Here are the most popular "must-see" attractions in the Victoria area:
[ Victoria | North to Saanich | West to Sooke ]
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
429 Lampson St, at the Olde English Inn
This attractions has replica’s of William Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Harvard House, and the Olde Curiosity Shoppe. Old weapons (including armour, flintlocks, crossbows), and 16th and 17th century furniture are on exhibit. Tours are offered daily 9 am - 8 pm June to September, 10 am - 4 pm the rest of the year
This is the heart of Old Victoria, and the location of the BC Maritime Museum. It is west of Government Street, a continuation of View Street. This is where Governor Douglas established Fort Victoria in 1843. The area was known in earlier times for its saloons, hotels, bordellos and warehouses. Recent revitalization has made the area a hip location for restaurants, boutiques, offices and art galleries.
BC Parliament Buildings
Belleville St (above the Victoria harbour)
The parliament buildings where opened in 1897, at a cost of $923,000, during the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. The statue at the top of the copper dome is that of Captain George Vancouver. The city insisted on such a splendid building so it would not lose its place as provincial capital. Tours are given daily every 20 minutes June to September, and hourly tours are offered in the winter. You can sit in the public galleries when the legislature is in session. There are 5 hectares of gardens around the buildings, with a variety of flower displays, statues and fountains.
Douglas and Pandora Streets
This Square is the location of Victoria’s city hall, which was built in 1897. This building was recently refurbished to help preserve Victoria’s architectural heritage. The courtyard surrounding a pretty fountain is bordered on one side by McPherson Playhouse and on the other by the police station.
Fisgard and Herald streets at Government
Chinese immigrants in the mid 1800s not only helped exploit the early gold mines but helped build the toughest stretches of the transcontinental railroad. At the turn of the century, opium production was one of Chinatown’s biggest industries. The area, now known as Fan Tan Alley was the centre of the gambling houses. The entrance to Chinatown is guarded by the 11 metre tall Gate of Harmonious Interest which was built in 1981. The two hand-carved stone lions are from Victoria’s sister city in China, Suchow.
1050 Joan Crescent
This is the prettiest castle built in Western Canada, and was the gift of coal and railway baron Robert Dunsmuir to his wife in 1890. He was the province’s first millionaire, having discovered rich coal seams and then built the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway. Dunsmuire died before the castle was completed, but his wife lived there until her death in 1908. After her death the house served a variety of functions, including military hospital, college campus, and music conservatory. It is now owned by the City and has been refurbished to be an authentic representation of the time when it was opened, including some incredible stained glass windows.
713 Douglas Street
The glass-roofed Crystal Garden was opened as a social centre and ballroom in 1925, and also had the British Empire’s largest saltwater swimming pool. Maintenance costs forced its closure in 1971. It was completely renovated, though without the swimming pool, and re-opened in 1980. It has a ballroom, a tea room, and luxurious tropical gardens with exotic plants, fish and birds.
This hotel has been presiding over Victoria’s harbour since 1908. This hotel is the westernmost hotel in the chain of Canadian Pacific Hotels. The hotel has magnificent gardens, and is famous for its "high tea" ceremony daily at 4 pm.
141 Rockland Ave
This mansion is home to BC’s lieutenant governor, the Queen’s representative as head of state. The place is used to accommodate visting royalty. Its grounds, with immaculate lawns and flowering gardens are open to daily to the public (but no public access to the building). A drive up narrow rock-lined Lotbiniere Avenue to the west is also worthwhile.
Between Johnson and Pandora on Store Street
This market’s pre-1900 architecture around a central courtyard has been restored to its original elegance. Two stories of retail surround its courtyard ampitheatre. The square is now home to specialty shops, restaurants and galleries.
Humboldt Street (around the corner from the Empress Hotel)
This attractions has 80 highly decorated and animated miniature scenes, including two of the world’s largest doll houses, and a space diorama. The scenes also illustrate nursery rhymes, "Gullivers Travels," and Charles Dickens novels. There is a Great Canadian Railway exhibit showing the turn-of-the-century railway splendour.
Ogden Point Breakwater
This 750 metre breakwater juts into Juan de Fuca Strait, providing some protection for Victoria’s harbour. The structure was built of 18 tonne blocks of granite in 1917 at a cost of $1.8 million, complete with a lighthouse at its tip. It is popular for fishermen, boat watchers and joggers.
Royal London Wax Museum
470 Belleville St, opposite the Parliament Buildings
This attraction has 51 scenes with famous people of the past, present and future, and a Chamber of Horrors. Open daily year-round.
490 Belleville St
This attraction, at the end of a pier by the Wax Museum, is an observation room on the sea bottom, where visitors can view marine life through large undersea windows. Open daily 9-98 summers, and 9-5 pm the rest of the year.
Victoria Conference Centre
720 Douglas Rd
This facility was opened in 1989, connected to the Empress Hotel, aand features a totem pole and fountains in its lobby. The Centre can host 1,500 delegates in the largest of its 15 meeting rooms and seat 400 into its lecture theatre.
Esquimalt’s name comes from a native Indian expression "Es-whoy-malth" which means a shoaling place. Esquimalt is the home of Canada’s navy on the West Coast. The natural harbour was used by ships of the Royal Navy as early as 1837, with the Naval Base formally authorized on June 29, 1865. The base was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910. The municipality was incorporated in 1912, and today has 17,000 residents. Esquimalt has several heritage buildings and great beaches with Victoria views.
The community of Oak Bay is said to be more English than England. The community has lots of little tea houses, many of which offer "snug tea", a concoction with ameretto and apricot brandy, which was served during prohibition days. Willows Beach is the recreational centrepiece of the community, and hosts the annual Tea Party each June. North of Willows Beach is Uplands Park and the posh Uplands Estates district, which was once a sheep farm for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
University of Victoria
Mackenzie Ave at Gordon Head Rd (Oak Bay)
This is Canada’s westernmost university and has mounted plant collecting expeditions in the 1930s to China and Tibet. It has over a hectare of rhododendron flowers, some as tall as 6 metres. The University also has a splendid library and fitness facilities.