Victoria: 21 Best Things to Do on Vancouver Island

by

Victoria Inner Harbour and the Parliament Buildings in background; flowers and grasses in foreground
Victoria Inner Harbour and the Parliament Buildings © Linda Sheppard

Victoria, the Capital of British Columbia, is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The city has a vibrant downtown area, Inner Harbour. And it has stunning views, a fantastic food scene, and gorgeous gardens. Victoria was officially named Fort Victoria in 1843 in honor of Queen Victoria; the city proudly reveals its British history in many ways.

Getting to Victoria BC is half the fun! Many tourists reach Victoria by taking one of the luxe BC Ferries from Vancouver on the BC mainland. This incredibly scenic trip through the rocky Gulf Islands departs from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver. On the cruise to Sidney, just north of Victoria, you can see bald eagles, seals, and, if you are lucky, whales! So go on an outside deck and see the local wildlife! 

Or, visitors can take the picturesque three-hour cruise from Seattle along the Washington coastline on the FRS Clipper passenger ferry. The ninety-minute ride on the Coho Ferry from Port Angeles, Washington, is a lot of fun. Both ferries dock in the bustling Inner Harbour, where all the action is!

In addition, flights arrive daily at Victoria International Airport (YYJ), and seaplanes fly directly into the Inner Harbour. 

1.    Visit Victoria British Columbia Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings, overlooking the famous Inner Harbour, are open for free self-guided tours on weekdays all year, and during the summer the buildings are also open on weekends. And the history of this building is ever so fascinating!

The government awarded Francis M. Rattenbury the building contract. Amazingly, Rattenbury designed one of Victoria’s most beloved buildings, despite being only 25 years old and having no formal training. Built between 1893 and 1897, the style of the building is classical and Romanesque. It was a huge success and led Rattenbury to design other buildings on Vancouver Island, including the Fairmont Empress.

Rattenbury returned to England after his divorce. But, sadly, his second wife’s lover murdered him in his sitting room. Take a guided tour to learn more about the Parliament Buildings and their architect.

To complete your tour of this National Historic Site, dine at the reasonably priced and oh-so-British Parliamentary Dining Room and enjoy white-cloth dining!

2.    Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Empress

Traditional afternoon tea is one of Victoria’s most luxurious experiences. It is a rite of passage! The capital city is rich in Victorian history, and the British introduced this grand tradition in the 1840s.

Francis Rattenbury started construction on The Fairmont Empress in 1904, making The Empress one of the oldest hotels in Victoria. Equally important, in 1981,it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Proudly sitting across from the Inner Harbour, this grand lady is our number-one pick for afternoon tea—for a good reason!

Sitting in the tea room is an experience in itself. Gorgeous china based on a historical pattern enhances the sophisticated surroundings. Remarkably, the original china was gifted to the Empress Hotel by the Queen Mother during her 1939 visit. Frequently, live classical music on the baby grand piano sets the tone for an opulent tea service.

Traditional tea is a meal served in three layers. First, a savory sandwich layer is presented. Then, a fresh scone with cream and jam is served. Finally, a dessert layer arrives. And, every layer is a work of art. Their Chef has created a world-class and internationally-renowned Tea; it is traditional but deliciously modern with a fresh west coast twist. And the loose-leaf tea is especially blended for the Empress Hotel!

3.    Explore the Royal BC Museum

Visit the Royal BC Museum across the road from the Parliament Buildings. Unfortunately, much of the museum is temporarily closed. But the Natural History Gallery remains open. Deep forest and realistic beach displays are lovely treats for families. And kids love the Woolly Mammoth in the Ice Age display. “Woolly” is a full-scale replica of the animal that lived 800,000 years ago. 

The IMAX Theatre on the main floor has movies for the whole family. IMAX is a full-immersion experience with sounds and sights seemingly all around you. Not only may you find yourself climbing Mt. Everest, or floating in outer space, but perhaps even examining the bottom of the ocean floor!

4.    Take an Inner Harbour Cruise Around Victoria

Victoria Harbour is considered one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. Originally, the harbor was marshland and provided food for the Lekwungen people for thousands of years. “Signs of Lekwungen” is a walkway around the Inner Harbour, showcasing the surrounding area’s history.

