Victoria Inner Harbour Tours

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Victoria Inner Harbour is perhaps best known as a picturesque port frequented by more than a two hundred cruise ships each year, pouring a quarter of a million passengers, charmed I'm sure, onto shore. Their first view of the pretty city is dominated by the Olympic mountain range in the distance, and 1908 Fairmont Empress Hotel in the foreground, overlooking the magnificent yachts moored in the marina. Reflected in the crashing Pacific, this romantically lit Victorian masterpiece is famed for its afternoon high tea.

Though it's hard to top the bay's natural beauty, the dramatic coastline is aptly framed with more delightful Victorian homes, watched over by winsome Craigdarroch Castle, completed in 1890 by a Scottish coal billionaire with a taste for luxury. There's plenty of culture (and even more tourist claptrap, including a wax museum, aquarium, IMAX theater…you get the idea) to keep you busy. Consider strolling vividly landscaped Buchart Gardens, or taking a whale watching (April through October) cruise, then finishing your day with a meal in Victoria's vibrant Chinatown.

Practical Info

Enormous Vancouver Island (about the size of the Netherlands) is an impossibly scenic spot and the gateway to its spectacular snow-capped fjords and pristine beaches is the city of Victoria. You'll probably arrive here on the southern tip of the island by sea: a cruise ship, private vessel, or public ferry (two lines cross the Straight of Georgia to Vancouver; five serve Washington State in the USA.

Though the Pacific Northwest is notably rainy, Victoria is generally sunny and dry, in summer at least. It gets chilly and wet in winter, but temperatures rarely drop below freezing.

There's a useful tourist bureau InfoCentre with maps and brochures galore on the inner harbor; you can download a free phone app with maps and information at their official website.
Address: British Columbia, 100km (62mi) south of Vancouver, Canada
Hours: Open daily
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