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Vancouver and Victoria

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Edinburgh, United...
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Vancouver and Victoria

Hi - I'm intending on spending my summer holiday this year in British Columbia and really want to have time in Victoria as well as Vancouver. I'd be really grateful for some tips and advice on how long to spend in each place over a two week period and also for any suggestions on a third centre in which to stay. Many thanks!

Nanaimo, Canada
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1. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Hi EUReviewer!

Mufti will come along in a bit and provide you with a nice list of all the major sites to see in Vancouver and Victoria (I hope :)) but first I wanted to get the ball rolling.

If I had 14 days and was coming from Glasgow (lovely city!) I would spend about 5 days in the Vancouver area including your arrival day and a daytrip to Whistler to go mountain biking or hiking. Then take the ferry to Victoria and spend about 3 days there. Drive towards Sooke and take the Pacific Circle Drive from Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan and on to Nanaimo. Spend a night or two in Nanaimo as a base and explore the Mid-Island region. Drive over to Tofino (Pacific Rim National Park) for 3 days. Then drive back to Vancouver and fly home. More or less in each spot after having done some research and fine tuning.

Hope that starts getting your planning going!

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Hi EU ~ and welcome to the Forum! {{waves to Dave}}

First of all, it would be most helpful to know your dates, or even a close estimate of which part of which month (for local long weekend alerts), if you will be renting a car and what your interests are: museums? hiking? water activities? I won't even ask about bears and whales! Of course! Not renting a car, will mean less convenient travel around Vancouver Island which would impact your time for moving from one place to another.

Dave has outlined an excellent division of days. I would only add that you consider the northern Van Island, where bear and whale tours can be had out of Telegraph Cove. Other locations on the island will take you out to see whales.

I like to post these ideas for someone with your interests:

You would not need a car in either Vancouver or Victoria as they are both easily walkable. Vancouver has particularly good transit and getting to the North Vancouver attractions is quite straightforward. Getting to Victoria and back is convenient with www.pacificcoach.com One way takes 4 hours. You board the bus at Pacific Central Station with your luggage underneath for the duration, it drives you right onto the ferry, you go up on deck for the voyage, then back down to the car deck for the bus and off to downtown Victoria. The ferries website is www.bcferries.com

If you wanted to get out of Vancouver or Victoria for some outlying attractions, a car would be a great idea.

Here are some highlights of both Victoria and Vancouver that would fit your time frame.

VICTORIA:

Inner Harbour Causeway

Butchart Gardens – 1-2 hours -

www.butchartgardens.com/index.php…

Royal BC Museum – 1-2 hours,

royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Exhibit_Gall/default.aspx

Craigdarroch Castle

Helmcken House

Emily Carr House

Miniature World

Dominion Astrophysical Observatory http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/ibp/hia.html

Shaw Ocean Discover Center http://www.oceandiscovery.ca/

The Victoria Bug Zoo http://www.bugzoo.bc.ca/

Day trip from Victoria:

You might consider driving up as far as Nanaimo (2 hours one way) --

Chemainus - great outdoor murals in a very pleasant town

Duncan - BC Forest Discovery Centre

Nanaimo - The Bastion and historic downtown area

VANCOUVER:

Granville Island and False Creek

Stanley Park, including the Aquarium

Gastown - for a self guided walking tour: http://www.gastown.org/history/index.html --> take a self guided walking tour. Otherwise this historic birthplace of Vancouver will just be brick and stone to you.

4 Self Guided walks - vancouver.ca/commsvcs/…index.htm

Chinatown

Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Robson Street

Bill Reid Gallery at 639 Hornby St. between Dunsmuir and Georgia

Vancouver Art Gallery, with its great Gallery Restaurant

Grouse Mountain

Lynn Canyon Susp Bridge (free) or Capilano Susp Bridge ($$$)

Maritime Museum - www.vancouvermaritimemuseum.com/page216.htm

Van Dusen Gardens

Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory

Outlying regions:

Fort Langley http://www.fortlangley.com/

Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/georgia/index.aspx

Day trip to Whistler:

It's a two hour drive one way. Have a look on this website for things to see on the way

wildwoodlodge.com/getting_here/things_to_see…

Have a look at www.hellobc.com to flesh out any of these places and check the list on the left side of this page for TA "things to do" and "travel guide" for any of the attractions, and the top right for “Top Questions.” And I'm sure you are familiar with maps.google.ca for plotting your "heres" and "theres."

Edited: 04 January 2011, 16:09
Edinburgh, United...
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3. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Wow, thanks so much for your friendly responses!

