In this blog we cover our favorite day trips from Victoria BC containing places which we visited while living in this beautiful city. Click here to see more information on things to do in the city. The locations below can be added to your Vancouver Island itinerary before or after visiting Victoria if you have only a few days on the island. To pack snacks for your road trip we recommend shopping at the Wholefoods Market North of Victoria in the Uptown Shopping Complex. This grocery store sells only true quality food free from preservatives and artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/quality-standards It also has the best vegan breakfast muffins we’ve ever tasted!
In this blog you will find information on the following locations:
Goldstream Trestle & Niagara Falls
Our first recommendation for day trips from Victoria BC begins only about half an hour drive from the CBD. Here you can find this beautiful waterfall and abandoned trestle. While the falls themselves are for sure not as spectacular as the popular Niagara Falls in Ontario, they are surrounded by so much natural beauty! We loved the peacefulness and at the same time sense of adventure felt in this place. The Niagara Trestle is nearby and one of the most impressive bridges in the region. It is over 130 years old and still stands 47m over the canyon pool below. The intricate construction of the trestle surrounded by the natural backdrop of forest will make you stop and stare.
How to get there?
Follow the Trans-Canada Hwy out of the city to Goldstream Provincial Park. There are two parking spots nearby to park your car.
We parked the car in the day use area. From here walk towards the Nature House. There is a trail leading into the forest which you follow until the path splits up in two directions. Continue walking to the left. You will reach a tunnel which was built underneath the highway. At times there is water flowing through the tunnel but there was barely any water when we explored this place. If the water level is low enough, go through the tunnel to reach a stony creek bed on the other side. Continue walking straight to see BC’s Niagara Falls.
If the water level of the river is too high, park your car at the ‘Golden Falls parking lot’ on the westside of the highway. To get to this parking lot you’ll have to continue on the Trans-Canada Hwy past the parking lot for a bit and do a u-turn once it’s safe to do so. From there walk north along the highway barricades. You will see a path to the left, which you follow until you reach the same creek bed mentioned above.
Getting to the trestle:
After having admired the waterfall, go back onto the creek bed you first reached. Facing the tunnel turn left and walk the trail leading uphill (follow the orange markers). Keep climbing the steep trail which will lead over a bridge and partially up some steps. After a while you will reach a junction with an orange trail marker pointing left. Don’t follow the arrow: go right. From here you start seeing the trestle through the trees. The trestle becomes more and more visible heading upwards.
Please be aware that this bridge is an abandoned railway owned by E&N rail. Walking on it is technically trespassing and not recommended. There is also a risk of falling off the trestle into the canyon.
Mystic Beach and Sombrio Beach
These are the perfect spots for beach day trips from Victoria BC combined with some exploring. For sunbathing and some refreshment on a hot summer day Mystic Beach is the better one out of the two. It is a sandy beach with a waterfall- depending on the season and rainfall it can be a tiny drizzle or a big amount of water cascading the cliffs.
Sombrio Beach is a beautiful stone beach with a rope swing and hidden waterfall. Once you reach the beach turn left, and look for a little creek coming from the left (about 10 minutes down the beach). Follow it upwards until you reach two big with moss covered rocks. You’ll see the waterfall when looking between them. We truly love the mystical atmosphere near the waterfall.
How to get to these beaches?
Follow the Trans-Canada Hwy out of the city and exit towards Sooke. Continue driving towards Sooke on the W Shore Parkway and Juan De Fuca Hwy/Sooke Rd. After Sooke continue on the same highway towards Renfrew. (On this highway section you’ll find Shirley Delicious– a cute cafe with yummy baked goods and great coffee). There are no signs along the highway pointing to Mystic Beach. Instead turn towards China Beach and park at the first parking lot to the right. This is the southern access point to Juan De Fuca Trail. Follow the trail through the coastal forest, over roots, across boardwalks and a suspension bridge for 2km until you reach Mystic Beach.
To get to Sombrio Beach, you’ll have to continue for about 20minutes on the same highway. Pay attention to signs indicating when to turn left for the Sombrio Beach car park. Again you’ll have to walk through a forest following parts of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. There are signs leading you the way through the forest to the beach.
The Sooke Potholes are naturally formed pools within the Sooke River and offer a great spot for some refreshment in summer. Even when it’s not warm enough for a swim exploring the unique rock formations and cascading waterfalls is worth a visit. Since the last ice age, glacial carving action has sculptured the surroundings. Walking along the river and canyon you can see the story told by a long history of erosion. It is an amazing place to wander and relax.
How to get there?
The Sooke Potholes can be found on the way to Mystic and Sombrio Beach. You can either visit all three in one day or make two separate day trips from Victoria BC out of it. Instead of driving through the community of Sooke, you’ll have to leave the highway before approaching the Sooke River onto Sooke River Road. Continue on this road until you get to the first or second parking lot. You can park at either of them and simply follow the walking trails along the river. There are different viewpoints overlooking the river and many access points to swim in the water. Another way to get to the Sooke Potholes is by bike, as they are located along the Galloping Goose biking trail. Check out our ‘Biking around Victoria BC’ article if you’d like to cycle there.
