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Things to do in Victoria

Things to do in  Victoria

Welcome to Victoria

Perched on the southeastern shores of Vancouver Island, Victoria—the capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia—has a rich colonial history dating back to the 19th century. Bus and walking tours take Garden City visitors to top attractions such as Antique Row, Beacon Hill Park, Craigdarroch Castle (a National Historic Site of Canada), Oak Bay Marina, and Mount Tolmie, while the famous Butchart Gardens delight travelers from across the world with their enchanting floral displays. Food tours showcase the region’s diverse cheeses, fine chocolates, craft beer, and divine seafood; while overhead, sightseeing seaplane flights offer bird’s-eye views over the coastal scenery. For many visitors to Victoria, though, one activity stands out among all the others: whale watching. Cruises depart from Victoria and head into the deep waters of the Salish Sea, where gray, humpback, killer, and minke whales can be seen breaching and crashing through the waves. Travelers also regularly spot other native wildlife such as marine birds, otters, porpoises, sea lions, and seals. For visitors with a little more time on their hands, three- to eight-day tours hit farther-flung destinations such as Barkley Sound; Strathcona-Westmin Provincial Park; and the snowy peaks—or summery hiking and mountain biking trails—of Whistler, where travelers can experience the best of the Canadian wilderness.

Top 10 attractions in Victoria

#1
Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

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Butchart Gardens, established in 1904, treat visitors to an enchanting floral show that changes with the seasons. Covering 55 acres (22 hectares) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the botanical space is intricately laid out into separate themed gardens with landscaping that impresses and inspires gardeners and nature lovers alike.More
#2
Victoria Inner Harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour

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A trim wedge of water rimmed with top landmarks, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the city’s bustling port. Whether you’re hopping a whale-watching cruise or enjoying a sea breeze, the Inner Harbour is an essential stop when exploring Victoria. Among its highlights are the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel and the narrow streets beyond.More
#3
Sidney (Sidney-by-the-Sea)

Sidney (Sidney-by-the-Sea)

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Sidney, British Columbia, is often called Sidney-by-the-Sea, and it’s an appropriate name. The town is flanked by Haro Strait, which flows directly into the greater Salish Sea. Most of the town’s attractions are either on the water itself or related to it.Bird watching, whale watching, kayaking and scuba diving are all popular throughout the entire region. The town is also the gateway community to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. This small park reserve protects a representative sample of the Strait of Georgia Lowlands, considered one of the most ecologically at risk natural regions in southern Canada.The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, a not-for-profit aquarium and marine education complex focusing on the Salish Sea ecosystem, is located near the Sidney Pier, while both the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Sidney Channel Important Bird Area are located nearby. Sidney is also the only Canadian port of call for the Washington State ferry system. Ferries run to and from Anacortes and the San Juan Islands.More
#4
Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

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In 1890 Scottish coal baron Robert Dunsmuir built Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia, to showcase his inordinate wealth. This 39-room hilltop mansion is rich with opulent details, including multiple turrets and chimneys, a red slate roof, stained-glass windows, wood carvings, antique furnishings, and gold-framed paintings.More
#5
Victoria Chinatown

Victoria Chinatown

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First established in the mid-19th century, Victoria Chinatown is among North America’s oldest. Now a National Historic Site, Victoria’s Chinatown is home to cafes, studios, herbalists, tea rooms, and shops, as well as the narrow Fan Tan Alley, which measures 35 inches (88.9 centimeters) wide at its narrowest point.More
#6
Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park

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Sheer natural beauty is just the start of the appeal of of Beacon Hill Park, which sprawls across the southern edge of Victoria, British Columbia. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, with a petting zoo, splash parks, playgrounds, sports fields, seemingly endless footpaths, and one of the tallest totem poles in the world.More
#7
British Columbia Parliament Buildings

British Columbia Parliament Buildings

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Built overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbor, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings form an impressive architectural and historical landmark within a few steps of downtown.When the provincial legislature outgrew its former home, the provincial government hosted an architectural competition to build the new legislative buildings. Francis Rattenbury, a then 25-year-old recent arrival from England, won with his three-building neo-baroque style plans, but construction didn’t go without its woes; the project soared beyond its original budget, but the new British Columbia Parliament Buildings did open their doors in 1898.The white marble, massive central dome, and lengthy façade combined to make an innovative and impressive monument for what, at the time, was a relatively young Canadian province. The building remains equally impressive, today, and a few new landmarks exist on its property. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front yard, while a figure of George Vancouver sits atop the central dome. There is also a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province’s fallen heroes from WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.More
#8
Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

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Fisherman’s Wharf is an eclectic combination of tourist shops and residential float homes. Although the fishing heyday has passed, at which time when a fishing vessel was tied to every slip at the Fisherman’s Wharf except the two “live aboard” docks, the atmosphere hasn’t changed much. Colorful characters still roam the docks, but now often rub shoulders with passing tourists rather than sea-hardened fishermen.The live aboard homes have been transformed into beautiful float houses, each as eclectic as the last and proudly carrying its own décor and charm.Seals are a near constant at the dock and they receive more than their share of bait from the local fish stores that aim to keep tourists happy and registers ringing. The small collection of shops includes an ice cream shop, BBQ grill, fish and chips stand, and a coffee house, alongside an excellent Fish Market and Crab Sales. There’s also some outgoing tourism, as whale watching and sea kayaking tours kick off from Fisherman’s Wharf and head out to sea through the harbor.More
#9
Fairmont Empress Hotel

