view of the inner harbour victoria BC looking south

The Best Free Things to Do in Victoria, BC!

Victoria, BC is an incredible destination! Nestled on the edge of the ocean on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria, the capital of British Columbia Canada is a city that is a perfect blend of history, modernity and natural beauty! Whether you’re visiting this Canadian city for the beautiful Victorian architecture, the incredible culture, shopping, dining, or natural beauty, it’s nice to take a day off of spending and do something that is fun and free! Not sure where to start? We’ve got a great list of free things to do in the capital city! Summer or winter, there are lots of free things to discover, year-round! 

Downtown Victoria

No matter what you’re looking to do, downtown Victoria is a great place to find things to do for free! Take a self-guided tour around the downtown core and explore the many heritage sites, parks and sights all within walking distance!

Victoria’s Inner Harbour


Beginning in the heart of downtown, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the heart of the city! Here, you can find whale watching tours, cafes, an incredible marina and more! The Inner Harbour is also where you’ll find the stunning Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings, and the Royal BC Museum. In the summer, the Inner Harbour walkway is filled with vendors, street performers and it’s a great place to sit, enjoy the view and watch the seaplanes take off and land! 

Fairmont Empress

721 Government St, Victoria, BC

One of the most recognizable landmarks in downtown Victoria, the Empress Hotel stands as a testament to BC’s unique history and its rapid rise in prominence and popularity in Canada’s history. While most people visit this castle-like hotel for their famous afternoon tea and incredible spa, you can still explore the hotel for free, anytime you want! Wander the halls and check out the upscale boutiques on the main floor, see the sophisticated Q Restaurant, the charming tea room, walk through the solarium and wander the grounds! 

Parliament Buildings

Government St, Victoria, BC

Designed by the same architect who built the Empress Hotel, Victoria’s Parliament Buildings (also called the Legislative Assembly) located right next to the Empress in Victoria’s Inner Harbour is another highly recognizable historic building in Victoria. This baroque-style building is the seat of government in BC and is one of the most impressive buildings in the entire province! With domed roofs and an elaborate exterior, this building’s grounds are a must visit when you’re in the downtown core! 

Royal BC Museum

675 Belleville St., Victoria, BC

Across the street from both the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings in the Inner Harbour, the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) is one of the top attractions in downtown Victoria! With incredible exhibits and an extensive permanent collection, the RBCM allows visitors to get hands-on learning about the cultural and natural history of BC and the Pacific Northwest! While admission to the museum can be costly, there is plenty to explore around the building for free! Take a look at the incredible display of First Nations totem poles, wander through Thunderbird Park and see the carvings of Chief Mungo Martin, a Coast Salish artist and one of the most important figures in Coast Salish history. Here you can also find the house of Dr. Helmcken, an important figure in BC’s integration into Canada and the original St. Anne’s Schoolhouse where many children were educated in Victoria’s early history. 

Bastion Square


If you’re in the Inner Harbour and want to do a walking tour of downtown Victoria, you’ll want to head north on Government Street, enjoy the cobbled streets, pedestrinaized blocks and do some window shopping at the boutiques that line this historic street. A few blocks from the Inner Harbour, you’ll also find the entrance to Bastion Square where Victoria’s first courthouse was located. This square is now home to charming shops and restaurants and has some neat historical architectural features and public art that you can enjoy!

Victoria’s Chinatown

500 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC

Farther north on Government Street, you can find the shopping hub of Johnson Street and take a walk through Market Square, an open-air shopping mall with plenty of neat boutiques to look in! But one of the best places to visit is Chinatown! As the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America, this National Historic Site is a fascinating place to explore! Filled with Chinese restaurants, shops, markets and stalls, you can take pictures of the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest and wander through the eclectic Fan Tan Alley – one of the narrowest alleys in North America! 

Fisherman’s Wharf

1 Dallas Rd, Victoria, BC

On the south end of the Inner Harbour, on the border of the historic neighbourhood of James Bay you can find the colourful houseboat community of Fisherman’s Wharf. This little pocket is out of the way from the rest of downtown and offers visitors a chance to see how the permanent houseboat residents live, enjoy some incredible food from the counter-service stalls, check out one of the best whale watching tour companies and watch curious harbour seals pop up to say hello! On a sunny day, there is nothing better than walking to Fisherman’s wharf, with a picnic and enjoy it in the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf Park! 

