With so many waterways and small islands, getting around by ferry in the northwest corner of Washington state is as normal as driving. A few major Canadian cities, including Victoria in British Columbia, are also easily accessible by ferry. Victoria is known for its British-style atmosphere and awe-inspiring natural resources. To get there, one option is to take a ferry from Anacortes, Washington, to Sidney, B.C., about 17 miles north of Victoria. You can drive your car onto the ferry, then drive south to Victoria, or hop on a local bus to the downtown area.
Things You'll Need
- Valid travel documents
- Ferry ticket
- Bus fare (optional)
Obtain or renew the appropriate travel documents to cross the border into Canada. You must have either a valid U.S. passport, passport card, enhanced driver's license, or a Trusted Travel card, such as NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI, to travel to Canada.
Reserve a spot on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney B.C. ferry if you plan on traveling with your vehicle. Make the reservation on the Washington State Department of Transportation ferry website. Because the vehicle spots fill up quickly, especially during peak summer months, you should reserve as far in advance as possible. No reservation is required if you will be walking onto the ferry without a vehicle.
Arrive at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal 90 minutes before departure if you have a vehicle. Follow signs for the vehicle tollbooth if you are driving on, and pay the fee for the ferry ride. If you made a reservation, provide your reservation number. You must also provide travel documents to the tollbooth agent for all traveling with you. If you are walking on, arrive at least 15 minutes in advance. Purchase your ticket and provide your travel documents at the passenger tollbooth inside the ferry terminal.
Board the ferry as instructed. The tollbooth agent will explain how and where to board the ferry with your vehicle. Once boarded and parked, you have the option of staying in your car or going upstairs to the passenger deck. Walk-on passengers will board five minutes before departure. There is both stair and elevator access to the passenger deck, which is filled with comfortable chairs and tables and vending machines. The journey to Sidney takes roughly 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Disembark at the Sidney ferry terminal. Drive or walk off the ferry when instructed upon arrival in Sidney. Before leaving the terminal, you will be subject to a customs check, so have your paperwork ready.
Make your way to Victoria from Sidney via your vehicle or public transportation. If you are driving, follow signs for Patricia Bay Highway south, which will take you into the heart of Victoria in about 30 minutes. If you are taking public transportation, walk across the street from the ferry terminal and take BC Transit bus #70 or #72 from Fifth and Ocean, or Fifth and Weiler toward downtown Victoria. The ride will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Get off at any stop on Douglas Street in downtown Victoria.
Tips & Warnings
- If you are traveling with a child without one or both parents, you must provide written consent from the custodial parent or guardian giving you permission to travel with that child.
- U.S. citizens under the age of 16 who have no passport can provide a birth or naturalization certificate for crossing the Canadian border and returning to the U.S.
- Bicyclists can take bicycles onto the ferry and pay a small surcharge in addition to the normal walk-on fare.
- BC Transit accepts only Canadian money. You can exchange U.S. dollars at any bank or at most of the local merchants near the Sidney ferry terminal.
- Washington State Department of Transportation: Traveling to Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency: Travel Documents
- Washington State Department of Transportation: Washington State Ferries Vehicle Reservations Home Page
- Washington State Department of Transportation: Anacortes Terminal and Cameras
- Washington State Department of Transportation: Sidney B.C. Terminal
- Washington State Department of Transportation: M/V Chelan
- BC Transit: Route 70 - Swartz Bay/Downtown Express to Downtown
- Washington State Department of Transportation: Bicycles on Washington State Ferries
- Photo Credit Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock/Getty Images