Have you ever been to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria? Walked around its Inner Harbour during dusk? Or had the legendary afternoon tea at the Butchart Garden?
If not, no worries! We have got your back.
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located on the West Coast. Since it’s close to their biggest west coast city Vancouver, it sometimes gets overshadowed but that doesn’t take away the quaint charm of the place. If you are wondering what to do in Victoria, BC, read on?
Here is a catalogue of what to do in Victoria, BC.
It’s situated on Vancouver Island but don’t let the name of the island fool you. The city of Vancouver isn’t actually there. Since it’s on an island, you have two ways to get there- on an airplane or on a ferry boat. The airport isn’t huge so there aren’t too many international flights. But there are plenty of regular flights from Seattle and Vancouver so you shouldn’t have any trouble connecting through those cities.
If you decide on a road-trip, the ferry terminal has regularly scheduled ferry service from mainland Canada and a bunch of smaller islands. There’s even a passenger ferry from Seattle to downtown Victoria.
Once you get there it’s a pretty small city so if you get a hotel near downtown Victoria you should be pretty close to everything.
With abundant parkland, it’s known for outdoor activities.
WHAT TO DO IN VICTORIA, BC
1. INNER HARBOUR
The centerpiece of Victoria is the Inner Harbor. It’s a great place to start your trip and take a walk by the water. The harbor is lower down than the road with a little path that you can take to see the water and all of the boats.
It’s lined with plenty of little food stalls and souvenir stands and places to sit so it makes for a really nice spot.
The Inner Harbor is surrounded by some of the most recognizable buildings in the city. To start with you’ve got the old Empress Hotel looking out over the water like a big coastal castle. Then on the other side is the British Columbia Legislature since Victoria is the capital of the province.
If you spend any time at the Inner Harbor you’re gonna notice that there are a lot of float planes taking off and landing on the water. The Inner Harbor is Canada’s busiest floatplane airport so you’ll see plenty of planes in the air.
After you’ve spent some time in the Inner Harbor you can take a walk over to the Ogden point breakwater. The first thing you’ll notice when you get there is that it’s decorated with some great native Canadian artwork all along. If you walk along the path all the way down, there is a lighthouse at the end of this path.
As you go you’ll be able to see across the water to the mountains over in the USA. It is definitely a great spot if you want to stare at the water.
2. FISHERMAN’S WHARF
A short walk from downtown Victoria leads to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is next in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC. It’s full of rows and rows of multi-storied colorful houseboats with each pier like its own little street so you can just wander around through it and see what it would be like to live in a little community on the water.
It even has its own little shops and restaurants there and if you look in the water you might even see a seal or two swimming around looking for some leftover food.
3. CHINATOWN, VICTORIA
Old Victoria has the second oldest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco. There’s the main Chinatown road filled with all the shops and restaurants but the coolest parts are the little alleyways that branch off the main road, little areas hidden away from the rest of the city.
Another thing that is hidden away in Chinatown is a Chinese temple on the top floor of one of the buildings. It’s easy to miss and requires going up a steep narrow staircase but it’s definitely worth it. Even though it’s small it’s a great place to visit if you’re interested in Chinese temples since it’s the oldest one in Canada that’s dedicated to the Sea God.
Apart from this, there is another alley which is of prime tourist attraction- Fan Tan Alley. Fan Tan Alley was once home to gamblers, opium dealers and restaurants but now it is just the narrowest alley in all of Canada and a prime location.
4. CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE
The next in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC is the Craigdarroch Castle. It isn’t the type of ancient stone castle you’d find in Europe. It’s a Victorian-era castle from the 1800’s which is about as close to a castle as you’ll find in North America but it’s pretty fun to tour inside and see the types of homes that ultra wealthy Europeans would built back then to remind themselves of home. It’s interesting to see the amount of time and money and materials that went into building these old mansions.
5. WHALE WATCHING TOURS
Whale watching tours are one of my favorites in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC. There are a bunch of companies that take you on such tours that depart right from the Inner Harbor so you’ll have plenty of options.
Unfortunately there isn’t any guarantee that you will see a whale with most of the companies. However there are some companies available who will guarantee free trips until and unless you get to see a whale( Yes! They are nice like that). The companies have small zodiac boats which fit a few people on them. You have to get dressed up in a life jacket though.
Not only whales, you can get a glimpse of other animals too, if you are lucky enough. Many have claimed to see an island full of sea lions as well.
6. BUTCHART GARDEN
The next place to check out on our list of what to do in Victoria, BC is Butchart Garden. Considered as a gardener’s paradise in Victoria, the Butchart Gardens is a must for many visitors.
