Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is located on the Saanich Peninsula, about 25km (15 miles) northwest of Victoria (tel. 250/953-7533; www.victoriaairport.com). It’s a small, single-terminal airport that is undergoing a number of improvements in 2014, including a bigger pre-security clearance area and new food and shopping opportunities post-security.
You can catch a direct flight to Victoria from Vancouver, Calgary, Portland, or Seattle via commercial airlines such as Air Canada (tel. 888/247-2262 or 800/661-3936; www.aircanada.com) and WestJet (tel. 888/937-8538; www.westjet.com).
One of the most thrilling ways to arrive is by floatplane—Harbour Air Seaplanes (tel. 800/665-0212; www.harbour-air.com) will whisk you right from downtown Vancouver to Victoria’s Inner Harbour in just 30 minutes. Kenmore Air (tel. 800/543-9595; www.kenmoreair.com) flies in from Seattle, and Pacific Coastal Airlines (tel. 800/663-2872; www.pacific-coastal.com) wings it from YVR’s South terminal in Richmond.
There’s also the convenience of the Helijet, a helicopter service that whirrs into Victoria daily from Vancouver (tel. 800/665-4354; www.helijet.com).
From the airport, the most economical way to get into town is by the YYJ Airport Shuttle (tel. 778/351-4995 or 855/351-4995; www.yyjairportshuttle.com). It leaves at least hourly and more frequently during peak periods, starting at 7:35am and continuing to midnight, with stops at most of the major downtown hotels. Pickup from the hotels to the airport starts at 3:30am and ends at 7:45pm. The entire trip takes about an hour and the fare is C$24 one-way (C$20 each way if you have a return ticket, C$22 per person for a party of two, and C$15 for children).
A limited number of hotel courtesy buses also serve the airport.
By taxi, expect to pay around C$50, plus tip, for the trip downtown.
In addition, several car rental firms have desks at the airport, and if you plan to explore beyond the city center, a car may be your best option. They are Avis (tel. 800/879-2847 or 250/656-6033; www.avis.ca), Budget (tel. 800/668-9833 or 250/953-5300; www.budgetvictoria.com), Hertz (tel. 800/263-0600 or 250/657-0380; www.hertz.ca), and National (tel. 800/227-7368 or 250/656-2541; www.nationalcar.ca). From the airport, take Hwy. 17 south for the half-hour drive to Victoria; it becomes the city’s main thoroughfare, Douglas Street, as you enter downtown.
Most people arrive in Victoria by ferry, and there are three different options, depending on where you’re coming from, and how you are traveling.
The most popular service is BC Ferries (tel. 888/223-3779; www.bcferries.com), a fleet of vast, drive-aboard ferries that ply the waters between Tsawwassen south of Vancouver and Swartz Bay to the north of Victoria. The ferry trip itself is 1 hour and 35 minutes through the scenic Gulf Islands, then another 45 minutes’ drive into the city. If you aren’t driving, you can also take a Pacific Coach Lines bus, climbing aboard a luxury coach either in downtown Vancouver or on the ferry for a comfortable, stress-free journey with free Wi-Fi (tel. 800/661-1725 or 604/662-7575; www.pacificcoach.com). Note that bus service is not available on all ferries, and that reservations are required.
In addition, two U.S. ferry services offer connections: The Victoria Clipper is a foot-passenger-only service that travels from Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbour daily year-round, and twice daily from May through September (tel. 800/888-2535; www.clippervacations.com). Black Ball Transport’s MV Coho carries both vehicles and foot passengers from Port Angeles to Victoria Harbour at least twice daily year round (tel. 800/993-3779; www.cohoferry.com). Check the websites for the latest in scheduled sailings, reservations, and fares.
Note: Don’t forget you’ll need a valid passport to enter Canada.
Travelers on the Horseshoe Bay–Nanaimo ferry can board VIA Rail's E&N Railiner train at Nanaimo and wind down Vancouver Island's Cowichan River valley through Goldstream Provincial Park and to Victoria. The trip takes 2 1/2 hours and ends at the VIA Rail Station (450 Pandora Ave.; tel. 800/561-8630 in Canada), near the Johnson Street Bridge. For more information, contact VIA Rail Canada (tel. 888/842-7245; www.viarail.ca).
Pacific Coach Lines (tel. 604/662-7575; www.pacificcoach.com) provides service between Vancouver and Victoria. Pacific Coach Lines will pick up passengers from the Vancouver cruise-ship terminal and from most downtown hotels. For more information, call or visit their website.