Boats docked at the Inner Harbour
Boats docked at the Inner Harbour © Linda Sheppard

Victoria’s Inner Harbour became Canada’s first official Inner Harbour in 1865. Now, it is the heart and soul of the capital city. Today, tourist attractions, whale-watching companies, and restaurants serving up some of the best seafood in Canada surround the Inner Harbour.

One of the best ways to see the Inner Harbour is to board the small pickle-shaped boats. Victoria Harbour Ferry tours the harbor, taking in some of the best Victoria landmarks. Additionally, the “captains” of these mini-sightseeing tours will explain some of the area’s history, making the trip fun and informative!

5.    Have Fish and Chips at Fisherman’s Wharf 

Fisherman’s Wharf is a 15-minute walk from the Inner Harbour. But, you will need the exercise before you indulge in Barb’s Fish and Chips on the dock! Also, there is a Mexican restaurant and pizza shop, plus an ice cream parlor. Or, just sit with a cold beer at one of the tables and watch seaplanes, boats, and ferries coming and going. And the houseboats are adorable, so get out your phone for selfies!

6.    If you’re in the mood for tiny, visit Miniature World

Miniature World is a wonderland for those who love small things. Discover history, culture, architecture, and fantastic fictional worlds like Space 2201 AD, displayed in 85 dioramas. Plus, Miniature World is a fabulous place to visit if you have kids!

7.    Soak in the Beauty of Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park

Colorful flowers and green Caladiums at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria
A riot of color at Beacon Hill Park © Linda Sheppard

Victoria, BC, is home to Beacon Hill Park, a 180-acre park just a ten-minute walk from downtown. And there is plenty of parking, too, so grab a spot next to the Children’s Zoo and hike to the top of the hill. Stunning views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State will be your reward. Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in the Olympic Mountains, soars almost 8,000 feet into the clouds.

Beacon Hill Park is one of the most cherished parks in Victoria. Native sword ferns grow under majestic old cedar trees. Colorful flower beds are meticulous, and floral scents float from the rose garden. In addition, large open grassy areas are perfect for games or picnics under the large Garry Oak trees. And the slope toward the beach is purple with camas flowers in the spring. The Coast Salish people have managed the Camas bulb crop for centuries.

And, if you visit during spring, seek out the spectacle of a nesting heron colony near the turtle pond by the Douglas Street entrance. The squawking parents and crying chicks will lead you to a small group of towering trees. Look up and watch the Great Blue Herons with their six-foot wingspan climbing on tree limbs to get to the large nests. Seeing this majestic bird out of the water is an odd sight! 

Fan Tan Alley, a narrow ally between tall brick buildings with red Chinese balloon lanterns hanging above the street
Fan Tan Alley © Linda Sheppard

8.    Fan Tan Alley and Victoria’s Chinatown

Fan Tan Alley in Canada’s oldest Chinatown is the narrowest commercial street in North America. In fact, it measures less than three feet at its narrowest point! Fan Tan Alley was named after the Chinese game Fan-Tan and was initially known for gambling and opium dens. Finally, in 1908, the government made opium illegal; later, the gambling clubs closed, and Chinatown fell into disrepair.

But today, Chinatown, framed by the beautiful Gates of Harmonious Interest, is one of the most enjoyed attractions in Victoria. Unique restaurants, shops, and galleries line Fan Tan Alley, so explore all the nooks and crannies and find a little treasure to take home.

Walk along Store Street from Chinatown to Market Square to see the new Johnson Street Bridge. Vibrant red tulips frame this modern white bridge that offers some of the best views of Victoria. At night, it is oh-so-pretty with the lights reflecting off the water!

9.    Attend the Royal Theatre Opera and Listen to the Victoria Symphony Orchestra

The Royal Theater is a concert hall and an opera house designed in 1912. However, the theater retains its original Rococo/Renaissance Revival style décor. It is located in the downtown core and is Victoria’s largest theater. The Royal Theater provides excellent performances for tourists and locals alike!

