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  • Butchart-Gardens-in-Victoria-BC - Sunken garden in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-Carriage-tours.jpg - Venture back to simpler times and take a carriage ride through Victoria, BC.
  • Victoria-BC-Orca-breach.jpg - Try to catch a glimpse of an orca breaching the water when you visit Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Swan-Lake-Victoria-BC - Morning at Swan Lake near Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-ocean-scene.jpg - Take time to enjoy the stunning sunsets in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-paragliding.jpg - A paraglider soars across the bay near Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-kayaking.jpg - See marine life close up while kayaking in Victoria harbour.
  • Parliament-Victoria-BC - The Parliament building in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-Craigdarroch-Castle.jpg - Tour Craigdarroch Castle to learn more about life in the 1890s in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-Symphony-Splash.jpg - The Victoria Symphony performs on a floating stage as part of Symphony Splash, one of the largest outdoor orchestral events in North America.
  • Victoria-BC-Organic-Islands-Festival.jpg - Glendale Gardens in Victoria hosts the Organic Islands Festival each July.
  • Victoria-BC-Fishermans-Wharf.jpg - Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf offers you a chance to sample the local seafood.
  • Victoria-BC-Dallas-Road-Beach.jpg - Take to a board on Dallas Road Beach during your stay in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-capitol-building2.jpg - Visitors take in the Capitol Building of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Butchart-Gardens-flowers.jpg - See the 55-acre Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., filled with beautiful flowers and winding lanes, on an American Cruise Lines vacation.
  • victoria-nourish-cafe.jpg - Nourish Cafe is a restaurant and cafe serving simple farm-fresh mains and snacks in an airy, bright Victorian house.
  • Butchart-Gardens-in-Victoria.jpg - Take a stroll through the famous Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.
  • victoria-inner-harbour.jpg - The pretty waterfront along the Inner Harbour in Victoria, British Columbia, which is also the site of Parliament.
  • Organic-Islands-Festival-girl.jpg - A girl at Glendale Gardens in Victoria. You'll find the Organic Islands Festival there each July.
  • Canada-Day-in-the-Inner-Harbour.jpg - Canada Day at Victoria's Inner Harbour.
  • victoria-hanging-flowers.jpg - Hanging flowers line the streets along the waterway in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • salad-nourish-cafe.jpg - A salad at the Nourish Café in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-violinist.jpg - A street performer plays the violin for spectators along the waterfront in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-violinist2.jpg - A violinist performs in Victoria, Canada.
  • victoria-capitol-and-harbor.jpg -  The Capitol Building and harbor of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Gatsby-Mansion-Victoria.jpg - Gatsby Mansion in Victoria, British Columbia, is a boutique B&B experience in a historic Victorian mansion.
  • victoria-pedicab.jpg - Take a pedicab for a relaxing way to see Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-horse-drawn-carriage.jpg - A horse-drawn carriage takes visitors along the waterfront of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-horse-drawn-carriage2.jpg - A horse-drawn carriage takes visitors along the waterfront of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-Canadian-celebration.jpg - Join the celebration for Canada Day in Victoria, British Columbia, on July 1st.
  • Victoria-BC-Clayoquot-Whale.jpg - Suit up for whale watching on Clayoquot Sound near Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-Harbour.jpg - The Inner Harbour in Victoria, British Columbia, is also the site of Parliament.
  • Victoria-BC-Dallas-Road-Beach1.jpg - British Columbia is known for water sports of all types, such as sailboarding (or windsurfing) near Dallas Road Beach in Victoria.
  • Victoria-BC-Oak-Bay-Village.jpg - Stroll through the streets of Oak Bay Village near Victoria and discover galleries, bistros and boutiques.
  • Victoria-BC-Orca.jpg - Hello to you, too! Whale watching is a favorite pastime in British Columbia.
  • Victoria-BC-scuba-diving.jpg - There are great scuba dive spots in the waters around Victoria Island in British Columbia.
  • victoria-capitol-building.jpg -  The Capitol Building of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • victoria-BC-Butchart-Gardens.jpg - Take a stroll through the famous Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.

Victoria travel guide: What to do & see

our guide

The vibe

The landscape of British Columbia is as diverse as it is beautiful, and the west coast, home to glorious Victoria, is no exception. From beaches to mountains, exquisite parks to enchanting architectural sites and museums, Victoria has it all. 

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is a nearly ideal Canadian city in the Pacific Northwest. With kind regards to Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, Victoria has an advantage over the rest by getting the best benefits of the region’s climate and beautiful rugged coastline, without all the rain. Victorians see more sun every year than all of their neighbors across the Juan De Fuca strait. 

Complemented by the Pacific Ocean, Victoria enjoys a strong English influence, and its Victorian architecture only adds to the feeling. During the 19th century, it was a mighty port city that was a major English outpost. Today it's a picturesque seaport that is the capital of the province and the highlight of beautiful Vancouver Island. With a pleasant climate and plenty of fabulous restaurants to keep you busy for days, Victoria is becoming a more popular vacation spot with each passing year.

