When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
The capital of British Columbia, named after Queen Victoria, is a must-see destination for visitors to Western Canada.
Victoria is a haven of peace with a proud British heritage, and a city of beautiful contrasts, where the elegance of history mingles with the panache of modern life. You will be charmed by the lovely gardens and the scenic walking route along the waterfront, offering dazzling views of the ocean.
In many ways the Victoria Harbour is the heart of the city. Serving as the departure point for many tourist activities, it attracts thousands of visitors every year, in addition to being a working harbour and hub of economic activity.
During the summer months, concerts, street performers, food trucks and artists provide enjoyment for visitors and locals alike.
Take an unforgettable whale watching tour and learn all about the fascinating orca. Don't forget your camera or video camera to capture the moment.
The nutrient-rich waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are a fertile feeding ground for ocean wildlife. Three pods of resident orcas or "killer whales" make this area their summer home.
Picture a 2-metre long dorsal fin breaking the surface close to your boat, as an 8-ton mammal comes up to the surface to breathe... It's a sight you will never forget!
Beacon Hill Park
A beautifully landscaped park with bridges, lakes and a petting zoo, Beacon Hill Park is one of downtown Victoria's crown jewels. Officially founded in 1882, the park was named after a pair of masts strategically placed on a hill to act as a beacon and navigational aid to mariners approaching Victoria's inner harbour.
Beacon Hill Park is a delightful quiet place to do some bird watching and the perfect spot for a summer picnic.
Royal BC Museum
The Royal British Columbia Museum is a history and nature museum that also houses the British Columbia Archives. Founded in 1886, the museum grew in size and importance over the decades and today houses two major collections: natural history and human history (modern, First Nations, etc.), in addition to the BC archives and many temporary exhibitions. Come and learn all about the history and culture of this fascinating province!
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Afternoon tea in Victoria
The time-honoured British tradition of "afternoon tea" is extremely popular in Victoria, a city whose English heritage is plain to be seen! "Afternoon tea" is taken during the afternoon, between lunch and dinner. The menu may vary from one place to the next, but it traditionally consists of scones with jam and, naturally, a cup of tea! Q at the Empress Restaurant at the Fairmont Empress Hotel offers an excellent Afternoon Tea menu, a tasty introduction to this beloved tradition.
Tea at the Empress is served daily between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations recommended.
Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second-oldest in North America after San Francisco. Characterized by narrow, winding streets and lots of little shops and restaurants, Chinatown abounds with hidden corners and curiosities. Take a stroll down the historic Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, or Dragon Alley, where you are sure to discover unexpected treasures.
This historic Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion was built between 1887 and 1890 on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria. It reflects the wealth of its first owner, Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. He died in 1889 before construction on the castle was completed, leaving the estate to his wife Joan, who lived there until her death in 1908. You can tour the castle with its four floors of exquisite stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and fabulous Victorian-era furnishings.
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from mid-June to early September, and in low season from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A 30-minute drive from Victoria, the Butchart Gardens features 22 hectares of wonderful floral display. This world famous attraction and National Historic Site has delighted visitors for over 100 years, since the creation of the first garden in 1904. Made up of five main theme gardens, visitors enjoy lush views as they stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns. Open year-round, the Butchart Gardens offer the chance to admire an astounding display of plants and flowers that change with the seasons. A must-see!
Open in summer from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes earlier in low season.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Blue Fox Cafe ($-$$)
Victoria’s first and foremost all-day breakfast. Not in the mood for breakfast? The menu also includes soups, sandwiches, burgers and quesadillas. Be warned, this is an extremely popular spot so you may be better off going outside of peak hours.
Open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays) and Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This unique little restaurant specializes in fish and tartines packed with new and surprising flavours. The menu also includes a variety of curries, salads, soups and share platters featuring sustainable, locally sourced and farm fresh ingredients. A local favourite!
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Stage Wine Bar ($$-$$$)
A cozy wine bar and upscale tapas restaurant. Located close to Belfry Theatre, just a few minutes from downtown Victoria, it's the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before a concert! A welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and a wine list that will charm connoisseurs and novices alike.
Open Tuesday-Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Il Terrazzo ($$-$$$)
One of the oldest restaurants in Victoria! Il Terrazzo features a large courtyard where gardens, brick walls and wood fireplaces combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu offers fine Italian cuisine accompanied by a vast selection of wines, most of which can be ordered by the glass. The ideal place for an intimate candlelight dinner!
Open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and every evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
SWANS PUB ($$-$$$)
Open since 1989, Swans is a hotel, a microbrewery and a pub. It's a great place to enjoy a casual bistro-style meal with family or friends. The warm, friendly ambiance will make you feel right at home as you sip your craft beer, glass of wine or cocktail.
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Marina Restaurant ($$$)
This seafood restaurant offers sweeping harbour views and an impressive menu featuring local sustainable seafood. The cocktail list is delightful, and the wine list, a balance of old and new world, emphasizes family-owned local wineries. Don't miss Sunday brunch: an award-winning west coast buffet with a well-deserved reputation. Brunch reservations are recommended. Note that clients also come for the sweeping ocean views!
Open Monday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., every evening from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
Where to sleep ?
Swiftsure International Yacht Race
Dates: late May 2021
Organized by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, this premier long-distance sailing race starting and ending in Victoria offers the colourful spectacle of 200 sailboats and their crews.
Victoria Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: early August 2021
Dragon boating is an extremely popular sport in British Colombia. The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival will provide you with another option if you missed the June event in Vancouver. Watch some 90 teams paddle across Victoria's Inner Harbour in an exciting, colourful 500-metre race.
- Very Favourable