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How to split 7 nights between Vancouver & Victoria

How to split 7 nights between Vancouver & Victoria

Jan 5th, 2014, 12:45 AM
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Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 31
How to split 7 nights between Vancouver & Victoria

We're going to the Vancouver/Victoria area in early April. for 7 nights We're just wondering the best way to split our week.
We plan to do all the touristy things in Vancouver & also want to go to Whistler for a day trip.
Initially I thought 4 nights Van & 3 in Victoria but now I;m wondering if we should cut back Vic to 2 nights or even just a day trip.
We don't want to hire a car.
I realise either way we'll be short-changing one of the places.
The idea of just a day trip occurred to me as I see getting to & from Vic takes about 4 hours (& therefore most of a day each way)
The advantage of a day trip is that we can go luggage- free as we will probably have a reasonable amount of luggage (ie travelling with a suitcase & carry-on each)

Thanks for your help
aussiesue2001 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2014, 06:34 PM
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Getting to and from Victoria from Vancouver takes approximately 4 hours *one way* - that's 8 hours in transit if you do it as a day trip. This is via bus/car and ferry. The only other way is to fly. If you're thinking of doing Victoria as a day trip, then fly via Harbour Air - it takes you from downtown to downtown in 35 minutes, one way.

The thing is - what is it that attracts you to Victoria? What do you hope to experience? The Royal BC Museum is my number one must, and that eats up a good chunk of the day right there. The tour of the BC Legislature buildings, the carefree meanders along Government Street, through Chinatown, through the downtown Victoria side streets - maybe down to Fisherman's Wharf and the waterfront along Dallas Road. This isn't even counting the 30 minute drive to Butchart Gardens, where you'll no doubt want to go and spend 2+ hours. I think, if you want to experience Victoria properly, at least do one overnight. That way you won't feel rushed. Victoria is a tiny city, but an overnight will give you a good taste of what the city has to offer.

For the rest of your time, spend it in Vancouver - there's a lot you can do based in Vancouver. 3 days for the city alone will still only let you scratch the surface, not including all the daytrips you can do to the outlying communities (North Vancouver, Steveston, Fort Langley, Harrison Hot Springs, Whistler, Westham Island, etc.)
BC_Robyn is offline  
Jan 5th, 2014, 07:10 PM
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dear aussie sue, not sure where you come from in australia but if you come from one of the larger cities, you might find vancouver a bit underwhelming in cultural amenities. the art gallery in victoria usually has better show s than it's counterpart in vancouver. the setting of vancouver is on a scale of sydney's. the urban ensemble is impressive, but it's mainly an array of condominium towers. imho the main building of interest is the museum of anthropology @ UBC (and the nearby nitobe japanese garden) . it is not in the class of the sydney opera house or the capitol in canberra. stanley park and the surrounding seawall is certainly an impressive and popular attraction

butchardt garden is impressive for it's showmanship, but probably not for it's design. the bloedel conservatory and va ndusen gardens in vancouver are more impressive. the abkahzi garden in victoria is a little jewel

the royal bc is a big wow.

harbour air the float plane between dt vancouver and victoria often has impressive on line sales close to the day (and day of) of departure. a nice alternative would be to take the ferry one way and the float plane in the other. the ferry crossing through the gulf islands is beautiful. the harbour ferries in victoria give a nice perspective of dt and the gorge

be aware that the weather in april could be wet, usually more so in vancouver than victoria.

while i love living in victoria and visiting vancouver, neither is exactly a world class city imo despite good write ups in travel mags and blogs. there just isn't enough indoor of interest except shopping when it rains. the charms of both cities are being outside in decent weather , walking, kayaking etc.

if i want city life here in the beautiful NW, i head to seattle

have a great trip and pray for clear weather lol

AndrewDavid is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Hi, aussiesue.

My DH and I were in the same predicament as you are last October. We stayed overnight in Victoria and it just wasn't enough. One of our objectives was to see Butchart even though it was Autumn / Fall. That was a full 5 hours. We wandered around the waterfront which was bustling and imo a really pleasant walk, and around the side streets, and wished we had allowed another full day. We took the floatplane back at AndrewDavid's suggestion and loved it. If you go this way do take the latest flight you can - we left Victoria at 6:00 pm, back in our hotel in Vancouver by 7:00 pm. It's not a cheap option ($NZ350 approx.) but a great time-saver when you have such limited time.
We pre-booked a day trip to Whistler - a big disappointment as it was a damp, misty day not conducive to going up the mountain for views, and we didn't find the township very interesting apart from the Olympic Games info. If you are shoppers then that could be different.
In Vancouver spend a morning/afternoon on the Hop On Hop Off bus to get your bearings and to see places you are just not going to have time to visit. In our 3 1/2 days in Vancouver we made it to Capilano (a very big personal goal for me), Whistler and wandered around Vancouver's streets sightseeing, including Gastown. My biggest disappointments were not getting to Granville Island, the museum and Stanley Park. As someone said - you need to leave something for a return visit . . . .
dottyp is offline  
Jan 6th, 2014, 12:17 PM
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In order to justify the time spent in transit between the two, you just about need to spend two nights in Victoria.

I've lived about 80 miles from Victoria my whole life, and I've been there once in the last 40 years!!.

And not because Victoria isn't appealing... it's just too much of a pain in the *ss to get to!

My favorite thing there is Craigdarroch Castle (did I spell that right?).

