Victoria BC on the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is one of the most beautiful places in Canada to visit! With gorgeous architecture, a fascinating history and stunning natural beauty, it’s no wonder why people from all over the world flock to Victoria! Whether you’re staying right downtown, or in one of the beautiful regions of Greater Victoria, exploring the downtown core is a must! We’ve taken the guesswork out of planning and rounded up our very favourite places to go and things to do! From hidden gems that locals love to well-known sites, there is so much to see and do in the capital city!
Visit a Museum
675 Belleville St., Victoria, BC | 1-250-356-7226
This world-class institution seamlessly weaves together engaging exhibits, artefacts, and interactive displays, offering a captivating journey through the cultural and natural tapestry of BC. From exploring first nations cultures and their profound importance and connection to the land to delving into the region’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife, the RBCM provides a comprehensive way for visitors to explore and learn more about the region. The museum’s commitment to education and preservation is evident in its meticulously curated collections, making it a must-visit destination!
649 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-385-9731
Miniature World in Victoria is a delightful attraction that kids of all ages will enjoy! Nestled in the heart of downtown Victoria, this miniature exhibition showcases meticulously detailed dioramas that capture historical events, iconic landmarks, and whimsical scenes. From the marvels of fairy-tale kingdoms to the precision of historical battles, each display is a testament to the artistry and dedication of its creators. Miniature World’s charm lies in its ability to distil our world into tiny, awe-inspiring vignettes, making it a whimsical must-visit!
1040 Moss St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-384-4171
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the region’s vibrant artistic community. Home to an extensive collection of Canadian and Asian art, the gallery offers a diverse range of exhibits, from contemporary masterpieces to traditional works that span time and culture. Visitors can explore the rich cultural heritage of British Columbia through indigenous art, while also immersing themselves in dynamic contemporary exhibitions that push the boundaries of artistic expression.
Explore Victoria’s Historic Sites
501 Belleville St., Victoria, BC | 1-250-387-3046
Overlooking the picturesque Inner Harbour, The Parliament Buildings are not only the home of the Provincial Government but are also a symbol of Victoria’s political history and early architectural feats. Built by Francis Rattenbury in the late 1800’s, this building is testament to the raw materials found on the island and how this new, foreign material can be used to create a building that is as impressive and opulent as the Parliament Buildings. The neoclassical details on both the outside and inside of the building show how important this building was and still is to Victoria’s identity as the Province’s capital city. You can explore the facade and ground or go on a guided tour and get insights into the building, its history and the parliamentary process. As the sun sets, the Parliament Buildings are illuminated with thousands of sting lights, casting a radiant reflection on Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC | 1-250-592-5323
In the beautiful, historic neighbourhood of Rockland, you’ll find Craigdarroch Castle, one of Victoria’s most well-known historic buildings that offers a glimpse into the opulent world of Victorian-era architecture and history. This imposing castle, constructed for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, stands as a testament to the wealth and grandeur of the late 19th century. Explore the meticulously restored rooms adorned with period furnishings, intricate woodwork, and stained glass, and peer into the past and into the lavish lifestyle of the Dunsmuir family. The castle’s turrets and spires offer panoramic views of Victoria and its Inner Harbour, adding a scenic dimension to this historical site. Guided tours unravel the stories behind each room, detailing the castle’s history and how it weaves into the history of Victoria and Vancouver Island!
721 Government St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-384-8111
The Fairmont Empress, is an iconic building located in Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour, and stands as a regal testament to Victoria’s history. This historic luxury hotel, with its distinctive Edwardian architecture, exudes timeless elegance and sophistication and has welcomed royalty, celebrities, and discerning travellers since 1908. One of the most popular offerings is afternoon tea at The Empress – a classic British high tea service where you can enjoy incredible tea blends and sample delicious and elegant finger foods. Whether admiring the lush gardens or indulging in the spa’s rejuvenating offerings, The Empress is a place where you can experience Edwardian opulence and modern amenities in the breathtaking beauty of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC | 1-250-391-2600
This captivating Tudor Revival-style castle just outside downtown Victoria, is a popular tourist attraction and offers visitors a chance to explore this well-known castle! Originally built as a private residence for coal magnate James Dunsmuir, the castle later served as a military college and is now the home of Royal Roads University. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Hatley Castle through guided tours, exploring its grand halls, beautiful gardens, and the iconic Grant Hall. The castle’s enchanting presence is heightened by its setting on the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait, creating a harmonious blend of historic charm and natural beauty.