One thing is that we're not going to hire a car so it'll have to be public transport for getting around. Something that always takes some getting used to when visiting North America is the massive distances - to think that Vancouver Island is 1.5x the size of Wales surprises me greatly! So that's why it's always most appreciated to hear first-hand how feasible journeys and excursions will be.

Well, we're keen on the city attractions in Vancouver and Victoria and are into visiting museums and cultural sites. Aside from that, some excursions to natural sites would also make a great part for the holiday. Seeing whales and bears would be fantastic, as well - if it's straightforward when you haven't got a car, that is - it would be wonderful to relive the experience of having seen bears roaming for the first time in my life in Gatineau Park a couple of years ago!

Would Whistler be worth adding as one of our centres for staying part of the time? I've found it quite hard for books and websites to gauge whether or not there would be enough to do - we do indeed enjoy walking in the mountains etc.

Thanks again for your warm and friendly answers!

Edited: 04 January 2011, 16:45
Edinburgh, United...
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4. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Sorry; I neglected to mention the dates - it'll most probably be sometime around the 14th June for two weeks.

Nanaimo, Canada
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5. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

The perrenial curveball, no car.

For Vancouver you're fine. Great public transit and the downtown core is very walkable.

Whistler you can take a bus to and from. A night there would be good or just spend the day and go up the lift to do some alpine hiking.

To get to Victoria you can take Pacific Coach Lines and use that bus to on the ferry and into Victoria. You can take a tour from downtown to go to Butchart Gardens. However you will miss the Scenic Drive in Victoria which for me is a highlight. Rent for the day perhaps?

You can take the E & N Railway up to Nanaimo and spend a night or two. Lots to do without a car including Newcastle Island Provincial Park, Dinghy Dock Floating Pub, downtown core, Monkido or bungy jumping at WildPlayand even a hike up Mt. Benson with Tracks Outdoor Adventures.

From Nanaimo you can take the Tofino Bus to and from Nanaimo to Tofino. Spend a few days there on the beach and get around using the Beach Bus.

From Nanaimo take BC Ferries from Departure Bay back to Horseshoe Bay. Take public transit (Bus #257 Vancouver Express) and then Canada Line to the airport. Or fly 500 feet above the ocean back to the YVR floatplane base near the airport for $60.

Not having a car nor a stellar train/public transit network like the UK (though you all gripe about it it is a great system) will slow you down here.

Dates are great. Kids finish school at end of June.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

If you are on the island without a car, then you should look into using the train.

viarail.ca/en/…victoria-courtenay

Make a loop Vancouver-Victoria-Nanaimo and back. You can use day tours to get to the outlying areas from the cities.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Island Link Bus will get you around between Victoria as far north as Campbell River and out west to Tofino.

http://www.islandlinkbus.com/

Greyhound will get you north of Campbell River to Port Hardy. I believe one bus per day, but check their schedule.

www.greyhound.ca

The last day for school kids will be June 29 at 10:00/10:30 or so. July 1 is our Canada Day and July 4 is the US Independence Day. The ferries and roads will be hopping. With regard to the ferries, driving a vehicle on this weekend means an absolute must ressie. But as foot passengers or bus passengers you would be fine. Accommodation ressies for sure.

Now, I once took a local train from Prestwick to Glasgow. (It was a travel mistake, meant to take the express) and I would say that VIA Rail's E & N makes the Scottish local train look quite good. But don't get me wrong, it's a fun ride up to Nanaimo.

There is one train per day north and the same train south later in the day.

Nanaimo, Canada
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8. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Mufti et al!

Won't affect the OP's plans but just a heads up that the E & N Railway will be changing their base station from Victoria to Nanaimo. Apparently this will take hold sometime in next year. The old station in Nanaimo is currently being rebuilt (and will include a pub from the same folks that bring us the Fox and Hounds). The trains will then leave from Nanaimo to Victoria in the early morning and then run back up the Island to Courtenay and then back to Victoria returning to Nanaimo in the evening.

The train network on Vancouver Island will then be great. Will be able to commute into and out of Victoria on a daily basis for all points Nanaimo and south. Weekend pub crawls in Victoria soon!

More details at:

…canada.com/albernivalleytimes/story.html…

Sechelt, BC
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9. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Dave - it’s about freakin’ time !!!! Most excellent train news. This should help with the Malahat congestion during commuting hours. Thanks for the update - keep up posted.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Vancouver and Victoria

Brilliant!