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first time to vancouver and victoria

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Louisville, Kentucky
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first time to vancouver and victoria

Is it a bad time to visit in Vanvouver May 21-28? Does the holiday make it too crowded. I want to see cultural sites, the city, use public transportation, go to the gardens and stay a few nights in Victoria and Vancouver.

Vancouver BC
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1. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

Holiday weekend is May 21/22/23 so those days will be busier but other than ferries probably not so busy to change your dates.

Nanaimo, Canada
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2. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

As Alegre says, not busy enough to change your plans but busy enough for you to doing some forward planning.

Get your hotel sorted before you leave. Last May was one of the busiests months of the year for toursim on Vancouver Island.

Personally I would strongly recommend you make a reservation on the ferry. $15 each way (over and above the ferry fare) but worth it for peace of mind.

Enjoy your visit!

BTW, I just noticed, my 1000th post! Yippee! It's a party! (said in the voice of the current A&W commercial with the helium!

Edited: 22 January 2011, 00:45
Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

Turn the valve off .... lol @ Dave

sleepqueen ! you could nicely divide your time 4 nights in Vancouver, 3 nights in Victoria. By visiting Vancouver first, you could avoid the busy Victoria Day long weekend. Be aware though that the Tuesday morning will likely be busy with those who stayed "one more night." So nights of 21 - 24 May in Vancouver, 25 - 27 in Victoria. Depending on when you have to catch your plane on the 28th, you could make sure you spend the last night in Van or near the airport.

It would be smart to book a car reservation for the ferry. It's $17 WITHIN 7 days, so booking in advance of that will save you a couple of dollars. What this means is you are able to arrive at the ferry terminal 60 - 30 min in advance of the sailing and line up in a designated car lane. You are first on the ferry and therefore first off, which is actually nice to be in front of 270 other cars. Don't arrive at the pay kiosks at 29 minutes to sailing though, your ressie will be gone and you'll have to get in line with the general population and take the first ferry available on a first come first served basis.

Here are the highlights I like to suggest for Victoria and Vancouver:


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/


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


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

I haven't experienced this tour myself, but have heard good things about them:


Louisville, Kentucky
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4. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

Gosh! Thanks so much for your advice. I was not planning on renting a car. Should I? I was going to use busses and bicycles and trains. I am just starting this plan and would like your ideas on this.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

No car, no worries.

You can get between Vancouver and Victoria quite nicely on Pacific Coach Lines.


They never sell out their bus, just add an overflow bus and driver if the scheduled bus fills up. No advanced purchase, just walk up. On a weekday in May, you would be fine to walk up about 30+ min ahead of bus departure time. On the long weekend, perhaps earlier than 30 min.

We don't have trains as you might be thinking. On Vancouver Island there is one train per day from Victoria up to Courtenay and it turns around and does a trip back down. I understand the departure times and starting/ending points are going to be changing so keep your eye out for that. The current schedule will not show that new schedule at this point. You could go up Island part way, have lunch in one of the towns and a look see and then pick up the same train later in the day as it heads south again.


Vancouver bus transpo is very good, no problems there. Can't speak to the Victoria system. One option for getting to Butchart Gardens is www.graylinewest.com . They have a shuttle that leaves downtown Victoria.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

It is possible to use public transit to get to Victoria, but its a long haul. I'm not sure of the routing, but you'd almost certainly need to change buses, lugging your baggage with you each time, then the bus lets you off outside the ferry terminal, leaving you to walk down to the ferry, walk on, and walk off again. Then you need to connect with the public bus at Swartz Bay for the long and winding route into Victoria. I have no idea how long this would take, but I would expect it to take at least 5 hrs.

Conversely, if you spend a bit more, you buy one ticket on Pacific Coach Lines, which gets you downtown to downtown. You luggage stays on the coach while you go up on deck for the spectacular ferry trip, leaving you free to wander around the ferry without worrying about the security of your bags.

Doing the whole trip on public transit would be a bit of an adventure, but you'd have to be very intrepid to do it. The PCL would cost more, but so much simpler.

Within each city, however, you will find them both very walkable with good public transit systems to get you to all the major sites and destinations.

Edited: 22 January 2011, 20:26
Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

We did the public transportation route from Metro Vancouver over to Victoria last summer, just to see if it could be done. As V-67 says, it takes a long time. We went over and back on the same day and basically had about 5 hours to putter about while we were over there. Here are the public transportation websites -



If you are starting from downtown Vancouver, you would take the Canada Line out to the Bridgeport Station and catch a #620 express bus from there to the ferry terminal. There is room for luggage on the Canada Line, but very little on the bus. However, people do do it. You get off the bus at the ferry terminal and buy a ticket to go over. (The day we went was in the off-season and we just missed the ferry. It was nice to sip coffee/tea in the Starbucks across the way in the Tsawwassenn Quay, but for a visitor, it would cut into your sightseeing time.) On the other side, you walk out the front door to the bus stop and there is an express into Victoria. It does make some some stops along the way, but generally only at transfer points.

This is the rock-bottom cheapest way of going over. If you are travelling during weekdays from downtown Vancouver to the ferry terminal it is $5.00 each way (three-zone bus fare). After 6:30 and on weekends and statutory holidays, it would be $2.50. The fare on the other side was, I believe $2.50. Add in your ferry fare and it would be about $22 - $23 each way.

On the whole, I think that the Pacific Coach option recommended by others is more practical luggage and time wise.

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

You won`t get very far on a train in Victoria but we have lots of buses and bicycles. Our buses in BC are well equipped for transporting bicycles so you can interchange between the two modes of transportation with ease. Don`t rent a car - it would be a waste of money especially in Victoria.

I would definitely recommend avoiding Victoria on the long weekend as the city is typically sold out of hotel rooms which means if you want to get one, you will pay a premium. However, if you wish to take in the annual Victoria Day parade along Douglas Street, Victoria is the place to be so book early! It`s not quite as exciting as the big US parades but there are lots of great marching bands to listen to.

Vancouver B.C.
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9. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

Hi there...Another thought for you on travel between Vancouver and Victoria...if you are staying right downtown in Vancouver and want to avoid renting a car and dealing with the busy long weekend ferries...you can take a float plane between the two destinations.

The flight is about twenty five minutes, and about $145 CDN each way...and you arrive right in the dowtown harbour of Victora and can walk to downtown destinations. The flight itself is lovely and it is great fun to land in the water especially if you have never been on a float plane. It is also great time saver if your travel time is premium.

If you flew one way and then took the bus and then walked on the ferry back...your net cost of ferry, ferry reservations ( A MUST) and car rental may likely be the same.


If you are on a budget and not renting a car...consider booking the pacific coachlines bus/ferry return trip...worth the few extra dollars than trying to rely on public transit out to ferry terminal


10. Re: first time to vancouver and victoria

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