Located between Vancouver Island’s Swartz Bay ferry terminal and Victoria, lies the town of Sidney with its beautiful panoramic view of Sidney Island, the Coast Mountains and majestic Mt Baker. Take a stroll along the Waterfront walkway to fully enjoy this amazing scenery. Walking this path you will pass the Port Sidney Marina, various amazing sculptures and several parks including Beacon Park. The Sidney Pier Wharf offers great photo opportunities: You will most likely see fisherman fishing from the wharf and seagulls flying around in the hope of some food.
A quaint place to eat is the Pier Bistro located on the end of Beacon Pier. Looking through the menu you will mainly see fish/ seafood dishes which is not surprising for a seaside town. There are, however, also meaty and vegetarian options. Though eating mostly plant based we love to have some freshly caught fish once in a while and chose the Salmon ‘n chips. Super delicious! You can definitely taste its freshness and feeling the sea breeze on your face makes it even taste better.
How to get there?
You can get to Sidney by driving, taking the bus or riding a bicycle. If you decide to drive, simply follow the Patricia Bay Hwy/BC-17 until you reach Sidney and turn right on Beacon Ave to get into the town. There is plenty of free parking with different time limitations. Some are limited to a few minutes, some to a few hours, and up to a full day. Please pay attention to the signage.
Taking the bus to Sidney, you’ll have to catch bus line 70 or 72 and get off at 5th at Beacon- Sidney Town Center. A day pass costs only $5 per person* which equals the amount of two single rides.
We decided to bike which lead us through farms and past a local vegetable market. The bike ride was actually our favorite part of this day trip with the yummy food we had once we arrived. We have written more information on the cycling path in our ‘Biking around Victoria BC’ article. If you don’t feel like riding your bicycle back to Victoria or have a flat tire like Manu did, you can take the bus back and bring your bike without any extra charges with you (please keep in mind that there are only a couple bike spots on the bus and you therefore might have to wait for the next one if these spots are taken).
*fare according to summer 2019
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island, one of the Southern Gulf islands located between Vancouver and Victoria is known for its cheese, wineries, breweries, local artisan products and various other local goodies. It is a great place to relax with some adventure input such as mountains to hike and bays to kayak, stand-up paddle, swim and fish in. Out of the above mentioned day trips from Victoria BC, this location has so much to offer and is worth staying overnight!
Our first stop was the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. Here a variety of artisan goat cheese is made which can be sampled for free. While Dan is not a goat cheese fan, Manu tasted herself through all the cheeses and even bought one of their with goat milk made gelatos. It is surprisingly delicious and tastes nothing like goat milk! This, however, didn’t convince Dan to try it haha. The little farm shop sells a lot of other items besides the cheeses: locally made chutneys, jams and vinegar are only a few examples and make great gifts for your loved ones https://saltspringcheese.com/.
The main town on the island is Ganges Village. Explore the beautiful Ganges Harbor area, browse through the different boutiques and enjoy the laid back island lifestyle. We had coffee at the Tree House Cafe which we really enjoyed. It is a cute wooden cafe with much outdoor seating and live music under the summer night sky.
If you enjoy drinking wine, check out the Salt Spring Vineyards for some wine tasting. The scenery is amazing and there is a good variety of tasty, European style snacks you can purchase with your wine. We loved the beautiful garden so much that we decided to buy a bottle of their Rose, some crackers and spend the rest of our late afternoon strolling through the vineyard and sitting near the pond.
How to get there and around the island?
The most comfortable way to explore this island is probably by car. It gives you the flexibility to discover remote areas of the island and create your own schedule. Simply follow the Patricia Bay Hwy/BC-17 all the way up to Swartz Bay where the ferry terminal is located. To get to Salt Spring Island you’ll have to take the ferry to Fulford Harbor. Bringing the car on the ferry costs $31.35 with an additional $10.70* per adult.
Another option is taking the bus to Swartz Bay, taking the ferry for $10.70* per adult and exploring the island either by bus (Salt Spring Island Transit), by bicycle (you can take a bike without any extra charges on the bus and ferry with you, please keep in mind that there are limited bike spots on the bus and you therefore might have to wait for the next one if these spots are taken) or by scooter which you can rent on the island http://saltspringcarrental.com/ (best to call the rental place before your arrival to guarantee your rental).
To get to the ferry terminal by bus, it is best to hop on bus 70 from Douglas Street in Downtown Victoria which brings you all the way to the desired destination in about 40minutes. On regular weekdays Line 70 operates from 6.30AM to 10:55PM**. We recommend using the Transit App to find the nearest bus stop, look up bus schedules and have the most updated information on your bus ride. A day pass costs only $5 per person*** with an additional $4.50*** for the island bus day pass or a single ride fare of $2.25***(have the exact balance in cash as the bus drivers don’t carry change).
We took the bus there and explored most of the island with our bicycles. While we enjoyed being outdoors and feeling the breeze when riding downhill, the many times riding uphill were admittingly quite tiresome (especially for Manu with her super heavy but stylish and comfy city bike :D). Thankfully, as mentioned above, you can take the bike on the island bus with you, which we did for the big hill leading out of Ganges Village.
*fares according to June 2019
**operating hours according to summer 2019
***fare according to summer 2019