Get up and about in beautiful Victoria, BC.
As we approach summer (hopefully) I want to share some helpful tips on what to do around Victoria, BC, so that you can fall in love with it just like I have.
Victoria is one of the nicest cities in Canada, and although I’m a little biased, it’s definitely my favourite. It welcomes visitors and generously presents residents with the freedom to explore the notable attractions well placed within and around the boundaries of this beautiful city. Victoria BC sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, nestled within the Olympic Mountains and surrounded by sea and temperate rainforest.
Did you know that Victoria is among the friendliest cities in the world? That’s why many people feel right at home, even if they’re just visiting. The city's slogan, 'Semper Liber' (always free) tells you how freely you can move around. If you want to talk about the overall serenity of the city, 'fantastic' is the right word.
Whether you are planning a visit or you live here already, it's my pleasure to show you exciting things to do to enjoy every bit of the city. To be precise, here are the best 20 things you should consider in your to-do list.
But, wait a minute!
Before we dive into details, it's important to tell you that the 'things to do' in this series are divided into four separate parts. The first part highlights some beautiful areas you can explore and have a great time spending little or nothing. The second part showcases some outdoor activities where you can spend an entire weekend relaxing and having fun in the great outdoors. The third part unveils some more luxurious, but worthwhile attractions to consider adding to your bucket list. The fourth part focuses on activities that are fun for the whole family and includes opportunities to build fond lifetime memories with your kids, nieces or nephews.
Naturally, the above paints a simple road map to choose your destinations according to the time and purpose of your outings. Nevertheless, each of these options provides an opportunity to experience the Garden City in a unique way.
The 5 things to do in Victoria, BC spending little or nothing at all
1. Walkthrough Parks and Gardens
Victoria BC is not nicknamed The Garden City for nothing. Indeed, it's home to beautiful parks and gardens. What’s more is that these parks and gardens are seldom expensive and mostly free! Let's walk you through a few of them in the next couple minutes.
Beacon Hill Park
This gorgeous park is the crown jewel in Victoria City's park system. It covers about 200 acres featuring natural areas, well-arranged footpaths, ponds/streams, bridges, stunning English gardens, sports, and play spaces. It’s great for a romantic stroll or picnic with your whole family. Some highlights include perched eagle nests at the center of the park, and vibrant peacocks that roam the paths and streets with no care or concern for visitors or local traffic. Beacon Hill itself sits at the highest point in the park overlooking the ocean and majestic Washington Olympic Mountains across the strait. If you have kids, or a soft spot for animals you can visit the baby goats and other animals just down the hill at the Beacon Hill petting zoo where admission is by donation. Across the street there is a free mini golf course for those with their own gear, and around the corner you’ll find the Beacon Hill drive-in serving some of the best soft serve ice cream in all of Victoria. Finally, Dallas road is just a block away if you want to visit the beach or go for an oceanfront stroll (more on this later).
Finnerty is another free, but attractive woodland garden located at the University of Victoria. It features a variety of trees, flowers, bamboo, and other plants artfully arranged throughout the 2.7-hectare site. The garden also contains 500 variations of rhododendrons hybrids and 1600 trees and shrubs ready to warmly welcome you.
Abkhazi Gardens offers five-star guest service and tasty food in a beautiful setting that gives every visitor a lifetime memory to cherish. The Garden is maintained by volunteers and local donations and offers a tranquil environment for a weekend stroll or afternoon tea.
Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP)
HCP contains lovely gardens which cover over nine acres of land. These gardens allow you to enjoy the warm feel of a conservation park with wetlands, nature trails, and bird watching. These gardens are maintained by over 100 volunteers as well as the skill and talent of regular horticultural and landscaping students attending the Pacific Horticulture College
2. Visit Royal BC Museum
This iconic museum is one of Canada's most celebrated cultural treasures. It has been welcoming visitors since 1886. It was created to conserve the human and natural history of British Columbia. The museum contains several exhibitions on the modern, natural, and first Nation's history of British Columbia. Unlike many other museum’s which offer a large number of dry exhibits, the Royal BC Museum stands out by actually immersing you in the world of the past. What I mean by this is that they have actually staged a number of exhibits to make it feel like you’re walking into a different world. You start in a space surrounded by floor to ceiling old growth forest and animals. This opens onto an ocean landscape with tide pools with ocean critters for kids and adults to enjoy. Then you walk through a ship and dockyard, and this takes you into an old-town city, where you walk through cobblestone streets and old buildings. Visiting this iconic museum allows you to mix education with pleasure. The Royal BC Museum generously gives visitors fascinating knowledge about British Columbia, and the dynamic culture and history of Western Canada.
3. Tour Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a Victorian experience. It's a brilliant example of a "bonanza castle" containing massive houses built for wealthy entrepreneurs several decades ago. This magnificent castle provides tactile exposure to local history through the stories and living quarters of prior local magnates. This old castle is located at Joan Crescent, off Fort Street, close to downtown Victoria. Walking to the castle is a fun excursion as antique shops, boutiques, and cafes line the street commonly known as ‘antique row’.
4. Tour and have lunch at the legislature building
One often overlooked activity is a visit to the prestigious legislature building for lunch and a tour with friends or family members. The legislature building is located in the traditional territories of the Lekwungen people. The building is open to visitors to check in, discover the parliamentary buildings' architectural grandeur and learn more about the British Columbia's Legislative Assembly. Visitors are allowed to freely tour this iconic building from Monday to Friday. You can also grab lunch at the Legislative Dining room, where the fare is attractive and delicious, but the bill is very reasonable.
5. Explore Downtown Victoria
If you like a variety of entertainment options, you will love what Downtown Victoria offers. There are a number of options to choose from, including shopping, entertainment and touring the waterfront and town squares of old town Victoria. Starting from Market Square there are a vast range of local shops and restaurants ranging from clothing, jewellery and houseware, to outdoor stores, treatshops and microbrew pubs. Victoria also features the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Canada. Some must see’s include a stroll down the streets of one of the oldest Chinatown’s in North America, featuring rare finds, Chinese delicacies and a trip down Fantan Alley. Nearby, Bastion Square opens onto the inner harbour and hosts numerous street markets during the summer as well as popular restaurants and pubs Including Irish Times Pub. Walking along the harbour or down government street will take you to the causeway featuring the historic Empress Hotel and Legislature Building. Then if you take a right and continue past the Legislature Building and continue along the harbour you’ll find Fisherman’s wharf, a boat landing lined with colourful house boats, and floating restaurants.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
I am a Victoria based local realtor with eXp Kiteke. My commitment to honesty, integrity, loyalty and hard work have been important pillars for me because they drive a high standard of excellent service for my clients. Helping you realize your dream is my goal!
I service Vancouver Island, but my focus is on: Victoria, Sooke, Saanich, Malahat, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan, and the rest of the Cowichan Valley.