Getting Around Victoria & Vancouver Island

The best way to get around Victoria & Vancouver Island is by bike or car. Central Victoria -- especially the Inner Harbour -- can easily be explored on foot, while bike paths will lead you to less touristy neighborhoods. Victoria also features a comprehensive transportation system, and ferries connect the city with other towns on Vancouver Island. If you're not looking for a heavy work-out, a car is the best way to get from Victoria to other points of interest like the Cowichan Valley. You can rent a car at the Victoria International Airport (YYJ), located about 26 miles north of the city center.

On Foot Downtown Victoria is easily traversed on foot because of its compact nature. Many of the city's highlights, including the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament Buildings, are clustered around the city's vibrant Inner Harbour. And the exploration of many of the smaller towns -- like Sooke -- on Vancouver Island requires little more than a pair of sturdy walking shoes.

Previous visitors agree that the easiest way to explore Victoria is by bike. The city features more cycle routes than any other Canadian city; an extensive bike trail system connects the Inner Harbour with nearby beaches and attractions like the renowned Butchart Gardens. You can even access many of the outlying towns and wineries on two wheels. That being said, keep in mind that helmets are mandatory here, and it's illegal to ride on the sidewalks unless they are a designated part of the bike path.

Public Transportation

The Victoria Regional Transit System operates numerous bus routes throughout the Victoria metropolitan area, to the Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and to nearby towns like Sooke. Rides cost a flat rate of $2.50 CAD for adults (roughly the same in USD) and $1.65 for children. If you plan to rely on public transportation as your primary means for getting around, consider purchasing a pack of 10 tickets for $22.50 CAD ($15.00 CAD for children) or a DayPASS for $7.75 CAD ($5.50 CAD for children). You can purchase tickets at numerous businesses around the island.

Car If you're planning on taking daytrips, a car will come in handy. Having your own set of wheels will free you from bus schedules and grant you access to sites that are unreachable by public transport. You can rent a car at the airport or from numerous agencies in town. But be aware: Gas in Canada is sold by the liter rather than the gallon, which means that it's often more expensive to fill up.

Traveling by ferry is a must when visiting Victoria and Vancouver Island. B.C. Ferries offers several routes connecting Victoria with other parts of Vancouver Island, as well as to the city of Vancouver. There is also the Victoria Harbour Ferry, which serves 17 stops around Victoria Harbour, making for a fun way to see the city (and some whales, if you're lucky). And many of the ferries are capable of carrying cars and bikes. Fares for both companies vary depending on the route.

You can also travel to Victoria and Vancouver Island by ferry from several U.S. cities -- including Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore. -- via companies such as Clipper Vacations and Black Ball Ferry Line.

Entry & Exit Requirements

A passport is required for citizens of the United States to travel to Canada, and to re-enter the country. If you are planning to drive, you must produce a passport, passport card or NEXUS card that allows expedited border crossings for both private and commercial travelers through Canadian and U.S. border controls. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website.

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