We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Victoria or Vancouver first?

Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
978 posts
234 reviews
Save Topic
Victoria or Vancouver first?

I'm trying to decide between doing Victoria or Vancouver first on a upcoming trip. Here's how it would shake out:

d1 Fly Vancouver

d2-4 Vancouver

d5 bus Vancouver - Victoria

d6-7 Victoria

d8 bus to Nanimo, pick up car, drive to Tofino

d9-10 Tofino

d11 Return to Nanaimo, drop off car

d12 Fly Nanaimo to Calgary

OR

d1 Fly Vancouver, bus to Victoria

d2-3 Victoria

d4 Pick up car, drive to Tofino

d5-6 Tofino

d7 drive to Nanaimo

d8 drive Victoria, take seaplane to Vancouver

d9-11 Vancouver

d12 Fly Vancouver-Calgary

I get equal amounts of time in each place, I'm leaning towards Victoria first as it would mean I could get a seaplane from Victoria to Vancouver, after dropping off the car. I could do that on the other option, but think that would overly complicate things (car to Nanaimo, bus to Victoria, seaplane to Vancouver, bus to airport, plane to Calgary). I also like the fact that I have my own transport for the entire V.I. trip, rather than relying on the Island Express. Plus flights from Vancouver to Calgary, there's practically one per hour.

Actually, writing it all out, I'm fairly convinced I'll do Victoria first, so any dissenting voices?

Penticton, Canada
Level Contributor
19,689 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

another option

forget the bus and get a car at YVR drive to Victoria-Tofino and back to Vancouver where you do not need a car when staying downtown area then catch a flight to Calgary. Simple, no hauling luggage; no being on a schedule; opens up possibilities of tourist attractions not on public transit and the cost is not that much different in the overall scheme of things.

Nanaimo, Canada
Level Contributor
27,990 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

What time of year is this going to happen?

I like the idea of having a car the whole time. Much more flexibility then. But again, what time of year, and will you need to reserve the car on the ferry? Ferries are busy, even into September.

Just avoid renting from Budget, at the Vancouver airport, or the downtown location. You don't need a car while in Vancouver.

Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
978 posts
234 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

@cbaarch, not a bad idea, but I do want to experience a seaplane while I'm over there, but I'll see what my options are.

@j0an123, this is September (yea, next year), so I think I would need to reserve teh ferry if only for peace of mind. Hence the bus, just walk up when I get to the airport, and almost certainly get on the next bus over.

I guess it comes down to is a car useful in Victoria? I think it's a pretty compact town (particular the places I want to be) and if the car's just going to be sitting around for 2-3 days in a hotel car park, that might be a waste of money?

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
31,971 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

Land in Vancouver, fly to Tofino, bus to Victoria, fly to Calgary.

Land in Vancouver, fly to Nanaimo, rent car to drive to Tofino and down to Victoria, fly to Calgary.

Land in Victoria (or get a connecting flight directly from Vancouver to Victoria). Bus to Tofino, flight to Vancouver, flight to Calgary.

So many ways to slice this one up, and I'm not sure that I'm all that happy with either of your options. I would look at the one way costs on a car rental. I don't think one way between Victoria and Nanaimo would cost all that much more, especially when you factor in the bus fare, and so much more convenient. You can also just do a small plane flightseeing tour either from Vancouver - out over the mountains and glaciers - or from Tofino out over the coast. Then doing the whole loop in a rental car becomes easy. However, I don't think it makes sense for you to return to Vancouver just to get a flight to Calgary, so I'd either fly directly to the island and start there, or I'd see Vancouver, then head to the island and fly directly to Calgary from either Victoria or Nanaimo.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
67,110 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

My suggestion would be as follows. I use nights so that where you are in the morning is clear.

Arrive Victoria, on one ticket with a connection at YVR, or Calgary.

N1-3 Victoria.

Pick up car and drive to ...

N4-6 Tofino.

N7 - EITHER Nanaimo, 3 hours from Tofino and 2 hours to Victoria. OR Victoria, 5 hours from Tofino.

