Known as the City of Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia is perched on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and is one of the most beautiful places to visit on the west coast of Canada. Best known for its unique blend of old-world British charm and contemporary urban development surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, Victoria is also a hub for historical sites, unique attractions and once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing opportunities. It’s no wonder that Victoria, BC is consistently voted one of the top Canadian cities to visit! Whether you’re staying right in the heart of downtown Victoria, in picturesque Oak Bay, modern Langford, or wild Sooke you can find your perfect Pacific Northwest experience!
501 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8V 2L8 | www.leg.bc.ca
Located in the beautiful Inner Harbour, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, built by Francis Rattenbury for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 are arguably the most recognized landmark in Victoria. With a grand, ornate facade, oxidized copper domed roofs, and stately grounds these buildings certainly make an impression – and the interior is equally magnificent. Filigree, gold leaf, murals, stained glass, important artifacts and columns can be found throughout, a testament to the building’s historical and contemporary importance to the Province of BC. You can take a free guided tour to learn more about building and even watch the action when the legislature is in session!
675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8W 9W2 | www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca
Right next to the Parliament Buildings in Victoria’s Inner Harbour sits one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures: the Royal BC Museum. Founded in 1886, the museum has collected artifacts, documents and specimens of BC’s human and natural history both preserving them for the future and using them as tools to share the stories and knowledge of BC. Here, you can explore the natural and colonial history and learn more about the First Nations of BC. Plus, in the adjoining Thunderbird Park, you can see Coast Salish totem poles and the Mungo Martin House that displays striking carvings from the renowned Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw artist.
1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5 | www.thecastle.ca
Nestled in the beautiful neighbourhood of Rockland you’ll find one of the most impressive historic buildings in Victoria. Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir in the 1800s, Craigdarroch Castle this European-style castle was the Dunsmuir family home for many years. Today, the castle welcomes thousands of people each year to tour this modern-era castle and be transported to another time.
721 Government Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5 | www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria
Not long after the construction of the Parliament Buildings was completed, Francis Rattenbury was again commissioned to create the Empress Hotel as a part of the Canadian Railway project. After a long tumultuous history, the enormous chateau-style building still sits next to the Parliament Buildings in Victoria’s Inner Harbour and encompasses an entire city block. Today, guests can wander through the main floor lobby, make reservations in one of the most opulent dining rooms in the city, enjoy afternoon tea and experience a truly Victorian, heritage landmark.
800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1J8 | www.butchartgardens.com
One of the most well known tourist attractions on Vancouver Island is undoubtedly the world-famous Butchart Gardens. This National Historic Site is home to over 900 different plant varieties over fifty acres of land cultivated into five distinct gardens. Take an afternoon to wander through the lush Mediterranean Garden and fragrant Rose Garden, marvel at the precision of the Italian Garden, find your zen in the Japanese Garden and meander through the paths of the calm Sunken Garden. After the gardens, treat yourself to some delicious gelato, stop in for a coffee at the cafe or grab a table in the restaurant for a healthy lunch!
649 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC V8W 1A7 | www.miniatureworld.com
If you’re looking for the perfect family attraction in Victoria – you’ve found it! With incredible exhibits in perfect minute detail you can see two of the largest dollhouses circa 1880, explore space in the year 2201, watch the world’s smallest sawmill, walk through enchanted forests filled with castles and watch miniature trapeze at the smallest big top! It’s a uniquely Victorian experience perfect for kids of all ages!
631 Courtney St, Victoria, BC V8W 1B8 | www.victoriabugzoo.ca
Since 1997, the Victoria Bug Zoo has been delighting guests with awe-inspiring bugs from around the world! With over 50 incredible species of bugs to explore including glow-in-the-dark scorpions, giant walking sticks, gorgeous moths and butterflies and so much more both sceptics and avid entomologists of all ages are sure to have a fantastic time learning more about these incredible creatures!
2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2 | www.hatleycastle.com
Built in 1908 by James Dunsmuir, the son of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, this grand fortress-style castle was James’ home until his death in 1920 and would stay in the Dunsmuir family until 1937 when James’ wife and daughter died. Shortly after their tragic deaths, it was purchased by the government and became a Naval training base and military college. Today, Hatley Castle is the administrative offices of the prestigious Royal Roads University and has been used as the backdrop for many TV shows and movies! You can opt for a self guided tour and walk the expansive Edwardian-style gardens and home solo or book a guided tour and learn more about the estate and the people who have called it home over the years!