Victoria Symphony Orchestra

The Victoria Symphony Orchestra is one of British Columbia’s largest performing arts companies. Enjoy the Symphony at The Royal Theatre or the University of Victoria Auditorium, among other venues. They also perform up island in the small towns of Duncan and Qualicum Beach.

The Symphony performs free summer concerts. If you are lucky enough to be here when they are performing in the Cameron Bandshell at Beacon Hill Park, grab a picnic and go! But you should check their website for current performances and box office locations.

10. Explore the Victoria Art Gallery

Located ten minutes from downtown Victoria, the Victoria Art Gallery is great for exploring and learning about various artists and their works. The gallery has collected art for 70 years and has one of the world’s finest Pacific Rim and Asian art collections. Also, they have current exhibitions, hands-on experiences, and outdoor art at different times throughout the year, so check out their offerings. They might even have an Emily Carr Exhibition you can see!

11. Visit a Famous Artist’s Home: The Emily Carr House

Emily Carr is a widely acclaimed Canadian artist. And you will find her statue in front of the Empress Hotel with a monkey on her shoulder, her dog Billie at her feet, and a sketchbook in her hands. 

In 1898 Emily Carr made a trip to Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. The people of the village of Nuu-chah-nulth made a significant impression on Carr. Eventually, she traveled to other villages in Alaska and throughout British Columbia, ultimately adopting the Indigenous name “Klee Wyck.” Her paintings now sell for over $3 million!

The Emily Carr House reflects a little of what life was like for the renowned Canadian painter and author. Its proximity to Beacon Hill Park and the ocean shoreline inspired Carr’s lifelong interest in natural scenery and her viewpoint of coastal British Columbia.

Emily Carr was buried at Ross Bay Cemeteryonly ten minutes from town. Also, the cemetery is renowned for its hauntingly stunning 100-year-old trees!

12. Visit Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is one of Victoria’s biggest tourist attractions close to downtown Victoria. Coal baron Robert Dunsmuir built this mansion during the reign of Queen Victoria between 1887 and 1890. Now, it is a meticulously restored National Historic Site. The exotic woods are polished to a high shine, giving visitors an idea of privileged life in the 1890s.

Craigdarroch Castle outside view native stones
Craigdarroch Castle © Linda Sheppard

Climb the castle tower for a spectacular view of downtown Victoria and the Olympic Mountains!

13. Go on a Victoria Whale-Watching Tour

Victoria is a hotspot for whales and whale watching. There are many excellent tour companies, several in the Inner Harbour area.

Prince of Whales

Prince of Whales is well known in Victoria for providing thrill-of-a-lifetime whale-watching trips to view whales and other sea creatures like porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, and seals. (But you don’t need to go far to see seals in Victoria; they are found all around Vancouver Island, even in Victoria’s Inner Harbour!)

Prince of Whales and other whale-watching tour companies are open year-round. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is home to different whales during the year. You can see Humpback Whales, Grey Whales, Minkes, Orcas, and others at various times. So, with all these whales frequenting the area, you have a good chance of seeing them in their natural habitat.

For an adrenaline-pumping adventure, book a Zodiac or Scarab whale-watching tour. These boats carry a dozen or so guests, and they move fast! The staff will outfit you in a survival suit, the engine will start, and soon the wind will be in your face and the spray in your hair. If your luck holds, you will witness majestic whales breaching in the salty sea.

You can book a catamaran or cruiser with a comfortable covered space and outdoor viewing decks. These larger vessels carry more guests, have snacks and drinks, and offer washroom facilities. But don’t think for a minute this comfort means you won’t have an impressive whale-watching experience! Witnessing these wondrous animals is truly a life-affirming experience. And if you are visiting in the summer, you should take a sunset tour. There is nothing like witnessing a massive whale fluke sliding into the Salish Sea only to rise again close by.

Victoria Whale Watching

Victoria Whale Watching also allows you to book a trip while in Victoria. Be prepared to feel the connection between these warm-blooded animals that breathe the same air as us and communicate regularly between themselves. And while Humpbacks live approximately 50 years, Orcas can live to 90 or longer.

In fact, in 2017, Granny, the matriarch of the local J2 pod and the world’s oldest Orca, passed away at the age of 105. Unlike the mammal-eating transient Orcas around Vancouver Island, the resident pods only eat salmon.

