The majority of visitors to the west coast of Canada include Victoria in their itinerary…and for good reason! This harbour city has tons of charm and there’s plenty to do whether you only have a day to spend here, or are staying for a couple of nights.
Most people arrive to Victoria by taking a B.C. Ferry from the mainland to Vancouver Island and then making the drive into the city. The ferries run frequently with reservations an option…and a recommendation during the summer months! The ferry ride itself is a beautiful trip and offers amazing views of the Gulf Islands. The trip is about 1 hour and 40 minutes so relax, grab a window seat, and enjoy the ride. Masks are now mandatory on B.C. Ferries so do make sure you have one with you.
If you’re lucky you might spot orca whales from the deck of the ferry…if not then you can always book a whale-watching tour while in Victoria.
Once in Victoria there is no lack of things to fill your time. High on the list of must-sees for visitors is the famous Butchart Gardens. This tourist attraction is actually on the drive into Victoria so you could make it a stop if you arrive early enough in the day.
You could definitely spend hours here meandering along the pathways and enjoying the immense variety of flowers…
…as well as finding a peaceful spot in the Japanese garden area.
There are tours companies that offer trips to the Butchart Gardens so if you find yourself in Victoria for more than a couple of days make this one of your sights. If you are only in Victoria for the day then I would recommend staying in the downtown area and wandering the city browsing in the souvenir shops, strolling along the harbour front, and stopping for a bite to eat.
You will find the British Columbia Parliament Buildings here…
…as well as the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which opened in 1908 and has had members of the Royal Family dine here. High tea is still served here and is a wonderful way to treat yourself.
There is also a vibrant Chinatown, the second oldest in North America, within walking distance of the downtown area.
If you have a car then you might like to take a drive out to Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, an artillery fort built in the late 1890’s to protect Victoria and the naval base stationed here.
There are also numerous beach areas surrounding Victoria, as well as parks to relax in.
Once you’ve enjoyed some time in Victoria and you’re ready to catch the ferry back to the mainland you might find yourself on a sunset cruise with a view like this…
Some fun facts about Victoria…
Victoria is known worldwide as The City of Gardens
There are approximately 1500 lamp-posts with hanging baskets displayed around the city in the summer months
Approximately half a million cups of tea are served at the Empress Hotel every year