Need a change from Seattle’s scenery but only have a couple of days for adventuring? If you’re looking for the ultimate 2-day trip from Seattle, heading to Victoria in British Columbia, Canada is a great option.
Cruise across the Salish Sea to explore Victoria for a weekend trip. From the famous Butchart Gardens to the historical Empress Hotel, there are plenty of things to do and see around Victoria. Even on a two day trip to Victoria from Seattle, you’ll still be able to pack a lot into your itinerary!
For those looking to adventure from Seattle to Victoria, we’ve created the perfect two-day itinerary for a weekend trip or a short getaway. With this travel guide, you’ll maximize your time on Vancouver Island and see many of Victoria’s best attractions.
This two-day Seattle to Victoria trip itinerary includes some of the best things to do in the city, including visiting historic sites, taking in the views, and tasting some of the local food and drink. We’ve also provided plenty of alternative activity options for around the city, in case you want to switch it up or choose to stay an extra day. Enjoy!
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How to Get From Seattle to Victoria
Getting to Victoria from Seattle is quite easy, as these two coastal cities are just across the Salish Sea from one another. You’ll need to either take the ferry or book a flight between Seattle and Victoria.
The Victoria Clipper Ferry is our favorite way to travel between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, Canada. It’s relaxing, scenic, and not too expensive. You don’t have to wait in an airport and it drops you off right in downtown Victoria. Plus, you’ll get incredible views of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Victoria’s Harbour along the way!
If you choose to take the Victoria Clipper Ferry, you’ll be departing from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle and arriving at the Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria. A one-way ride on the ferry will take about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The Clipper is the most direct ferry route between Seattle and Victoria, but it only takes foot passengers. If you need your vehicle, you’ll need to take the Black Ball Ferry Line between Port Angeles and Victoria. Likely, you won’t need a vehicle though — most of Victoria’s highlights are within walking distance!
On the Victoria Clipper, you’re allowed up to two checked bags ($15 per bag) and one free carry-on item. Once you arrive in Victoria, you should either drop your bags off at your hotel (if they offer luggage storage) or store them at the FRS Clipper Victoria Terminal for $10.
Tips for Crossing the US-Canada Border Between Seattle to Victoria
While it may seem daunting to cross the border, if you have all your paperwork in order, you’ll be fine! Make sure that you check the official United States and Canadian government websites before your trip for up-to-date requirements for border crossings.
Here are some tips for crossing the US-Canada border between Seattle and Victoria:
- Bring a passport (or other valid forms of identification) to cross the US-Canada border. Make sure your passport isn’t expired (or close to expiring) before you make travel plans!
- Any visitors to Canada over 12 years old must be fully vaccinated, with proof of vaccination and no COVID-19 symptoms. You need two doses of any accepted COVID-19 vaccines, at least two weeks before crossing the border. If you don’t meet these requirements, you will be turned away. Luckily, you no longer need a pre-entry COVID-19 test to enter Canada. A mask isn’t mandatory on the ferry but is required when going through customs in Victoria.
- You must complete ArriveCAN within 72 hours before entering Canada. It’s best to finish your application before you arrive at the ferry terminal in Seattle. We recommend using the ArriveCAN app on your phone to fill out your application.
- There are rules about what you can and cannot bring into the US and Canada. You’ll have to declare any of these restricted or prohibited items if you do bring them, and they may be confiscated. Even food items, like fruit, vegetables, and animal products, are heavily regulated. For this reason, it’s easiest to buy food when you arrive in Canada. There are plenty of grocery stores and restaurants close to the ferry terminal in Victoria.
- Bringing your pets across the border? Make sure you bring all their documents with you. You’ll need a rabies vaccination and certificate of health signed by your veterinarian, as well as proof of ownership (e.g. adoption papers). Pet food is also regulated — you’re more likely to be able to bring pet food across the border if it’s unopened. Onboard the Clipper Ferry, your pet needs to be in a carrier and you’ll be charged an extra fee per pet.
