Canada – Vancouver Island Day 1

Victoria – Day 1 of a 5-Day Trip on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a 1.5 to 2 hour ferry ride from Vancouver. This 5-Day trip was a blend of two weekend trips and we stayed with family for the whole trip. That said, there are plenty of accommodation options on the Island, whether you are looking for hotels, airbnbs, or campsites.

Day 1


The day starts with a ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Swartz Bay is actually in Sidney, which is about a 30 minute drive north of Victoria. The ferry has a White Spot restaurant, but I always prefer to eat once off the ferry. Upon arrival in Sidney, we headed to Mary’s Bleue Moon Café for brunch. The Café has converted their parking lot into an outdoor seating area, which is nice. We ordered the cheddar & chorizo crepes and the west coast benny. It was filling and a good way to start the day.

After breakfast, head south to Victoria and wander downtown. If you have not been before, a must visit is the Parliament Building and Fairmont Empress. We did not visit them this trip, but you can find photos in one of my other blogs – 1 Day in Victoria. We parked at the Bastion Square Parkade ($2/hour, $16 max daily, free on Sundays, holidays, and evenings) and walked to Chinatown Victoria. We also walked through Market Square, which has cute shops and restaurants.

Market Square

Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and second oldest in North America (after San Francisco). A popular spot in Chinatown Victoria is Fan Tan Alley. Fan Tan Alley is a narrow passage with interesting boutique shops.

We headed to a bubble team spot called the Bubble Tea Place (how creative!). The spot is definitely not your classical bubble tea shop and has a large selection. We kept it simple and ordered the dragonfly (taro and vanilla) and papaya island (papaya, coconut, and mango). Very refreshing on a hot summer day!

After bubble tea, we walked back to the car. Next stop Craigdarroch Castle, which is a national historic site. We opted to admire the Castle from outdoors, however, it is open to the public ($19/adult). Craigdarroch Castle is a Victorian-style castle built in the late 1800s and was once the home of Robert and Joan Dunsmuir.

After our visit to the castle, we headed to the Government House. The Government House is the office and official home of the Lieutenant Governor. The house is open during standard business hours, but is closed on the weekends. Most visitors come for the gardens, which are open 24/7 and have no admission fees. The gardens are well maintained and is a beautiful spot for an afternoon stroll. Of particular interest to me were the Garry Oak Trees, which is an endangered species.

Next stop was Oak Bay. Apparently it is a popular spot to see seals, but we only saw two seals. Not sure if it was bad luck, or if seals do not frequent the area as often anymore, or if my expectations were too high. The marina is also a cool spot to check out boats. There is a park just adjacent to the marina, which has a trail along the water and offers great ocean views.

We then headed back downtown to Phillips Brewing for a drink. We shared a 4-beer flight which consisted of a citrus lager, a raspberry wheat, a dark lager, and a pale ale. Phillips Brewing has really grown throughout the years as one of the most popular local craft breweries. You can find their beers in the liquor store, restaurants, and bars all across BC.

For dinner, we went to Tacofino. I ordered 3 tacos – the fish, chicken, and beef. For those who have read my other BC blogs, you’ll notice that I visit Tacofino quite often. They have the best tacos and burritos and never disappoint. The restaurant first started as a food truck in Tofino (which is still there!). It has now expanded and has multiple locations on Vancouver Island, as well as on the Lower Mainland.

After dinner, we drove to Maple Bay to stay with family. However, we’d be back to Victoria the next day!

Complete Day 1 Itinerary

*Travel times may vary. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details. Check out 1 Day in Victoria for some other Victoria/Sooke suggestions!

9:00am: Catch the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria). The ferry ride is about 1.5 hours long.

11:00am: Have brunch at Mary’s Bleue Moon Café (10 minute drive from Swartz Bay).

12:30pm: Wander downtown Victoria (25 minute drive from Mary’s Bleue Moon Café). Wander Chinatown and visit Fan Tan Alley. Have bubble tea at the Bubble Tea Place.

2:30pm: Visit Craigdarroch Castle (7 minute drive from Downtown Victoria).

3:30pm: Wander the gardens at the Government House (3 minute drive from Craigdarroch Castle).

4:30pm: Visit Oak Bay Marina (9 minute drive from Craigdarroch Castle). Walk along the water and look for seals.

5:30pm: Have a drink at Phillips Brewing (13 minute drive from Oak Bay Marina).

7:00pm: Have dinner at Tacofino (10 minute walk from Phillips Brewing).

5-Day Vancouver Island Itinerary

Click “Download” below for an excel version of my 5-Day Vancouver Island Itinerary. Feel free to use the excel file as a planning template for your own trip in the Vancouver Island!

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