I have visited Canada many times, but I had never managed to make it to Victoria…well, what a mistake that was!
Victoria is now probably my favourite place in Canada…and I have seen some of this country’s most beautiful places.
I knew before visiting that it was bound to be pretty. That it had some of the world’s loveliest gardens. That the beach views were something else. But wow, was I blown away by my 3 days spent here and it was pure luck that I even made it there in the first place.
Canada is not always weather-friendly, at least not in October. So upon arriving in Vancouver for my working holiday, we had a handful of nice days which were finally showcasing the beauty of fall. The rain was making appearances far too much though; that being able to travel at all and get any nice photos was a real effort. Most days I was sitting in Starbucks getting addicted to what is known simply as a PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte.)
But then, miraculously the forecast looked good…SUN was predicted here for 1-2 days and in Victoria for one day only. Even better, it was to be 14 degrees Celsius. I made the last minute choice to believe the weather channel and thankfully I did because it was right!
With 8 hours before I’d have to literally leave the house to start my adventure, I booked a 2 night stay (which was less than $100 a night luckily, given it was so last minute) and quickly worked out how I was going to get myself from Vancouver, to the Ferry and then to Victoria…which would take 5 hours of travel time I soon realized. Yikes!
I soon discovered it was a straight enough run, with a few changes; but overall a pretty relaxed commute.
How to Travel From Vancouver To Tsawassen Ferry Terminal
1. I walked 10 minutes in the dark at 7am to Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain station (because Winter was coming and darkness rules when this is the case.)
2. I arrived at Joyce-Collingwood station (end of zone 1) where I caught Bus #43 at 7:09am at the Joyce Street side of the intersection, heading South.
3. 22 minutes bus ride later, still in darkness, I arrived at Oakridge station and traveled 2 stops on the Canada line, getting off at Bridgeport station.
4. Taking bus #620 for 35 minutes at 8am from Bridgeport station (sun rising), for a 9am Ferry from Tsawassen Ferry Terminal with BC Ferries.
This entire process cost me $5.50 CAD because it happened within 90 minutes across 3 fare zones…so it’s very cost effective to make it to the Ferry really…and something all budget travelers will appreciate.
If you are in downtown Vancouver however; you have it a lot easier and can just take the Canada Line Skytrain straight from the Waterfront area to Bridgeport, and then catch the bus to the Ferry Terminal from there. So it is very easy to get to, no matter where you are in Vancouver.
Upon arriving at Tsawassen, I purchased my ticket from a self-serve machine for $17.20 CAD as a foot passenger – but noticed there was a rebate of 50 cents on the ticket for not taking a car I guess, so it ended up costing $16.70. I had a good 15 minutes of waiting for the Ferry to arrive, so it was a perfect commute really and everything worked like clock work. Though, had I missed that 8am bus, there was another one that would get me to the ferry terminal by 8:45am so I did have a backup plan, just in case.
Travelling On The Tsawassen Ferry To Victoria
If you take your car it is the same price for the passenger ticket, plus an additional fee of $56.45 CAD but bicycles, motorbikes and bus passengers have much cheaper rates. Check the BC Ferries website here for more info on vehicles, weight and lengths.
The Ferry departs throughout the day from Tsawassen, and arrives at Swartz Bay 90 minutes later. So for me, that meant a 10:30am arrival into Swartz Bay. The ferry is a great transport option and had so much on board…I didn’t think it would be so elaborate.
They have free wifi, which worked most of the time; work stations so people can work at cubicle desks and plug their devices in, Starbucks, a games room for kids, a couple of restaurants, including a White Spot and prices were reasonable. (They only accept cash or credit though) and that was only what I could see on my little walk around. I did go outside and enjoy the wind, but certain sections definitely take your breath away. Literally. The views here are beyond lovely, and you will want to venture outside even just for a minute to enjoy the outdoors if it is a sunny day.
Arriving By Ferry To Swartz Bay…How To Then Travel To Victoria
Unfortunately, the transport aspect is still not over at Swartz Bay. Victoria is still a 1 hour bus ride away on Bus #70 (which departs right at the Ferry Terminal). It’s $2.50 CAD one way, but if you purchase a daily bus ticket so you can use buses all day, it is only $5 CAD! Bargain.
FYI, you can’t use a Compass card in Victoria, so cash is a necessity for public transport.
It was officially 4.5 hours of traveling to get from home in Vancouver to my hotel in downtown Victoria, which was longer than it takes to catch the bus from Vancouver to Seattle (and clear customs!), but it was definitely worth it and now I had a whole day full of beautiful sights to see!
If you’re heading to Canada – and plan on seeing more than just Victoria – check out this Backpacking Canada travel guide for all the travel inspiration you need.