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Top 8 Things to Do in Victoria, B.C.

The capital of British Columbia lies on picturesque Vancouver Island, and is arguably one of Canada’s prettiest cities, with the surrounding area home to spectacular mountains as well as ocean vistas. Combined with its reputation as an international hub for fantastic cuisine, art, and culture, it can be hard to know where to start your exploration in Victoria, but these top things to do will get you off to a great start.

Whale Watching Orca whale breaching near Vancouver Island
Credit: Orca whale breaching near Vancouver Island by dzain via bigstock.com

Whale Watching

What Is It? Victoria, and Vancouver Island as a whole, is one of the top places in the world for whale watching.

Why Do It? From March through October each year, thousands of whales migrate through the waters that surround the island, and during the peak of the season, outfitters like Eagle Wing Tours guarantee sightings, which means if you don’t see whales you’ll be invited back free for another try.

Good to Know: You can choose from multiple exciting options that include the chance to witness orca whales in the wild and possibly migrating humpbacks too.

Wander Through Butchart Gardens Butchart Gardens
Credit: Butchart Gardens by Bigstock.com

Wander Through Butchart Gardens

What Is It? Butchart Gardens is the reason Victoria is often referred to as the “City of Gardens.” 

Why Do It? Highly acclaimed as one of the top display gardens in the world, it boasts some 700 varieties of plants that are in bloom from March to October. 

Good to Know: One of the highlights is the Rose Garden, which is at its peak during the summer months, and if you arrive earlier in the season, you can also see the extraordinary delphiniums that provide a dramatic backdrop for the blooming roses.

Sample Victoria's Food and Drink Scene in the Inner Harbour Victoria's inner harbour, Vancouver Island
Credit: Victoria's inner harbour, Vancouver Island by bigstock.com

Sample Victoria's Food and Drink Scene in the Inner Harbour

What Is It? Victoria is famous for its fabulous food and cocktail scene, and you can sample some of its best in the lovely Inner Harbour. 

Why Do It? On a pleasant summer evening, head to the Steamship Grill, housed within the historic Steamship Terminal Building. It offers an outdoor patio where you can delectable seafood, including fresh halibut, sockeye salmon, and just-shucked oysters.

Good to Know: You can also enjoy a fun night out on the town at Clive’s Classic Lounge, or the trendy spot for drinking and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, the Upstairs Cabaret in Bastion Square which overlooks the harbor.

Drive the Scenic Marine Route Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, BC
Credit: Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, BC by Bigstock.com

Drive the Scenic Marine Route

What Is It? The Scenic Marine Route is a nearly 180-mile route, but it can be accomplished in just a day, even when making multiple spots – and you’ll want to with all the stunning scenery along the way. 

Why Do It? It follows the Trans-Canada Highway and includes regular sets of steps that lead down to the sea as well as multiple scenic viewpoints for capturing picture-perfect shots. Some of the highlights include Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, known for a unique rock formation which formed during the last ice age, and Port Renfrew, which offers miles and miles of hiking trails.

Good to Know: The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail follows the coast of the island, providing jaw-dropping views of the island-dotted waters along with the opportunity to watch for sea lions, bald eagles, and whales.

Tour the Parliament Buildings Victoria,-British-Columba
Credit: Victoria,-British-Columba by bigstock.com

Tour the Parliament Buildings

What Is It? The magnificent Parliament Buildings situated on the Inner Harbour are truly a sight to see, complete with gorgeous stained glass, domes, and turrets. 

Why Do It? You can do a lot more than just take a photo of the exterior of this place where the province’s elected representatives to meet to debate and pass laws. Free tours are available offering the chance to learn about British Columbia’s history as well as its parliamentary process. 

Good to Know: You can even enjoy breakfast or lunch on weekdays at the “secret” politicians’ restaurant.

Visit the Royal BC Museum Royal BC Museum
Credit: Royal BC Museum by Bigstock.com

Visit the Royal BC Museum

What Is It? This city is jam-packed with museums, offering the chance to discover its past along with modern delights. 

Why Do It? One of the must-visit museums, the Royal BC Museum has frequently been ranked as the country’s top museum, focusing on the people and land of coastal British Columbia as the only natural and human history museum in the province. It houses around seven million artifacts and annually hosts spectacular feature collections focused on everything from the Vikings and Genghis Khan to Leonardo da Vinci and the RMS Titanic. 

Good to Know: The Natural History gallery displays exhibits on the rainforest and coastal ecosystems of the province from the ice age to today, and the Modern History gallery features an authentic frontier town. The Royal BC Museum also boasts the world-class First Peoples gallery, featuring totems, masks, and cultural treasures.

Take in the Views From Beacon Hill Park Peacock in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC
Credit: Peacock in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC by Bigstock.com

Take in the Views From Beacon Hill Park

What Is It? Beacon Hill Park is a favorite with locals, spread across more than 75 acres along the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait. 

Why Do It? You’ll discover awe-inspiring vistas no matter where you are in the park, from wildflower-dotted fields to the glistening expanse of the sea. It’s also home to miniature golf, a petting zoo, and a water park as well as a venue for concerts that are hosted on summer evenings. 

Good to Know: Walking through it, you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including peacocks, herons, otters, turtles, and crays.

Step Back in Time at Craigdarroch Castle Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, BC
Credit: Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, BC by Bigstock.com

Step Back in Time at Craigdarroch Castle

What Is It? Set atop a hill in the Rockland neighborhood, Craigdarroch is a huge Victorian castle built for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family in the late 19th century. 

Why Do It? The impeccably restored four-story structure now serves as a museum that offers the chance to step into the shoes of the wealthy who lived here during the era of Queen Victoria. 

Good to Know: The castle features 39 rooms and includes luxurious furnishings, much of it original to the home, along with gorgeous stained glass and detailed woodwork.

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