Victoria, BC Canada is seriously a hidden gem. Victoria, capital of British Columbia, sits on the southern end of Vancouver Island. With abundant parkland, it’s known for outdoor activities. The city's British colonial past shows in its stunning Victorian architecture. Walking through Victoria you really do feel like you're walking through a Victorian wonderland. We took the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria. The cruise ride alone was a new adventure for us; It was the morkie's first Ferry ride!!
Everything we did in Victoria was absolutely fantastic so narrowing down our favorites was really tough, but we did it! Here is a break down of everything we did during our stay.
We left Seattle early in the morning and after the 41/2 ferry ride, we made it to Victoria. After checking into the hotel and walking the morkies we headed to our first destination.
The Chinatown in Victoria, British Columbia is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco's. It is by far my favorite Chinatown. The food is fantastic and we had our fair share of dim sum. You can walk around and explore on your own or you can do one of their planned tours.
For the shoppers visiting Victoria, be sure to check out Lower Johnson Street in the city center. Locals call it LoJo, the streets colorful Victorian buildings house some of the city's best boutiques, retailers and restaurants.
We LOVE a good wine tour and this one did not disappoint!. We booked the wine tour and Butchart Gardens combo. Transportation was included for 3 wineries, vineyard tours, and plenty of tastings included. Our guide was fantastic, stopping along the way to show us more of the area with beautiful look outs. We also had a charcuterie lunch paired with...you guessed it...WINE included!
PS: They do hotel pick up and drop off for downtown Victoria.
My absolute most favorite part of Victoria. This garden puts every other botanical garden to shame. It's absolutely breathtaking and a must see! The Butchart family still owns the garden to this day and with over 55 acres so no wonder it receives over 1 million visitors a year. There is a garden for everyone here! Peak season to visit is between July and August but every season brings a different charm to the gardens. They have summer entertainment and night time fireworks on Saturdays as well (June 30th-Sept1st). Plan on a good 3 hours of strolling.
Just around the corner from Inner Harbour you will find Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf. This unique marine area is filled with floating homes, live-aboards, shops, and decadent eatery kiosks. Want to order a fresh crab or lobster on the spot? This is the spot for you!! Maybe even hop on one of the Eco-tours and see sea lions (puppies of the sea). It is truly a distinctive colorful area.
The Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historic Site in Canada. It receives over 150,000 visitors per year. There are 4 floors to this castle offering an abundance of luxurious and lavishing wood panels on the walls. The staff is very knowledgable and friendly as well. Another great Castle option is the Hatley Park National Historic Site. This stunning castle is popular since it's the home for all of the mutants in Xmen.
You cannot go to Victoria and not do tea time!! There are many different places that offer high tea but the most popular spot is at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This dashing building was built in 1908 and it's glorious. Remember to reserve your afternoon tea in the timeless Lobby Lounge. They serve house made signature scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry jams with fresh lavender from their gardens. All of this to complement 21 different flavors of loose leaf tea.
The Parliament Buildings also overlook the Inner Harbour. They offer tours Monday-Friday and they can be self guided or with a tour guide. These buildings are an architectural splendor and many people will picnic outside of the buildings and enjoy the views and warm sunshine.
The Inner Harbour in Victoria is the happening spot. We toured the different restaurants and site in the harbour and it is hands down, one of the most beautiful harbours. During the summer months, this area is a focus for festivals, shows and music. It also serves as the hub for the ferry terminal, whale watching tours, float planes and more. Most of the historic buildings in Victoria are in the Harbour or a short walk from the it.
The weather was perfect while we were in Victoria and the city has so much to offer so we highly recommend renting some bikes and touring the city that way. We spent the entire day on our bikes but even an afternoon stroll would be worth it. There are many bike/scooter rentals around Victoria. We each rented a bike and we added a kiddie trailer to Brady's bike to we could (and by we, I mean Brady) could lug the morkies around in the back. We started through Inner Harbour and followed the coast passing Beacon Hill Park, Oak Bay and Willows Beach Park. Then we headed back in a semi circle to see Craigdarroch Castle before biking back to the hotel. They also offer guided bike tours if you don't want to do your own!
Now, don't you worry! We did not forget about food..yum yum! Victoria is full of amazing places to eat so you will not go hungry here. We made a small list of favs in the areas we recommend you going. So first up is Chinatown.
Hope Key is that place. Super inexpensive and filling portions, oh, did we mention you can do a buffet and it's extremely tasty!
You cannot go to Victoria and not eat at Red Fish Blue Fish. It's a dockside seafood restaurant known for their unique hand rolled tacos! It's right on the Harbour too.
Our absolute favorite place was Canoe Brew Pub. We liked it so much we went there twice! The food is vibrant and good, the beer is cold, delicious and house made, and they have live music. We are suckers for good live music. Add music to a great outdoor patio overlooking the water...we are there all day, everyday. It's located along the shoreline in downtown on Swift St.
Hope our recommendations make your Victoria experience even better! Already been to Victoria? We would love to know some of your favorite joints and activities!