Victoria’s old-world charm and endless scenic vistas. Seattle’s panoramic skyline and rich culture. The city of Vancouver’s cosmopolitan vibe, outdoor recreation and bustling farmers markets. Call us spoiled or just plain lucky, but one of best parts about living in the Pacific Northwest is that all three cities are easily accessible with a quick trip by sea, air or land. A scenic jaunt that allows you to soak in the region’s rich geography and arrive relaxed and ready for adventure.

Whether your goal is to sweep through as many spots as possible or to deep dive exploring a select city, getting there is half the fun. Check out our crib sheet on the 11 best ways to travel between Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver, BC.

Seattle to Victoria, BC

1. Victoria Clipper Ferry

Traveling on the passenger-only Victoria Clipper ferry is about as easy and low stress as it gets. The only direct, fast ferry service between Seattle and Victoria, the Clipper operates year-round. The ship makes one round-trip daily, except from mid-May through mid-September, when two daily round-trip services are available. Check-in online, and you’ll only need to make a brief stop at the check-in counter for ID and passport approval. You’ll even have plenty of time to pick up a mocha (locally sourced Caffé Vita coffee, yum!) and breakfast burrito at the neighboring Clipper Cafe before boarding.

Skip the airport lines and driving by hopping aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry for a quick and easy cruise to Victoria.
Skip the airport lines and driving by hopping aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry for a quick and easy cruise to Victoria.

Cruising along at speeds up to 36 knots, the 106.9-mile long ferry ride from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle to the Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria, BC’s Inner Harbor takes 2-hours and 45-minutes. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and stunning shorelines, there’s nothing more freeing and breathtaking. Even if you’re a local, it’s hard not to keep your nose pressed to the glass of the vessel’s panoramic windows.

The newer, bigger Victoria Clipper V vessel features three classes of service. There’s a Comfort Class featuring a private cabin as well as complimentary snacks and beverages; Vista Class with leather seating and top deck panoramic views and an Economy Class on the lower deck. Should hunger strike, order up one of the locally-sourced and freshly prepared meals onboard, such as handmade sandwiches on Macrina Bakery bread and Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt parfaits.

With large, panoramic windows in the Victoria Clipper V's Vista Class, there are outstanding ocean views nearly everywhere you look.
With large, panoramic windows in the Victoria Clipper V’s Vista Class, there are outstanding ocean views nearly everywhere you look.

A quick, efficient trip through customs, and you’re out window-shopping on the streets before you know it. No muss, no fuss, no hassle! The best part? The city’s compact downtown core is walkable and has a relatively small footprint. Getting around the city is a breeze during a quick day trip from Seattle to Victoria, no car required!

The cost of a round-trip Victoria Clipper fare changes depending on the season. Prices range from $115 – $160 USD for a 7-day advance purchase, making it one of the more affordable ways to travel from Seattle to Victoria, BC. When you add an overnight hotel stay to your trip, you get a special discount on your round-trip Victoria Clipper ferry cruise, making for a pretty great deal.

Be sure to step out on the Victoria Clipper ferry's back deck for amazing views of the city.
Be sure to step out on the Victoria Clipper ferry’s back deck for amazing views of the city.

2. Kenmore Air

If you want to mix it up and see the Pacific Northwest from a different perspective – do it by air on a jaw-dropping Kenmore Seaplane flight. With rates ranging from $149 – $174 USD per person, it’s a bit of a splurge, but the phenomenal aerial views of Seattle, Victoria and the surrounding region are worth it.

Catch one of the daily flights out of Kenmore’s airport terminal at South Lake Union. If you’re lucky, you might score the coveted passenger seat in the cockpit next to the pilot. This seat provides unique views out the front windshield and allows you to watch as your pilot seamlessly adjusts the plane’s dials, knobs and switches.

Sneak into the co-pilot’s seat for incredible views. Photo: Lucas Anderson
Sneak into the co-pilot’s seat for incredible views. Photo: Lucas Anderson

Soak it in while you can, because a mere 45-minutes after lift-off, you’ll begin making the descent into Victoria’s Inner Harbour. This may be the only flight you’ve been on that’s left you wishing it had lasted longer. Unlike a routine trip to the airport, you clear Canadian customs once you are off the plane and on the dock. Meaning you are in the heart of Victoria in a matter of minutes.

For the ultimate PWN adventure, book a Seattle to Victoria Sea & Sky Overnight package. The trip combines two of the region’s unique forms of transportation: ferry and seaplane. Soar through the skies on a breathtaking Kenmore Air seaplane flight one direction and cruise aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry through the Salish Sea the other direction. It is one of the most fascinating ways to see the region and should be a must-do on every Seattleite’s list.

