Butchart Gardens in Victoria has been called the most beautiful gardens on earth by National Geographic, CNN Travel, and more.
True or not, these lush flowery gardens built on a concrete industrialist’s barren limestone quarry are inspirational – a type of topsoil Cinderella story, if you will – a beautifying project that keeps on giving even today.
Let’s find out why 1,000,000+ annual visitors make the trip to Victoria’s botanical gardens and figure out how to get there whether you’re coming from Vancouver, Seattle, or just up the street.
- Butchart Gardens
- What to see
- Tickets & prices
- Butchart Gardens tours
- How to get there
- Best time to visit
- Opening hours
- Where to eat
Butchart Gardens History
Imagine for a moment being the wife of concrete baron Robert Butchart in turn of the century Victoria.
You’re well taken care of, a member of an influential local family, and living about as worry-free as possible for 1904 – except you look out your window a see a dull limestone quarry backyard.
As the limestone deposits diminish, that’s when Jennie Butchart begins the transformation of the property from a dull gray industrial site into Butchart Gardens.
The topsoil is transported by horse and cart, load by load, over a span of years.
Today, it’s a Canadian National Historic Site that includes over 55 acres of gardens, dining options, and a variety of seasonal entertainment.
Let’s take a deeper look at the top Butchart Gardens attractions.
Things to Do at Butchart Gardens
Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens
The Sunken Garden is Mrs. Butchart’s original garden, and is undoubtedly the attraction’s highlight.
It is the largest and most popular area of the gardens for visitors.
Surrounding the area’s central viewing point lie over 5 acres of lush gardens. From here you’ll get a glimpse of a wide variety of flowers, trees and plants, as well as a central fountain and pond.
In total, there are 151 flower beds housing over 65,000 individual bulbs planted for spring. I promise you’ll see a veritable kaleidoscope of colour here.
This is a popular spot for weddings, entertainment and other events.
The Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens is a beautiful and serene spot that is perfect for a peaceful stroll or a moment of quiet contemplation.
With over 200 metres of flowing streams, as well as a number of ponds, it oozes zen and tranquility.
The garden is designed in the traditional Japanese style. As such, it has an unmistakable grand korii (Japanese gate) marking its entrance. You’ll then encounter finely manicured hedges, gravel paths, and stone lanterns.
There is also a small pond with koi fish, and a traditional tea house where you can relax with a cup of green tea.
Though open year-round, in the spring it is especially lovely, with cherry blossoms blooming throughout the grounds. Over 500 rhododendrons and azaleas serve to augment the plentiful sakuras.
The Butchart Gardens Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is one of the newest additions to Butchart Gardens, and features over 2,500 roses of 260 different varieties.
Highlights include beautiful floribundas, ramblers, climbers and Hybrid Tea Roses.
The Rose Garden is one of the most popular areas of the Butchart Gardens, and it is easy to see why. The garden is full of vibrant colors and stunning aromas. Its blooms peak between June and early Fall.
The popular Rose Arch provides visitors with the ideal backdrop for those crucial (sorry, it’s true!) Instagram snaps.
The Rose Carousel
The Rose Carousel is a beautifully crafted wooden carousel that is a particular favourite with children.
The carousel features 30 hand-carved wooden animals and chariots. It’s decorated with carved roses and other flowers. It also contains 22 hand-painted horses that date back to the early 1900s.
While you’ll find this unique attraction within the 700 square metre Children’s Pavilion. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a ride on what is one of the only operational Edwardian carousels in North America.
Rides cost just $2.00.
The Mediterranean Garden is modeled after an Italian villa garden, and features a central fountain, cypress trees, and stone stairways.
This area showcases Victoria’s temperate climate, with its collection of over 110 lush and exotic plants.
Quite frankly, it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The 21,780 sq. ft garden is chock full of color and life, with blooming flowers and chirping birds everywhere you look. And why wouldn’t it be? After all, the Victoria area is home to Canada’s only Mediterranean sub-climate (It’s true, I swear!).
A divergent path winds through the garden, leading you past bubbling fountains and towering palm trees.