Where to Stay for One Night in Victoria
Luxury: The Empress Hotel
One of the most popular hotels in Victoria, the Empress Hotel is a tourist attraction on its own. Standing over the city’s Inner Harbour, these luxurious accommodations have excellent ocean views and close proximity to everything that Victoria has to offer.
Mid-Range: Hotel Grand Pacific
The Hotel Grand Pacific offers great luxury accommodations with a convenient location by the downtown ferry terminal. With awesome views of the Inner Harbour, you can’t get much better than this!
Budget-Friendly: Oswego Hotel
The Oswego Hotel is a more affordable option in downtown Victoria, a couple of blocks from the ocean. While it’s not on the water, it’s still a very short walk from the Inner Harbour, the Victoria Clipper ferry terminal, and plenty of attractions.
Itinerary for a Two-Day Trip From Seattle to Victoria
Ready to plan an exciting two-day trip to Victoria from Seattle? We’ve designed this two-day itinerary to maximize your time in the city. It includes a variety of things to do and places to see, with a focus mostly around downtown Victoria.
We’ve packed a lot into this 2-day itinerary, but you can customize it however you’d like. Feel free to add or remove certain activities — we’ve listed options for other things to do around Victoria in case certain activities on the itinerary don’t quite suit your fancy.
Day 1: Explore Downtown Victoria
Your day one itinerary will consist of ferrying to Victoria from Seattle in the morning and then exploring Victoria’s downtown area through the rest of the day. It’ll be a long day of travel and adventure!
Once you arrive in beautiful Victoria, you’ll take some time to explore the city center and all it has to offer. Throughout the day, you’ll see beautiful architecture, wander through historic districts, explore some of Victoria’s natural beauty, treat yourself to local cuisine, and top it off with an exciting sunset wildlife viewing tour.
At the end of the day, you’ll settle into your hotel for a good night’s sleep before starting another day of adventure!
Catch the Ferry to Victoria
Start your day off nice and early by heading to the Victoria Clipper ferry terminal at Pier 69 on Seattle’s waterfront. This is a passenger-only ferry, so park at the nearby Bell Street Pier Parking Garage or take public transportation to the ferry terminal. You’ll be departing early — if you’re a late riser, grab a coffee along the way or when you’re onboard the ferry.
The ferry route between Seattle and Victoria is incredibly scenic. When you board the catamaran, find your seat and enjoy the ocean views as you journey to Victoria. Keep an eye out for whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine wildlife along the way.
As the boat arrives in Victoria’s Inner Harbor, watch out for iconic features like the Breakwater Lighthouse, the Parliament Buildings, and the Empress Hotel. The Inner Harbour is quite beautiful so bring your camera.
Once you arrive, you’ll go through Canadian Immigration and Customs. Then, head out into Victoria to explore the city!
Explore the Parliament Buildings
One of the first landmarks you’ll see when you arrive in Victoria are the Parliament Buildings. Home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, these buildings are where the laws of BC are debated and passed.
With striking architecture and beautiful grounds, the Parliament Buildings are worth a stop on any trip to Victoria. Here, you’ll find majestic government buildings constructed in 1897, several beautiful water fountains, a gorgeous rose garden, the Knowledge Totem Pole, statues, and more. The grounds are picturesque and fun to wander around.
For those interested in the interior of the buildings, there are free guided or self-guided tours on weekdays through the year, as well as on weekends in the summer. These tours allow you to view features of the Parliament Buildings like the Upper Rotunda, Hall of Honour, and Legislative Chamber.
Visit The Empress
The Fairmont Empress Hotel is one of the most famous buildings in Victoria and one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Whether you’re staying at this historic hotel or not, you should take some time to enjoy its grandeur.
Overlooking the Inner Harbour, the hotel is quite beautiful and the grounds are pristine. First opened in 1908, these spectacular accommodations have been visited by numerous royal guests and other famous people. The hotel forms an important part of Victoria’s history and is quite a sight to see!
A popular way to experience The Empress is by partaking in its famous royal afternoon tea, a beloved tradition dating back over 100 years. This fantastic tiered tea service involves premium loose-leaf tea served in antique royal china, with servings of delicate finger sandwiches, fresh baked goods, and jams and honey made in house.
