TRIP INFORMATION590 km round trip, 8.5 hours driving time including Tofino. This multi-day trip allows you to see many of Vancouver Island’s sights and Gardens. Allow 2-3 days to really take in all that Vancouver Island has to offer.
Both the Victoria and Nanaimo single day itineraries can be combined into a multi-day tour. Travel time between Victoria and Nanaimo is about 90 minutes. Or, consider the Nanaimo single day tour and then take a day and head out to the surf, sand, and the exquisite Tofino Botanical Gardens. Tourism Tofino has excellent recommendations on where to eat, stay and of course surf!
Victoria is known as the ‘City of Gardens’ – its gardens come in every shape, size, type and are found throughout the greater Victoria area.
Start your morning at The Gardens at HCP on Saanich Peninsula, a 20 minute car ride from downtown Victoria (visit time 1-2 hours). After filling your head with new latin names for plants and flowers you love, head on over to The Butchart Gardens (visit time 2-3 hours). Tip: after you enter the gardens stop by the Visitor Center and reserve for lunch or afternoon tea.
After your visual senses have been satiated, drop by Victoria Butterfly Gardens – just 5 minutes from Butchart (visit time 1 hour). Haven’t seen enough and still not dark yet? Head on over to Colwood and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Hatley Castle and Gardens, including a wonderful Japanese Garden, and like The Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site of Canada. Keep in mind closing time is dusk.
Not-to-be-missed while you are in the area is Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthhouse, which is a proverbial stone’s throw from Hatley.
While in the Victoria area take in Victoria’s iconic harbour, or saunter through the gardens of Beacon Hill Park. Stay an extra day and experience one of Canada’s best museums, the Royal British Columbia Museum!
Classic shot of the iconic Sunken Garden in all its spring splendour!
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens paradise.
Hatley Castle and Gardens.
Summer at The Butchart Gardens – roses and lush foliage – a match made in garden heaven.
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens, living in harmony.
Haley Castle and Garden’s Japanese Garden – designed by landscape gardener Isaburo Kishida, of Yokohama, Japan.
The Royal British Columbia Museum in downtown Victoria.
When you are ready, head over to the Nanaimo area and continue your adventure dining on Nanimo’s inner harbour before heading south, out to the Cowichan Valley Lavender Labyrinth (visit time 30 -90 minutes) – they open at 11 am.
Cowichan Lake isn’t far from there, and is not to be overlooked. Don’t miss the wine and culinary delights of Cowichan when you are in the area. For more info, see Tourism Cowichan’s website.
Heading back north up the island past Nanaimo, continue on a little ways past Qualicum Beach, stop to take in Milner Gardens & Woodlands (visit time 60-120 minutes).
If you’re a fan of cheese or wine, stop by Little Qualicum Cheeseworks to pick up some of their delicious artisan cheeses, and be sure to try their unique berry-based wines.
Travel across the Island to the west coast and fall in love with Tofino. This quiet fishing village is full of top-rated accommodations and dining options. Some of the favourite activities of the area include surfing, hiking and wildlife excursions.
Head back to Nanaimo and stop and explore the remarkable Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park — you’re going to need an hour here to walk the loop and take it all in. Loop back and catch Goats on the Roof (the Old Country Market) in Coombs – always fun for kids and adults alike!
PLEASE NOTE: Cowichan Valley Lavender Labyrinth is open May to September only.
Stroll the woodland garden at Milner Garden and Woodlands.
Cathedral Grove at MacMillan Provincial Park is a stunning stop whether you’re on your way to Tofino, or just making a day trip out of Nanaimo.
Catch the majestic sunset in Tofino, and the amazing restaurants like Wolf in the Fog and Sobo.
The famous ‘Goats on the Roof’ at the Old Country Market is a fun stop for kids of all ages – and the unique selection inside the market is astonishing and worth the stop.
Cowichan Valley Lavender Farm in Duncan, BC.
Tofino Botanical Gardens are twelve acres of gardens, forest, and shoreline that explore the relationship between culture and nature.
Click the map menu icon at top left of map to see detailed driving directions and more.
Featured Member Gardens