14. Savor Gastronomic Delights

Victoria is well-known for its fantastic food scene. Victoria has more restaurants per person than any other city in Canada and more than double the number in Toronto! The chefs here use the surrounding oceans and farmland to produce inspired meals. And Victoria has a few culinary firsts: Canada’s first Brewpub, Spinnakers Brewpub, on the shore of Middle Harbour, and Canada’s first chocolatier, Rogers’ Chocolates. Here are a few of the fantastic bakeries and restaurants located along Fort Street.

Dutch Bakery and Crust Bakery

The Dutch Bakery is one of the most well-known bakeries in town. Victorians know that tasty treats are inside when a pink and white box with a wooden shoe comes home! While downtown, pick up a box filled with savory pies, Cheese Swirl Crackers, oh-so-luxurious Cream Hazelnut Cookies, or some traditional Dutch cookies.

Also located in the heart of Victoria, the Crust Bakery is half a minute from the Dutch Bakery. It was named Victoria’s Best Bakery when it opened in 2013 and has a loyal following. And Crystal and Tom Moore reveal their roots by offering Australian Pavlova and Lamingtons with passion fruit and lychees. If you have never tried them, now is the time! Be sure to pick up some slow-fermented sourdough or croissant sandwiches for a picnic on one of Victoria’s stunning beaches!

Café Brio

One of the best places to dine is the romantic Café Brio on Fort Street. Quality, locally-sourced food is used to prepare the heavenly Italian-influenced meals. Plus, everything is prepared in-house, including the delicious fresh bread, and they prepare brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Take the time to savor a meal of local seafood like Saltspring Island Mussels in a leek cream sauce and freshly picked vegetables. And add a serving of homemade pasta or risotto and a bottle of good wine. Ahhhhh, fantastic! 

Insider tip:  Try the Sticky Date Toffee Pudding for dessert!

Rebar Modern Food

The vegetarian, vegan, or veggie-lover will love juices and smoothies at Rebar Modern Food. This popular eatery makes everything from scratch and offers the tastiest food anywhere.

You’ll love the funky ambiance as much as the fresh food. Eggs Kurosawa, lox, and latke bennies make for a great brunch. Their quesadillas, blackened-fish tacos, curries, and burgers are delicious choices for lunch or dinner. Rebar Modern Food has so much to offer! And you can buy their award-winning cookbook before you leave so that you can cook these dishes at home.

Boom and Batten at Night with lights on
Boom and Batten at Night © Boom and Batten

Boom and Batten Restaurant and Cafe

Across the white Johnson Street Bridge is the Boom and Batten Restaurant next to the Victoria International Marina. The expansive windows allow for beautiful city and water views, and the lights twinkle across the water at night.

The restaurant is casually elegant, and the culinary team creates meals inspired by the bountiful Pacific Northwest. Of course, brunch and lunch are delicious, creative, and perfectly plated. But go for dinner if you can. Start with the Water’s Edge Highball with locally-made Sheringham Seaside gin. Then indulge in their spectacular Seafood Tower, made with locally sourced tuna, sablefish, scallops, mussels, clams, and oysters. Enjoy the finest ingredients from local waters.

Milestones

Milestones has excellent food, impeccable and super-friendly servers. Plus, there are stellar views of the Empress, Inner Harbour, and Legislative Buildings. Does it get any better?

Yes, it does get better! Start your meal with their signature Bellini. Next, enjoy a mouth-watering, perfectly plated west coast sensation. Order a la carte or choose their prix fixe dinner called Date Night. It is a three-course meal with a starter, a sumptuous local fish or meat dish, and a dreamy dessert. And dessert pairs perfectly with a sparkling Prosecco or cappuccino! 

However, you should call ahead for reservations, and ask for a window booth. Tell them you are a visitor to Victoria. They love visitors!

Il Terrazzo Ristoranté

One of Victoria’s premier restaurants is Il Terrazzo Ristoranté, in the historic old town district. Order from their Northern Italian menu and enjoy the west coast influence. You’ll be impressed by what they offer, from fresh pasta dishes to mouth-watering pizzas.