The Italian Garden
Formerly the Butchart family tennis court, the Italian Garden underwent a dramatic transformation into a colourful courtyard, with a beautiful cross shaped pond at its centre.
You’ll now find over 21,780 sq. ft. of gardens in its immediate surroundings.
And with over 22,000 spring bulbs and biennials, you can be assured there will be no shortage of colour. The garden also features a variety of fountains, sculptures, and plantings, to augment the already impressive view.
And like any Italian attraction worth its salt, the garden is home to its own gelateria! The Gelateria Benvenuto offers a tempting variety of housemade sorbetti and gelati.
The Butchart Gardens Dragon Fountain
The Dragon Fountain is one of the most popular features at Butchart Gardens. The massive fountain is located just past the Sunken Garden towards the ocean. It features a series of spectacular dragons spewing water into a large basin.
The fountain is illuminated at night, making it a popular spot for evening strolls. Visitors often stop to take photos or simply enjoy the peaceful setting.
Tacca the Bronze Boar
Tacca is a replica of a 17th century sculpture by Italian artist Pietro Tacca. Standing nearly four feet tall and weighing in at over 200 pounds, he is truly an impressive sight. But it’s his bronze colour that makes him truly unique.
According to legend, Tacca was once a normal pig who wandered into a forest where he ate a magic fruit that transformed him into a bronze statue.
Today, he stands as a reminder of the power of nature and the importance of conservation. And with his large tusks and impressive stature, he’s sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
Don’t forget to rub his headbefore you leave! Apparently it’s good luck.
The Ross Fountain is a must-see for any visitor to Butchart Gardens. Located just down the path from the Sunken Garden, its viewpoint offers visitors with a popular photo opportunity. You’ll see the fountain’s spectacular water spouts spray water in seemingly every direction.
The fountain was installed in 1964 by Robert Ian Ross, Jennie and Robert’s grandson, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Butchart Gardens. It is housed in a beautiful pond with spectacular Vancouver Island cliffs as a backdrop.
It is true urban oasis of the most stunning variety. And at night, the fountain is illuminated with colourful lights, making it a truly magical sight.
The Butchart Gardens Totem Poles
One of the main attractions at Butchart Gardens is the totem poles. The totems were carved in Coast Salish style by Master Carvers Charles Elliot of the Tsartlip Nation, and Doug LaFortune of the Tsawout Band. They depict local animals, including eagles, ravens, and bears.
While erected to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2004, the totems also serve to recognize the rich cultural heritage of the local Indigenous people – and provide a beautiful photo opportunity for locals and visitors alike.
Butchart Gardens Tickets and Prices
While online tickets to Butchart Gardens are not necessary, you can book in advance online via the official Butchart Gardens website to avoid lining up on arrival.
Many tourists choose to get all-inclusive tour packages that depart from downtown Victoria or downtown Vancouver – watch for these in the next section of my article.
Butchart Gardens Spring Ticket Prices
- Adult (18+): $35.40
- Youth (13-17): $17.70
- Child (5-12): $2.00
Butchart Gardens Summer Ticket Prices
- Adult (18+): $38.00
- Youth (13-17): $19.00
- Child (5-12): $3.00
Butchart Gardens Fall Ticket Prices
- Adult (18+): $31.80
- Youth (13-17): $15.90
- Child (5-12): $2.00
Butchart Gardens Winter Ticket Prices
- Adult (18+): $24.75
- Youth (13-17): $12.40
- Child (5-12): $2.00
Butchart Gardens Christmas Ticket Prices (Dec 1 – Jan 6)
- Adult (18+): $34.00
- Youth (13-17): $17.00
- Child (5-12): $3.00
Admission for children under 5 is free.
Butchart Gardens Tours
The Gardens are located in Brentwood Bay, about 30 minutes Northwest of Downtown Victoria.
Needless to say, it can be tricky to get to for travelers without a car. Luckily, there are many all-inclusive tour packages covering transportation, admission, and even pairings with other attractions.
Butchart Gardens Tour From Victoria
Departure: Inner Harbour | Length: 3-5 hours (depending on season) | Cost: From $79.95 CAD
I call this the no-nonsense package. An air conditioned shuttle will provide convenient Inner Harbour pick up – and drop you off later right across from the famous Fairmont Hotel.
