria (and back).

A Harbour Air seaplane taking off from Victoria's Inner Harbour
A Harbour Air seaplane taking off from Victoria’s Inner Harbour

The flight adds extra excitement to the day’s adventure – we’ve taken the seaplane and it’s fun to splash down in the harbor!

The tour includes:

  • Round-trip scenic flights between Vancouver and Victoria (choose from several morning departure times to Victoria, with a choice of an afternoon or evening flight on the return back to Vancouver)
  • Shuttle bus to and from Butchart Gardens
  • Admission tickets to Butchart Gardens
  • Free time in Victoria to explore on your own
Pretty spring daffodils and crocuses at Butchart Gardens
Hello spring! We see your lovely daffodils and crocuses at Butchart Gardens!

5) Day tour by seaplane and ferry

The third way to enjoy a Butchart Gardens day trip from Vancouver is to combine the seaplane and ferry. You can choose your departure time from Vancouver.

This combo day tour includes:

  • One-way scenic flight with Harbour Air from Vancouver to downtown Victoria (35-minute flight)
  • Free time in Victoria
  • Coach and ferry ride from Victoria back to Vancouver (about 4½ hours in total)

Once in Victoria, take the public bus, an Uber, a taxi or the Butchart Gardens shuttle (see #1 above) to get to Butchart Gardens. Or take a private tour of the gardens and the city (see #2 above).

Butchart Gardens tours from Seattle

6) Day tour by fast ferry

It’s also possible to enjoy a day trip to Butchart Gardens from Seattle by taking the Victoria Clipper V to Victoria.

This high-speed passenger ferry is operated by FRS Clipper (aka Clipper Vacations).

It goes from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle, across the Salish Sea, to the Clipper’s Inner Harbor dock in the heart of Victoria. The ride takes around 3 hours.

See here to get your round-trip FRS Clipper tickets.

The Victoria Clipper V in Puget Sound
The Victoria Clipper V in Puget Sound before it enters the Salish Sea

The 12-hour day tour to Butchart Gardens on Clipper’s fast ferry gives you 5 hours of free time in Victoria.

Five hours is enough time to visit Butchart Gardens. You can organize your visit the following ways:

  • As a do-it-yourself tour to Butchart Garden
  • As a private tour, with transportation from the Clipper Victoria ferry terminal

DIY tour to Butchart Gardens

Once in Victoria, you can take a taxi, Uber or the Butchart Gardens shuttle to get to the gardens.

We’d advise against taking the public bus, as it takes longer to drive to the gardens, and you’ll want to spend your time at the gardens, not on the bus.

See #1 above for details of the express shuttle to Butchart Gardens.

Private tour with transportation

Alternatively, make the most of your 5 hours in Victoria with a private Butchart Gardens day trip, combined with a city tour.

See #2 above for private 4- and 5-hour tour options, with pick-up from the FRS Clipper Victoria terminal.

Purple flowers at Butchart Gardens
So delicate… More pretty spring flowers at Butchart Gardens

7) Day tour by seaplane

Kenmore Air is a seaplane airline that flies out of Seattle to various destinations, including Victoria.

They offer year-round flights to Victoria, and the flying time is 45 minutes.

You can book return flights with them. They also offer the option of flying one way from Seattle to Victoria and taking the Victoria Clipper V fast ferry back.

You can craft your own Butchart Gardens experience for your time in Victoria. Join your pre-booked private tour, hop on the Butchart shuttle, catch a bus, or summon an Uber or taxi to get to the gardens – the choice is yours.

That wraps up our list of the best Butchart Gardens tours and day trips!

After a day at the world-famous Butchart Gardens, you’ll leave with a sense of wonder and cherished memories.

These top-rated tours make it easy to have a great time!

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!


Pin this Butchart Gardens tour article!

Best Buchart Gardens tours

Photo credits: 1, 2, 7, 8, 10 to 12, 15, 17 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!