How to get to Victoria from Vancouver, British Columbia?
(And you must visit the beautiful city where we live! We know of dozens of awesome things to do in Victoria.)
Many visitors take the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria.
It’s generally cheaper, easier and quicker than flying to Victoria, especially if you count the time checking in for the plane, extra bag fees, etc.
(The exception is if you’re already on a plane, flying to or within Canada, and are just connecting through Vancouver.)
Ferry from Vancouver to Victoria
Below is a complete guide on the ferry to Victoria from Vancouver (and the reverse ferry from Vancouver to Victoria).
1) BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria
Victoria is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. (It’s a bit confusing because Vancouver isn’t on Vancouver Island; Vancouver is located on the mainland of BC.)
The trip by vehicle and ferry on BC Ferries from downtown Vancouver to Victoria takes from 4 to 5 hours, depending on your departure terminal.
There are 2 Vancouver ferry terminals that you can depart from:
- Horseshoe Bay
BC Ferries from Tsawwassen:
The Tsawwassen ferry terminal is the main terminal (south of Vancouver), and the one you want to depart from if you’re leaving from downtown Vancouver (or if you’re driving into Greater Vancouver on the TransCanada #1 Highway).
The scenic sail on BC Ferries is 1 hour and 35 minutes to Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal.
The Victoria ferry from Vancouver goes at least every 2 hours (more in the peak summer season), generally starting at 7:00 am.
The total trip time from Vancouver is about 4 hours.
BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay:
If you’re coming from North or West Vancouver or Whistler, we suggest you take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to the Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo.
From Nanaimo, you then drive down the TransCanada Highway (#1 Highway) to Victoria.
The ferry crossing time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The total trip time on this route is about 5 hours.
We used to live in West Vancouver, and whenever we visited Victoria, this is the route we took.
Now, you could alternatively drive through downtown Vancouver and on to Tsawwassen and take the ferry from there. Your total trip time from North or West Vancouver would be about the same (5 hours).
But you’d be fighting traffic congestion in downtown Vancouver – something to avoid, especially at rush hour – and occasionally a clogged tunnel delay (at the George Massey Tunnel) .
2) BC Ferries schedule
Ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island:
Here’s the ferry schedule from Vancouver to Victoria and Nanaimo:
Victoria ferry schedule from Tsawwassen: See here
Ferry schedule from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo: See here
Ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver:
Here’s the schedule from Victoria and Nanaimo back to Vancouver:
Ferry schedule from Victoria to Tsawwassen: See here
Nanaimo ferry schedule to Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay): See here
3) Services: What to do on BC Ferries
On BC Ferries between Vancouver and Victoria, you’ll find many amenities.
It’s really like a mini-cruise.
You’ll find an excellent gift shop (stocked with many books by BC authors), a kids’ playroom and many comfortable seating areas.
Of course, you can walk around on the outside decks.
When the weather is good, we like plopping ourselves down for a while on a bench in the sunshine and soaking in the views, especially when the ferry squeezes through the very scenic Active Pass.
There’s also a cafeteria which features a White Spot menu (burgers, Caesar salad, etc., for lunch and dinner) and a café for cappuccino and baked goodies.
In addition to the regular cafeteria, a separate dining room – the Pacific Buffet – offers a complete buffet meal.
On one ferry crossing for lunch, for example, we helped ourselves to barbecued Korean riblets, Chinese chicken dumplings (Dim Sum style), fish in a cream sauce and other hot items, along with lettuce and spinach salad, followed by a selection of desserts ranging from cheese cake to chocolate brownies.
The cost for an adult is $21 CAD (about $16 USD) for breakfast, $22.25 ($17 USD) for a hot lunch and $26 for dinner (about $20 USD).
You can buy beer and wine in the Pacific Buffet for an additional cost.
Complete Pacific Buffet menus: See here
In summer, a coastal naturalist travels onboard and gives a 20-minute talk outside on deck.
What’s the difference between a Stellar sea lion and a California sea lion? That’s one tidbit of information you might learn.
The Stellar sea lions you commonly see here in our British Columbia coastal waters are twice as big as Californian sea lions. The males can weigh up to 2,200 lbs (females up to 800 lbs).
Another distinction – California sea lions bark like dogs, while Stellar sea lions make a low throaty sound, like a long deep burp.
4) BC Ferries reservations
We recommend you make ferry reservations in advance (otherwise, it’s first come, first served).
The BC Ferries reservation fee is only $10 ($8+ USD) if made 7 or more days in advance. It’s $17 ($13+ USD) if made within 7 days.
And a reservation guarantees you’ll get on the ferry at the reserved time.