Drop car in Victoria and take seaplane to

N8-11 nights Vancouver

d12 Fly to Calgary

Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
978 posts
234 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

@Vancouverite, @MultiVancouver, tks for the suggestions, but if I'm not mistaken none of your options include the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, which I'm considering a must-do, but if I put that option into your list, MV, it looks the same as my option 2, I believe?

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
67,110 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

Yes, almost the same except I have you flying right through to Victoria instead of bus to Victoria. Coach would be fine, about 3.5-4 hours journey time plus transfer time needed after Canada Customs to a wisely chosen coach departure time. I will mention that in September, sunset will be:

7h55 pm on Sept 1. 6h50 pm on Sept 30.

Consider when a Vancouver flight will arrive, allow about 2.5 hours to handle Canada Customs and Immi and transfer to the coach. Check the BC Ferries Connector schedule as their coaches don't run into the evening. It will be September.

www.bcfconnector.com

On Sept 10th, for example, the last coach leaves YVR at 11h40, arriving in downtown Victoria at 15h20. To get that result, I entered:

From: YVR Airport, Full Route

To: Victoria Capital City Sation

.

Pick up: YVR Airport, Full Route

Drop off: 721 Douglas St.

.

So, depending on when your plane arrives and how much you want to take the ferry (good choice) you could take it in daylight, or if it will be dark for any of that ferry journey, stay 1 night at a YVR hotel to take the Connector the next morning.

Just want to check here. When you say bus do you mean the BC Ferries Connector from the airport to Victoria, ferry ride in, luggage in the hold? or do you mean public transit, ferry, public transit, schlep own luggage.

Public transit would mean taking Canada Line to Bridgeport Station, transfer to the #620 Tsawwassen ferry bus, for about 60 minutes. Either $9.10 or $7.85, depending on the day of the week and the time of day. Buy a walk up ticket for the ferry and ride for 1.5 hours. Then take the #50 Victoria bus for an hour down to Victoria. $2.50, fare on the Victoria bus exact change in coins.

Map for a weekday from 6h30 pm: https://goo.gl/maps/6D9BXHnfjup

BC Ferries run ferries from Tsawwassen until last ferry at 9 pm, arriving Victoria about 11h15 pm.

Edited: 25 July 2017, 03:43
Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
978 posts
234 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

I'll definitely be doing the all-in journey, with as little schlepping as possible. My planned flight arrives at 1135am, so should be no problem grabbing a bus 2-3 hours later as you say. I was a bit confused by your assertion that the last bus leaves YVR at 1140 on 9/1, but you're right, every Friday, they do the "full route" only until 1140, but there are 3 more after that on the "reduced route", 1340, 1540 and 1740, any one of which I should be able to catch (probably 1540 to allow for snafus). Do you think it'd be necessary to prebook for a Friday in September, or is walking up always an option?

Tks for the tip on sunset, though, that hadn't occurred to me at all. No point in going on a trip to see the islands if I can't see the islands. The 1540 arrives in Victoria at 1920 which should work well, I believe?

BTW, is there much of a difference between BCF and Pacific Coach? I thought I'd read that PC had been replaced by BCF/Wilson's, but PC still show options on their website, cheaper options (but I believe they don't include the ferry walk on price)

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
67,110 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

You must make a reservation with BC Ferries Connection. Walking up is no longer an option.

Wilson's took over the run from Pacific Coach quite a few months ago. This is how Pacific Coach plays into the route. They handle the shuttle from the airport to the ferry terminal. The pull up cheek by jowl with the Connector through-coach that has originated in downtown Vancouver. The driver transfers the luggage, the pax transfer themselves over to the Connector coach. Then the Connector drives on to the ferry and finishes the run.

That's why PCL still show the option to take folk to Victoria, they just don't say they take you part way to Victoria then hand you over to another coach. PCL had the contract for a long time, a couple of decades I think. People still have them in their head and (for anyone who didn't have access to the news about the take over) they will be the search words from memory.

Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
978 posts
234 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Victoria or Vancouver first?

Thanks, MV for that clarification. When my plan is more solid, I'll be back for more info, but it sounds like Victoria first is the way to go.