1461 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1J5 | www.butterflygardens.com
This enormous indoor jungle located just west of Sidney is filled with thousands of tropical butterflies, colourful birds, lizards of all sizes and more! Plus, if you’re into creepy crawlies, you can have a look at their latest exhibit, the Insectarium! Butterfly Gardens is a must see – especially if you’re looking for a family experience!
1040 Moss St, Victoria, BC V8V 4P1 | www.aggv.ca
Located just outside of downtown Victoria in the neighbourhood of Rockland, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is home to over 20,000 pieces of art making it the largest public collection in BC. With an incredible permanent display of painting and works by the renowned BC artist, Emily Carr and one of Canada’s most important Asian art collections, fascinating and inspiring temporary exhibits and passionate docents, the AGGV is a must for anyone who wants to learn more about Victoria and BC through art.
Various locations: map
If you’re a nature-lover or an outdoor enthusiast, Vancouver Island is a must! And if you’re wanting to have a truly memorable experience, you can’t go wrong booking a whale watching tour with one of our many highly-rated, local tour operators. While most tours operate year-round, the summer months are the best if you’re hoping to spot orcas, humpback and grey whales that travel through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on their yearly migration. Explore the natural beauty of the Island from a different vantage point, learn about the biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest ocean and meet some of our aquatic neighbours from eagles to sea lions, up close and personal!
Kayaking in Victoria
Various locations: map
With over 3,000km of coastline and hundreds of lakes and rivers to explore, it’s no wonder that kayaking is one of the most popular recreational activities in Victoria. Not only do paddlers have so many options but kayaking is an easy, fun and healthy way to spend a day in the capital city! Whether you’re looking for a few hours of solo paddling or a guided tour, Victoria has it! Just click on the map link and you can find rentals and guides to fit your needs!
If there’s one place that locals love to visit it’s Goldstream Provincial Park and for good reason! If you’re looking for majestic waterfalls and lush forested hiking trails near Victoria, this is where you’ll want to go. Plus, you can find paths perfect for kids or people with mobility issues and the nature house is always a great place to stop by with the family!
603 Fort Rodd Hill Rd, Victoria, BC V9C 2W8 | 250-478-5849
Tucked away on the edge of the water sits Fort Rodd Hill, a 19th-century west coast artillery fortress that was on active duty from 1895 to 1956. Here, you can learn about the life and personal stories of soldiers and lighthouse keepers through the years through interactive exhibits, artefacts and self-guided audio tours. On the edge of Fort Rodd Hill, you’ll find one of the oldest lighthouses in Canada, Fisgard Lighthouse. Built in 1860, Fisgard Lighthouse was originally a beacon to guide the British Royal Navy’s Pacific Squadron as they came into Victoria. For sixty nine years a lighthouse keeper was stationed at Fisgard Lighthouse to ensure the beacon functioned and kept vessels safe until it was automated in 1929.
100 Cook St, Victoria, BC | www.beaconhillpark.com
Beacon Hill Park is one of the most incredible places to explore in Victoria. This expansive urban park is within easy walking distance from downtown Victoria and offers visitors acres and acres of stunning landscapes from cultivated gardens and ponds, garry oak groves, moss-covered boulders, fields of grass, playgrounds and even a petting zoo! While you’re walking through this incredible garden, keep your eyes peeled for the resident peacocks that roam free and treat visitors with large, iridescent tail displays!
500 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC V8W 1R4 | www.chinatown.library.uvic.ca
When gold was discovered in the Fraser Canyon, the gold rush began in BC. Thousands of people immigrated to the province including a large Chinese population. During this time of growth, Chinatown was a collection of simple wooden huts on the edge of the remote trading post of Fort Victoria. In the following years, Chinatown grew rapidly and became a densely populated area with thriving businesses, schools, a hospital as well as successful underground gambling dens, opium factories and brothels. Today, Chinatown occupies the 500 to 600 block of Fisgard St. in downtown Victoria and is best known for being Canada’s oldest Chinatown, a National Historic Site and home to the beautiful Gate of Harmonious Interest. Here you can pop into the funky boutiques in Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in North America, browse shops filled with housewares and taste some of the best Chinese food on Vancouver Island.
When the sun is shining in Victoria, one of the best ways to spend an afternoon is to take a walk on the Dallas Road seaside trail. Beginning at picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf follow Dallas Road heading south and you can enjoy stunning views of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and crisp ocean air. On your way, you can stop in for a coffee, walk out onto the breakwater, see the world’s second tallest totem pole or take a detour to walk through Beacon Hill Park.