Victoria Tourism Information
This picture-postcard provincial capital of British Columbia is regarded as North America's most English city. There is a touch of old-fashioned England represented in some of the areas streets, houses, pubs and shops. However, with an increasingly younger population, a quiet revolution has seen the lame tourist pubs, eateries and stores transformed into the kind of brightly painted bohemian shops, coffee bars and innovative restaurants. Discover the city on foot, but activity fans should also hop on their bikes: Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. The city is also host's BC's best museum, a park with magnificent views to the seafront and outdoor activities from kayaking to whale-watching! This city, is old fashioned with a twist to modern and contemporary!
Victoria has a very low humidity ratio, and almost constant offshore breezes which keep summer days from becoming too hot, yet summer evenings can cool off; therefore a sweater or a light jacket is recommended. Temperatures in the Summer can range around 15-20°C, but it can get hotter specially in July and August. Although winters are mild and rarely include snow, warmer clothing is recommended between the months of November and March with temperatures around 0-5°C.
The best time to visit Victoria is September and October or between May and June. Summer months are also recommended but are busier and accomodation is much more expensive.
Getting to Victoria by ferry is the easiest option, however you can also fly by plane, either the traditional way to the Victoria Airport or by Seaplane! See below more information about each mode:
Vancouver airport offers the quickest and most frequent flights to Victoria. Alternatively you can also take flights from other major cities in Canada with Air Canada and Westjet. The flight time from Vancouver is just over 25 minutes. When you land in Victoria Airport, there is no direct transport to the downtown. You need to take bus 88, which takes you to Mctavish Exchange, where you switch for the 72. This will take around 45 minutes to reach the downtown.
Another option, being as well, an adventure, is to fly by seaplane from Vancouver to Victoria! Harbour Air Seaplanes have been providing safe flights since 1982, and offer one way crossings from $99 (CAD), with a flight time of just under 30 minutes. You can book online or directly at the booking office at the Harbour. There are also flight tours, for those who just want a view from the sky!
If you are taking the ferry from Vancouver, and you are without a private car, the cheapest option first is to catch the Canada Line and ride the SkyTrain to Bridgeport Station. Then take bus 620 from Bay 11 to Tsawwassen ferry terminal, ride takes about 45 minutes. At the Ferry, purchase a ferry ticket for $17.50 to Victoria. Sailings generally start at 7 a.m. departing every hour on the hour with a few exceptions (see the schedule for details). The crossing time to Swartz Bay is one hour and 35 minutes. When you arrive catch the 70 express bus or 72 bus to Victoria with an expected travel time of one hour and 15 minutes or an hour on the express bus. For the return trip to Vancouver catch the 70 or 72 from the stop at Government and Superior Streets.
Once you have arrived in Victoria, busses are available to transit in the city, or if you are staying central, you can walk around, as Victoria is not a big city. However some of the major attractions are outside of the city so you need to either drive or take the bus. Bus passes for $5 (CAD) are available from the driver and are valid all day for unlimited trips. Single cash fares are $2.50 (CAD).
Below you will find the transportation maps for Victoria or alternatively check more updates and maps at the official page, BC Transit.
If you are coming for just a day, or planning to stay for a few more, there is always something to see and do in Victoria. Walk around the picturesque Inner Harbour, where you'll find popular sites like the Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as cafes and restaurants boasting wonderful views of the water view. There is far more than just a city, get a feel for British Columbia's natural side: Spend some time at the renowned Butchart Gardens, hike through Goldstream Provincial Park or enjoy a ferry ride to nearby Sooke (and keep your eyes opened for whales). Make sure you save an afternoon for the Cowichan Valley, where dozens of small vineyards offer tours and tastings. Just some of the fantastic things to keep you busy during your stay.
