Victoria is one of those places that has a special place in my heart. Every time I have visited has been special, full of wonderful memories, and enjoyable in its own right.
It’s true, lots of tourists visit Victoria—and why shouldn’t they? Victoria is an awesome place to visit whether you’re looking for 5-star accommodation and a high tea, carriage ride at dusk kind of experience, or a laid-back hippy or hipster casual vibe. Or even if you’re someone who’s into surfing and hiking, looking to stop over on your way to Tofino or the Pacific Rim National Park.
During my 5+ visits to Victoria, I’ve experience a variety of ways to travel. I’ve stayed at the Fairmont Empress hotel and had tea. I’ve backpacked and taken transit across to stay for 5 nights. I’ve gone over on the ferry for day trips. And I’ve visited with many friends and family. Victoria is the kind of city where you can say “I’ve been there” and “let’s go!” in the same breath.
So, what is it that keeps me going back to Victoria time and time again (and always looking forward to the next time I get to do so)? Victoria is the culmination of a few of my favourite things about any place: nature, good food, great museums and galleries, and ease of transportation. No matter how many times I’ve been to Victoria, there are always things I don’t get a chance to do, that land on the “next time” list. Here is a quick list of things that land on my “let’s do this again” list of things to do in Victoria:
10 Things to do in Victoria1. Enjoy tea
There are several places to go to enjoy traditional English tea, complete with tiered cake stands filled with yummy things to eat. The Empress hotel serves tea in a beautiful setting, but there are also other places to check out. Try Venus Sophia for afternoon tea for vegan and gluten-free options.
It’s awesome to enjoy a relaxing tea break mid-day!
2. Visit the Parliament Buildings
Whenever I think of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, I can hear my dad saying “aaahhh, but we’ve seen it!” – like you are only allowed to see things once in your life. Can you see the sunset only once? Each time we see things – whether they’re man-made or natural, we add a little something to the mix. We’ve experienced other things in the meantime and we bring new insights to whatever we see. The Parliament buildings have been open since 1898. You can go inside for a free tour or just hang out on the huge lawn inn front to enjoy the views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
It’s awesome to wander around beautiful old buildings!
3. Stroll through the Royal B.C. Museum
It literally makes no sense, but my mom always says you can see things in museums anywhere. You and I know this cannot possibly be true. The Royal B.C. Museum has been renovated and updated several times (and of course, so have the exhibits within it) in the 15 years or so that I’ve been visiting. I would encourage you to check out an IMAX movie while you’re there, too.
It’s awesome to learn!
4. Enjoy all manner of fishy/mammal-y things at Fisherman’s Wharf
One could easily spend a day here. Especially, if you go on one of the whale-watching tours that depart from Fisherman’s Wharf. You can also rent boats to go out on the water, look at the sea lions and other animals that hang out nearby, and enjoy lots of interesting food and drink.
It’s awesome to be near the water!
5. Relax in Beacon Hill Park and Mile Zero
There’s a petting zoo, tons of peacocks wandering around, lots of little ponds filled with fish, and beautiful gardens to wander through in Beacon Hill Park. It’s a lovely, relaxing spot to bike or walk around, or maybe have a picnic.
It’s awesome to relax, surrounded by nature!
6. Take a city break to Sidney Pier
From here you can catch a passenger ferry to Sidney Spit, if you want to camp and kayak and are fine without having access to amenities. Or, it would be fun to go for a day hike, too. There are cafes and restaurants, plus shops to wander around in, but the main attraction is the water and boats to look out at. Sidney is located between the Sqwartz Bay Ferry Terminal and Victoria, so it’s a great place to stop by to or from your ferry.
Looking out at the water is awesome!
7. Get nostalgic at Hatley Castle
Maybe you recognize Hatley Castle from such movies as X-Men and Deadpool, and TV shows Smallville and the Killing. Located in the beautiful Royal Roads University campus, Hatley Castle can be toured by yourself or with a tour guide. Don’t miss the gardens at the back.
Looking around old buildings is pretty awesome!
8. Feel like you’re on the edge of the world at Fisgard Lighthouse
9. Learn about Canada’s military past at Fort Rodd Hill
Part of the same complex as Fisgard Lighthouse, Fort Rodd Hill has several oTENTik tents to stay overnight.
10. Get lost in little Chinatown
Wander down narrow alleyways that weave around and back again. This little Chinatown has plenty to keep you occupied for hours (plus, lots of great restaurants to check out).
Whether you’re in Vancouver and for some reason, haven’t made it across to Vancouver Island, or you’re a foreigner visiting Canada (and have already been to Banff), there are lots of things to do in Victoria that will leave you wondering why you hadn’t been here before and thinking about when you’ll get to visit again.