Eat Lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf
The popular Fisherman’s Wharf is not too far from the Inner Harbour and is worth a stop on your adventure around Victoria. A treasure trove of colorful floating houses, unique marine shops, exciting eco-tours, and all kinds of boats, this is a great spot to visit when you’re looking for things to do.
With all kinds of food kiosks, Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to stop for a bite to eat. We highly recommend trying Barb’s Fish & Chips, which is famous for its namesake seafood meal. Grab your food and walk around this unique wharf, enjoying the whimsical houseboats!
From Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll be able to join a variety of eco-tours. Many of the whale-watching tours around Victoria depart from this wharf. There are also kayak rentals and fishing charters departing from this spot.
Don’t want to walk or bus to Fisherman’s Wharf? Try taking a Harbour Ferry to this marine destination! These fun little ferries cruise all over Victoria’s harbour waters, making them a great way to get to different downtown destinations.
Explore Beacon Hill Park
With 75 hectares of beautiful parkland, Beacon Hill Park is one of the best parks to visit in Victoria. This gorgeous natural area features all kinds of attractions, from manicured flower gardens to a Children’s Petting Zoo.
Beacon Hill Park is home to one of the world’s tallest free-standing totem poles (the Story Pole), as well as Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway. The park also features endangered Garry Oak ecosystems, which become painted in purple when the camas flowers bloom in the spring.
This incredible park is a popular spot for locals to relax, children to play, and tourists to sightsee. In summer, check out the Cameron Bandshell for weekend concerts. There are also several of Victoria’s unusual things to do in Beacon Hill Park, such as looking for the Moss Lady or spotting the heron rookery.
One of the best ways to see Beacon Hill is with a horse-drawn carriage tour. Starting at the Inner Harbour, this fun tour loops through the beautiful Beacon Hill Park. You’ll get awesome views of the park’s scenery, as well as interesting facts about the area from the tour guide.
Walk Along Government Street
Government Street is a pedestrian-friendly road that runs through the heart of Victoria’s downtown. From the beautiful Dallas Road waterfront in the south to the historic Chinatown in the north, this popular road has plenty of things to see and do.
Along this bustling street, you’ll find all kinds of historic buildings, museums, galleries, restaurants, street performers, local merchants, and more. Also, the Inner Harbour Causeway also runs beside Government Street, and walking this paved pathway is a great way to see the downtown marina.
Not only does this popular street have famous attractions like the BC Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress, but there are plenty of hidden gems (like the quirky Trounce Alley) to be found.
If you don’t want to miss anything, join a Victoria Guided Food and History Tour that’ll show you the highlights of the area from historic buildings to quaint alleyways, all while sharing the history of Victoria and stopping for multiple tastings along the way.
Royal BC Museum & Thunderbird Park
If you are a history buff, you’ll probably enjoy visiting the Royal BC Museum. Located right beside the Empress and the Parliament Buildings, this awesome museum is hard to miss. Home to numerous artifacts from BC and across the world, the museum is a blast to wander through and you’ll learn lots along the way!
Don’t want to spend several hours wandering around the Royal British Columbia Museum? We still recommend checking out the nearby free Thunderbird Park, the museum’s outdoor display of totem poles.
Visit Historic Squares
Throughout downtown Victoria, you’ll find several historic squares, full of local vendors, boutique shops, popular restaurants and pubs, quaint cafes, and street entertainers. For those who love shopping or tasting local foods, these squares are a great stop on your travels in Victoria.
The charming Bastion Square is located in the heart of Victoria’s Old Town and is rich with history. Once the site of Fort Victoria, this vibrant area now has hip restaurants, shops, cafes, and a public market (Thursday – Sunday), featuring local artisans selling handcrafted goods.
For those who believe in the supernatural, Bastion Square is also known as the “Heart of Haunted Victoria”. Surrounded by haunted buildings, this historic square is one of the best stops on the Ghostly Walking Tours around downtown Victoria.
Bastion Square isn’t the only plaza you can stop at, though! Other squares that you might want to check out in downtown Victoria are Market Square and Centennial Square.