Below you will find more details:
- The Inner Harbour, is Victoria's primary tourist neighborhood. The harbor itself, home to various fishing boats and colorful floating homes, is framed by wide pedestrian streets, often frequented by street vendors and buskers. Numerous cafes and restaurants line the sidewalks and provide the perfect locale to savor an afternoon cup of tea. The Inner Harbour also hosts some of Victoria's most popular attractions, including the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament Buildings. If you're embarking on a boat or ferry tour, this is where you'll likely start your journey. For an even more charming scene, return in the evening, when the Parliament Buildings are lit up. You'll find the Inner Harbour across the street from the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel
- Fairmont Empress Hotel, from the Inner Harbour you will distinguish this elegant building looking towards the harbour. The hotel built in the early 20th century, is one of the region's oldest hotels. But while the interior decoration is worth a photo or two, the main reason to visit this colossal hotel (if you aren’t staying there) is for the tea. The Empress has been participating in this time-honored Victorian tradition since opening its doors, teatime continues to be a decadent affair here. The curiosity is that the tea served at the Empress is the hotel's own specially crafted brand. Despite the price tag, around CA$78 or $61 per person. So if you are tea drinker and like this style and comfort, the experience might be worth the money.
- British Columbia Parliament Buildings, these neo-baroque structures with their impressive blue dome face off against Victoria's famed Fairmont Empress Hotel and make an excellent backdrop for an Inner Harbour stroll, especially at night when the facade is dressed in lights. But if you want a closer look at the building (which dates back to 1898), the parliamentary process and the history of the province, you should consider taking a free guided tour. The Parliament Buildings are open every day during the summer from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On weekends, visitors must join a free public tour. During the winter, the buildings are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Complimentary guided tours run regularly throughout the day and last roughly 30 to 45 minutes.
- Beacon Hill Park and Fisherman's Wharf: The two locations are relatively close, so you can consider seeing them in the same morning or afternoon. The park is one of the biggest green spaces within Victoria city and offers a wide range of beautiful calm walkways, bridges and paths where to stroll along and enjoy a quiet moment. Also head to the tallest Totem in the world, located in the park! As you reach the sea front, you are able to take a walk along all the coastline. If you follow the paths boarding the coastline towards the right, (back to the city centre) you will reach Fisherman's Wharf.
Fisherman's Wharf is popular because it's the area where you can find a mix of private homes, floating on the water as well as businesses that keep the locals active, like taxi-boats, restaurants, snack bars and tours. The area is very appealing with tourists seeking the typical fish and chips from Victoria. A must try at the area!
- The Butchart Gardens, these world-renowned gardens were made and planted in 1904. Resting on 55 acres about 15 miles north of the Inner Harbour, The gardens contain flower-lined paths, which boasts more than 900 varieties of plants. Visit on a summer evening to see the gardens illuminated by colored lights and to enjoy some musical entertainment. If you're planning a summer visit and want to avoid the crowds, get there before 10:30 a.m. or after 3:30 p.m.Travelers describe the gardens as incredibly beautiful with awesome views. There is also a carousel and boat tours available on-site. Admission ranges from CA$18.75 to CA$33.80 for adults, depending on the season.
If you don't drive take bus No. 75 from the downtown, or bus 30/31 to Royal Oak Exchange and change to the 75 there.
- Goldstream Provincial Park is located about 16 km from Downtown Victoria, it houses a stunning array of flora and abundant natural beauty across its nearly 1,000 acres. But the real reason to visit this wildlife area is to witness the annual salmon migration. Between October and December, chum, coho and chinook salmon can be seen leaping upstream to their ancestral spawning beds. Riverside trails and observation platforms provide extraordinary opportunities to view this natural phenomenon, which also attracts Bald eagles, who swoop down to devour the bodies of the spawned out salmon. You should plan to wear appropriate hiking clothes and shoes so you can fully explore the park (and make your way up to the highest point in Greater Victoria – Mount Finlayson). Admission is free, unless you're planning to camp. To get its best to drive or take a tour, going by public bus means you need to change 2 times and can take up to 2 hours transit. (Take bus 50 at Douglas at Fort to Goldstream at Aldwynd, from here you still need to walk 2.5 Km to reach the park!).
