Things to do in Victoria, BC

I live in Victoria, BC. It's an awesome place to live, and it's also a tourist location. Lots of friends reach out asking what they should do in Victoria. Instead of typing it out every time, I've put together a list here so that way I don't forget anything. Hope you enjoy the list!

Downtown Victoria

Lots of people come into town by boat, plane, or walk on ferry, and don't have a car, so here is a great set of things you can do downtown.

  1. Walk around the Inner Harbour and check out the parliament buildings and Empress hotel. Make sure you also try it at night, things light up well!
  2. Right in the side of the Empress Hotel is Miniature world. This is one of my personal favourites. As you walk through the smallest scale stuff, be sure to see how much nudity you can find. I've found at least 6 models showing nudity.
  3. If you have kids of the right age, a fun thing to do is the Victoria Bug Zoo, it's a eal hands on experience that you'll want to delegate to your kids!
  4. Craigdarroch Castle is also just east of downtown. Think of it as a really old large mansion, half of it restored, and half of it in it's utilitarian ways from wars.
  5. Take a water taxi out to Fisherman's Warf and explore the world of floating homes and find some great dock food.
  6. Check out the break water, and have lunch at Ogden point
  7. Take a stroll through Beacon Hill Park, and stop at the petting zoo.
  8. Stroll along the water front on Dallas Road, if it's windy, you might even catch some parasailers and sail boarders
  9. Stop for a cup of Moka House Coffee or a beer in the Beacon Hill Pub in Cook Street Village and take in the culture that oozes out of this place.
  10. Going north from the downtown core, check out the stops on Government Street
  11. If you can find a weekend when there is live music at Market Square, it's fun to walk around there as well.
  12. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday there is a public market in Bastion Square.
  13. Be sure to also check out the Old China Town, oldest one in Canada! And while you're there, don't be afraid to explore Fan Tan Alley, it's one of the neatest alleyways you'll ever find!
  14. Visit one of the oldest pubs in Victoria, on the Esquimalt short (yes you can take a water taxi close to it) is Spinnakers pub.

While I'm not a "foodie", and food chains change all the time, I thought I'd throw out a few places that I like to eat:

  • Ebizo Sushi - If you can get a table, great sushi here
  • Chorizo & Co - Great sandwich spot, may I recommend the Richons?
  • Varsha Sip & Nosh - Always a seat, and delicious Indian food.
  • The Mint - Has an upstairs (lunch) and downstairs (dinner) and is a great place to eat, or hang out at the end of the night.
  • Meat & Bread - A Vancouver classic finally made it to the island. Exactly s the name implies.
  • RedFish BlueFish - Your chance to eat a-mazing seafood served in a unique outdoor dining experience on the inner harbour.
  • Tre Fantastico - great coffee, and a very delicious and healthy place to eat
  • Tacofino - A great little place to pick up some awesome Mexican food.
  • Hanks Unconditional BBQ - Southern BBQ, served a little unconditional.
  • Bin 4 Burgers - amazing custom made burgers, and there is one in the lower island as well
  • Canoe Club - While the food is typical pub food, you can't find a better patio in town.
Victoria rocks for good coffee... some unique places I like are:

Lower Vancouver Island

If you have access to a car or bike on the island, or feel like renting one from the many downtown rental agencies, here are some things you can do outside of town.

  1. One of my favourite things to do is start on Dallas Road, and drive the scenic Marine drive all the way out to the University of Victoria.
    This has plenty of great stopping places along the way, don't drive too fast!
  2. Speaking of the University of Victoria, this used to be a fantastic place to go see rabbits, lots and lots of rabbits, but not anymore as they were shipped to a rabbit reserve, but it's still a great place to walk around if you like architecture.
  3. On the scenic drive, just before you make it to U Vic, you may consider stopping at Gyro Park, one of the great beaches of Victoria. Especially if you're in the summer time.
  4. If you like a good walk or drive up to a good view point, check out Mount Doug Park, great for walking and driving, you can drive all the way to the top if you choose not to hike it.
  5. Going north up the peninsula, you can also check out the Butterfly Gardens, which are always better if it's warm out and the sun is out (as butterfly's seem more powered by sun than anything else)
  6. Right near the Butterfly Gardens is Buchart Gardens, a world known botanist dream! one of the reasons many come to Victoria in the first place. You can visit this place multiple times / year and see different flowers in bloom each time. They also have special events, buy tickets early for these.
  7. If your trip is timed perfectly, Heritage Acres is a great place to go if the VI Model Train engineers are running. Such a unique model train ride through the woods.
  8. Visiting the small quaint town of Brentwood Bay, it's kind of neat to walk around there and check out the little shops and the harbour.
  9. While we're talking of small towns, why not visit Sydney, where the mean age is 70+, but man is it a cute little down with a two fantastic fish and chips restaurants. One on the pier, and one called fish on fifth!
  10. Going out the other side of Victoria, you'll want to check out the filming location for X-Men, Xavier's school for the gifted, or as it's known on the island as Hatley Castle. It's on the Royal Roads University campus.
  11. Just behind Royal Roads you can find Fort Rodd Hill & the Fisgard Lighthouse, both with one low entrance fee, you can see a piece of war history, and check out the historic lighthouse while you're at it.
  12. A nice ocean side walk that's easy to get to is the Esquimalt Lagoon. Just pull up and you're on the beach
  13. If you're looking to connect with nature, Goldstream National Park will be a great stop. Humungous trees, a natural salmon run, a learning center. Best of all, there is a west-coast Niagara Fallsas well if you like a 20 minute hike straight up hill, you can see the Goldstream train trestle,
  14. If you're into hiking, you might also want to check out Mt. Finlayson.
  15. A good hike to (or drive to) a decent beach with an amazing view of the Olympic peninsula is at Witty's Lagoon. A ways out from Victoria, but worth it if you're already going to Hatley castle.
  16. Once you start headed up island, there are some great places to stop on the Malahat drive.
  17. And while you're thinking about the Malahat, you may want to consider the Kinsol Trestle, one of the oldest and largest train trestles in Canada.
  18. If you're up for a trek way out to town, and it's a hot summer day, a great place to hang out is the Sooke Pot Holes. Be sure to bring your own lunch, there isn't much around here.

Up Island

I don't have the time to go up island as much as I'd like, but here are a few places that I have been to and enjoyed

  1. Take a stop in Cowichan Bay, and make sure you try the Udder Guys ice-cream!
  2. Summer time? looking for a relaxing float down a river? Cowichan River Tubing has you covered.
  3. If you have time to visit Parksville, it's a great beach town, specifically Rathtrevor beach!
  4. If you are up in Parksville, a quick trip out to Coombs you can check out the Goats on the Roof, an island favourite.
  5. Lastly, if you happen to be up island in the winter, you can actually ski and snowboard here. Just point your GPS to Mt Washington.