Market Square is home to a variety of local restaurants, pubs, and quirky shops. If you want a beer or some really unique souvenirs, this is a great place to head!
Centennial Square on Pandora Avenue features a large water fountain and hosts many events, year-round. In the summer, the plaza fills with live music from outdoor concerts. In the winter, the square fills with sparkling lights with the Lights of Wonder event.
Explore Canada’s Oldest Chinatown
For another slice of history, head to Canada‘s oldest Chinatown (and the second oldest in North America) on the north side of downtown Victoria. This vibrant neighborhood is full of life, featuring ornate architecture, red and gold colors of luck, unique shops, restaurants with delicious foods, and all kinds of celebrations of Chinese culture.
Starting with the Gate of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard Street, you’ll enter this historic neighborhood and marvel at all that it has to offer. From unique souvenir shops to hidden alleyways, there are lots of things to do and see in Victoria’s Chinatown.
One of our favorite places to stop in Chinatown is the hidden Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in all of Canada. Full of boutique stores and beautiful red hanging lanterns, this cool street is full of charm and history. Marked only by small street signs, it’s easy to walk past this hidden gem — but you don’t want to miss it!
For those wanting to learn all about this neighborhood’s past, a historical Chinatown Walking Tour is a great option. On this inexpensive 90-minute tour, your guide will walk you through Chinatown, revealing all kinds of hidden gems and sharing stories of its origins and the people who shaped the city.
Grab Dinner in Downtown Victoria
Victoria has a great selection of top-notch restaurants to choose from. Whether you prefer a fancy seaside restaurant or a spot to grab a quick bite, there are plenty of popular spots to choose from around the downtown area.
For those who’re seeking an oceanfront experience, we highly recommend Finn’s Restaurant. This redbrick heritage building sits on the edge of the Inner Harbour, giving you excellent ocean views as you dine on delicious seafoods or other dishes.
If you want something faster, try the famous Red Fish Blue Fish restaurant on Wharf Street, right by the water. This seaside eatery has all kinds of tasty seafood dishes, from grilled fish to chowders.
Sunset Whale Watching Tour
If you’re feeling up for it at the end of the day, head out on a sunset whale-watching tour for an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience along Vancouver Island’s beautiful coastline. Look for all kinds of marine wildlife, from orcas to sea lions, while cruising along the Salish Sea.
These evening wildlife viewing tours occur through the summer (May to September). Your exact departure time will vary (4:30 to 6:30 pm), depending on what time the sunset occurs at. You’ll get a few hours to enjoy whales before ending your evening tired but happy!
On these exciting marine eco-tours, you’ll spend several hours searching for whales, seals, sea lions, and more, while the sun lights up the sky with reds and oranges. Don’t forget your camera — this is a popular whale-watching tour for photographers!
Best Tours to Experience Downtown Victoria
- Guided Food and History Tour – Want to see downtown Victoria’s historic buildings and enjoy some local cuisine along the way? This guided food tour is a great option for those wanting to experience all that the city has to offer. You’ll see some of Victoria’s highlights, like Fan Tan Alley and the Harmonious Gates of Interest in Chinatown, while stopping for multiple food tastings of craft beer, baked goods, and other treats, along the way.
- Seaplane Tour – Take to the skies and see Victoria’s downtown region from a bird’s eye view. On this exciting tour, the floatplane takes off right from the waters of the Inner Harbour. Circling around the heart of Victoria, you’ll get unforgettable views of downtown Victoria and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
- Ghostly Walking Tours – Looking for a more unique tour? Try a ghostly walking tour that takes you to spooky destinations throughout downtown Victoria. Listen to ghost stories while visiting haunted spots around the city center!
- Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour – A bike tour is a great way to see all that Victoria has to offer. On this tour, your knowledgeable guide will take you from the Inner Harbour to Beacon Hill Park and Craigdarroch Castle. You’ll see lots of Victoria’s highlights, all while getting a good workout!