Better yet, times are flexible running almost every hour so you can cater to your own schedule.
From there all you have to do is sit back and relax while your expert tour guide hits you with some useful nuggets of information – take advantage of them to get restaurant ideas, visit tips, and anything else.
This Butchart Gardens from Victoria tour includes:
- Butchart Gardens admission
- Transportation to and from the gardens
- Flexible Inner Harbour pick up/drop off
Butchart Gardens Tour From Vancouver
Departure: Downtown Vancouver | Length: 12 hours (approx.) | Cost: From $241.00 CAD
Wanting to fit in a quick visit from Vancouver to Victoria, but just can’t find the time?
This tour package from downtown Vancouver allows you to explore Butchart Gardens and Victoria’s Inner Harbour in one convenient day trip – so there’s no need to pack up your stuff and book another hotel.
Even better? It features hotel pick up/drop off.
Then it’s an air conditioned shuttle to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, where you’ll board a ship bound for Victoria. The 90 minute trip offers exciting opportunities to spot local wildlife, including whales, seals and eagles.
On the other side you get to visit Butchart Gardens as well as Victoria’s famous Inner Harbour – here you can explore the colonial architecture, grab a meal, explore Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and more.
This Butchart Gardens tour from Vancouver includes:
- Hotel pick up/drop off
- Shuttle transport to and from Victoria
- BC Ferries tickets (2 ways)
- Admission to Butchart Gardens (1.5 hour visit)
- Free time to explore Victoria’s Inner Harbour (2 hours)
How to Get to Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens is located in Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island.
Technically though, it’s actually in Brentwood Bay which is about a 25 minute drive from Victoria when there’s no traffic.
Related: Victoria Hop on Hop Off Bus
How to Get to The Butchart Gardens from Vancouver
There are a few different ways to get to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver.
The easiest option is to take a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. The ferry ride takes about 90 minutes, and when you arrive in Victoria, you can drive there in about 30 minutes.
Don’t have a car? You can get a bus from downtown Vancouver that includes the ferry over. From here, you can get to Butchart Gardens from the Inner Harbour using public transport.
The second option is to fly from Vancouver to Victoria.
The flight takes about 45 minutes by float plane from downtown Vancouver , and when you arrive in Victoria, you can continue on to The Butchart Gardens via taxi or bus.
This is only recommended if you’re looking for a bucketlist scenic flight across the Salish Sea.
It’s a tad pricey, so for this reason you’ll probably prefer the all inclusive packages from Vancouver.
How to Get to The Butchart Gardens from Seattle
The best way to get to Butchart Gardens from Seattle is to take a ferry.
Washington State Ferries operate a daily ferry service from Seattle to Victoria. The ferry ride takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes. The more pricey Victoria Clipper provides a quicker option and will shave about an hour of the journey.
Once you arrive in Victoria, you can take a taxi or the #81 bus to the gardens.
How to Get to Butchart Gardens from Victoria
To get to Butchart Gardens from downtown Victoria you can expect about a 25 minute drive.
If you’re using public transit to get from downtown Victoria to Butchart Gardens the #31 bus from Douglas and Pandora is the quickest option, though do keep in mind this is a journey of about 48 stops over 65 minutes.
If you’re low on time and tolerance for transit, I strongly suggest considering the Victoria all-inclusive package to eliminate the hassle.
Butchart Gardens from Victoria Airport
Unfortunately, Victoria airport transportation services are quite limited. Furthermore, Uber and Lift are not currently operational in the area. Though there is a local rideshare service called Lucky to Go.
As such, the easiest way to get to The Butchart Gardens from Victoria International Airport for travelers is by taxi. Taxis are available outside the baggage claim, and the fare to the gardens is about $35 CAD.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can take the #81 BC Transit bus. The bus fare is about $5, and the ride takes about 45 minutes. Though this likely isn’t the greatest option for families.
Best Time to Go to Butchart Gardens
They’re open all year round, but the best time to visit Butchart Gardens is obviously during the spring and summer months.