Vancouver, on the other hand, is awesome, and can easily fill the days you'll spend there for it having so much in such a compact area.

Despite Vancouver being farther away from me than is Victoria, I've been there hundreds of times in my life.

It's all about justifying the time and transit investment needed to make the trip to Victoria from Vancouver (or anywhere).
NorthwestMale is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 04:08 PM
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the ferry ride from vancouver into victoria is beautiful. i'd spend 2 nights in victoria. could you maybe fly into vancouver and out of victoria? that would save time. personally, if i had to cut something, i'd cut whistler.
ltt is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 06:20 PM
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AussieSue, you say you don't want to hire a car, but as a fellow Aussie, I wanted to tell you about the day trip we did several years ago, and plan to do again this coming April. We did have a hire car, so drove and parked at Tsawwassen , and caught the ferry from there to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. It took about an hour and a half, during which time we met a couple from the wonderfully named Moosejaw, who offered us a lift to Butchart Gardens. We spent a few hours there, then caught a public bus to Victoria and wandered around the small harbour and into the hotel for a couple of hours (we took a picnic). Then we caught another public bus back to Swartz Bay,seeing lots of pretty suburbs on the way. The ferry trip back at sunset was unforgettable, so much so that my plan is to do it again this time, leaving out Butchart and catching the bus direct to Victoria. I think the ferry trip alone is worth the day! Not sure about buses from Vancouver to Tsawwassen.
Perhaps we'll meet you along the way!
Carrabella is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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I'd recommend a minimum of 2 nights in Victoria and 3 would be better -- keeping in mind that 3 nights only nets you maybe 2.5 days there. You need most of a day to visit Buchart Gardens (and no you don't need a car to get there)

Another full day just for the downtown area, maybe tea at the Empress, the Museum, seafood, etc. I definitely second Craigdarroch Castle - fascinating home, and lovely grounds/gardens.

I enjoy Vancouver, I LOVE Victoria.
janisj is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 06:26 PM
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if you are taking the ferry from downtown victoria to downtown vancouver w/o a car, pacific coast buses do the run both to and from the ferry ( the bus gets on the ferry w/o you). from vancouver you catch @ the train station ( w/ a skytrain station across the road) from victoria the bus leaves from the dt bus depot behind the empress hotel right downtown.

the float plane ( harbour air) goes from the inner harbour in victoria to dt vancouver adjacent to the new convention centre and waterfront sky train station. there are flights from victoria direct to YVR if you are flying on from there. they are less expensive

AndrewDavid is offline  
Jan 9th, 2014, 03:31 AM
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Thank you all so much for your detailed thoughts & answers. I'm currently studying all the attractions you've highlighted. I didn't realise there was quite so much to see & do. I'd really only thought about the Butchart gardens & a wander around the city itself. I'm now busy studying maps & websites of all the place you've mentioned. We haven't yet made a final decision but just wanted to let you know that we are reading with great interest & appreciate all the input
aussiesue2001 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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We've made a decision to stay in Victoria for 3 nights which will give us 2 full days. I'm sure we'll find plenty to see & do & I'm hoping it won't compromise Vancouver too much.

Has anyone been on the Prince of Whales trips? If so do you have any feedback. Looking at the website it looks like it might be really worthwhile.
Will have a bit of "temperature shock" but really looking forward to it now
aussiesue2001 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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I have done the Prince of Wales whale watching- it was good but not a lot of whales seen.
Where are you planning to stay in victoria?
sunbum1944 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 04:51 AM
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We're staying at Worldmark. I think it;s in Kingston St near the Fisherman's Wharf area
aussiesue2001 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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aussiesue2001 - we've stayed at the Victoria Worldmark twice (most recently this past fall). It is indeed right next to Fisherman's Wharf area; you should be able to look from your balcony right down on it. It's in a good location.

Ask at the office, they will have some discount cards available for you for a variety of restaurants and activities, as well as recommendations.
sludick is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 02:04 PM
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Victoria is a great walking city- from inner harbor you can walk to Ogden Point ( where cruise ships come in) and there is an ocean side trail that goes for miles- one of my favorite things to do. There is a small restaurant at Ogden Point where we stop for libations and/or snacks when done walking- has outdoor seating and ocean views.

Government House has nice gardens but may not be much happening there in early April.

Check out the Lure Restaurant- the views in the evening are beautiful as you could can see the the lights of the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings reflected in the water.

Instead of high tea at the Empress, I usually go to the White Heather and go to the Bengal Room at the Empress for drinks in the evening.

Just a few of my favorites!
sunbum1944 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2014, 06:54 PM
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dear aussie sue,

the bar and restaurant at the coast hotel, next door to you is v nice w/ good food , great views of the harbour and decent value. fisherman's wharf hass a # of dining opportunities from fish & chips to mexican

the curry buffet @ the bengal room in the empress is good if you want to pig out on indian food.

foo, is a pan asian very creative spot on blanshard @ yates

AndrewDavid is offline  
Mar 29th, 2014, 09:06 PM
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Thanks AndrewDavid & others who replied. Every time I look here there are more suggestions of things to do. Both the Lure & the Coast look great. (thank you again)
I've just noticed Market Square which also looks like it might be worth a visit.
WE have taken the advice from the above posts to ferry it one way & float plane it the other way.
Does anyone know if it's too early for whale watching?
We'll be there this time next week. Getting more than quite exciting now

aussiesue2001 is offline  

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