500 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC
Victoria’s Chinatown is Canada’s oldest Chinatown and the second oldest Chinatown in North America and is a vibrant cultural enclave, inviting visitors to learn more about the city’s rich history. Walk under the Gate of Harmonious Interest and find little shops filled with everything from fans and home decor to crockery, incredible restaurants and authentic Chinese food and so much more! At the heart of Chinatown lies Fan Tan Alley, known as the narrowest street in North America. Meander through this atmospheric alley and pop into the unique boutiques that line the alleyway.
Tour Victoria’s Gardens
800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC | 1-250-652-4422
Butchart Gardens is a horticultural masterpiece that enchants visitors with its stunning landscaping and diverse flora. This National Historic Site is renowned for its five distinct gardens: the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden, the Mediterranean Garden, the Japanese Garden and Sunken Garden. With the mild climate of the Pacific Northwest and over 50 acres of gardens to explore, Butchart Gardens allows visitors to meander through themed gardens at their own pace to enjoy its beauty in every season, from the vibrant hues of spring to the lush greenery of summer, the enchanting colours of fall and the bright lights in winter.
100 Cook St, Victoria, BC
This urban park nestled in the heart of Victoria, is one of the most beloved parks on south Vancouver Island. This expansive park is a true gem and offers visitors an adventure through meticulously landscaped gardens, serene lakes, and open meadows. Explore the vibrant rose garden, wander past duck-filled ponds, see the second tallest totem pole in North America, and discover the charm of the petting zoo and playgrounds. With its year-round appeal, the park is as popular with locals as visitors and is filled with people enjoying its beauty no matter the season!
1461 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC | 1-877-722-0272
This tropical paradise nestled in Brentwood Bay near Victoria is an immersive attraction and is a haven for nature lovers, boasting lush gardens, thousands of vibrant butterflies, exotic birds, graceful fish and peaceful turtles from around the globe! Wander through this indoor jungle where delicate creatures flutter freely amidst tropical plants and exotic flowers. The experience is not just visual but also auditory, with the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls enhancing the tropical ambiance. Knowledgeable guides share insights into the life cycle and behaviours of butterflies, and can show you some of the incredible insects in the Insectarium making it an educational and awe-inspiring journey for visitors of all ages.
631 Courtney St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-384-2847
Discover the fascinating world of the Victoria Bug Zoo, a unique and immersive experience in the heart of downtown Victoria. This one-of-a-kind attraction invites visitors to get up close and personal with an extraordinary collection of live insects and arachnids. From leafcutter ants bustling along their trails to colourful tarantulas and exotic beetles, the Bug Zoo offers a captivating journey into the incredible diversity of the insect kingdom.
Enjoy a Getaway
If you’re looking for a fun, easy weekend getaway from Victoria, consider heading south to Seattle! Opt for a scenic sea plane journey for a breathtaking aerial view of the Pacific Northwest’s stunning landscapes or book a Clipper ferry and enjoy a leisurely cruise across the Salish Sea to the vibrant city of Seattle. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or a family excursion, the ease of travel allows for a seamless experience.
This haven for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike is a perfect destination for a road trip from Victoria! The journey begins with a drive along the picturesque Malahat where you can stop at the incredible Malahat Skywalk, where you can find breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. As you wind your way through this Vancouver Island gem, be sure to explore the renowned wineries scattered across the valley! From quaint family-owned vineyards to award-winning estates, the Cowichan Valley boasts a rich tapestry of wine culture. Then, head to the little city of Duncan and explore the incredible restaurants, cafes and totem poles that are all over the downtown area. Here, you can learn a little more about the Coast Salish art and culture and enjoy delicious local food and drinks!
Experience the charm of Victoria with a stroll along the scenic Songhees Walkway, a waterfront promenade in the neighbourhood of Esquimalt that offers unparalleled views of the city’s skyline. This picturesque walkway, that you can access from downtown Victoria, takes you across the Bay Street Bridge to the Songhees as it meanders along the water, providing a perfect blend of urban beauty and natural serenity.