Choose from the intimate dining room filled with aromas from the kitchen or the brick-walled patio warmed by crackling fireplaces. You’ll appreciate Terrazzo’s ambiance, attentive service, and impressive wine list. However, since it is one of the most popular restaurants in Victoria, we recommended reservations.

15. Go shopping at Cook Street Village

Another great place to visit in Victoria is Cook Street Village. Located in Victoria’s Fairfield neighborhood, it has a relaxed modern vibe. Plus, the coffee shops have ample outdoor seating; Victoria’s donut culture is alive and well at Empire Donuts. Cook Street Village has health food stores, pubs, a wine bar, antique shops, and unique clothing stores.

Some of the most popular spots include Kay’s Korner (for antiques), Surroundings (antiques and home decor), Lifestyle Markets (for health food), Paws on Cook Pet Store Inc., The Root Cellar (for super fresh produce), Big Wheel Burger, and The Collective Wine Bar and Kitchen.

16. Have a Massage at Oak Bay Beach Hotel

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel on the waterfront is an elegant boutique resort just a ten-minute drive from downtown Victoria. It was built in the English Manor House style to honor the hotel of the same name that sat in the location for 90 years. In addition, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel was named the number one Hotel in Canada for 2021 and 19th in the world, according to readers of the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.

For the ultimate spa experience, book a treatment at the Boathouse Spa. This serene haven will rejuvenate your body, relax your mind and soothe your soul. And the Salish Seaside Gazebo Treatments overlooking the water are heavenly in summer.

But remember to schedule a time to relax even more deeply in the ocean-view mineral pool and sauna for a small additional charge. And, on a clear day, you can see a snowy-topped Mt. Baker, an extinct volcano in Washington State!

17. Visit Gardens and Zoos in Victoria

Victoria is called the Garden City for a reason: the city has beautiful public gardens for you to see. Awash in pink during cherry blossom time, Victoria proudly shows off a rainbow of color in summer gardens. Then, the city quietly offers yellows and reds in fall. In addition, you will see many stunning private gardens as you tour the city.

Butchart Gardens

A visit to Victoria is only complete once you have been to the Butchart Gardens. Located in Brentwood, just a forty-minute drive from downtown, it is one of Victoria’s most visited and beloved attractions. 

In 1912, Jennie Butchart began transforming the limestone quarry her husband used to produce cement. Amazingly, Jennie transformed the Sunken Garden into a riot of blooms using only a horse and cart! In fact, she continued her work to create the Japanese GardenItalian Garden, and the fragrant Rose Garden.

Butchart Gardens has remained in the family; it now has over 55 acres of meticulously maintained gardens, 900 varieties of bedding plants, and 50 gardeners.

Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden, with its stone walls and short cliffs on all sides, nestles beneath a canopy of trees. Understandably, it is Victoria’s most photographed attraction. As you walk past stunning flower beds, you arrive at Ross Fountain. The fountain puts on a choreographed water performance to visitors’ delight. “Ooohs” and “Ahhhhs” can be heard all around. 

Japanese Garden

Christmas lights at night in the gardens, reflecting in the pond
Christmas at Butchart Gardens © Linda Sheppard

The Japanese Garden on Tod Inlet feels peaceful and respectful, with fountains and a quiet brook wandering under Japanese maples. Rhododendrons, azaleas, and cherry trees bring year-round color. Thoughtfully placed benches provide a place for solitary contemplation.

Italian Garden

The Italian Garden, originally the Butchart’s tennis court, is now filled with fragrant flowers around a colorful pond. And finally, the stunning Mediterranean Garden holds new fragrances and exotic plants from around the world.

Butchart Gardens changes seasonally: from brilliantly-colored spring bulbs to daylilies stretching towards the sun in summer to stunning chrysanthemums and dahlias showing off fall colors. In addition, Christmas light displays are placed throughout the gardens in winter, giving the grounds a magical feeling. At the same time, music from carolers floats on the cool winter air, warming your heart.

Every season and every visit is unique, but it is always breathtaking. You will remember it for a long time after you leave!

