Things YOU GOTTA SEE when visiting Victoria!

Here are some quick suggestions for visitors with limited time in the area. Perfect if you have only ONE DAY to visit (like a business trip, when passing through, or when stopping over between flights). The additional days schedule is a recommendation for those who want to see the essence of Victoria in only a couple of days.

You can read ALL SORTS of travel guides, and carry around pounds of paper, or just print off this ONE PAGE and have all the info you ever need! These are the area’s top activities, family activities and attractions, tourist attractions, historical sites, museums, interesting architecture, sightseeing and top shopping/dining areas. Organized into a nice walking or driving itinerary!


Sightseeing Suggestions

Victoria is a harbour city at the southern end of Vancouver Island. It was a government centre since the very earliest colonial times.

One Day Stay

To capture the essence of this city, and particularly the area closest to the Inner Harbour, here are suggestions for your first day (especially if its your only day) in Victoria.

Victoria Inner Harbour-Undersea World and Wax Museum

Start along the waterfront, are the Wax Museum and the Undersea Gardens

Victoria-Inner Harbour Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

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.

Victoria Inner Harbour-with Double-DeckerBus and Empress Hotel Victoria-Inner Harbour Empress Hotel

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

Explore Old Town, with its pre-1900 buildings and courtyards, with quaint back alley shops. Notice all the carved-wood pub signs.

Victoria Inner Harbour-Bastion Square-

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

Victoria Chinatown's Fan Tan Alley

Tour Chinatown, on Fisgard and Herald Street, once Canada’s biggest. Check out the little shops on Fan Tan Alley.

Come back down Government Street, and enjoy Victoria ‘s main shopping district, which includes Victoria ‘s Bay Centre.

Two Day Stay

Victoria Inner Harbour View from Belleville Street

On your second day in Victoria, begin exploring the areas around (but still really close to) downtown Victoria:

Emily Carr House, home of BC’s most famous painter

Victoria TCH Mile 0 sign in Beacons Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park, south of downtown, with its great water views of the Olympia Mountains to the south, 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. The road curves north and 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.

Saanich-Patricia Bay Highway view of Dominion Observatory, near Victoria

You’ll pass through Mount Douglas Park.

Stop at Elk Lake-Beaver Lake Regional Park to enjoy the largest lake in the area

Extended Visit: Head West

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

Sooke's Whiffen Spit Park, near Victoria

Head southwest along Highway 14, the Sooke Road, toward the charming coastal village of Sooke.

Colwood's Fisgard Lighthouse, near Victoria

On your way back visit the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse historical sites,

View Of CFB Esquimalt Naval Base, near Victoria

On the way back, check out The Gorge which splits View Royal from Esquimlat, which is home to the Canadian Navy’s Pacific Headquarters.

Esquimalt Gorge with Galloping Goose Trail bridge, near Victoria

At one spot, the Gorge is crossed by a wooden bridge for the Galloping Goose Trail, not far from the Victoria Rowing Club.

Extended Visit: Head North

Swartz Bay View to Saanich Mountain, near Victoria

Head North, up 17A and pass by, perched high on a hill above Elk Lake, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. You’ll also pass by the Victoria Butterfly Gardens.

Brentwood Bay: Butchart Gardens, near Victoria

Continue up to Brentwood Bay and visit the world famous Butchart Gardens and the adjacent charming seaside village on the Saanich Inlet. Continue up the West Saanich Road north, driving around Lands End and end up at Swartz Bay ferry terminal.

Sidney Beacon Ave Pier, near Victoria

Continue to the seaside village of Sidney, just south of the ferry. There is a short passenger ferry to Sidney Spit Provincial Marine Park. If you want some close-in water activity, take the Sidney Harbour Shuttle around the harbour. Take the Patricia Bay Highway (1) back to Victoria

Swartz Bay Ferry Dock View, near Victoria

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.