During these months, the gardens are in full bloom and there is an abundance of flowers and plants to see. Not to mention, the British Columbia weather is typically nicer during these months.
That said, Victoria hasn’t been christened the “Garden City” for nothing.
It’s home to Canada’s mildest climate, even housing a mediterranean sub-climate. So you should encounter spectacular blooms regardless of season.
Spring at Butchart Gardens
(March 18 – May 31)
The springtime is a beautiful time to visit Butchart Gardens. The gardens come alive with blooming flowers and plants, and there are often special events and activities taking place.
Many visitors enjoy the bountiful cherry blossoms, particularly in the Japanese Garden.
One of the most popular events during springtime is the Easter Egg Hunt, which takes place on Easter Sunday. During the Easter Egg Hunt, kids can search for eggs hidden throughout the gardens.
Summer at Butchart Gardens
(June 1 – September 30)
Summer is the busiest time of year at Butchart Gardens, so it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
The gardens are open late during the summer months, so you can enjoy them after a long day at work or exploring other attractions. The popular Rose Garden is in full bloom, so be sure to get in a few snaps.
As dusk settles during the Summer over 3000 subtle lights transform the Gardens into a magical wonderland. This artistic display of light and shadow offers fantastic photo opportunities, and is offered from Thursday-Sunday.
There are also a variety of special events and activities taking place during the summer months.
One of the most popular summer events at Butchart Gardens is the summer concert series. This offers free concerts at 8:00 pm every Friday and Saturday. There is also a Fireworks display and the popular Jazz Festival.
*In 2022 fireworks will not be offered due to ongoing staffing shortages.
Fall at Butchart Gardens
(October 1 – November 30)
In fall the leaves on the trees change color, and the gardens are decorated for Halloween. Greens transition to a rich sea of reds, oranges and yellows, providing a stunning backdrop.
The maples in the Japanese Garden are truly a sight to behold this time of year.
One of the most popular events during fall is the pumpkin patch, which takes place in October. Its also a great time of year to partake in a popular greenhouse tour.
Here you’ll go behind the scenes with a staff gardener to learn about a variety of topics, including plant propagation and pest management. Great for a budding green thumb. Tours are only offered on weekends.
Winter at Butchart Gardens
(December 1-March 17)
Winter at Butchart Gardens offers a quieter, more introspective visit where chirping birds and flowering blooms have given way to the crisp air.
The gardens are decorated for Christmas, and there are often special events and activities taking place.
The beauty of the well manicured shrubs, trees and flowers is still undeniable. You’ll find everything from delicate snowdrops to lush hellebore and more. The Blue Poppy restaurant is also transformed into a conservatory, lined with a host of flowering shrubs, trees and bulbs.
One of the most popular Winter events is the Santa’s Breakfast, which takes place on select weekends in December. During Santa’s Breakfast, guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet while Santa Claus roams around the gardens.
From December 1st to January 6th thousands of festive Christmas lights illuminate the attraction. This makes it one of the best times of the year to visit.
Soak in the sights and then head to the Coffee shop to warm up with a hot chocolate and gingerbread by the fire – it’s a local Christmas tradition.
*During Winter months the Japanese and Mediterranean Gardens are closed.
Butchart Gardens Hours
The Butchart Gardens are open all year round, but the hours of operation vary depending on the season.
Times posted reflect gate admissions. Visitors may stay for one hour after the gate closes.
- Spring (April 1 – May 31): 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Late Summer (Sept 11 – Sept 31): 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Low Season (Winter): 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Christmas (Dec 1 – January 6): TBA
Peak Summer Hours
Butchart Gardens’ peak Summer hours vary according to the day of visit.
Be sure to double check the hours on the day you stop by.
- Mon-Wed: 9:00 am 5:00 pm
- Thursday: 9:00 am 8:00 pm
- Fri/Sat: 9:00 am 9:00 pm
- Sunday: 9:00 am 6:30 pm
Where to Eat at The Butchart Gardens
Dining Room Restaurant
The Dining Room restaurant is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a meal after a day of exploring the gardens.
The menu features a variety of fresh, local ingredients, and the chefs are always innovating to create new and exciting dishes.