- Deluxe Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour – Want a relaxing tour of downtown Victoria? This 60-minute horse-drawn carriage tour takes you to different attractions such as Beacon Hill Park. Sit back and relax as the scenic views go by!
Day 2: Butchart Gardens
You’ve made it to day 2 on your Seattle to Victoria two-day travel itinerary!
We’ve saved the best for last — today we will be visiting the world famous Butchart Gardens! Get ready for a day full of beautiful flowers and stunning gardens.
On the second day, you’ll also explore Victoria’s beautiful coastline along Dallas Road and the Breakwater. On this picturesque walkway, you’ll get incredible views of Washington’s mountains across the Juan de Fuca Strait. These locations will also keep you relatively close to the ferry terminal — you don’t want to miss your boat ride home!
Eat Breakfast at a Cafe
Start your day with a hearty meal at one of the local cafes in Victoria. There are many amazing breakfast restaurants around downtown Victoria. With so many places to pick from, you’ll be able to pick whichever restaurant best suits your needs!
Jam Cafe is one of the most popular breakfast spots in Victoria. This hip breakfast restaurant serves a variety of delicious eggs bennies, as well as triple-stacked pancakes, housemade waffles, and more.
Another great option for breakfast is the Blue Fox Cafe. This colorful restaurant serves a hearty breakfast, with everything from banana cream pancakes to french toast made from fresh Vancouver Island farm eggs.
Both of these restaurants are quite popular, so show up early and expect a line. But, the wait is worth it and you won’t be disappointed!
Tour Butchart Gardens
Make your way over to the famous Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay for a few hours of exploring one of the most stunning gardens in North America. These gorgeous gardens are a must-see and are one of the best things to do in Victoria.
At Butchart Gardens, there are over five hectares of beautiful gardens to explore. From the beautiful Japanese Garden with a striking red Torii gate to the breathtaking Sunken Garden, you’ll marvel at all the wonderful varieties of flowers and plants.
Throughout the gardens, you’ll find a variety of unique attractions. When you first arrive, you’ll spot a bronze wild boar statue — a beloved and famous sculpture in the gardens. Further into the gardens, you’ll find the Rose Carousel featuring whimsical carved animals and music.
There are also a number of beautiful water features, like the impressive Ross Fountain and the striking Dragon Fountain. At the back of the Japanese Garden, you’ll also find gorgeous ocean views of Butchart Cove on the edge of Tod Inlet. You’ll spend plenty of time wandering through the gardens to find all that there is to see!
Grab a bite to eat for lunch at one of the restaurants around Butchart Gardens. The Dining Room serves afternoon tea, with house-made baked goods, sandwiches, loose leaf teas, and more. Stop at the Butchart Gardens Coffee Shop if you want some coffee or desserts, or try the Gelateria for house-made gelato and sorbetto.
Explore the Dallas Road Waterfront
Some of Victoria’s most spectacular coastline is found along Dallas Road, just south of Beacon Hill and downtown Victoria. Here, you’ll find oceanside cliffs, rugged shoreline, and cobble beaches, perfect for an afternoon of exploring.
One of the best ways to see this coastline is by walking the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail. This paved pathway starts near Ross Bay Beach and goes all the way to the Ogden Point Breakwater. You can walk any part of the walkway that you’d like.
Some of the highlights along the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail include Clover Point Park, Finlayson Point, and Spiral Beach. There are several spots where you can access Spiral Beach, but the best is at the end of Cook Street.
Along the southern edge of the city, you’ll get incredible views of the Olympic Mountains across the Salish Sea. Watch for parasurfers playing in the waves — this spot is a popular area for wind sports!
Stroll Along the Breakwater
On the west side of Dallas Road, you’ll find the Breakwater, a scenic ocean walkway with a charming lighthouse at the end. Offering incredible sea views at the entrance to Victoria’s harbour, this paved pathway is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy the coastal air.
The breakwater is 762 meters long and the walk along it will take about 30 minutes. At the end, you’ll find the breakwater’s lighthouse, which was built in 1916 to protect boats entering the harbour.