- Sooke, this little community on the southern tip of Vancouver Island makes for a quaint and quiet alternative to Victoria. Sooke's harbour is filled with fishing boats rather than tourists, and its numerous parks provide a scenic backdrop for hiking, biking and horseback riding. For example, Ed MacGregor Park is an open green park which leads you down to the popular boardwalk of Sooke where you can walk along and watch fisher's catch fish and other sea species.
You'll also find an assortment of water activities here, including fishing, sailing and whale watching, thanks to the town's location on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sooke also hosts a variety of shops, art galleries and several notable festivals like the Sooke Fine Arts Show in July and August. Sooke is about 40 Km southwest of Victoria. To get there you can take tour busses, but if you don't drive, taking public busses requires several changes. (Take bus 50 at Douglas at Fort to Langford Exchange Bay A then take bus 61 towards Sooke, journey time is 1.30h).
- Sydney: A pretty town located one hour away by bus from Victoria, and only minutes from Victoria International Airport and the BC Ferries. Sidney offers small town charm, seaside walkways, spectacular scenery and mild climate. Walk around boutiques, galleries and coffee houses. There are some exquisite restaurants, spas, wineries and historical sites also to see the like the Sydney old post office and Sydney Museum. Also for more active tourism, whale watching and scuba diving trips can be arranged from the port. To reach Sydney, is 30 min drive or taking bus 70/72 from Victoria downtown.
Nightlife here is not as bustling as in Vancouver. The scene is a bit quieter and attracts an older type of tourists generally. But having said that, there are still plenty of places where to enjoy good evenings. Going out for a meal is affordable and there are plenty of options from Asian to Italian. I
Also, you will notice that when on holiday in Victoria, the feel and the taste of England is quite evident, with a number of English-style pubs, specialising is hearty dishes, such as steak pies, and good old fish and chips. Popular dining pubs in Victoria include the Irish Times on Government Street, the Spinnakers Brewpub on Catherine Street, and the Bent Mast Pub and Restaurant on Simcoe Street, next to James Bay.
Afternoon tea is also fairly commonplace in the city at venues such as the Empress Hotel, for those willing to splash out the cash!
Victoria's bustling waterfront is where you will encounter a particularly large selection of restaurants, with fairly basic and standard Canadian-style menus and great views across the Inner Harbour. For Asian dining, head to the Chinatown district.
Victoria downtown is the place to go for shopping. There are some decent souvenir shops in the Inner Harbour area, and a craft market in the summertime. For a pleasant shopping experience, visitors can wander up Government Street toward Chinatown, which has a number of shops geared to tourists and cruise passengers, and even features live music in places like Market Square. (weekends)
Prices are quite high when compared to the rest of Canada.
When visiting Victoria, don't leave it till last minute to book accomodation. The island is very popular for tourism and locals come to Victoria very often, making the prices rise, specially during the Summer and weekends. Generally prices are good, when booking in advance with Hotels costing around €50, and on occasions €30-40 if staying out of the city centre.
Private accommodation, Airbnb and Bed & Breakfast are also a popular option. There is also the possibility to book your trip to Victoria by organised tour, which includes transportation, hotels and activities. You can book from Vancouver tourism offices or online.
Hostels and budget accommodation are available, but again, booking in advance is advised as it tends to get fully booked quickly.
When visiting Victoria, it depends how many activities and tours you wish to make. The downtown is small and within a day you are able to see it all. However to discover the natural beauty of the island and the activities which you can do around, then you will need a minimum of 3 nights to fully enjoy what Victoria has to offer.
It also depends which season you come, during the Winter there is not much going on apart from Christmas markets or ice skating rings. In the Summer expect much more life and plenty to see, travel around and do!
Victoria Photo Slide 📷