Fairmont Empress Hotel

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The grand style of the Fairmont Empress hotel sets the tone for Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where boats tie up just steps from the city’s most historic landmarks. Visiting the Fairmont Empress is not just for overnight guests; afternoon tea here has been a Victoria tradition for more than a century.More
#10
Government Street

Government Street

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Running through the heart of Downtown Victoria, Government Street is home to plenty of shopping and local history. Along the Victoria Harbour front, the British Columbia Legislature Buildings and the Fairmont Empress are important historical landmarks, both designed by the untrained British architect Francis Rattenbury. His design for the BC Legislature Buildings, which uses white marble, a massive central dome, and lengthy façade to create an architecturally impressive home for the provincial government, was his first project. This early success led him to be awarded the contract to design the Empress Hotel, which is now one of the oldest hotels in Victoria. Between these two buildings lies the Royal British Columbia Museum, which houses a natural and human history museum and the British Columbia provincial archives.Heading north from the Empress Hotel, Government Street soon becomes an iconic shopping street. Native artwork, high fashion, and a variety of specialty stores holding everything from handcrafted jewelry to handmade chocolate take up the storefronts. More shopping is found just off Government Street, too, including Trounce Alley, known for its European fashion stores; Bastion Square, where local artisans sell handmade arts and crafts; and Johnson Street, which is a local’s favorite for exclusive design boutiques.The corner of Government Street and Fisgard runs beneath the Gate of Harmonious Interest and the entrance to Victoria’s Chinatown. Founded in 1858, it’s the oldest Chinatown in Canada and second only to San Francisco in North America.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Victoria

How to Spend 1 Day in Victoria

How to Spend 2 Days in Victoria

How to Spend 2 Days in Victoria

Top activities in Victoria

Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour

Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour

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49
From
US$100.25
2-Hour Grand City Tour

2-Hour Grand City Tour

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From
US$100.00
Two Hour Luxury City Tour of Victoria

Two Hour Luxury City Tour of Victoria

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6
From
US$207.29
per group
The Ultimate Group Package Tour of Victoria

The Ultimate Group Package Tour of Victoria

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From
US$561.39
per group

Recent reviews from experiences in Victoria

star-5
Fast and fun
JeanDenis_B, Jul 2021
Victoria to Vancouver Seaplane Flight
I wanted to visit Victoria and Vancouver on the same trip, so the flight option was the fastest and more fun way to do it.
star-5
Loved the tour!
Chantel_T, Jul 2021
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
We have been coming to Victoria to visit family for years and have never done the bus tour.
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Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour of Victoria
Marina_V, Jul 2021
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
Also, we didn’t get to see much of the castle, if it were possible it would’ve been nicer to get a closer look.
star-5
Really get to see the neighborhood!
Richard_S, Sep 2020
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
A great way to see the city, and Chuck gives a great running commentary when we visit the different places, and really conveys his respect and knowledge for Victoria and its neighborhoods.
star-5
A fantastic way to see Victoria! The...
Pamela M, Aug 2017
Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour
A fantastic way to see Victoria!
star-5
This was a fun and very worthwhile...
Robert J, Aug 2017
Victoria Guided Food and History Tour
Great way to see Victoria eateries at the beginning of your trip.
star-5
I would highly recommend this bike...
Janice F, Jul 2017
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
They were well organized and it is a great way to see the city.
star-5
Great experience, highly recommend...
Anna M, Jun 2016
Zodiac Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria
Great experience, highly recommend it while in Victoria, definitely the highlight of our trip, we got to see a humpback whale the only down size is we were a bit sore the next day but it was well worth the few aches and pains!
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Cruise options for Victoria were...
Shannon D, Jul 2016
Vancouver Island Rainforest Guided Hike with Private Guide
I got to see a lot of sea life we dont have here in Florida and it was a great photo spot.
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See Victoria
trayc177, Sep 2019
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
GREAT WAY TO SEE VICTORIA.
star-5
This was a wonderful bike tour. Not...
Ken P, Jul 2016
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
Our guide was great and we got to see more of Victoria than just the downtown area.
star-5
Great way to see some of the gems of...
Lynn D, Mar 2015
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
Great way to see some of the gems of Victoria.
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The best way to tour Victoria!
Salvador_M, Jul 2019
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
We got to see parts of the city that we wouldn't have if we hadn't taken the tour.

All about Victoria

When to visit

Summer is peak season in Victoria, with dry, sunny weather perfect for harborside events including the Symphony Splash and Victoria International JazzFest. If you don’t mind crowded paths, it’s also the best time to catch Butchart Gardens in full bloom. Fall has fewer tourists and discounted hotel rooms, though watch out for closed attractions around Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October.

Frequently Asked Questions
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