Victoria, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is the capital of British Columbia. Known for its stunning architecture, vibrant gardens, and plentiful outdoor activities, this city is a wonderful place to visit for adventure-loving travellers.
Being one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, Victoria has a charismatic combination of history and outdoorsy charm. During your time in the area, you can enjoy great food, beautiful green spaces, monumental buildings and ocean views. Not to mention a ton of hiking, biking, and natural wonders right at your doorstep.
Having a vehicle is by far the best way to see the area and I would recommend giving yourself 2-3 days in Victoria. That way, you can drive to the surrounding Provincial Parks, waterfalls, and hikes while you’re there.
Without further ado, here are eight things you can’t miss in Victoria, BC.
Stroll Around Downtown
Downtown Victoria is full of shops, restaurants, and a whole lot of character. Spend an afternoon exploring the lively streets and perusing the shops. Don’t forget to stop at a local pub for a pint and a plate of fish and chips! During your time in this beautiful city, make sure to check out the Parliament Building and spend some time walking along the water, as well.
Explore Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Provincial Park is located about 20 minutes northwest of Victoria and is well worth the drive. In between the towering trees and vibrant foliage you will find several hiking trails, powerful waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.
Trails range from easy, wheelchair-accessible walks to the strenuous climb up Mount Finlayson. During your visit, make sure to see Niagara Falls, accessible by an easy 0.5 km hike. Cascading down over 150 feet into a crystal clear river, this waterfall is a must-see in Victoria.
NOTE: The Goldstream Trestle was a popular stop in this park. Unfortunately, it is now permanently closed due to a recent incident.
Visit Fishermans Wharf
Fishermans Wharf in Victoria is a colourful and unique place to visit. With a combination of restaurants, shops, tourism offices, and an array of vivid floating homes, just walking around on the wharf is sure to pique your interest and offers some great photo opportunities.
The local restaurants and food kiosks are excellent places to get fresh seafood if you are interested. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the harbour seals that frequent the area.
Hike Mount Douglas
Looking for a little cardio during your stay? Mount Douglas offers breathtaking 360-degree views of Victoria and the surrounding area after a short but steep hike. This 4km round trip journey will bring you up 205m of elevation through a series of trails in this well maintained park. From the top, you can see the entire city as well as a huge chunk of spectacular coastline.
Not feeling up for the hike? No worries! You can also drive to the top of Mount Douglas. If you get the chance, visit the top at dawn or dusk on a clear day for remarkable views.
See China Town & Fan Tan Alley
Although Victoria’s Chinatown is fairly small, it is actually the second oldest in North America, only preceded by San Francisco. Throughout the lantern-lit streets, you will find incredible restaurants, local shops, and several picturesque places to get creative with photos.
One of my personal favourites was Fan Tan Alley. This narrow, red-brick street is lit up with hanging lights and colourful windows of the little shops that line it. If you pass through Fan Tan Alley and cross the street, you will come across a similar but lesser know little inlet called Dragon Alley.
Relax in The Hot Tub Boat
Did you know that you can rent a private hot tub boat for 2 hours at a time in Victoria?! It’s an incredibly fun, one-of-a-kind experience through the Upper Harbour and Gorge Waterway. For $70-100 CAD per person, depending on your group size, you can sail around and enjoy the city from a different perspective in Canada’s first fleet of hot tub boats.
David and I were excited about this but weren’t quite sure what to expect. Our expectations were surpassed immediately and I have already booked another boat with some girlfriends a few months from now! They give you a quick overview of the boat, bottled water, and a Bluetooth speaker along with a dry bag for your phones before sending you out to enjoy.
If you visit on a sunny day, there is a ladder off the back where you can climb in and out of the ocean. As we passed water taxis, boat tours, and bridges, it was clear that we had a hot commodity. Everyone was envious of the hot tub boat!
Eat at Virtuous Pie
If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know that I have a dairy allergy but LOVE cheese. In every city we go to, I always keep my eyes peeled for vegan cheese options and this plant-based pizza joint is no joke.
Founded in Vancouver, Virtuous Pie is cozy and inviting serving up some of the best garlic knots I have ever had! Everything is made in-house including the incredible appetizers, inventive pizzas, and mouth-watering desserts!
Walk, Run, or Bike on The Scenic Pathways
I mentioned earlier that Victoria is known for its vibrant gardens and plentiful green spaces. What I left out is that Victoria’s parks, waterfront, and downtown are all connected by a slew of user-friendly pathways and walking areas.
Some of my go-to places to walk or run include Songhees Westsong Walkway, Dallas Road, Beakon Hill Park, and The Gorge Waterway. With that being said, though, there are so many different options it’s hard to go wrong.