A lineup of yellow striped DCH-2 Beavers wait take to the sky. Photo: Mikaela Cowles
A lineup of yellow striped DCH-2 Beavers wait take to the sky. Photo: Mikaela Cowles

3. Washington State Ferry or Black Ball Ferry Line’s MV Coho

Feel the need for a car in Victoria? With Budget Downtown Car Rental a 20-minute walk from the Victoria Clipper terminal, it is easy to pick up wheels to get around Victoria, BC and beyond. However, if you want to bring your own wheels, you’ll need to hop on a car ferry to get from Seattle to Victoria, BC.

If you want to take the scenic route, make the 2-hour and 30-minute drive through the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles. From there, catch one of the Black Ball Ferry Line’s daily, year-round departures on the MV Coho for a 90-minute cruise to downtown Victoria.

Cruise by the stunning Olympic Mountains on a Washington State Ferry ride. Credit: David Stanley
Cruise by the stunning Olympic Mountains on a Washington State Ferry ride. Credit: David Stanley

Or make the approximately two-hour (84.4-mile) drive to Anacortes to hop on a Washington State Ferry. Departures vary by season, but are available at least once a day from March through November. After an approximately 3-hour cruise, you’ll land in Sidney, 20-minutes outside of Victoria.

Seattle to Vancouver, BC

4. Amtrak Cascades Train

If adventure is on your mind, a scenic journey from Seattle to Vancouver, BC via Amtrak ®Cascades train is the way to go. Although the trip to British Columbia is an international trek, with multiple daily departures year-round, the trip is quite simple and allows you to sit back and relax while someone else does the driving.

Hop on the train at the historic King Street Train Station in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood and arrive at Pacific Central Station in downtown Vancouver, BC 4-hours later. During much of the 110-mile journey, the train rolls smoothly along the coastline. With ample legroom, free onboard Wi-Fi and in-seat power outlets, you won’t want to leave your chair. Snag a seat of the left side of the train (it is the side closest to the water on northbound trips) and cozy up in your comfortable seats.

Wind your way past forests and rivers on the way to Vancouver. Credit: Amtrak Cascades
Wind your way past forests and rivers on the way to Vancouver. Credit: Amtrak Cascades

It’s hard not to fall into a staring contest with Mother Nature as the waters of Puget Sound glisten in the sunlight and the Olympic Mountains rise in the distance. Curl up with a good book or grab a locally-produced treat from the onboard bistro. Just don’t forget to keep looking out at the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Once through customs at the Vancouver terminal, a 10-minute cab ride or a less than 30-minute ride on the SkyTrain will land you in Vancouver’s downtown core. With a smaller footprint than Seattle, everything from historical landmarks, to trendy boutiques and your hotel are all steps away. Depending on the time of year you travel, rates for a Seattle to Vancouver overnight package, including Amtrak ®Cascades train and a hotel stay, range from $165 – $232 USD per person.

5. Motorcoach

Fast and easy, traveling from Seattle to Vancouver by motorcoach is a wallet-friendly way to pay a visit to our neighbors to the north. With prices ranging from $170 – $204 USD per person depending on the season and multiple, daily departures, a ride on a Cantrail motorcoach is another option.

Like the train, the motorcoach leaves out of King Street Station in Seattle and arrives at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. With just one stop along the way (at Richmond’s Sandman Signature Hotel), your expert drivers will get you to your destination in approximately 3-hours and 30-minutes.

Let someone else do the driving on a Cantrail motorcoach ride between Seattle and Vancovuer, BC. Credit: Cantrail
Let someone else do the driving on a Cantrail motorcoach ride between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Credit: Cantrail

There are also Quick Shuttle and Greyhound buses from Seattle to Vancouver, which are both relatively inexpensive and offer daily, year-round service. However, the routes typically have several stops along the way in outlying towns, or local hotels, in the case of Quick Shuttle. As a result, the pace of the trip is more leisurely, with travel time averaging four-hours and 20-minutes. Or try the Bolt Bus for a direct trip from city to city. If you’re lucky, you might score the legendary $1 ticket available on each trip.

6. Car

If you want to indulge in a good old-fashioned road trip, it is an easy drive up I-5 to the Canadian Border crossing in Blaine, Washington. Cruise past the scenic countryside and the cozy towns of Mt. Vernon and Bellingham on the approximately 3-hour and 142.6-mile trek to Vancouver’s downtown core. (Insider tip: If you don’t mind taking a detour, swing by Chuckanut Drive for fantastic water vistas.) Just be sure to download a good audiobook or podcast before you go, because there is a good chance that you might get stuck in traffic or long lines at the border.