It is considered as one of the top display gardens in the world with over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties. Located in Brentwood Bay British Columbia, the designated National Historic Site of Canada has over a million visitors a year It has a hundred and thirty acres of property out of which 55 acres are gardens.
So if you like flowers like me then this is the place for you because I have never seen so many flowers and so many different types of flowers and plants in the same place together before. They have different theme gardens like Italian garden, Japanese garden, sunken gardens.
The iconic sunken garden has long been the crown jewel of the butchart gardens. It used to be a quarry and they have completely transformed into this beautiful secret garden.
Be sure to check out the serene pond surrounded by weeping willows or climb to the top of the mound, a massive wreck of embankment rising from the center of the gardens for spectacular views.
Follow your nose to the heavily scented rose garden in the center of the grounds. Stroll beneath the arches intertwined with large varieties of grounders and climber roses. Here’s a great spot to snap a romantic photo.
This vibrant garden bursts into activity from summer to early fall. Walk through the seven types and at least 280 varieties of rose in this garden.
Apart from this it is home to almost 500 rhododendrons and azaleas as well.
So there’s lots of different areas to explore within the park. They also have nice restaurants.
Afternoon Tea at Dining Room Restaurant in Butchart garden is more like a tradition. The restaurant is decorated in the Victorian style and it looks as if it just came out of a movie set of that era.
But ticket prices are not cheap here. Tickets cost almost 35 dollars per person.
7. FAIRMONT EMPRESS HOTEL
Fairmont Empress hotel or as some people call it- Canada’s Castle is next in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC. Standing tall, it provides the entire view of the Inner Harbour and the seas. It is quite expensive and staying here might not be possible for a lot of people but one can always admire the beauty and the architecture. High tea at the Empress is also a thing here in Victoria but it is a bit on the pricier side.
8. PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Next place to check out are the parliament buildings in downtown Victoria. They are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
The buildings were constructed in the 1890s in a mix of Renaissance Romanesque and classical styles. They are stunning once you set foot inside you will be mesmerised by the mosaic floors, the elegant dome and the beautiful stained glass windows; In short it is a feast for the eyes. It turns out they are free to visit and you can do a self-guided tour and go at your own pace.
The building itself is just the majestic piece of architecture and then you have stained-glass windows with inscriptions and Latin. There’s a beautiful dome, some beautiful paintings as well as a beautiful piece of history as they start building this thing apparently from 1893.
9. JOHNSON STREET
Well if you are a shopaholic like me, then trust me you will fall in love with the next place in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC.
Johnson street is often called shoppers’ paradise. Walk over there, get a cup of coffee for yourself and start shopping. It is lined on both sides with innumerable shops of shoes, bags, dresses, accessories, gift items.
10. BEACON HILL PARK
Beacon hill park is next in the list of what to do in Victoria, BC.
This 200 acre park is located along the strait of Juan De Fuca shoreline. It provides a lot of activities for the tourists that includes a woodland as well as a shoreline hiking trail, water park, fields, ponds, gorgeous gardens, even a zoo. It even preserves a great variety of native flora.
This park is in fact a hill which overlooks the strait. The hill is important in the culture of Victoria, as the indigenous people who were the original people of Greater Victoria were buried in this hill. The park provides splendid views of the ocean as well as the Olympic Mountains.
11. HATLEY PARK NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Hatley Park National Historic Site is classified as a Federal World Heritage Site.
Located in Colwood of Greater Victoria, this historic site serves as a home to a vast forest as well. This garden includes the Hatley Castle, gardens, farmland and even hiking trails. It is home to a large number of Fir and Cedar trees. This is a good place to sit back, relax and have a piece of nature. You can click a large number of photos here and just have a quiet afternoon sitting in the shade.
This park is also available as an intimate wedding destination to people who want to get married there.
12. ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM
Next is the Royal British Columbia Museum in our list of what to do in Victoria, BC. At the Royal BC Museum, you will find out that every object is a piece of treasure and has a story behind it.
Visit the permanent galleries. Then take a tour around the natural, modern and First Nations history whose collections are over 7 million pieces.
Come explore the art gallery too and be surprised with your discoveries.
13. MINIATURE WORLD
Miniature world is one of the most popular tourist destinations in downtown Victoria.
Not just the kids but adults too have a lot of fun here at the miniature house, featuring over 85 extremely detailed miniature dioramas.
Miniature world guides you through several sections within the museum featuring history, fantasy, fairy tale and just plain old doll houses. Miniature world takes almost an hour to explore but you are sure to have a great time with your family and friends here.
Apart from these there are a lot of other things too. Nature lovers can go check out the Victoria Bug zoo and the Butterfly garden which is adorable. There are several brewery tours too which are entertaining.
What is your favorite thing to do in Victoria? Let us know in the comments down below.
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