The dining room has an airy and spacious feel, with large windows that let in natural light and provide stunning views of the gardens. It is perhaps most known for its afternoon tea, an extravagant affair accompanied by British-style pastries, sweets and desserts.
All in all, this is great for a romantic special occasion dinner or sumptuous afternoon tea. Admission to the gardens is required for entrance.
Blue Poppy Restaurant
The Blue Poppy Restaurant offers a more casual alternative to the Dining Room. The restaurant is open during the summer months for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For breakfast, guests can enjoy items such as eggs benedict, pancakes, and waffles.
Lunch offerings include soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
The dinner menu features a selection of entrees, including steak, seafood, and pasta dishes. In addition to the regular menu, the Blue Poppy Restaurant also offers a kid’s menu and a specialties menu.
During low season the space is transformed into an indoor spring garden.
Gelateria Benvenuto is one of the newest additions here, and it’s already become a popular spot for guests to cool off with a sweet treat.
The artisan gelato is made fresh daily using local ingredients. Moreover, there are always a few vegan and gluten-free options available.
With over 24 flavours to choose from, there’s something for everyone at Gelateria Benvenuto. If you can’t decide on just one flavour, you can order a flight of four mini gelatos.
If you’re feeling extra indulgent, try the affogato – a scoop of gelato topped with espresso and a shot of liqueur.
Coffee Shop at Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens are a beautiful sight to behold, and their coffee shop is the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty.
The coffee shop offers a variety of espresso-based drinks, coffee, tea and Italian sodas. You’ll also find a selection of ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches.
The seating is mostly outdoors, so you can enjoy the stunning gardens while you sip on your drink.
Butchart Gardens FAQ
What is the best time of year to visit The Butchart Gardens?
The best time of year to visit The Butchart Gardens is during the spring and summer months. During these months, the gardens are in full bloom and there is an abundance of flowers and plants to see. Furthermore, all of the gardens and restaurants are open. And the weather is also generally nicer during these months.
However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds I recommend visiting earlier in the day. This is particularly true during the height of Summer. After all, the Gardens are the most popular tourist attraction in Victoria.
Are The Butchart Gardens Wheelchair Accessible?
Yes, Butchart Gardens are generally wheelchair accessible. There is a wheelchair-accessible shuttle that runs from the parking lot to the gardens. There are also wheelchair-accessible bathrooms located throughout the gardens.
However, visitors with wider-than-average wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or strollers should exercise patience and use extra caution. Certain areas of the gardens may not be easily accessible.
What are some of the events that take place at The Butchart Gardens?
Some of the events include the Easter Egg Hunt, the Summer concert series, the Fireworks display, and the Jazz Festival.
During the festive season the gardens are illuminated with thousands of lights. And Santa’s Breakfast is also a popular holiday tradition.
Is luggage storage available at Butchart Gardens?
Yes, luggage storage is available at Butchart Gardens. Luggage can be stored at the Visitor Centre.
Is Butchart Gardens pet-friendly?
No, pets are not allowed at Butchart Gardens. Only service animals are permitted.
Can you take photos at Butchart Gardens?
Yes, you can take photos. However, selfie sticks are not allowed. Visitors are also asked not to interfere with the enjoyment of other visitors – ie. do not block pathways with tripods or elaborate phot shoots.
What to wear to Butchart Gardens?
It is recommended to bring comfortable clothing and walking shoes that are seasonally appropriate. It is also important to check the weather forecast before your visit as the gardens can be muddy if it has been raining. A rain jacket or hoodie will also be a good idea outside of Summer time. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Visitors will not be permitted entry with obscene clothing, costumes and cosplay of any kind. This is to avoid detracting from the experience of others or avoid visitors being mistaken as official entertainers.
Visiting Butchart Gardens?
So there you have it: almost everything you need to know about how to visit Victoria’s Butchart Gardens.
I’m sure though that I missed something, so let’s keep the Butchart Gardens conversdation going shall we? Don’t be afraid to use the comments section below. Or alternatively, you can hit us up on the Vancouver Planner Facebook page.
Have a great time visiting Butchart Gardens.