Ogden Point Breakwater

226 Dallas Rd, Victoria, BC 

From Fisherman’s Wharf, you can continue walking south, skirting the south end of James Bay and following the seaside path along Dallas Road. This 7 kilometre seaside walking path is, without a doubt, one of the most popular urban hikes in Victoria and links downtown with the neighbourhoods in south Victoria – Fairfield, Rockland, and Oak Bay. Right at the beginning of the seaside trail, visitors can find the popular Ogden Point Breakwater – a long cement path that goes straight out into the ocean and terminates at a small lighthouse. Perfect for a walk on a sunny day to watch the boats come and go or on a blustery day to brave the crashing waves, Ogden Point is a must-see, free Victoria attraction!

Beacon Hill Park

100 Cook St, Victoria, BC

This urban park is one of the most popular places for visitors and locals to spend sunny days in Victoria! In the summer months, this park offers a free wading pool for kids to cool off, playgrounds that kids will love, and a Children’s Farm with a petting zoo (entrance by donation). Even if you’re not looking for free ways to entertain kids in Victoria, Beacon Hill Park is still a great place to go! Wander through fragrant rose gardens, over stone bridges, around ponds, see enormous rhododendrons and gnarly Gary Oak groves while vibrant peacocks wander freely through the park! If you’re looking for a free version of Butchart Gardens, this is a great option! 

Hatley Castle

2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC

Just across the water from downtown Victoria near the up and coming neighbourhood of Esquimalt you can find Hatley Castle, an incredible Georgian castle built by James Dunsmuir, one of the city’s most influential historical residents! While you can pay for a guided tour of the castle itself, the grounds and marvellous gardens are open to the public and are a perfect way to spend a sunny day! Wander through the elegant rose garden, the peaceful Japanese garden and marvel at the impeccably manicured Italian garden! With weeping willows, hidden gazebos and the enchanting castle in the background, this is a beautiful place to take photos and enjoy the blooms!

Government House

1401 Rockland Ave, Victoria, BC

Nestled in the upscale, historic neighbourhood of Rockland, Government House, the home of the Lieutenant Governor of Canada is a beautiful place to explore! While the home is private property, the gardens and grounds are remarkable and totally accessible to the public! A popular place for locals to picnic, jog and hike, Government House is a must if you’re looking for a beautiful alternative to Butchart Gardens near downtown! Wander through fruit tree orchards, colourful, waist high irises, trails through Garry Oak groves, enormous rhododendrons, an aromatic herb garden and more! 

Mount Douglas


If you’re looking for an incredible hike near downtown Victoria, you’ll want to head to Mount Douglas! Located on the border between Victoria and Saanich, this hike is one of the most popular places for locals to go to get some exercise in the great outdoors! With various trails throughout the park, you can find ones that are perfect for kids, beginners as well as challenging routes to the summit! For a free way to enjoy Victoria’s natural beauty and get in a great afternoon of exercise Mount Douglas is where you’ll want to go!

University of Victoria

3800 Finnerty Rd, Victoria, BC

Exploring the University of Victoria (UVic) as a non-student is a great way to experience a mix of activities without spending a dime! Start with a leisurely walk through Finnerty Gardens, a peaceful spot with beautiful flowers and pathways. Check out the art galleries for diverse artworks and catch some of the cultural events happening on campus. You can also visit the library and archives for some quiet time and if you’re into outdoor activities, make use of the athletic facilities and nearby trails! Plus, don’t miss out on attending interesting public lectures and workshops. No matter what you are interested in, UVic offers a range of free experiences, blending nature, culture, and learning for everyone to enjoy!

Sidney Seaside Sculpture Walk


At the north end of the Saanich Peninsula is the little town of Sidney by the Sea. This charming west coast town has a lovely little main street filled with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and more! One of the best free activities to do here is to wander along the Sidney’s seaside and take yourself on the self-guided culture walk! You can see incredible sculptures from local artists and you can print off the self-guided tour or access the information here to learn about each piece!

East Sooke Park

6807 East Sooke Road, Sooke, BC

Wanna get outta town for an amazing day trip? Sooke is a beautiful town on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the westernmost town in Greater Victoria. While the town itself is a pretty stop to explore, if you’re looking for a full day of fun without spending a penny, do it like a local and get outside! East Sooke Regional Park is an enormous 15,000 hectare park with 50 kilometres of trails running through it! You can also find beaches, cliffs and coves to explore! Whether you want to head up a mountain, spot orcas from a cliff, spend a day on a sunny beach or all of the above, you can do it all right here! 

Vacations can be expensive but they don’t have to be in Victoria! With these ideas you can explore the Capitol Region on a budget!