Victoria, British Columbia Visitor Tips



Sightseeing Suggestions


Here are some quick suggestions for visitors with limited time in the city: The schedule is only a suggestion -- you may have more fun, or wish to take more time than mentioned below.

One Day Stay

To capture the essence of this city, here are suggestions for your first day (especially if its your only day) in Victoria.

  • Start along the waterfront, are the Wax Museum and the Undersea Gardens
  • Across the street are the BC Parliament Buildings. Take a tour, or watch the legislature, if its in session. Horse-drawn carriage tours of Victoria start here.
  • On your right you'll pass the Empress Hotel, with the Victoria Conference Centre out back
  • Across from the Victoria Conference Centre is the Crystal Garden and Thunderhead Park
  • To the back of the park is the Helmcken House historical site
  • Right beside it is the Royal British Columbia Museum worth a couple of hours to explore
  • Head back to the seawall along the Inner Harbour. You'll pass the Visitor Information Centre along the way Victoria Visitor Information Centre
  • Explore Old Town, with its pre-1900 buildings and courtyards, with quaint back alley shops. Notice all the carved-wood pub signs.
  • Visit the BC Maritime Museum in Bastion Square for BC's maritime history
  • Keep heading north, past the Old Market Square and the Johnson Street Bridge
  • Tour Chinatown, on Fisgard and Herald Street, once Canada's biggest
  • Come back down Government Street, and enjoy Victoria's main shopping district, which includes Victoria's Eaton Centre.

Two Day Stay

On your second day in Victoria, begin exploring the area around downtown Victoria:

  • Emily Carr House, home of BC's most famous painter
  • Beacon Hill Park, south of downtown, with its great water views and Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway
  • Craigdarroch Castle, built for BC's first millionaire
  • Head back toward the water, and drive east along Dallas Drive. You'll pass through many of Victoria's more interesting coastal communities including Gonzales Hill, Oak Bay, past the University of Victoria, beautiful Ten Mile Point, and Cadboro Bay
  • You'll pass through Mount Douglas Park
  • Stop at Elk Lake-Beaver Lake Regional Park to enjoy the largest lake in the area
View of Trial Islands from Oak Bay's Beach Drive

Extended Visit

If you are visiting for a longer period, there are a number of destinations worth visiting (each about a day, including driving):

  • Head southwest along Highway 14, the Sooke Road, toward the charming coastal village of Sooke. On your way back visit the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse historical sites, with its great views of Esquimalt Harbour and the Canadian Navy's Pacific Headquarters.
  • Visit the Butchart Gardens and the charming seaside village of Brentwood Bay, on the Saanich Inlet. If you take the West Saanich Road north, you can head round Lands End and end up at Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
  • Head up the Patricia Bay Highway (1) to the seaside village of Sidney, just south of the ferry. Take the passenger ferry to Sidney Spit Provincial Marine Park. If you want some close-in water activity, take the Sidney Harbour Shuttle around the harbour.
  • Visit any of the Gulf Islands, all accessible from Swartz Bay. Saltspring is the biggest and the busiest. All have quaint little shops and restaurants near the ferry docks, some offer pleasant seaside hikes or more strenuous scenic climbs.

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