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The Best Day Trips from Victoria: A Gateway to an Eco-Tourism Paradise

Are you planning to visit Victoria, BC, and wondering what to do during your stay? Look no further, as we have compiled a list of the best day trips from Victoria that will take you on a journey through the natural beauty of Vancouver Island.

Known as the Garden City, Victoria is not only a popular tourist destination but also a gateway to exploring the outdoor playground, otherwise known as Vancouver Island.

So whether you’re in a local, in town from the Lower Mainland or from further afield, I hope we can convince you that this charming island city is not the end of your journey – but only the beginning.

Let’s get started,

The 11 Best Day Trips from Victoria, BC


The Malahat Skywalk

Are you looking for a thrilling and unforgettable experience that will take your breath away? Look no further than the Malahat Skywalk, located just a short drive from Victoria! The Skywalk is a brand new attraction that opened in 2021, and it’s quickly become one of the most popular destinations on Vancouver Island.

The Skywalk itself is a feat of engineering, featuring a 600-foot elevated walkway that winds its way through the trees, ending in a spiral tower that rises ten stories above the forest floor. From the top of the tower, you’ll have a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, including the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands, and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Shuttles are available from Victoria, which includes admission.



Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

Next on our list is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a 47-kilometre hiking trail that stretches along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The trail offers hikers stunning views of the rugged coastline, hidden coves, and tidal pools. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can tackle the entire trail, which takes around four to five days to complete.

For those who prefer shorter hikes, there are plenty of day hikes that you can take from various points along the trail. This trail is a must-visit for any nature lover visiting Vancouver Island. The trail starts at China Beach, about 35 km west of Sooke. So you’ll need a little over an hour to get there from Victoria.

Looking to enjoy the outdoors closer to home? Check out our guide to Victoria’s Best Parks & Gardens.


Victoria Whale Watching Tours

Are you looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget? Look no further than a Victoria whale-watching tour! You’ll have the opportunity to see majestic whales in their natural habitat, as well as other marine life, such as seals, sea lions, and porpoises.

It’s a thrilling and educational experience that’s suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Better yet, the tours depart right from the Inner Harbour or Fisherman’s Wharf, just steps from most Victoria hotels. So why not book a whale-watching tour in Victoria and create memories that will last a lifetime?





Sooke Potholes Provincial Park

The next stop on our list of Victoria day trips is Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features a series of deep pools and rock formations carved by glaciers in the Sooke River – hence the term ‘potholes.’ Above all, the park offers one of the best freshwater swimming spots on the island.

But you can also camp, fish, or simply relax by the water. You’ll even find several hiking trails that lead to viewpoints overlooking the river and the surrounding forests. So, don’t forget to bring your camera, as you’ll be captivated by the natural beauty of this unique Vancouver Island outpost that is roughly 45 minutes southwest of town.

The Cowichan Valley

The Cowichan Valley is the second-largest wine region in British Columbia and offers visitors a chance to taste some of the finest wines in the province. So, if you’re a wine enthusiast, you can take a Cowichan Valley Wine Tour that includes transportation from Victoria in a convenient package. Cowichan Bay whale-watching tours are also an option if you’d like to stay closer to the coast.

And if you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to explore the beauty of Vancouver Island’s rivers, look no further than tubing on the Cowichan River! I promise it’s an adventure that you won’t forget. Imagine yourself floating down the river, surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains, while the sun shines on your face and the gentle current carries you downstream. It’s most definitely one of the best things to do in Victoria in Summer.



Related: The Best Food Tours in Victoria

Tofino & Ucluelet

Admittedly, with a roughly 200-mile drive involved, we may be stretching the definition of a day trip. But for those who love the ocean, a trip to Tofino and Ucluelet is simply a must-do, so we couldn’t leave you hanging. These two towns, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, are known for their pristine beaches, world-class surfing, and whale-watching opportunities.

Tofino, in particular, is a popular destination for surfers, while Ucluelet is known for its rugged coastline and hiking trails. You can also take a boat tour to spot whales, sea lions, and other marine life in their natural habitat. And don’t forget to try some of the delicious seafood that the area is famous for. The Victoria to Tofino bus offers transportation, though you may want to spend the night.

Goldstream Provincial Park

For a nature lover looking to explore the forests of Vancouver Island, Goldstream Provincial Park is the perfect destination. Located just a 30-minute drive from Victoria, the park is home to old-growth trees, stunning waterfalls, and a diverse range of flora and fauna.

You can take a hike through the park’s trails or go birdwatching to spot some of the many species that call the park home. If you’re visiting in the fall, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the annual salmon run, where thousands of salmon swim upstream to spawn.

Butchart Gardens & Brentwood Bay

Let’s state the obvious: listing Victoria’s most popular tourist attraction isn’t exactly going to blow your mind. But nonetheless, Butchart Gardens is indeed located in Brentwood Bay, about 40 minutes north of downtown Victoria. Pair a visit to this botanical paradise with a stop at nearby Butterfly Gardens, and you’ve got the makings of a full-blown day trip.

Butchart Garden’s 55 acres of stunning floral displays, themed gardens, and tranquil paths attract over one million visitors per year. And the Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a great choice for those travelling to Victoria with kids. You can observe thousands of butterflies from around the world, as well as a variety of other tropical plants and animals.



The Gulf Islands

The Gulf Islands are a group of islands located in the Salish Sea, just off the coast of Vancouver Island. The Southern Gulf Islands include Saltspring Island, Pender Island, Galiano Island, Saturna Island and Mayne Island. And each of them is easily accessible via a quick ferry from Swartz Bay.

The islands offer a variety of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages. You’ll find several charming villages, each with its own unique character and history. You can stroll through the quaint shops, cafes, and galleries and get a taste of island life. You can visit local wineries, cideries and breweries, explore local art galleries, rent a kayak or a boat or simply enjoy the pristine, secluded local beaches.

Vancouver & the Lower Mainland

Oh, I get it! You were promised peaceful island getaways and eco-tourism hotspots, and now I’m throwing Vancouver your way? Well, hold onto your hats, folks! Vancouver may not be what you were expecting, but trust me, it’s a gem in its own right. And if you visit via the 30-minute Victoria to Vancouver Floatplane, a day trip is more than doable.

The city itself needs little introduction. With a population approaching 3 million, it simply offers a level of shopping, entertainment, dining and nightlife options that the island can’t match. And though you might prefer to spend the night if you’re looking to hit up a concert, check out a big game, or some world-class food and culture – Vancouver is the place to do it.

⛴️ Heading over to the mainland? Check out our guide on how to get to Victoria from Vancouver.


Strathcona Provincial Park

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Strathcona Provincial Park is the perfect destination. The park is located about 300 km up the island, so it’s a bit of a hike (literally and figuratively). Nonetheless, this beautiful park offers a variety of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages.

It is home to over 250 kilometres of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry routes. Plus, it offers a variety of camping options, from drive-in sites to backcountry camping. If you make the trip, get ready for a true digital detox. Just relax, explore the park’s rugged terrain, spot wildlife, and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

All packed and ready for one of our top day trips from Victoria?

Victoria, BC, is not only a charming city, but it’s also a full-fledged gateway to Vancouver Island’s natural beauty and plentiful eco-tourism opportunities. Whether you’re looking to explore the rugged coastline, hike through the forests, or taste some of the finest wines in the province, there’s something for everyone.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a local or you find yourself in town for the first time. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take any of our favourite day trips from Victoria to discover Vancouver Island’s exquisite beauty.

Happy trails?

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