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is another excellent attraction. Walking through the tropical jungle, you will see over 70 species of butterflies, so if you love butterflies, it is a must-see! But there are also iguanas, poison dart frogs, tortoises, flamingos, and colorful tropical birds flying freely through the garden. And the enclosed butterfly garden is located close to Butchart Gardens. 

Abkhazi Garden

Abkhazi Garden, only a ten-minute drive from downtown, is another reason Victoria is nicknamed “The Garden City.” The small intimate gardens grew from an international love story between Prince and Princess Abkhazi. After years of separation, they married, settled in Victoria, and referred to the garden as “their child.”

The garden contains exotic and native plants in wilderness settings accented by local Garry Oak trees. The exquisite teahouse offers exceptional seasonal food and delicious afternoon teas. Every season offers a new delight! 

Victoria Bug Zoo

One of the best things to do with kids is to encounter some of the world’s most exciting living insects. The Victoria Bug Zoo, one block from the Fairmont Empress, has more than 50 fascinating bugs and Canada’s largest ant colony. In addition, they have an educational program to learn more about how insects are essential for keeping ecosystems in balance. The Victoria Bug Zoo has many fun things that kids will enjoy, and they might get to hold a tarantula!

18. See Totem Poles and Learn about Victoria’s First Nations’ people

Victoria sits on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen people. Signs of the culture are all around Victoria, so make sure to view the totem poles.

Thunderbird Park is the best place to view totem poles. You will find it next to the Royal British Columbia Museum. The Thunderbird is a mythological bird depicted in many Indigenous cultures; you will see them on totem poles all around British Columbia. Also located in Thunderbird Park, is a house built by the well-known carver Chief Mungo Martin.

And in Beacon Hill Park, you will see a 128-foot (38.9 meters) tall totem pole, the tallest totem pole in the world for many years. However, today’s tallest totem pole, which measures 173 feet (52.73 meters), resides in Alert Bay, British Columbia. 

While the Beacon Hill Totem Pole is no longer the tallest, it does have one extraordinary feature. If you view the pole and see an eagle on the top, that eagle is not part of the totem pole! Often, a resident bald eagle perches at the very top to have a commanding view of the water, the source of the eagle’s next meal!

To learn more about the local history, join a Lekwungen Walking or Canoe Tour. These tours depart from Ship Point in the Inner Harbour. And they are a great way to learn about the indigenous heritage from a local cultural guide!

19. Niagara Falls in Goldstream Provincial Park

Goldstream Provincial Park is located 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown Victoria and is always worth a visit. The river runs between towering trees until it meets the Salish Sea. At chum salmon spawning time, from mid-October to December, you will witness thousands of fish swimming upstream to lay and fertilize eggs in the pebbles before they die. As a result, Bald eagles gather to take advantage of the salmon run, illustrating the circle of life firsthand.

Niagara Falls in Goldstream Park is impressive but not the world-famous attraction (located south of Toronto.) Still, it is incredible, with the falls plunging about 155 feet (47.5 meters). And, after a good downpour, the volume of water can triple! So check here for directions to view the waterfall.

One of the best local mountain hikes starts at Goldstream Park. Mount Finlayson is steep and offers an outstanding view of Saanich Inlet and the Malahat Drive up the island. But, dress for the weather, take food and water, stay on the main path, and plan to get back before dark. Overall, Mt. Finlayson is a superb hike for experienced adult hikers to enjoy stunning views!

20. Hop on a Bike and Pedal the Galloping Goose Trail

Follow the famously scenic 34-mile-long Galloping Goose Trail, part of the Trans-Canada Trail. It starts at BC’s capital and reaches the ghost town of Leechtown, near Sooke.

Since some of the trails follow an old railway line route, it is an easy ride. And, the path is great for walking, running, and rollerblading. Also, horseback riding is allowed on some of the rural sections. No matter where you join the trail, the scenery and fresh air are exhilarating!

21. Unique Things to Do Near Victoria

Victoria has much to offer. And, the rest of Vancouver Island does too!

