Canada

Zoom through Victoria, BC: The regal capital city

October 7, 2018
Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

With limited vacation days a year, you get used to exploring a place on a whirlwind schedule. You can still get to know a place, even when zooming through, but Victoria, British Columbia needed more time then I could give it. Victoria is a gorgeous city, aptly named the Garden City, and is a great getaway or stop for a Vancouver Island road trip.



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Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Victoria, BC is the capital city of Canada’s most western province. Located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the city has a rich history built on trade and marine life. Given that it was named after the British monarch Queen Victoria, the city has an aristocratic feel to it, with many of the historic building located in prominent places around the city. Don’t forget to bring along a guide book – like this helpful one from Lonely Planet!

Historic Charm | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

I found the capital to be much more charming than larger, more metropolitan Vancouver. Victoria is still a sizable city with a population of more than 84,000. And given the location, Victoria is a perfect jumping off point to many marine adventures, like whale watching.

Fairmont Empress | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

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What to see in Victoria, BC

It’s easy to see and experience the regality of Victoria by walking its streets and alleys. Here are the best stops to see and best places to eat while you zoom through Victoria, BC.

Fairmont Empress

The majestic structure of the Fairmont Empress is the heart of Old Victoria. Opened in 1908, the hotel is considered to be one of the oldest hotels in Canada. It often lights up at night and is a mainstay in Victoria’s culture.

Even if you don’t stay in one of the over 400 rooms, you can still experience the charm of the Fairmont Empress through its high tea. Served every day since the hotel opened in 1908, Tea at the Empress experience is world-renowned. The tea is served in one of the most luxurious grand rooms and, while expensive, is an experience you don’t want to miss.

BC Legislature | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

The parliament buildings of British Columbia

Another winning building in the gorgeous architecture category is this stunning BC Legislature building. Here is where the province’s members of provincial parliament get together to debate and create laws. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, so of course, it would host this building. I’ve seen many of Canada’s provincial parliament buildings, but this one in Victoria outshines them all. It’s such a beautiful building, and the property is perfect for lounging in the sun and people-watching.

Confederation Garden Court

Canada wasn’t formed overnight; it took several decades for the provinces and territories to come together as one. But in 1967, when Canada turned 100, the provinces were together as one. The Confederation Garden Court depicts each of the provincial and territorial coat of arms. Nunavut was added in 1999.

Fisherman's Wharf | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Fisherman’s Wharf

It’s no surprise that Fisherman’s Wharf is a hotspot for visitors to Victoria, BC. The colourful floating homes in the shops make it a great place to explore. This unique area has shops and food kiosks and is a jumping off point for many adventurous eco-tours like whale watching and kayaking.

The floating home village is an interesting and vibrant community. There are only about a dozen or so homes, and it redefines what it means to have waterfront property. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might just see a seal or two frequent the harbour.

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Chinatown | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Chinatown

Much like Vancouver, Victoria, BC has a distinct Chinatown neighbourhood. Chinese immigrants have a long, rich and, many times, heartbreaking relationship to the growth of Victoria, BC. The district stands out with its red and gold colours and unique architecture. It has a fascinating past with gambling and opium shops, but it has become an important cultural centre for thousands of immigrants of Victoria, BC. In Chinatown, there are shops and restaurants galore. You should also stop by the Gate of Harmonious Interest, in infamous Fan Tan Alley, and the lesser known Dragon Alley.

The Gate of Harmonious Interest

This gate was built in the 80s and spans Fisgard Street in Victoria, BC. It is very similar to the Millenium Gate in Vancouver, and it’s just as beautiful.

Fan Tan Alley | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Fan Tan Alley

Tucked away in the heart of Chinatown is Fan Tan Alley. The alley is almost straight from the pages of Harry Potter book. The alley was once a gambling district with opium dens and shops, but now is a tourist destination with galleries, shops and cafes.

Dragon Alley, Chinatown | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Dragon Alley

The lesser-known Dragon Alley is just a block away from Fan Tan Alley. Here you’ll find gorgeous townhomes, a few shops, and even a little free library. It’s definitely worth a peek!

Market Square | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Market Square

Located in the trendy fashion district, Market Square is home to dozens of shops and restaurants. The historic brick buildings surrounded by an open courtyard are some of Victoria’s oldest landmarks.

Bastion Square | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Bastion Square

I get the feeling Victoria loves its alleys and squares because another one to explore is Bastion Square. This open pedestrian shopping district includes historic buildings, trendy shops and, in the summer, markets.

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Outside the downtown

If you want to get out of the downtown of Victoria, BC there are still plenty of sights to see.

Mile 0

Mile 0 marks the start of the 8,000-kilometre Trans Canada Highway. (Did you know the mid-way point of the TransCanada Highway is Chippewa Falls, Ontario. That’s how big Canada is!)

Mile 0 and the Breakwater | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

The Breakwater

The almost kilometre-long breakwater in Victoria, BC is a great place to stretch your legs. At the entrance to the breakwater is the Ogden Point sundial, an interactive piece that will help you tell the time! Along the way, make sure to spot the Na’ Tsa’ maht Unity Wall mural on the sides of the breakwater. At the very end is the lighthouse that guides the massive cruise ships into port.

Beacon Hill Park

This 200-acre park is home to sports fields, trails and more. The fourth-tallest totem pole is erected here! The tallest is in Alert Bay, BC.