Make sure to pay attention to the sides of the breakwater, which are painted with beautiful coastal Salish artwork. You’ll often also spot marine animals swimming in the water, like river otters and harbour seals.
Return to Seattle
Finally, head back to the Victoria Clipper ferry terminal (254 Belleville Street) in the Inner Harbour to begin your trip back home. Ideally, you should arrive one hour before your ferry departs. You don’t want to miss your boat back home!
Before boarding the ferry, you will go through U.S. Immigration/Passport Control processing. A second clearance for U.S. Customs will occur once you arrive back in Seattle, when you will verify any purchases made in Canada, including duty-free ones purchased onboard the ferry.
Other Things to Do in Victoria
- Hot Tub Boat Tour – Sit in a private hot tub boat and relax while exploring Victoria’s Harbour waters. These quirky boats are a unique way to experience the downtown waters, and are a great option for couples or small groups of friends.
- Kayak through Victoria’s Harbour – If you love paddling, try kayaking around the harbour! You can rent kayaks or take a tour of the Upper Harbour. This is a great way to see a new side of Victoria!
- Check out one of the castles – Check out a piece of Victoria’s history by visiting one of the city’s two castles: Craigdarroch Castle or Hatley Castle.
- Hang out at a beach – There are many beautiful beaches to choose from in Victoria. Many of the beaches are rocky, but there are also plenty of sandy beaches to choose from.
- Government House Gardens – Free entry and beautiful landscaping make this spot one of the best gardens in Victoria. While not as big as Butchart Gardens, these free gardens are almost just as impressive and worth a stop!
- Hike up PKOLS (Mount Doug Park) – For an incredible 360-degree view of southern Vancouver Island, head to the top of PKOLS (Mount Doug Park). Hike or drive up to the summit and enjoy an unparalleled view of Victoria.
- Songhees Walkway – This pathway is an excellent way to experience more of Victoria’s beautiful coastline. Starting at the Johnson Street Bridge, this paved pathway follows alongside the ocean and goes all the way to Head Street in Esquimalt.
Tips for Visiting Victoria from the USA
- Victoria is a quite walkable city. Don’t want to walk? The hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses will take you to many of the best attractions around downtown.
- You will be able to use your credit and debit cards in Canada. If you need cash, there are plenty of ATMs around the city. Some businesses accept US dollars, but you will receive any change in Canadian dollars and the exchange rates fluctuate between shops.
- Your cellphone should work in Victoria, but you may get extra fees from your service provider. If you don’t have an international or Canadian phone plan, check in advance with your carrier so you don’t receive any unpleasant surprises on your next phone bill!
- If you get seasick, the Victoria Clipper offers complimentary ginger candies, Dramamine, and Meclizine to help with your nausea.
Top Travel Tips & Resources for Victoria, BC
- Travel Insurance – If you’re travelling internationally, travel insurance is a must for any trip. Being covered by insurance is especially important when you’re going to an adventure-filled place like British Columbia. If you injure yourself while adventuring, you want to have insurance! We recommend using SafetyWing for international travel insurance. They are affordable and have great policies for travellers, digital nomads, and remote workers. Also, SafetyWing provides COVID-19 coverage, which many other insurance companies don’t cover.
- Car Rental – We find the best deal on vehicle rental prices using RentalCars.com. They compare the prices for different car rental companies so you can find the best deals out there!
- Accommodations – We prefer booking all of our hotels, hostels, and other accommodations through Booking.com because they have a flexible cancellation policy. Also, there are lots of different options on their platform, from hotels to vacation homes. Alternatively, Expedia and Hotels.com are good for booking accommodations. For vacation home rentals, VRBO is an excellent choice (they have lower fees than Airbnb, many of the same properties, and are more ethical).
- Flights – You’ll find many good flight deals on Skyscanner or Google Flights. You can book flights through these websites and they’ll help you find the best prices and flight times. If you fly at less popular times (e.g. mid-week or red-eye flights), you can also save some money.
- Tours – Get the most out of your vacation by taking a guided tour! This is a great way to see the city, adventure to exciting new locations, and learn about the local culture. Viator or GetYourGuide are great options for booking tours.