You’ll never want to leave…
British Columbia’s capitol, Victoria, will win your heart over with it’s postcard-perfect beauty and small town charm… But don’t be fooled; Victoria might be small in size, but she has everything a big city could offer – historical buildings, world-class cuisine, thrilling activities, a Chinatown, famous gardens, intriguing museums and craft beer breweries. Use this jam-packed mini guide as a pointer to the must-dos in Victoria or follow it step by step. We have done the planning, so you don’t have to.
Start of your first day in Victoria with a paddle on the water with the awesome crew at Victoria Kayak – no experience needed, they will teach you how to be a rock star paddler! Their morning kayak tours starts at 9.30am and a tour with them is always a fun and informative experience. You’ll learn about the interesting life in the harbour and it’s history, and if you’re lucky you might see some seals sunbathing on Seal Island or river otters playing in the water. In addition to morning tours they also do afternoon session, sunrise and sunset tours (summer and fall season) and full-day tours. More info can be found here.
Tours starting at $59
A tip from the crew: Head over to their favourite micro brewery, Hoyne Brewing Co and try their “Summer Haze” – perfect with a post paddle snack!
Next stop is lunch and you don’t have to go far to find Red Fish Blue Fish down by the waterfront. Don’t freak out when you see the long queue, we promise the food is well worth the wait! Their fish and chips is a safe bet, but their tacos is a must-try. Don’t forget a side of chowder and deep fried pickles. Enjoy!
Let the lunch sink while you visit to one of Canada’s best natural and human history museum, the Royal BC Museum. The museum has three permanent galleries; Natural History Gallery, Human History Gallery and First Nations gallery. All three galleries host their own unique exhibitions and collections of artefacts and items which displays BC’s rich history and diverse geography. In addition to the galleries, the Royal BC Museums is home to the largest IMAX screen in BC – intriguing documentaries are on every day. For IMAX show times and bookings click here. Tours and event information for the museum can be found here.
General Admission is $24
It’s time for an ice cream break, hurray! There are many vendors to choose from, but you’ll find Victoria’s softest, creamiest and tastiest ice cream at Chocolate Favoris! Choose your size and find your favourite coating amongst the 12 chocolate flavours. And then… simply enjoy the sensational delicious feeling in your taste buds.
Tip: Ask for chocolate samples so you can find a new favourite for your next visit.
With your ice cream in hand, stroll along the beautiful harbour front until you reach the Fisherman’s Warf. A perfect place to soak up some atmosphere, relax, take unique photos and have a snack or a cooling drink. You can also buy fish scraps for a few dollars to feed the local seals. When taking photos, remember that the floating homes are private property so please respect their privacy.
Tip: If you don’t feel like walking to Fisherman’s Wharf (or back) you can alway take a water taxi.
If your stomach is rumbling at this time it might be wise to listen. Head over to the local favourite to check out is Ferris’ Upstairs. Here you’ll find the best fresh seafood in all of Victoria, premium Alberta beef, excellent service and a great atmosphere. It’s a busy place so reservations are recommended and can be done here. Try the Baked Oysters – one of each, Bouillabaisse or the Fresh BC Halibut. All so freakishly delicious, fresh and colourful!
Last stop today is at The Guild Freehouse. Finish of your first day in Victoria with some nice local beer in a great atmosphere. Their ever-changing beer selection makes sure that you can come back time after time and always find something new and interesting to try out. Don’t be scared to ask for recommendations as the bartenders know their stuff.
Start of your second day in Victoria with a visit to the interesting Maritime Museum of BC. The museum might be small in size but it’s fascinating artefacts and world-class exhibitions gives it a big attitude. Get intrigued by the story revolving the disappearance of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, learn about famous explorers like Captain Vancouver and Captain Cook and be inspired by the showcased artwork. Remember to check out their calendar for upcoming events to see what’s going on when you’re visiting.
