Victoria, the Provincial Capital of British Columbia, is known as the "City of Flowers." Sitting on the lower tip of Vancouver Island, the city's two airports make it easy to fly in from just about anywhere. Skyscanner can help you find the best route and the cheapest airfare if you're ready to explore one of Canada's gems. The innovative online search program can also help with hotel and rental car bookings. Come visit this very English-flavoured city, and please, do stop and smell the flowers.
Best Time to Book a Flight to Victoria
With milder weather than almost anywhere else in Canada, this year-round destination is a hit with visitors on both sides of the Canada/US border and from the far corners of the globe. Summer is the most popular time to visit, thanks to all the festivals in town, followed by those wanting to catch the first blossoms between March and May. Victoria looks like an old-fashioned Christmas card during the holiday season, but snow is not always in the picture. When booking a flight to Victoria, book as early as possible. The cheapest fares are mid-week, but prices are also driven by availability. Use Skyscanner's Whole Month Search option to compare an entire month's worth of fares at once. Find a great fare? Book it. Victoria is a popular place.
What to Expect When Arriving at Victoria's Airports
Travelling to Victoria means making your way to Vancouver Island, just off the coast of mainland British Columbia. If you're flying you have two options, the Victoria International Airport (YYJ), located near the town of Sidney, and the Victoria Inner Harbour Airport (YWH), which is a seaplane/floatplane facility in the city's harbour. They are considered airports of entry so the Canada Border Services Agency staffs both places.
- Victoria International Airport is on the Saanich Peninsula, about 25 kilometres from downtown Victoria. Step off the plane and into the terminal and you'll be surrounded by local artwork, some by the Coast Salish First Nation. You'll be able to connect to Wi-Fi as you wander through this very artsy airport. Some of the main carriers flying to and from Victoria International include Air Canada, Delta, Horizon Air, United and WestJet. In addition to Canadian cities, Victoria Airport welcomes passengers from various cities in the United States and Mexico. International and domestic baggage claims are on the first floor, with car rental counters in the domestic section. Taxis are right outside the arrival doors. A ride into town usually costs about $50.00 CAD. The YYJ Airport Shuttle charges $25.00 CAD one way. If you travel light, you can take BC Transit to anywhere in the Greater Victoria area for about $5.00 CAD.
- Landing at the Victoria Inner Harbour Airport is an experience. Not only do you get a panoramic view of downtown Victoria and its scenic waterfront, you have the excitement of "the big splash" when your seaplane touches down on the water's surface. Most flights are from Vancouver and various other British Columbia coastal cities, served by Harbour Air and its partner airlines Saltspring Air and West Coast Air. Kenmore Air offers service to and from Lake Union in Seattle, Washington, USA. The seaplane dock is next to Wharf Street, putting you in the heart of Old Town. Several hotels and businesses are within walking distance but taxis are available, as are rental cars. The airport provides a free hotel shuttle service to the downtown core from Monday through Friday. Wi-Fi is free onsite.
What to See and Do in Victoria
- Much of Victoria is best explored on foot. Start with the Inner Harbour, where the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings overlook the busy waterway. The latter is lit up every night with thousands of tiny white fairy lights. The Empress, not to be outdone, serves an authentic English tea daily, complete with fluffy scones, clotted cream and other assorted treats. Built in 1908, the posh hotel is an example of the lifestyles of the rich and famous in the early 1900s.
- The Royal British Columbia Museum is across the street from the Empress. Take in an IMAX film, find exhibits of First Nations peoples and early pioneers or go further back in time to when dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals roamed the earth. Head next door to Thunderhead Park and its collection of First Nation's totem poles. The Helmcken House, built in 1844, is also onsite. Built by Victoria's first doctor, it's now a small museum.
- Craigdarroch Castle, in the Rockland neighbourhood, is another must-see, especially at Christmas when it's done up in Victorian splendor. Built by Robert Dunsmuir in the late 1800s, the castle is a registered National Historic Site. Government House, the official home of the Lieutenant Governor of BC, is nearby. You're welcome to walk the manicured grounds.
- Other downtown treasures include Beacon Hill Park, filled with pathways leading past flower gardens, ponds and along a craggy beach overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Peninsula. It's about two blocks from the Empress. Chinatown, near Fisgard Street, is filled with shops and restaurants. The entry gate is hard to miss, as is the tiny but colourful street called Fan Tan Alley.
- Butchart Gardens is close to the Victoria International Airport, but worth the 22-kilometre drive. You'll find an ever-changing landscape of flowers, shrubs, water features and other greenery. Japanese, Italian, rose and sunken gardens, to name a few, are all onsite. Every Saturday in summer, fireworks light up the night sky. During the Christmas season, the grounds are transformed into a winter wonderland, decorated with thousands of fairy lights, Christmas dioramas and even an ice rink. Drive yourself or take one of the many tours offered.
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Airports near Victoria
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