Is a Butchart Gardens Tour Worth the Time and Money?

For many people, going to Victoria and not doing a Butchart Gardens tour is like going to Rome and skipping the Colosseum. The flowers have been blooming at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC for nearly 120 years and for over a million visitors a year, a tour of the gardens is on their must-see list of local attractions. And yet, we still hear some people who think a Butchart Gardens tour is too expensive, or takes too long to get through. They wonder if it is worth their time and money.

You can actually get a professional image of the Sunken Garden as a wallpaper!

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Let’s explore that.

For the 2023 season, the cost of entrance for an adult 18+ during the peak summer season is $39.50 CAD including taxes. Children 5-12 are just $3 and youth 13-17 are $19.75. The rates (and hours) fluctuate throughout the year depending on the season with the spring and summer rates higher than the fall and winter rates. There is no charge for parking.

When you look at other local entertainment options such as live theatre, the Malahat Skywalk, Wildplay (an outdoor adventure park) and the movies, pricing is within a comparable range. So, price of the activity should not be a deterrent.

Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Click here to see what's blooming every month at Butchart Gardens

How long does it take for a Butchart Gardens Tour?

Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC is a 55-acre oasis of blooms and blossoms. The amount of time it takes you to see the Sunken Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and Italian Garden depends entirely on your pace and how much time you spend stopping to enjoy your surroundings. 

Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Flowers at Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC

We think a person who moves along at a leisurely pace, stops occasionally to enjoy the spectacular beauty and takes some memorable photos, would realistically spend a couple of hours. But it is very easy to spend much more time because there is more to the gardens then just the flowers and shrubs. There is the Rose Carousel, the Seed and Gift Store, the Concert Lawn Stage featuring a variety of performances throughout the year, as well as special seasonal events such as the children's Easter bunny hunt. 

It is not unusual to spend an entire afternoon enjoying this National Historic Site. 

Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens

I don't know how many times I visited the gardens without venturing into Japanese Gardens but I promise you this, it is not to be missed! They are incredibly peaceful and tranquil with many benches overlooking the various water features. I don't think we could have spent ALL afternoon there in the Japanese garden, but we easily spent 45 minutes. 

Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens
Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens
Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens
Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC are not just a beautiful place enjoyed by tourists. In fact for less than $75 annually, many locals take advantage of a 12-month pass option, And this is exactly what my husband and I do. We get  unlimited entry to the grounds for 12 full months from the date of purchase. We look forward to seeing the gardens throughout the season and go on average 8-10 times per year.  

Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens

A couple of years ago on a visit in early November we were treated to a "behind the scenes" day at the garden with so many staff busy working away. Some were planting spring bulbs, many were decorating the gardens and getting ready for the Magic of Christmas Light Display and still others were trimming and tidying in the Rose Garden. It makes the visit in December even more special when you know what level of work it takes to build the seasonal displays. 

Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Enjoying the festivities at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens
Decorating at Butchart Gardens

So do I think a Butchart Gardens Tour is worth the time and money? That's a resounding yes!

How to Get to Butchart Gardens

You can take public transportation to get to the gardens (purchase a day-pass from the bus driver for $5 CDN per person). The city bus will take approximately 1 hour to reach the gardens from downtown. There are frequently bus tours leaving from downtown Victoria or, choose a private guide for an unforgettable excursion.

A Private Tour of Butchart Gardens

A private, local tour guide will pick you up at a convenient location – including the Port of Victoria if you are arriving by cruise ship – in their personal luxury vehicle. Most tours can accommodate up to 6 passengers and tours are usually quoted per tour, not per person. Be sure to read the particulars of each tour to ensure there is sufficient seating for your party. 

Each guide has their own itinerary for a Butchart Gardens tour, but all are flexible and more than happy to customize the tour to your specifications.

A typical tour may start out with a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf – a unique little village of local house boats and the location of some awesome fish and chips. If you’re lucky, the local seals will pop their heads out of the water to say hello.

No tour of Victoria is complete without a drive through the Inner Harbour to see some historical buildings including the majestic British Columbia Parliament buildings as well as the Empress Hotel. 

Next you may enjoy a drive through Victoria’s China town – the oldest China town in Canada and home to Canada’s narrowest road, Fan Tan Alley. 

A tour of Beacon Hill Park is another popular site on a Butchart Gardens tour. Beacon Hill Park is an expansive park located just minutes from the inner harbour complete with many amenities that appeal to visitors of all ages including one of the world’s tallest free-standing totem poles.

Next you may stop to see the exterior of the stately Craigdarroch Castle. Depending on your interests and time available, you may choose to tour the castle as well. 

Click here to see what's blooming every month at Butchart Gardens

After seeing some popular downtown sites, sit back, relax and enjoy a scenic drive to the gardens, fully narrated with fun and interesting facts. 

Want to take some photos as you go? No problem, with a private tour guide, they understand you want to capture the memories and are happy to stop wherever you wish. They will also be able to suggest some little-known gems such as the 360-degree views from Mt Tolmie. 

Your tour guide will get you to Butchart Gardens and generally allow approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to explore theproperty. Again though, if you want to customize your time at the gardens – or you just learned about the Butterfly Gardens and want to go there too, just make arrangements with your driver. It’s no problem at all, we’re pretty chill here on the Island!

With thousands of visitors in the city every day from May through October, these private tours book up quickly. 

Don’t be disappointed, book your memorable Butchart Gardens tour now. 

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