Cheap Alternative Cruise Shore Excursions for Victoria and Vancouver Island (On Your Own)
Victoria, capital of British Columbia, sits on the craggy southern end of Vancouver Island. With abundant parkland, it's known for outdoor activities. The city's British colonial past shows in its Victorian architecture, including stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion. Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays, plus statuary, water features and a carousel, is one of many formal gardens in the city. With a wider-metro population approaching 380,000, this picture-postcard provincial capital was long-touted as North America's most English city. Thankfully, the tired theme-park version of old-fashioned England is no more. Fueled by an increasingly younger demographic, a quiet revolution has seen lame tourist pubs, eateries and stores transformed into the kind of brightly painted bohemian shops, coffee bars, and innovative restaurants that would make any city proud. It's worth seeking out these enclaves on foot, but activity fans should also hop on their bikes: Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. Once you've finished pedaling, there's BC's best museum, a park fringed by a windswept seafront and outdoor activities from kayaking to whale-watching. With all of these fabulous attributes, Victoria is a great place to experience, and there are several options for budget friendly excursions and tours from the port.
For a fun and fragrant day from Victoria's port, enjoy a shore excursion to the famous Butchart Gardens
, a National Historic Site of Canada. A flexible return shuttle schedule during summer months lets you explore the gardens at your own pace. After port pickup, head to the majestic Fairmont Empress Hotel situated along the Inner Harbor. At the hotel you'll board a shuttle that heads directly to Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, located about 35 minutes from Victoria's downtown. En route, listen to live commentary about the history of the gardens. Dating back to 1904, the former quarry site has since been converted to 55 acres of manicured grounds, with stunning floral displays that change by the season and amaze nearly a million annual visitors from all over the world. When you arrive at the gardens, you can explore at your own pace. Stroll through themed areas such as the sunken garden, rose-blanketed pathways, springtime flowers, the summertime dahlia walk, the vibrant red and gold colors of fall, and the Japanese-inspired winter garden. Enjoy different floral scents as you make your way down stone walkways and through sweeping lawns of colorful blossoms. Several restaurants are located on-site, making it easy to take breaks and purchase snacks. During the summer months, don't miss Butchart Gardens' evening illuminations, when thousands of lights of varying intensity and color cast a magical glow upon the grounds. If you visit on a Saturday night from July through Canada's Labor Day weekend, you'll be treated to extravagant firework displays. When it's time to leave, board a shuttle that takes you directly to the cruise ship terminal for your convenience.
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When your ship docks in downtown Victoria, explore Craigdarroch Castle, an important part of British Columbia history, on this 1-hour self-guided tour. When you're in port in Victoria, be sure to visit the famous Craigdarroch Castle, a premiere cultural and architectural attraction in Victoria, British Columbia. The lavish Victorian home was built in the early 1900s for the wealthiest man in British Columbia, Robert Dunsmuir, who owned several coal mines, railroads and an entire fleet of ships. The mansion features superb woodwork, Victorian furnishings and one of the finest collections of stained and leaded glass windows in the US. The castle has served as a military hospital, a college, a series of school board offices, a music academy and, finally, a museum. Explore the castle at your own pace on a self-guided, 1-hour tour. This excursion is located within a 30-minute walk (5-min taxi drive) from the cruise port, so you determine the time you return to your ship in Victoria.
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See the very best of Victoria while in port on this comprehensive tour of the city. This 2.5-hour shore excursion is a great way to get to know the charming provincial capital of British Columbia and to discover its famous landmarks and history. Your experienced guide will provide fascinating commentary on Victoria's rich history and scenic beauty. Take a short shuttle ride to downtown Victoria and meet your guide. Climb aboard a comfortable sightseeing bus and head to Songhee's Viewpoint, which offers spectacular views of Victoria's Inner Harbour and the iconic Empress Hotel. Drive through the stately downtown core and see Government Street, the legislative buildings, one of Canada's oldest Chinatowns and the last remnants of Fort Victoria. Follow Antique Row before arriving at Craigdarroch Castle. Spend an hour exploring Craigdarroch Castle at your leisure. Your driver-guide will fill you in on the background of this Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion, which is designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Continue driving to the summit of Mt Tolmie for a photo opportunity and admire spectacular views of the city. Continue on to Oak Bay, offering fantastic vistas of the straits of Juan de Fuca. Finally, drive along the scenic Marine Drive and the Victoria waterfront to Beacon Hill Park. This tour is a great option for those visiting the city for the first time.
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While you're at port in Victoria, discover some of the delicious flavors the Canadians love on this 3- or 4-hour Victoria bike tour. Choose the food-focused bike tour to suit your tastes and preferences, then follow your guide through the city streets by bike. Perhaps enjoy a slice of oven-baked pizza or visit a local brewery to sample some of Victoria's fine craft beers. On route, discover local landmarks and sites of interest off the beaten track. Once you arrive on land in Victoria, make your way through the scenic and bustling Inner Harbor to meet your guide and pick out a bike. Choose from a variety of themed rides that will lead you through Victoria's scenic neighborhoods, lined with English gardens and quaint streets. You'll ride to some of the city's best restaurants and bars, exploring the flat to rolling terrain on a cruiser bike. You may choose from a 3 hour tour of Victoria's Brewery District to explore the local beer scene. On this tour, your guide will lead you along the scenic downtown waterfront, where you can watch seaplanes swoop in and land on the water. Then ride over the gorgeous Selkirk Trestle, a bike-and-pedestrian-only pathway. Along the way, you'll sample local craft beers at brew pubs and enjoy a light snack. Or choose the 4 hour tour where you can savor the best of Victoria's culinary culture. Fill up on handmade Italian pizza, creamy organic ice cream, and chocolate truffles, and sample olive oils and local salts. You'll explore the city's picturesque neighborhoods along the way and pop into the restaurants where locals hang out.
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