General Admission is $10
Next it’s time to have look at some creepy crawlers at the amazing Bug Zoo! This truly is a fascinating place to visit whether you’re into bugs, insects, spiders or not. Do a tour and be amazed by the guides knowledge and passion for the zoo and it’s residents. If you dare you can get hands-on with stick insects, tarantellas or scorpions. Don’t forget to check out their massive and interesting ant colony which in fact is Canada’s largest!
General Admission is $12
Is it lunch time yet? Yes, it is and Rebar is the place to go. This modern eatery serves up flavourful vegetarian dishes with locally sources ingredients. All so fresh, colourful and tasty. Our top three favourites: Mushroom and Swiss Almond Burger, Quinoa Bowl and Huevos Rancheros. Who needs meat when vegetarian food can taste so incredibly good?!
After lunch make your way over to the boutique district on Johnson Street (between Douglas and Wharf street). Here you’ll find shops for everything and everyone; from jewellery to art, clothes to comics, flowers to books… mention it and you will find it. Browse and window-shop till you drop. Also check out the (under-construction) Market Square and have a refreshing afternoon coffee at Hey Happy.
Did you know that you can find Canada’s oldest (and possibly the smallest) Chinatown in Victoria? Only two blocks over from Johnson Street, this tiny Chinatown is a must-see for both the experienced and the novice traveler. Check out their fresh produce, imported gifts and toys from China and try some delicious potstickers and bubble tea at Fan Tan Cafe.
Tip: Discover the Past does Chinatown Walks every Saturday for only $15.
It’s time to visit the impressive Craigdarroch Castle and discover it’s intriguing history. Built in the late 1800s by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir as a private residence, this castle has since served many purposes: hospital, college and conservatory of music. Today however it’s a museum. Do a self-guided tour as you step back in time to see how the privileged spent their days back in the 1890s. Don’t forget to check out their awesome shop for some great souvenirs and gifts.
General Admission is $13.95
“The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea”, Isak Dinesen once said. There will hopefully be no tears during the next hours, but we promise sweat, sea and lots of fun – it’s time to go paddle boarding! Rent a paddle board with SUP Victoria for a few hours, do a tour or take beginners lesson. Their knowledgeable and experienced staff will take great care of you. Have fun and don’t fall into the freezing water!
Rentals starts at $25/1hour and tours/lessons are $75
It’s finally dinner time again and another local’s favourite is Fiamo Pizza & Wine Bar. They serve the best authentic Italian pizza in town, creamy pastas, delicious desserts and have a great selection of wines. Their patio is a popular place to sit if it’s a warm night, though the inside space is just as cozy. Try their Poached Pear Salad, Tartuffo Pizza (Marita had it 4 times!) or the stuffed Ravioli. A piece of Tiramisu is a safe winner for the sweet tooth.
Unless all the walking, paddling, bugs and good food have taken a toll on you it’s time for some late night drinks. Head over to Veneto located at Rialto Hotel and Spin The Wheel. Trust us, you will not be disappointed!
Your last day in Victoria starts with one of the most popular things to do in Victoria, whale watching! We recommend going with Springtide Whale Watching & Eco Tours. They’ve been in the game for over 23 years, the crew members are very knowledgeable, their tours are awesome and the prices are compatible. We promise that this will be an unforgettable experience and you will never want that boat to go back to shore.
Tip: Take the Zodiac for an adrenaline-filled boat ride.
Tours starts at $109
Next, make your way over to the funky Blue Fox Cafe for some lunch. This popular place has been around since the 90’s and never fail to impress with their all-day-big-portion breakfast and juicy burgers. Our top 3 favourites: Eggs Pacifico, Full Monty Burger and Moroccan Chicken Sandwich. A table reservation is recommended!
After lunch it’s time check out the historical British Columbia Parliament Buildings. Study the impressive architecture, interesting history and the learn about BC’s parliamentary process with a self-guided tour. Allow time for security screening – make the process quicker by leaving backpacks and shopping bags behind, just don’t forget to bring you camera (or your selfie stick if that’s what you’re into)!
