Victoria, the capital of Canada’s West Coast province (British Columbia), is located on the Salish Sea.
Whether you’re looking for recreation, history or nature, Victoria has something for everyone, whether you’re travelling alone, with friends or family.
If you are planning to visit Victoria as part of a larger trip to North America, you may want to consider Canada tours. If you’re planning a trip to Victoria in the near future, below are the top ten things to do in Victoria!
1) Victoria Harbour
A must on any travel itinerary, Victoria Harbour is often described as one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.
Located in the heart of the city, Victoria Harbour’s spectacular views of Parliament Buildings, the Empress Hotel, and the boats and ocean make for amazing Instagram photos.
Whether you choose to walk or take a horse-drawn carriage tour of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, you’ll love the street entertainment, local craft shops, pubs and restaurants. Tours of the State Parliament are also available in the summer.
2) Butchart Gardens
This huge flower garden has a children’s carousel with hand-carved animals, restaurants and boat tours as the garden is on the water. If you come in the summer, there is entertainment every night and fireworks on Saturday nights. In winter, until Christmas, there is an outdoor skating rink. If you are here for a few days, consider staying at one of the many hotels in downtown Victoria – preferably near the water. The nightlife in the area is fantastic for an evening out.
3) Victoria Bug Zoo
Located in downtown Victoria, the Victoria Bug Zoo is just one block north of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This is one of those attractions you won’t find in your average Canadian travel guide, but visit it and you’ll be able to see creepy crawlies like the praying mantis and tarantula in a safe environment. There is also a centipede with 400 legs that you can hold and the largest ant farm in Canada. This is definitely one of the most family-friendly destinations on our list.
4) Royal BC Museum
Learn about British Columbia’s history and culture at the Royal BC Museum. You can see a model of a First Nations house and artwork, stroll through a replica of a town from the 1890s and 1900s, and see displays of British Columbia’s native plants, animals and marine life. The museum also has a huge IMAX theatre and special exhibitions throughout the year.
5) Whale watching
Do you have a passion for wildlife? The seas off the coast of Victoria are some of the most popular whale watching spots in Canada. Some of the best whale watching tours in North America depart from downtown Victoria Harbour. You can see whales and possibly sea lions, porpoises, seals and dolphins! Many of the boats have special equipment that allows you to listen to the whales as they ‘talk’ below the surface. This is truly one of the most magical experiences you can have in Canada.
6) Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
This is another top destination for kids in Victoria, located in the Sidney Pier Building on the waterfront in the Vancouver Island town of Sidney, near Victoria. This marine education centre has many aquariums filled with marine life from the Salish Sea, including starfish, jellyfish and octopus. You can even touch some of the creatures! You can also take a ride on a simulated sea lift.
Do you like fishing? Book a fun fishing adventure and get out of the city for some spectacular scenery. You can go on a full or half day fishing trip on a charter boat leaving from Victoria Harbour. The surrounding waters are known for their abundance of Chinook salmon and you will be provided with equipment and guides who will clean and pack your fish for you!
If golf is your thing, plan a visit to one of the two luxurious courses at Victoria’s Bear Mountain, where you can also enjoy delicious restaurants, spa treatments and wineries. Victoria is also home to the Olympic View Golf Club, where world famous golfers such as Tiger Woods have played.
If you love the great outdoors and exploring on two wheels, Victoria has a number of great cycling routes that take in beautiful scenery, farmland, lakes and the ocean. At the Victoria Inner Harbour Centre, you can rent a variety of bikes for kids and adults. If you’re not into strenuous exercise, mopeds and motorcycles are also available for hire.
The Victoria Marine Adventure Centre, part of the Victoria Inner Harbour Centre, offers safe, guided kayaking tours lasting just over two hours. You will be provided with all the necessary safety equipment and have the choice of a single or tandem kayak. If you’ve never kayaked before, the guides provide instruction and the tours follow the coastline, so don’t be afraid!
Plan your trip to Victoria
Whether you are interested in a dream holiday to North America, a backpacking adventure or a gap year in Canada, you must visit Victoria and British Columbia.
This city is a year-round destination and is perfect for a short city break or a longer trip.
Hopefully our guide has given you some inspiration for the best places to go in Victoria, this city really is a special destination and very underrated compared to Toronto and Vancouver which get a lot more tourists.
Now go out and discover the highlights for yourself.