If you don’t make a reservation in peak season, you could wait for hours in a ferry line-up. And you don’t want to waste precious vacation time waiting for the ferry to get to Victoria!
We personally always make reservations now, even middle of the day, mid-week, in winter. This gives us certainty – and peace of mind…
To reserve with BC Ferries: See here
5) How much is a BC Ferry ticket from Vancouver to Victoria?
Standard ferry cost Vancouver to Victoria:
The cost to take the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, BC, ranges:
- Pay at the terminal: $77.10 (about $63 USD) for a car and driver
- Reservation: $94.10 (about $76 USD) for a car and driver (where you pay a $17 CAD reservation fee in advance, but pay the rest at the terminal)
- Pre-pay reservation and ferry cost: $87.10 (about $71 USD) for a car and driver (when you book more than 7 days in advance)
These ticket costs apply to a standard vehicle, up to 20 feet long.
Change fees – to change the travel date – are $5.
Each additional passenger, aged 12 or older, costs $17.60 (about $14.50 USD). Children aged 5 to 11 cost $8.80 each (about $7+ USD). Children under 5 are free.
BC Ferries Saver fares:
As well, there are new “Saver” tickets. These are the cheapest BC Ferries tickets for a one-way ride (car and driver) between Vancouver and Victoria.
They cost from $49 to $76.10 (from about $40 to $62 USD).
You have to pay in full when you book.
You can only get these Saver fares if you book less busy times, for example, a mid-day sailing on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or the first early morning sailing or the very latest sailing of the day.
These Saver fares will pop up on the BC Ferries’ website when you enter these less busy days and times in the booking screen.
For full details of the ferry cost to Victoria (including reservation fees and “Saver” tickets), see BC Ferries’ Fare and Fee Information page.
For current BC Ferries prices for all routes: See here
6) Vancouver to Victoria bus and ferry (Connector bus)
Is there a bus from Vancouver to Victoria?
The BC Ferries Connector bus operates year-round and takes you from the downtown Vancouver bus terminal (Pacific Central Station) to the downtown Victoria terminal (Capital City Station). Hotel pick-up and drop-off is available.
It also offers bus/ferry connections from the Vancouver cruise ship terminal and Vancouver’s international airport to and from Victoria.
BC Ferries Connector Schedule: See here
BC Ferries Connector bus and ferry tickets: Book tickets here
7) Public transit from Vancouver to Victoria
To save money, you can use public transit to and from the ferry terminals in Vancouver and Victoria.
At the ferry terminal, buy your passenger ticket to Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal.
For more details on taking the public bus between Vancouver and Victoria, see this TransLink blog post.
8) Travel from Vancouver airport to Tsawwassen ferry terminal
The same BC Ferries Connector bus that operates between the Vancouver and Victoria ferry terminals (see #6 above) also runs from the Vancouver Airport to the Vancouver ferry terminal in Tsawwassen – and from there to Victoria.
Until March 31, 2022, it operates daily as follows:
Leave YVR Airport (to Victoria):
It leaves twice a day from the Vancouver Airport at:
- 9:40 am – Arrive in Victoria at 12:35 pm (Swartz Bay ferry terminal) and 1:20 pm (Victoria bus terminal)
- 3:40 pm – Arrive in Victoria at 6:35 pm (Swartz Bay ferry terminal) and 7:20 pm (Victoria bus terminal)
Leave Victoria (for YVR Airport):
It leaves twice a day from the Victoria bus terminal at:
- 9:45 am – Arrive at the Vancouver Airport at 1:25 pm
- 3:45 pm – Arrive at the Vancouver Airport at 7:25 pm
Vancouver Airport (YVR) schedule on the BC Ferries Connector bus (to March 31, 2022): See here
Cost of BC Ferries Connector bus from YVR:
The cost to or from the Vancouver Airport is $60.50 per adult (about $48 USD) for the bus plus the BC Ferries passenger fare of $17.60 per adult (about $14.50 USD) – for a total cost of $78.10 one-way (about $62 USD).
See complete pricing for seniors, children, etc. here.
Taxi from Vancouver Airport to ferry terminal:
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from YVR to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.
Time-wise, allow about 30 minutes (perhaps 40 minutes at peak times). The taxi cost will run about $60 to $75 ($48 to $60 USD), depending on traffic.
For two people, you might find it more convenient (and just a little more expensive) to take a taxi from YVR to the ferry terminal, travel as a foot passenger on BC Ferries, then take a taxi from the Victoria ferry terminal to downtown Victoria.
The taxi cost from the ferry terminal in Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria is about $70 to $80 ($56 to $64 USD).
Photo credits: 3, 10 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 4 to 8 BC Ferries | 13 to 18 V2V Ferry | 11, 12 BC Ferries Connector