Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia in Canada located on the south side of Vancouver Island.
For many people Victoria is known as the city of gardens. It was also one of the first insights residents shared with me when talking about Victoria.
For me, Victoria also means a soothing few-hours boat trip from Vancouver through the calm waters of the bay separating Vancouver Island from the mainland.
I spent two intense days in Victoria last June, however, because of its nature, history, and architecture, I would definitely come back to the city again. Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest (1843). The British Columbia Parliament Building and the Empress Hotel are among the most recognizable historical monuments, often highlighted in the official guidebooks. Moreover, the second oldest Chinatown in North America is located in the city (the oldest one is in San Francisco).
I was truly impressed by both architecture and nature of the city, however, the greenery here is slightly different than in other parts of British Columbia. In the city gardens, there are many varieties of colorful flowers, and the peacocks surprise you in the parks. Victoria is located by the ocean, the beaches are long and sandy, and walks through the cliffs are always too short.
Due to its Victorian architecture and a few botanical gardens (hallmarks of the city), Victoria is known as the most romantic city in Canada. At the same time, Victoria ranks as one of the best cities to live in the world. The port of the city, historic monuments, modern restaurants, craft beer markets, houses on the water and sunsets that illuminate everything that the city has to offer - each and every element of the city shapes your impressions and makes you want to stay here for longer.
Top things to do in Victoria, BC in Canada
1. Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is a park in Victoria with many gardens, bridges, and ponds. Once you reach the hill located in the park, you will notice spectacular views of the city and the ocean. In Beacon Hill Park, you can encounter the peacocks and various species of birds will fly over your head. In the park, the world's tallest totem can be found, and just in front of the entrance to the park, there is a historical building of the Royal British Columbia Museum (1886).
2. Clover Point Park
Just behind Beacon Hill Park, you can notice the coastline - start here a slow few hours walk through the rocky coast.
In addition to Clover Point Park, you can also reach Spiral Beach or Holland Point Park.
3. The Butchart Gardens
Recognized as one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world, Butchart Gardens are located in a 50-acre country setting on the southeast corner of Vancouver Island.
The Butchart Gardens are located about an hour by public bus from the center of Victoria, and you need about 2-3 hours to walk through all the paths available in the park.
In Butchart Gardens, I especially recommend stopping for a while in the Japanese garden. It's a beautiful area, very similar to those well-known from the frames of Japan.
4. Downtown Victoria
The central part of the city in Victoria, Downtown, is known for its historical monuments, beautiful architecture, and some tourist attractions. While walking through the streets, look carefully for some interesting discoveries on the way - old tenements, cafes and bookstores can be found while walking through the district. To find your accommodation in Victoria, compare prices from different websites including Booking.com and Airbnb (click here to grab an additional discount for your first stay on Airbnb).
Stop at Russell Books, a bookstore with new and used books at great prices. At lunchtime, visit Tacofino - a well-known brand in British Columbia for their delicious tacos (a very first Tacofino food truck was launched on the other side of Vancouver Island, in Tofino). Habit Coffee is a place to grab a coffee or tea, and if a bit further from the center, go try Picnic Too for a late breakfast or lunch.
The inner harbor in Victoria is located close to the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. It's a gateway to Downtown, the city's central district. The seaplanes operate from here between Vancouver and Victoria.
5. Chinatown and Fan Tall Alley
Chinatown in Victoria is known for its unique architecture, but also many local stores, restaurants, and hip bars can be found in the area.
Fan Tall Alley is a small, narrow street (claimed as the narrowest street in the country) decorated with lanterns. The alley connects Chinatown with Downtown.
While walking along the Fan Tall Alley in Chinatown, you will notice cozy handicraft shops. Stop at the local Kid Sister ice cream store known for their home made desserts.
6. Fisherman's Wharf Park
Walking from Victoria's inner harbor just off Downtown, take a stroll down David Foster Way, which is right next to the harbor and leads straight to Fisherman's Wharf Park. Here you will see the colorful houses on the water, which Victoria is famous for. It's also a great place to find one of the best Fish & Chips in the city.
7. The Ogden Point Breakwater
The Ogden Point Breakwater is a walk in the James Bay neighborhood of Victoria. The walk takes about 15-20 minutes and will take you far into the ocean. At the very end of the breakwater, there is an old lighthouse. Expect a strong wind, lots of seagulls above your head, and many opportunities to capture an amazing sunset over the ocean. The Breakwater Cafe. Bistro. Bar is located nearby to stop before or after a walk with a nice patio overlooking the ocean.
What are your favorite places in Victoria?
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