Command your own adventure from the road on a scenic drive between Seattle and Vancouver, BC.
Command your own adventure from the road on a scenic drive between Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

7. Plane

Based on flight time alone, it takes a mere 55-65 minutes for a flight from Seattle’s SeaTac Airport to Vancouver International Airport. Yet, when you factor in travel time to the airport combined with the early arrival needed for check-in and security, traveling by land is nearly as fast.

Victoria, BC to Vancouver, BC

8. Helijet

Travel in style and whisk between downtown Victoria and downtown Vancouver in a mere 35-minutes on an exhilarating Helijet helicopter ride. With multiple flights per day (except on Christmas and New Year’s) hopping on a stylish Sikorsky S76 helicopter is a one of the quickest, most convenient and fun ways to travel between two of BC’s popular cities.

Buzz between the heart of downtown Victoria and Vancouver on a Helijet helicopter. Credit: Helijet
Buzz between the heart of downtown Victoria and Vancouver on a Helijet helicopter. Credit: Helijet

Did we mention you’ll get a chance to soak in one-of-a-kind aerial views of BC’s sweeping landscape? Splurging on a trip of a lifetime, like this one, is certainly worth it (flights range from $215 – $284 per person USD when you book with Clipper). If riding in a helicopter isn’t luxe enough, you’ll also receive complimentary wine, beer, specialty coffee, tea, snacks and gourmet treats. Free reading materials and Wi-Fi are available at both helipad terminals.

9. Harbour Air Seaplanes

If you still want to fly, but want something a little more affordable (flights start from $179 per person USD when you book with Clipper), Harbour Air Seaplanes zip across the skies between Victoria and Vancouver every 30-60 minutes during daylight hours throughout the year. The trip is about as seamless as it gets. You leave from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and arrive at Vancouver airport terminal at Canada Place. Once in town, catch the complimentary shuttle to arrive at your downtown hotel in mere minutes.

Glance out your window for a breathtaking, aerial views. Credit: Harbour Air
Glance out your window for breathtaking, aerial views. Credit: Harbour Air

10. Prince of Whales

Looking for a little adventure? Whale watch your way from Victoria to Vancouver on a Prince of Whales Adventure Crossing from Vancouver to Victoria! (You can also travel in the reverse direction and cruise from the Prince of Whales Adventure Center on Vancouver’s Granville Island to Victoria’s Inner Harbour). Daily trips are available from May 24 through September 22, with prices starting from $188 USD per person when you book with Clipper.

One of the more unique and convenient connections between the heart of the two cities, the six-hour one way trip on the luxury Salish Sea Dream catamaran is the perfect chance to experience the natural beauty of the region. Along the way, your expert onboard naturalist will introduce you to some of the aquatic neighbors from the area.

Soak in stunning vistas and wildlife as you cruise through the Strait of Georgia. Credit: Prince of Whales
Take in stunning vistas and wildlife as you cruise through the Strait of Georgia. Credit: Prince of Whales

Keep an eye out for orca, minke and humpback whales as well as dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals and an assortment of sea birds during the crossing. And let’s not forget about the scenery.  As you travel through the Gulf Islands, soak in views of peaceful and secluded inlets and bays not usually frequented by other ships.

11. BC Ferries and Wilson’s BC Ferries Connector

Need to take your car across the water between Victoria and Vancouver, BC? Ferries glide between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay nearly every two hours, every day, all year long. (Prices start from $61 USD per person when you book with Clipper). Sit back and enjoy a 95-minute scenic adventure past the Gulf Islands as you cruise through the Strait of Georgia.

Zip between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland on BC Ferries Connector. Credit: BC Ferries Connector
Zip between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland on BC Ferries Connector. Credit: BC Ferries Connector

Traveling car-free? Catch the BC Connector luxury motorcoach at the Capital City Station in Victoria’s downtown core, for a quick, convenient ride to the ferry and across the water. Yes, the BC Connector actually travels on the ship with you and then takes you all the way to the Pacific Central Station in downtown Vancouver. After the approximately 3.5-hour to 4-hour journey, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the city and ready to explore.

Bonus – Two Nation Vacation – Three-Night Getaway

Want to explore all the Pacific Northwest has to offer in one easy trip? Discover the region with a comprehensive, two nation vacation to Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle. The perfect way to immerse yourself in the area, you can get around using transportation that best suits your needs on this epic journey. From a Clipper cruise to a scenic Amtrak® Cascades train ride to a helicopter flight, customization is where Clipper shines in helping you plan your perfect trip.

From exploring lush green forests to sighting seeing in the city, there are plenty of incredible adventures to be had in the Pacific Northwest. Grab your friends and family for a memorable escape by land, air or sea and discover the beauty of the region.

 

Book Your Clipper Getaway Now