Embark on a memorable exploration of Victoria’s charm through a variety of walking tours, each offering a unique perspective on the city’s rich history, delectable cuisine, and mysterious tales!
Discover the Past: Step back in time as knowledgeable guides lead you through historic neighbourhoods and iconic landmarks, providing fascinating insights into Victoria’s past. This company also offers Ghostly Walking Tours that take you on a tour of Victoria’s (many) spooky sites!
A Taste of Victoria Food Tours: Tantalize your taste buds, guiding you through the city’s culinary gems, from local eateries to hidden gems, offering a delicious journey through Victoria’s diverse food scene.
This 7 kilometre seaside path winds its way along the ocean from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, past the downtown neighbourhood of James Bay all the way to Gonzales Bay at the edge of the upscale neighbourhood of Oak Bay. With incredible views of the Salish Sea, distant Olympic Mountains and fresh ocean breezes, this seaside walk is an absolute must when you’re in Victoria!
Food, Drinks & Shopping
Downtown Victoria boasts a vibrant cafe scene, offering an array of charming coffee shops, cozy corner coffee shops and trendy espresso bars. These cafes serve up a delightful blend of locally roasted brews, artisanal pastries, locally made food and inviting atmospheres, making the havens of relaxation in the heart of the city.
With an eclectic array of breweries and brewpubs, downtown Victoria is a haven for beer enthusiasts. These establishments showcase the region’s craft beer culture, offering a diverse range of locally brewed ales, lagers, and innovative blends. With inviting atmospheres and communal vibes, Victoria’s breweries provide the perfect setting for beer aficionados to savour unique and flavorful brews!
Downtown Victoria’s Lower Johnson Street (LoJo) and Market Square is a shopping haven, featuring boutique stores with trendy fashion, unique gifts, and local artisans. Nearby Government Street completes the trifecta, lined with iconic stores, creating a diverse and vibrant shopping experience.
Goldstream Provincial Park
Hike through forested trails that are lined with huge trees, find hidden waterfalls and hike up to Mount Finlayson for spectacular views.
The trails around Thetis Lake Regional Park are stunning and offer a moderate hike near Victoria. In the summer, you can stop at one of the may lake access points and jump into the water to cool off.
Elk & Beaver Lake
This beautiful trail is a popular spot for joggers and anyone looking for a moderate hike not far from Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. In the summer, this lake is a popular spot for people to bring boats, kayaks and paddleboards and explore the shores or fish from the middle of the lake.
This scenic cycling trail runs from the top of the Saanich Peninsula at Swartz Bay all the way to Victoria. It is a picturesque route that winds through the breathtaking landscapes of the Saanich Peninsula from lush farmland and coastal vistas to charming communities.
This multi-use trail runs all the way from Victoria to Sooke through picturesque landscapes, offering cyclists a captivating journey through urban and natural settings. Pedal along old rail routes, over trestle bridges, and through lush greenery, immersing yourself in the beauty of Vancouver Island.
Book a Whale Watching Tour
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while you’re visiting Victoria, whale watching should be at the top of your list!
You can find plenty of whale watching options right downtown Victoria! All along the Inner Harbour and Fisherman’s Wharf, you can find numerous highly rated whale watching tour companies that will take you out on the waterways around Victoria. From the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Georgia Strait, Victoria’s whale watching companies take you out on the water where you can see orcas, grey and humpback whales, seals, sea lions as well as bald eagles and marine birds soaring against the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains.
For the adventurous, consider a kayaking tour, offering a unique perspective on these majestic creatures. This unforgettable experience seamlessly blends sightseeing, and the enchanting waterways of the West Coast, promising a day filled with discovery and awe-inspiring encounters with nature’s wonders. These guided tours offer insights into the habits of the local marine life.
Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding
If you want an easy way to get out on the ocean, consider going kayaking or paddleboarding! Anyone can quickly hop onto either of these vessels and explore the Inner Harbour, glide through the serene waters or venture into the intricate coves along Dallas Road, taking in iconic landmarks and lush landscapes. With rental services available, enthusiasts of all levels can explore the region’s diverse marine ecosystems, from the vibrant inner city to the rugged coastline. Kayaking and paddleboarding in Victoria offer an intimate connection with nature, allowing you to enjoy the incredible natural beauty of the city.