The small wonders at Miniature World is up next. This fun little museum will impress you with their incredibly detailed miniature figurines, fairytale exhibitions, city models and historical displays. Take your time to appreciate the fine hand-made work and astonishing small details. Top 3 highlights: The Miniature Sawmill, The Great Canadian Railway and Circus World.
General admission is $15
Continue the afternoon with a stroll to the beautiful Beacon Hill Park. This park offers a breathing space to relax and rejuvenate after long hours of sightseeing in Victoria. Bring some drinks (and snacks if desired) and check out the parks many great exotic and native trees, snap some photos of the peacocks wandering around and see if you can spot the turtles in the big pond or the bald eagle pair said to be nesting in one of the tall trees. Laying flat on your back in the grass, eyes closed and shoes off is also recommended!
Dinnertime! And the place to please you munch today is at The Tapa Bar Restaurant where you’ll find tasty Spanish inspired tapas with a twist. Guaranteed to please you palate, their wide variety of dishes includes vegan and gluten-free options. Spanish music and vibrant atmosphere is served alongside the food. Try the Coconut Lime Mussels, Chorizo Fondue or the Chile Relleno. Perfect to share, perfect just for you!
You last day in Victoria isn’t completely over yet! Head over to The Churchill for a taste of Victoria’s finest craft beers, a cocktails or a sip of whiskey. Their selection of beverages are impressive and so is their knowledge about them. Whatever you choose to drink, enjoy while you think back on the fun days spent in Victoria.
Good to Knowfg
How To Get There
Flying: You can fly into Victoria International Airport from/via Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Prince George and Edmonton with various airline companies. Victoria harbour can be reach with seaplanes from various places in BC, Seattle and the San Juan Islands – check HarbourAir and KenmoreAir for more information and updated schedules.
Bus: Victoria can be reached with Greyhound from most Canadian and US West coast cities with a few connections. From Vancouver you can get to downtown Victoria with the BC Ferry Connector or from Vancouver Airport with Pacific Coach. Public transport is the best alternative if you’re on a budget – From Vancouver you catch the skytrain and/or bus down to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, then hop on the ferry over to Swartz Bay before catching the bus again into Victoria, this takes roughly 4 hours and cost $25. Remember to bring cash for the bus ($2.5 pr.ride)
Ferry: From Seattle you can get to downtown Victoria via Victoria Clipper. If you have a vehicle you can catch the MV Coho from Port Angeles or the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, Vancouver. Alternatively, Prince of Whales have whale watching tours from Vancouver to Victoria that you can book.
Main means of getting around Victoria is on foot as most popular places are within walkable distance. Alternatively you can catch the bus ($2.5 pr. ride or $5 for a day pass), rent a bike for a few hours or a day with The Pedaler or catch the water taxies going between places in the harbour. There is no Uber in Victoria, but normal taxies are easy to haul down in the streets.
Where To Stay
Fairmont Empress (from $215/night)
Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites (from $125/night)
Dashwood Manor Seaside B&B (from $179/night)
Marketa’s B&B (from $115/night)
HI-Victoria Hostel (from $40/night)
Airbnb (from $22/night)
Also Worth Checking Out
Phillips Brewery CO – craft beer brewery tours
The Butchard Gardens – a massive beautiful garden located a short bus ride outside Victoria
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria – extensive collections and art exhibitions
Christ Church Cathedral – gothic architecture
Royal Theatre – opera and concerts
Emily Carr House – childhood home of Canadian famous painter Emily Carr
The Pedaler – various bike tours
3-Hour Sail – hands-on sailing tours
Discover The Past – various walking tours
Markets and Festivals
Moss Street Market (April-October)
Bastion Square Public Market (April-September)
Ship Point Night Market (June-September)
Victoria JazzFest (June-July)
International Busker Festival (July)
Victoria Dragon Boat Festival (August)
Victoria Fringe Festival (August-September)
Victoria Classic Boat Festival (September)
*Some businesses might have reduced hours of operation during winter season*