Cruise ships that call on Victoria

Top reasons to go

  • The 50-acre Butchart Gardens feature more than one million plants; if you visit during the summer, you can also expect sparkling, colored lights
  • The Maritime Museum, which preserves Victoria's seagoing heritage
  • The Fairmont Empress Hotel, built in 1908, showcases the city's Victorian architecture

Top things to do & see

Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens have been amazing visitors since 1904. Robert Butchart and his wife developed and arranged the gardens, and their 50-acre wonderland gained intense notoriety. As the acclaim mounted, the Butcharts made their home a featured attraction in Victoria, and nearly a century later, there are over 1 million plants on display. During the summer, sparkling colored lights are added to the gardens.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Alaska cruises includes a stop in in Victoria, British Columbia, when you can visit beautiful, world-class Butchart Gardens.
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line's Alaska cruises includes a stop in in Victoria, British Columbia, when you can visit beautiful, world-class Butchart Gardens.

Royal British Columbia Museum

The Royal British Columbia Museum is a spectacular establishment featuring wonderful exhibits. The dioramas are incredibly lifelike, as are scenes of old towns and tribal gatherings. The Natural History Gallery displays replicas of all the regional flora from centuries past, and the accompanying ecology room is outstanding. 

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is a 154-acre parcel of land that is brimming with color and beauty. You can take a relaxing stroll or enjoy a picnic lunch under the trees. A small pool is perfect for swimming, the children's farm is a real hit with the little ones and the tennis courts are top notch. An entertaining pastime for the citizens of Victoria is lawn bowling, and there is a portion of the park sectioned off for this very endeavor. Ponds and flower beds are weaved between leisure spots and sports facilities, and the whole area is certain to warm your heart.

Maritime Museum of British Columbia

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is dedicated to preserving the culture of Victoria's seagoing heritage. From the first explorers to whaling to naval conflicts, everything is accounted for here at the Maritime Museum. Old weapons and gear are showcased, and the scale-model ships are fantastic.

Fairmont Empress Hotel

The Fairmont Empress Hotel is one of Victoria's most cherished landmarks. Built in 1908, the hotel is the epitome of Victorian opulence. Visit the Fairmont for their famous Afternoon Tea, and be sure to stop by and marvel at Miniature World, where you can view two of the world's largest doll houses, one of the world's largest model railroads, see the world's smallest sawmill in action, among other things.

Nightlife

Spinnaker's Brew Pub is known as having the best beer in Victoria, and the view out the window will have you in awe. The Jet Lounge can be found at 751 View St. (250-920-7343), and the DJ never rests as he spins upbeat music all night long. This great nightclub gets quite crowded on the weekends, but the dance floor has plenty of room for you and your friends.

Shopping

Westward Studio is located at 715 Johnson St. (250-383-0373) and specializes in West Coast indigenous artwork. The crafts and paintings are spectacular, and the jewelry is hand-made and extraordinary. Sasquatch Trading Limited sells hand-carved 14-karat gold jewelry and lovely apparel, including hand-knit sweaters, scarves, and slippers. Boutique of Leathers offers its patrons outstanding leatherwork.

Morning at Swan Lake near Victoria, British Columbia.
Alejandro Erickson / Creative Commons BYMorning at Swan Lake near Victoria, British Columbia.

Best bets for dining

The Blue Crab Bar and Grill is known as the premier restaurant in Victoria if you are looking for a spectacular shellfish dinner. The crab and prawns are standouts, and salmon with shrimp is absolutely fantastic. The daily specials are always magnificent, and if you get the option of ordering the Island lamb, be sure to seize the opportunity. Millos is an extraordinary Greek restaurant that features great food and exceptional entertainment. The baby back ribs and halibut souvlaki are tremendous, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, the belly dancers come in and really get the party going.

Best time to go

The climate in Victoria is temperate. The Pacific Northwest location should have travelers prepared for rain, but sunny days are common. Average temperatures during the summer months are in the mid-70s and stay above freezing during the winters with extremes being rare.

Fun facts

  • The Victoria Symphony performs at the harbor in front of nearly 40,000 spectators for an event titled Symphony Splash on the first Sunday in August every year.   
  • Aptly nicknamed the “City of Gardens,” Victoria is famous for gorgeous parks and foliage including many plants rarely found elsewhere in Canada.
  • Cyclists might find a new favorite vacation spot in Victoria as bicycle advocacy and outdoors groups have, over the past few decades, helped to create hundreds of miles of bike trails in and around Victoria.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships bound for Victoria dock at Ogden Point. From there, taxi and bus service is available to take you to your destination in Victoria or anywhere on Vancouver Island.

Getting around

Victoria has a wonderful bus system that features more than 40 routes that can take you around the city in an affordable fashion. The Victoria Regional Transit System operates the buses, and they can provide you with route maps and other information. If you like, you can take taxis around Victoria. Simply call Blue Bird Cabs (250-382-2222) to arrange for a pickup. Lastly, you can rent an automobile in Victoria and explore the surrounding regions of Vancouver Island at your leisure. Contact Avis for more information. If you are staying in Vancouver and would like to take a side trip to Victoria, the BC Ferries operates continuous ferry service between the two cities. Contact them for specific times and rates.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. citizens will need a passport. 

Language: Canada has two official languages: English and French; however, everywhere you go, there will be English-speaking people.

Currency: Canadian dollar but U.S. dollars are accepted nearly everywhere. 

Safety: Victoria is a generally safe city; however, there is a drug presence among people living on the streets and in the bars. This means that panhandling can be a problem.

Your take

Have you been to Victoria? Please share a story, tip or discovery. Do you have any recent photos? What was the highlight for you?

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