Arriving at Victoria International Airport (YYJ)
We strongly recommend flying to Victoria International Airport (YYJ) when you arrive in Canada for the start of your program.
After a long flight to Vancouver, you will be very happy to take another 20-minute flight to Victoria, instead of adding more hours to your trip by taking a bus and ferry to Vancouver Island. Save that experience for weekend adventure during your program when you can really enjoy it!
Flights to Victoria should be reserved through your travel agent or online. Two of the main Canadian airlines that fly to Victoria are "Air Canada" and "West Jet." Some of their routes offer direct flights to Canada without stopping in the USA.
Victoria International Airport
Driving:Victoria International Airport is located off of the Patricia Bay Highway (Highway 17), a 30- to 40-minute drive north of UVic. When driving from the airport, follow the signs to Victoria or City Centre. These will lead you onto Highway 17. Once on Highway 17, drive 29 km and take Exit 7, McKenzie Avenue. Turn left onto McKenzie Avenue. After about 8 km, turn right onto McGill Road, the main entrance to UVic. The drive takes about 30 minutes.
"Arrival day" is the day before your program begins if you are attending a "Summer Language and Culture" program in July and August. If you arrive at the Victoria airport on this day, our ELC Cultural Assistant staff will be there to greet you and help you to find “shuttle bus” transportation to the University of Victoria.
The shuttle takes 30-40 minutes to get to the University of Victoria. Once you arrive at UVic, another team of Cultural Assistants will help you check in at the UVic Housing Office, where you will receive your UVic meal plan card and be directed to your dormitory room.
If you are not arriving at UVic on "arrival day," our Cultural Assistant staff will not be at the airport to greet you. Luckily, the Victoria airport is small and you will easily find your luggage and transportation to UVic, by:
Taxis in Victoria are safe and wait outside the "Arrivals" area of the airport. The drive to UVic takes about 20-25 minutes by taxi and the cost is approximately $60-70. Ask your driver to stop at the UVic Housing Office in Parking lot #5 off Sinclair Road.
Most students receive confirmation of their homestay placement, including their host family’s contact information, two weeks before the program start date.
As soon as you receive this information, you should contact your host to introduce yourself. Your flight details must match your Program's set Arrival Date and Departure Date. Once you have your travel details, please share them with your host. This is very important, so that you can arrange for pick-up in Victoria at the airport, ferry terminal, bus station or another location you have agreed upon. To make sure your homestay family can easily pick you up, book a flight that arrives between 8:00am and 9:00pm.
When your host family meets you at the airport / arrival location, they will generally hold up a sign with your name on it. If you have shared photos, you might be able to recognize each another.
If your flight is delayed, or if your host family is not at the agreed upon arrival location when you arrive, you should:
- Call their cellular phone numbers and leave a message to tell them where you are waiting for them. Victoria Airport has free Wifi if you need to contact your host family.
- Go to the Airport Information Booth (Red Coats Volunteers - located in the Arrivals area) and ask if your host family has left a message for you.
Flight details and arrival Homestay Student Handbook
Remember: Victoria is located on Vancouver Island, which is different from the city of Vancouver! If your final flight destination is Vancouver International Airport… you’re not in Victoria yet! You will need to take a BC ferry to Vancouver Island in one of these ways:
- Driving: Take the Swartz Bay ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal (1-hour-and-35-minute sailing time). You will exit the ferry terminal on the Patricia Bay Highway (17 South). After 29 km take Exit 7, McKenzie Avenue. Turn left onto McKenzie Ave. After about 8 km turn right onto McGill Road, the main entrance to UVic. The drive takes about 30 minutes.
- Connector Bus: The BC Ferries Connector bus is the best way to get from Vancouver Airport to Victoria. It leaves directly from the airport and offers bus-ferry-bus service to downtown Victoria. There is a BC Ferries Connector ticket counter in the International Arrivals Terminal. You can buy a ticket there before boarding the bus directly outside the terminal. Cost: about $77.
- Taxi: You can take a taxi from Vancouver airport to the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen (30 minutes south of Vancouver). You will then buy a ferry ticket and board the ferry to Swartz Bay (Victoria). Outside the ferry terminal you can take a taxi downtown or to UVic. Cost: about $160.
- Public transportation: You can take the “Vancouver SkyTrain” from Vancouver Airport station to Bridgeport Station. You will then take the #620 bus to the Tsawwassen Terminal, where you will buy a ticket and board the ferry to Swartz Bay (Victoria). Outside the ferry terminal, board the #70 or #72 bus downtown. Ask your bus driver where to transfer to buses going to UVic. Cost: about $35.
- Float plane: Harbour Air lands in the Inner Harbour of Downtown Victoria. From there you can catch a bus or a taxi (victoriataxi.com, taxicab.com, yellowcabvictoria.com) to UVic. The main bus routes from downtown to UVic are: 4, 7, 11, 14, or 15. Check the current bus schedule.