Craigdarroch Castle

Built in the 1890s, Craigdarroch Castle is a Scottish-style castle known for its intricate stained glass windows.

Emily Carr House

This house was once home to one of Canada’s most famous painters – Emily Carr. Her home is now an interpretive centre dedicated to her life, her paintings and her writings. Most of her work is on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

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What to eat

With all of this exploring, you’re bound to get hungry for a decent meal. Try these places for a great meal with an enjoyable experience in Victoria, BC.

Fish and chips at Fisherman’s Wharf

Barb’s Fish and Chips is one of the best places to get the classic fish and chips to fill you up for lunch! Located at Fisherman’s Wharf, this floating fish and chip shack is a perfect place to people watch while you enjoy a tasty meal.

Venus Sophia Teahouse | Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

Afternoon tea at Venus Sophia

In my opinion, afternoon tea is something we should bring back. I mean there’s nothing better than sipping delicious tea while eating mouth-watering scones. Venus Sophia Tea Room is the best place to get high tea at a decent price. The eclectic shop has the perfect atmosphere to enjoy their delicious eats.

What to do if you’ve got extra time

Most of Victoria can be seen in a day or two, but if you’ve got extra time, you’re going to want to do two very specific things: whale watching, and exploring Butchart Gardens.

Whale watching

Whale watching is one of the best experiences to have in British Columbia. With so many whales calling the Salish Sea home, it’s the best place to view Orcas in their natural habitat. I took a whale watching tour with Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching tours Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching tours. I loved how their business is attuned to environmentalism. You can read more about my experience here.

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Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens, located about 30 minutes north of Victoria, is a National Historic Site of Canada. For over 100 years, these gardens are a treat to the eyes with the wide range of flowers and plants.

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Getting around Victoria

The best way to get around Victoria is to walk. The city is really small, and most of the places you’ll want to see are concentrated in the downtown core. However, since Victoria, BC was built around a harbour, then the Harbour Ferry is a great way to get to and from the Fisherman’s Wharf. Look for the H2O water taxi stops for a ride from the Fisherman’s Wharf to a more central location. While on this trip, we saw Harbour Air land one of its seaplanes right next to us. Harbour Air is a fleet of pontoon boats that carry about a dozen passengers to places like Victoria, Vancouver, Whistler, Tofino, Seattle and more.

So whether you stay for a day or a week, there’s always something charming to do in Victoria, BC.

Victoria, BC, located on Vancouver Island, is a regal city ready for exploring. So whether you stay for a day or a week, there's always something charming to do in Victoria, BC. #VictoriaBC #BritishColumbia #Canada #exploreCanada #exploreBC

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15 Comments

  • Reply Dana Berez July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Looks like I need to make a trip here! Loved all the information

  • Reply LindzMD July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    GAH you make me miss BC so much! I only got to Victoria for a weekend but I’d love to go back and explore more. LET’S VISIT AGAIN?!

  • Reply Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I LOVED Victoria too! It has a lot more charm than Vancouver, but I really love Vancouver lol. I missed Dragon Alley, that looks really cute!

  • Reply Nastja July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    That;s a great one! I’ve lived in Vancouver for one year and i never managed to viit Victoria, but i’m going there next year hopefully. Will pin this post to read it again then!

  • Reply Zara July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I feel ya! The constant battle of limited vacation days is always following me around!

  • Reply Orla Smith July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Lived in Vancouver for a few months and am ashamed to say never made it to Victoria. After reading your post I sincerely regret that decision! Looks really beautiful and a world of difference from a big city like Vancouver. We’ve a great excuse to go back to Canada now!

  • Reply Viola Wang July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve been to Vancouver but not to Victoria! I’ve heard so many good things. And I can see why now. 😀

  • Reply Catherine'sCulturalWednesdays July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Victoria looks like a handsome place, I love how so many cultures have left their impression.

  • Reply Razena Schroeder July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    It looks like such a pretty city with it’s colonial architecture and island location. I love good afternoon tea tradition and would love to try either of the high tea at the Fairmont Empress or the afternoon tea at the Venus Sophia tea room.

  • Reply Dani Elle Benjamin July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Victoria looks so beautiful! And I love how it pulls from other cultures like the British and Chinese. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Brittany Harris July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Seems like there are a lot of cool places to visit in Victoria! That Fisherman’s Wharf looks really cool! I bet there is a lot of good seafood there 🙂

  • Reply Milijana WorldTravelConnector July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Fabulous photos of Victoria! I had no idea that Victoria is so picturesque. Plus, I really like the fact that Victoria is a small city and all sites can be visited by walk. In general I prefer small charming cities to megalopolises. In that sense, my vote goes to Victoria once again.

  • Reply Brianna July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I visited Victoria for a few hours as part of a cruise when I was younger. I really don’t remember much. I’d love to go back though! All these little squares and alleys sound like fun to explore!

  • Reply Michelle Snell July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Oh wow, Victoria looks so beautiful. I love how it has a Chinatown and a Fisherman’s Wharf to explore. Reminded me instantly of San Francisco. LOL! Thanks for sharing your great tips!

  • Reply Sue WhereWhyWhat July 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Thank you Olivia for sharing & a great article. I was on Vancouver Island a few years ago visiting friends but was literally in Victoria for a matter of hours to catch the bus. Clearly next time I need to explore more, especially liking the look of Fishermans Wharf. Loving the photos!
    Sue

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