We recommend the day trip to Jordan River with a stop in Colwood at Hatley Castle. Since there are beautiful gardens and views of the bird sanctuary, you should buy picnic supplies in Sooke. Then, walk in the woods beside the expansive beach at French Beach. And finally drive 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) further to the final destination of the Jordan River. At last, sit on a log and watch the surfers while you enjoy your picnic.

Or head up the island on the Trans-Canada highway and visit Chemainus, known for its 53 outdoor murals. And stop at the Malahat Skywalk to walk above the trees and ascend the spiral Skywalk for the best views of the mountains and the Salish Sea. Then slide your way down on the Spiral Slide! Continue to Chemainus to enjoy lunch at one of the quaint restaurants.

Tofino

If you have more than a day to explore Vancouver Island, visit Tofino and enjoy the wild west coast. From Chemainus, drive to Coombs, known for the goats on the roof of the eclectic grocery store unlike any other! Then head to Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park and walk among the giant old-growth Douglas fir.

When you arrive at Tofino, let out a sigh and enjoy Mother Nature at her best with outstanding natural beauty all around. But, we recommend two nights here at least; there is so much to do, and you can learn about it by reading about why Tofino will make you fall in love!

Hotel Zed

Hotel Zed is the perfect hotel to stay at in Tofino. It has a relaxed 1970s vibe and access to a peaceful bird sanctuary. Also, it boasts one of the best restaurants in Tofino–ROAR, which uses live fire to cook the food!

Couple sitting on deck overlooking water at the Bird Sanctuary at Hotel Zed, Tofino
Bird Sanctuary at Hotel Zed, Tofino © Hotel Zed

Victoria is a beautiful city with great parks, beaches, unique attractions, and lovely places to stay. So it is perfect for families. But couples will enjoy a romantic getaway with intimate restaurants and spas offering couples treatments in opulent treatment rooms or luxurious seaside cabanas. Or come alone and meet the friendly locals. Everyone will find things to love about Victoria!

Thank you for the sponsored visit to the Royal BC Museum and Butchart Gardens.

Ready to plan your next trip?

For more exciting vacations, try these locations!! You could travel to Cannon Beach, visit West Virginia for a Ramp meal, or cruise off to Alaska!

14 Comments

  1. Elena

    Great article with such fabulous information.

    Reply
    • Jo Clark

      Thanks, Elena!

      Reply
  2. Lance Webster

    Great article! I was in Victoria in the mid 1980’s – nearly 40 years ago – and there’s clearly so much more to do than I could accomplish on a one day trip. I MUST come back. Especially for Bouchard Gardens. It sounds as if they have expanded on theGarden’s incredible beauty in the past two generations. I’ve been to more than 20 country and many World Heritage sites. Victoria was the most beautiful small city….and the Gardens the single most beautiful place I’ve been I’m going to do my best to get there in the next year.. The one thing missing from your article is the best times of the year to visit! . PS – I arrived by sea plane from Vancouver. Is that still possible?

    Reply
    • Jo Clark

      Victoria is filled with great things to do!

      Reply
    • Linda Sheppard

      Lance the best time to come is June or September. The weather is perfect and the kids are still in school.
      You can fly harbour to harbour from Vancouver or Seattle ‘
      Let me know when you are coming!

      Reply
  3. Mary McCarroll

    Congratulations on your article Linda! I cannot wait to experience Victoria and see everything you have written about. I also look forward to being able to share your article with my clients.

    Reply
    • Jo Clark

      This is a great to-do list! Have fun!

      Reply
      • Marie Hernandez

        This is an amazingly helpful article for anyone who wants to visit!

        I’ll definitely refer to it when I come for a visit!

        Thank you so much!

        Reply
        • Jo Clark

          Thanks!

          Reply
        • Linda Sheppard

          Thanks Marie. All the “must-dos” are on this list!

          Reply
    • Linda Sheppard

      Yes this is a great guide for clients coming to Victoria!!
      And remember Victoria is the tea capital of Canada!!

      Reply
  4. Phyl Doppelt

    Great article — wonderful suggestions and amazing photos by the author!

    Reply
    • Jo Clark

      Thank you! It does sound like a great place to visit!

      Reply
    • Linda Sheppard

      Thank-you so much Phyl. I really enjoyed pulling this article together!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram