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A Local’s Guide to the 33 Best Things to Do in Victoria, BC (2024)

We’re true Victorians now.

After living here for seven years – and since first writing this post – we’ve discovered so many more fun things to do in Victoria, BC.

We absolutely love Victoria – and you will too when you visit!

We’re going to share all about what to do in Victoria, BC, in a minute.

But before we do, indulge us for a moment as we briefly wax poetic (or not so poetic) about why Victoria is one of the most beautiful places in Canada – and why it’s such a great city to visit when you travel to British Columbia.

One of the best things to do in Victoria, BC, is to walk the scenic Inner Harbour.
So, what do you think – is Victoria the most beautiful city in Canada?

Victoria, BC: Things to do and travel guide

Why Victoria is the best city in Canada to visit

33 Best things to do in Victoria, BC

1) Smell the roses at Butchart Gardens

2) Go SUP

3) Ride a pickle boat

4) Kayak Tod Inlet

5) Visit the Royal BC Museum

6) Gawk at the Parliament Buildings

7) Bicycle the Galloping Goose Trail

8) Eat at great restaurants

9) Count deer in the city

10) Walk the Victoria Inner Harbor

11) Hike up Mount Douglas

12) Reflect at Ross Bay Cemetery

13) Chill on a beach

14) Tour Craigdarroch Castle

15) Duck into a café

16) Check out the “wee” libraries

17) Sip afternoon tea at the Empress

18) Watch whales!

19) Shop Lower Johnson Street

20) Visit the Victoria Art Gallery

21) Bicycle the Lochside Trail

22) Stroll through Chinatown

23) Get lost in Beacon Hill Park

24) Admire the totem poles in Thunderbird Park

25) Explore Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

26) Meander around Swan Lake and up Christmas Hill

27) Tour Hatley Castle

28) Get spooked on a ghost walk

29) Ride in a horse-drawn carriage

30) See salmon spawning in the Goldstream River

31) Enjoy a food walking tour

32) Ride the hop-on hop-off bus

33) Attend a festival

Where to stay in Victoria, Canada

Getting to Victoria

Getting around in Victoria, BC

Last words on what to do in Victoria, Canada

Best city to visit in Canada

Red tulips bloom in front of Victoria's Parliament Buildings.
Victoria’s Parliament Buildings in spring

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Incorporated in 1862, it’s one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest.

With all its gardens, Victoria is bloomin’ pretty. (It’s known as the garden city of Canada.)

And all the scenic walks in Victoria along its miles of oceanfront are downright lovely.

Bicycles parked by Willows Beach, Victoria, Vancouver Island
Seen on a walk by Willows Beach – a picture-pretty urban beach scene!

The weather is also kind to us humans. Victoria lays claim to the best weather in Canada.

True, there are some cool places to visit in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) in winter.

So, yes, there are lots of fun things to do in Canada in winter, like snowshoeing and skiing.

But personally, we’re happy to do without cold weather. In Victoria, it’s mild in winter and it rarely snows (though we do get rain – sometimes lots).

Man carries yellow kayak in Oak Bay, Victoria, BC
This is winter in Victoria, BC – not too shabby, eh?

It’s interesting too that even though Victoria is less than two hours by ferry from Vancouver, its weather is distinctly different from Vancouver’s – Victoria gets far less rain (and almost none in summer).

Despite its modest size (population 400,000), our city also punches above its weight with top-notch eateries and diverse theater productions.

For foodies and culture enthusiasts, there’s plenty in Victoria to do.

Belfry Theatre, Victoria, Vancouver Island
Concerts, playhouses, opera, symphony and the Victoria Ballet; we have it all!

And it’s so easy to get around the city – you’re usually only a 10- to 15-minute drive away from anywhere. Traffic jams? Not like you get in big cities.

Now, just so you don’t think we’re biased because we live here, we’re not the only ones who adore our city. Victoria was recently voted as the #1 best city in the world (and also the world’s best small city) in the 2023 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.

33 Awesome things to do in Victoria, BC

Okay, let’s jump now to the 33 best things to do in Victoria, Canada!

1) Smell the roses at Butchart Gardens

Roses thrive in Victoria's sunny and dry summer weather.
The Butchart Gardens are home to beautiful blooming roses

For most travelers, visiting the world-famous Butchart Gardens is No. 1 on the list of top things to do in Victoria, BC.

We have several lovely gardens in Victoria. But Butchart is by far the most popular.

These beautiful gardens were started in 1904 by Jennie Butchart, who was married to a wealthy quarry owner.

Now, more than a century later, this botanical oasis – a standout among Victoria attractions – is celebrated for its spectacular flowering bushes and plantings.

They include a sunken garden, a Japanese garden, a magnificent Italian garden (where pink and purple tulips bloom in spring) and a prize-winning rose garden.

One of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Butchart Gardens receives one million visitors a year.
One of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Butchart Gardens receives one million visitors a year (Credit: Butchart Gardens)

The gardens are located about a 35-minute drive (by car) north of downtown Victoria (on Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula).

If you don’t have your own wheels, here’s a half-day private tour of Butchart Gardens and Victoria that’s perfect for a group of up to seven people.

Even if you’re not staying in the city, you can visit the gardens on a Victoria day trip from Vancouver or Seattle. See our guide on the best Butchart Gardens tours and day trips.

For example, Landsea Tours offers a full-day, small-group tour to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver.

This tour has garnered rave reviews and includes everything you need – mini-bus ground transportation, cruising on BC Ferries to Victoria (and back to Vancouver), sightseeing in downtown Victoria (with time to stroll the Inner Harbour, see #10) and a visit to the enchanting Butchart Gardens.

Another great option?

An oh-so-scenic sea plane trip from Vancouver to Victoria, where you’re then driven to Butchart Gardens and downtown Victoria, before being flown back to Vancouver.

2) Go SUP

SUP boarding in Victoria, BC, is becoming more popular
SUP boarding in Victoria is becoming more popular (Credit: South Island SUP)

Make like a local!

Paddle boarding is one of those super fun, non-touristy things to do in Victoria, BC.

Man on SUP board in Oak Bay, Victoria, as orcas swim by
Imagine seeing orcas (killer whales) as you SUP right in Victoria! (Credit: Christian Geissler)

Brian, the owner of South Island SUP, will deliver paddle boards to you at the beach from his mobile SUP shop (i.e., his SUV).

Just call him to book a day and time.

Brian can give you a lesson too – and go out with you if you’d like.

Good places for SUP in Victoria, BC, are Willows Beach, Thetis Lake and Gonzales Bay.

3) Take a ride in a pickle boat

A BC Harbour Ferry in Victoria, BA
A ride on one of these “pickle boats” is always fun! (Credit: Victoria Harbour Ferry)

Victoria has a collection of pickle-shaped boats (carrying a maximum of 12 passengers) that traverse the inner waterways.

Dubbed “happy boats,” they’re run by Victoria Harbour Ferry.

Hop on one for a mini sightseeing cruise.

When we have out-of-town visitors, we like to take them on the one-hour narrated tour of the historic four-mile Gorge Waterway.

As you pass historic homes, working shipyards and kayakers on the water, your “captain” explains the history of the area.

The first time we did this tour, our cheerful silver-haired captain entertained us with tales of diving from the bridges into the Gorge as a child and hitching rides on log booms to get home.

You can also go on a pub crawl pickle boat tour and get pickled :-).

4) Kayak Tod Inlet

What to do in Victoria, BC? Go kayaking in Tod Inlet!
Look who’s hitching a ride on this kayak! (Credit: Pacifica Paddle Sports)

Rent a kayak (or SUP board) at Brentwood Bay and go for a calm safe paddle to Tod Inlet.

As you paddle out from Brentwood Bay, you’ll pass Butchart Gardens on your left (#1 above).

Along the shoreline, orange and purple sea stars (starfish) cling to the rocks underwater, and blue herons are a common sight.

A blue heron in Todd Inlet, BC
Look out for ducks, starfish and blue herons in Todd Inlet

Depending on the time of year, you often see lots of jellyfish in the water in Tod Inlet too.

And who knows, a seal may decide to hitch a ride on your kayak!

Both Pacifica Paddle Sports and the Brentwood Bay Marina rent out single and double kayaks (as well as SUP boards).

Alternative: Go kayaking in Oak Bay

If you’d prefer to kayak right in Victoria on a guided tour, we highly recommend this Oak Bay shoreline kayak tour.

We’ve kayaked here, and it’s wonderful. Love being on the water? Outdoorsy Victoria, BC, activities don’t get more fun than this. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and seals!

5) Visit the Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum is one of the most popular Victoria, BC, tourist attractions (Credit: Royal BC Museum)

Step back in time as you walk through reconstructions of a turn-of-the-century town, with a sawmill, mine and fish-packing plant.

Also board a replica of the stern of Captain Vancouver’s ship HMS Discovery.

Built in 1789, it’s the ship on which Royal Navy officer Captain George Vancouver first arrived in British Columbia.

See inside a replica of Captain Vancouver's ship
A popular exhibit is the replica of HMS Discovery (Credit: Royal BC Museum)

You can also see extensive displays of First Nations artifacts, a traditional “big house” and ancient totems.

These are just some of the exhibits and activities you can enjoy at the Royal British Columbia Museum. Established in 1886, the museum – which showcases BC’s 9,000 years of human history – has a whopping collection of 7 million objects.

If you’re into movies and films, you’ll also dig the museum’s IMAX Theater.

Its lineup ranges from blockbuster hits to educational gems, and everything looks pretty darn epic on that massive screen! Oh, and here’s a fun nugget – the Royal BC IMAX Theater boasts the biggest screen in all of British Columbia!

Royal BC Museum, Victoria


This Victoria, BC, museum is open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

On Friday and Saturday nights in summer, the museum is open late until 10:00 pm.

It’s closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


The museum is currently undergoing a “reimagining,” so some exhibits will be under wraps and closed to the public at various times.

6) Gawk at the British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Things to do in Victoria, BC: See the Legislative Building lit up at night
Victoria’s legislative building was designed by British architect, Francis Rattenbury

Wondering about fun things to do in Victoria, BC, for architecture fans? Then don’t miss the parliament buildings!

Overlooking Victoria’s picture-perfect Inner Harbor, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings are impressive.

They’re one of the most popular attractions in Victoria, BC, to photograph!

Designed by architect Francis Rattenbury, and completed in 1897, the exterior combines a Baroque façade with a mix of Romanesque details.

A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the sprawling front lawn (people like to hang out on the vast green space on a sunny day).

Crowning the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver.

Victoria Parliament Buildings


The Parliament Buildings are open to the public from Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm (closed weekends). Join a free, regularly scheduled guided tour to make the most of your visit.

For more information

See Visiting the Legislature on the Legislative Assembly’s website.

7) Bicycle the Galloping Goose Trail

Bicycling the Galloping Goose Trail is a great way to get some exercise outdoors in Victoria.
Bicycling the Galloping Goose Trail is a great way to get some exercise outdoors

Once a railway line, the Galloping Goose Trail is now a fabulous 35-mile (55-km) trail for hikers, bicyclists (and horses on one section), stretching from Victoria to Sooke.

There are parking lots and washrooms at different points along the way, so you can load your bicycle on your car and start at a particular point.

The trail is flat most of the way, with the occasional short uphill.

It’s a must-do Victoria, BC, activity if you want to get a bit of exercise on your trip (and see beyond the city at the same time).

Best section of the Galloping goose Trail

Our favorite section is the 11-mile (18-km stretch) between Matheson Lake and the Todd Trestle Bridge at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park.

Park at the Rocky Point Road parking lot (the 30 Km marker) to offload your bikes.

You’ll pedal along an easy, wide, well-maintained trail through the forest, getting glimpses of Matheson Lake.

Coming to Roche Cove, the trail winds along seaside coves and headlands – drink in the spectacular ocean views.

Then cross Sooke Road. Ride first to Charters Trestle, then Todd Trestle – two towering iron-and-wooden trestle bridges crossing the rushing Sooke River waaaay down below.

View of the water from Roche Cove

To get back to your car, turn around at the 48 Km marker and retrace your ride.

(You’ll be surprised at how different the scenery looks on the return.)

Get the Galloping Goose Trail map

Download a PDF of the official Galloping Goose Trail map.

8) Eat your way through Victoria

Fresh-shucked oysters at The Courtney Room, Victoria, Canada
Fresh seafood is a highlight when dining in Victoria (Credit: The Courtney Room)

There’s an urban myth still floating around that Victoria has the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America.

Probably not true.

But we can tell you that there are many excellent restaurants in Victoria.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely enjoy Victoria’s sophisticated restaurant scene.

We like Spinnakers Brewpub for fish and chips.
We like Spinnakers Brewpub for fish and chips – and the views from their pub patio (Credit: Spinnakers)

Some of the best restaurants in Victoria, BC

These are some of our fave eating spots in our city:


Tuck into unbelievably good home-made Italian food at a great price at Pagliacci’s.

Little Jumbo Restaurant & Bar

A cool little haunt, Little Jumbo Restaurant & Bar serves up cool cocktails and great tapas (oysters, masala lamb ribs, etc.).

Café Brio

A lovely fine-dining restaurant, Café Brio is our go-to place for fresh fish, pasta and meat dishes, all prepared in-house and served in half- and full-sizes. It has a great wine list too.


A popular craft brewery and gastropub, Spinnakers offers views of the Inner Harbor as it serves up good burgers, fish-and-chips and of course, wonderful beer.

Il Terrazzo Ristorante

Il Terrazzo is an upscale Italian spot with a nice garden courtyard. It’s a fine dining resto with lots of buzz.

Fiamo Pizza & Wine Bar

A fun resto with stylish décor, Fiamo features simple but delicious food like mussels, pizza and pasta creatively done.

The Courtney Room

For sophisticated Pacific Northwest cuisine, The Courtney Room (at the side of the Magnolia Hotel & Spa) is an elegant brasserie. Slurp fresh-shucked oysters at the bar or gather in the dining room for a 45-day aged ribeye or grilled steelhead trout.

The resto has won a slew of awards, including one for the “Top 10 New Canadian Restaurants” (2018), so reservations are definitely recommended.

E:Ne Raw Food Sake Bar

Not-your-usual Japanese resto, E:Ne (part of the Nubo group in Victoria) offers wonderful Japanese tapas like cauliflower tempura and flaming oysters. (Can’t decide what to order? Try the Omakase box of 9 dishes).

10 Acres Bistro

10 Acres Bistro is a popular spot offering farm-to-plate food, a creative twist on organic farm greens and smaller sharing dishes like quinoa fritters. We also like sitting on the covered outdoor patio at its sister restaurant, 10 Acres Commons.

10 Acres Commons is one of the best restaurants in Victoria, BC.
Farm-to-table dining in Victoria (Credit: 10 Acres Commons)

9) Count the deer in the city

How many deer in Victoria can you spot on your visit?
How many deer in Victoria can you spot on your visit?

If you’re on the lookout for unusual things to do in Victoria, BC, here’s a quirky one. Count the deer!

We have deer in the city. Lots of deer.

They really shouldn’t be living in the urban jungle, but they do.

They love our garden, and pretty well every day we see at least one (often a mom with her fawns), nibbling the bushes or resting on the lawn.

Two spotted fawns in Victoria, BC
Two spotted fawns find a good place to rest at the bottom of our garden

When driving in the city, you’ll often see signs to slow down for the deer.

A good place to spot them is at the Ross Bay Cemetery (#12 below).

10) Walk the Victoria Inner Harbor

Things to do in Victoria BC
The colorful houseboats at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf in the Inner Harbour always put a smile on our faces

One of the best free things to do in Victoria, BC, is simple.

Walk the Victoria Inner Harbour (spelled the Canadian way). It’s one of the prettiest harbors in the world!

Central Inner Harbour

Roses bloom outside Victoria's Empress Hotel
Roses bloom outside Victoria’s Empress Hotel (Credit: Fairmont Empress)

Perhaps start your walk at the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel. It overlooks the middle of the harbor in the heart of downtown Victoria.

Turn left as you’re facing the water, and you’ll pass the Royal BC Museum (#5) and BC’s provincial Parliament building (#6).

Continue winding your way along the waterfront until you come to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Check out the colorful houseboats floating in the water.

Perhaps buy fresh fish-and-chips to eat outside in the sun. Keep an eye out for harbour seals!

Colorful houseboats moored at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria's Inner Harbour
Several houseboats are permanently moored at Fisherman’s Wharf

At this point, you may want to turn around and retrace your steps, continuing beyond the Fairmont Empress along Wharf Street until you reach the stylish new Johnson Street Bridge.

Or you could catch a water taxi (one of the little Victoria Harbour ferries mentioned in #3) over to the neighborhood of Vic West, covered next.

Songhees Walkway

Songhees Walkway in Victoria, BC
Sections of the Songhees Walkway

Now that you’re in Vic West, you can walk the flat, paved Songhees Westsong Walkway that winds along the Esquimalt/Vic West waterfront.

It starts near the Johnson Street Bridge (by the Delta Victoria Ocean Point Hotel) and ends at the marina and houseboat village by Captain Jacobson Park.

The Songhees walk is one of our favorite waterfront paths on a sunny day in fall, winter and spring – when we want full-on sunshine and warmth.

Short city tour (including the Inner Harbour)

If you’re short on time, consider booking a private city tour that will show you the best of Victoria, BC – including the Inner Harbour – in two hours. The cost is a flat rate for up to six people, and you’ll be chauffeured around in a luxury SUV.

11) Hike up Mount Douglas

Two young hikers at the top of Mount Douglas, Victoria
Two young hikers at the top of Mt. Doug

Wondering where to go in Victoria, BC, for awesome views?

Get yourself to Mount Douglas Park.

Many of the trails are named after early settlers and farms in the area, and they’re rated (color-coded) according to difficulty – Green (easy), Blue (moderate) and Black (difficult).

See Garry Oak trees like this when hiking in Mount Douglas Park (Credit: District of Saanich)

The key attraction is the spectacular 360-degree view of Victoria and the water that you get from the top of Mount Doug.

You can actually reach the top of the 738-ft (224-m) mountain (er, hill?) by car on Churchill Road.

But… How cool is this? The road is closed to car traffic every day until 12 noon to encourage people to hike up the paved road.

Walking up and down the paved road takes about 45 minutes. We sometimes walk up and down the road twice for some cardio exercise. (It takes us about 90 minutes, with stops at the top to take in the view.)

It’s even more scenic to hike up one of the forested trails, like the Irvine Trail.

Hiking up this trail and walking back down the road takes about an hour and 15 minutes, including time to drink in the sweeping views at the very top.

Some fresh air, some exercise and a great reward at the top – that’s Mount Doug!

Don’t get lost!

We actually got lost one time on a poorly-marked trail in the park. But you don’t have to.

Download this free GPS-enabled map of the park and its trails, available through the District of Saanich (the particular area in which Mount Doug park is located).

12) Reflect at Ross Bay Cemetery

Ross Bay Cemetery is beautiful for a quiet stroll along its tree-lined paths.

With angel statues and grand tombstones, it almost feels like a walk through a sculpture garden.

Quite a few famous Canadians and Americans are buried here.

They include Sir James Douglas (BC’s first governor), world-renowned artist Emily Carr and Nellie Cashman (a nurse and gold prospector who saved 77 trapped gold miners and was later featured on a U.S. postage stamp).

13) Chill on a beach

Peek-a-boo view of a beach along Dallas Road, Victoria, Canada
Peek-a-boo view of a beach along Dallas Road

This Victoria, BC, travel guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the beaches.

When it’s hot outside, you may want to cool off at one of Victoria’s beaches or lakes.

Willows Beach is perhaps the best known, with half a mile of sandy beach and logs to rest against. There’s a tea room too, run by the Kiwanis Club, which is open in spring and summer.

But the water is cold (like frigid!) so you won’t be doing too much swimming unless it’s a hot day.

If you want to actually swim (in water that’s not freezing), check out Thetis Lake.

It’s lovely just to sit on a log on one of the beaches along Dallas Road and gaze at the views

14) Tour Craigdarroch Castle

Calling all history buffs!

This famous sandstone castle is a place you must see in Victoria, BC!

Craigdarroch Castle was built for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family.
Craigdarroch Castle was built for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family

Now a National Historic Site, Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 for BC coal baron Robert Dunsmuir.

He unfortunately didn’t get to spend any time in his “castle” as he died in 1889, leaving his whole estate to his wife Joan. (They had ten children.)

Inside, you can gawk at 39 lavishly furnished rooms – over 20,000 square feet (almost 1,900 square meters) – with beautiful stained-glass windows, tile floors, ornately carved woodwork and pink granite columns.

It’s also fun to learn about the juicy family drama after Robert’s death – including a lawsuit by Joan against one of her sons, James, who was the premier of BC at the time.

Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria

Getting there

The castle is located in the Rockland neighborhood, a short drive (seven minutes) from the city center. Or you can walk there from downtown – a pleasant 20- to 25-minute walk.

You can even bicycle there on this cool Victoria castles and neighborhoods bike tour.

Craigdarroch Castle hours

The castle is open weekdays (except December 25, 26 and January 1) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

In summer (from June 15 to September 6), it’s usually open longer from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

15) Duck into a café

Cappuccino? Victoria has a happening coffee scene!
Cappuccino? Victoria has a happening coffee scene!

Victoria is catnip for coffee lovers.

The coffee scene here rivals that in Vancouver and Seattle.

Of course, you can find some great Starbucks cafés. But we also have many independent home-grown coffee shops, with baristas who are masters of latte art.

Get ready to add “drinking some awesome coffee” to your checklist of Victoria, British Columbia, activities!

Best coffee shops in Victoria, BC

The following three are among our personal faves:

Discovery Coffee

Discovery Coffee is hailed by many as the best coffee shop in Victoria. There are several locations (e.g., in Oak Bay, James Bay and on Blanshard Street.)

Café Fantastico

Café Fantastico is a great roastery with three café locations in Victoria. (In summer, George often bicycles to the Parkside location for a good brew and to read the paper.)

Habit Coffee

Ethically sourced coffee beans, roasted by a Victoria-based specialty roaster. And baristas who love making coffee. That’s Habit Coffee, with two locations, one in Chinatown and the other on Yates Street.

16) Check out the “wee” libraries

Cute wee libraries are scattered throughout Victoria, BC.
Cute wee libraries like this are scattered throughout Victoria

One of the cutest things to see in Victoria, BC, are the little free libraries.

You find these wee home-made book exchanges containing from five to 20 books in front of various homes and businesses.

People craft their own tiny library boxes, so each is different – and they’re always fun to look at and browse.

You can find dozens of these little libraries across Victoria. There’s even a map of them!

17) Enjoy afternoon tea at the Empress

Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel
Afternoon tea at the Victoria Empress Hotel is a meal in itself! (Credit: Fairmont Empress Hotel)

You might have guessed by now that Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, has retained a “little bit of Olde England.”

One of those lovely British traditions still going strong after more than a century is the Empress Hotel high tea.

One of the most luxurious hotels in Victoria, the Fairmont Empress Hotel is a must-see Victoria, BC, attraction. And afternoon tea in its lobby lounge is an elegant affair.

We remember when ladies would wear hats and flowery dresses to tea at the Empress!

Since the Empress underwent a $60 million restoration, the lounge is more smart-modern now, but still sophisticated in royal purple colors.

You can choose from 21 international loose-leaf teas.

The afternoon tea features delicious treats made fresh daily from locally-sourced ingredients. Smoked salmon with chive crème fraiche on blinis. Warm ham-and-cheese tartlets. Red velvet citrus cheesecake. Almond Florentines. And more… Are you drooling yet?

And, yes, you get warm raisin scones with house-made clotted cream and strawberry vanilla preserve too!

While you sip and nibble, listen to live classical music played on a baby grand piano. Pinkies up!

Empress Hotel tea

Make reservations

In summer, the hotel serves high tea to more than 400 guests a day (more than most hotels in London, England). It’s hugely popular, so be sure to book ahead. Reserve through the Empress here.


In spring and summer, seatings of afternoon tea are available from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. In low season, high tea is available on Saturdays and Sundays only.

Dress code

There’s a dress code in effect. No athletic wear, flip-flops or clothes with explicit or offensive graphics or wording. And, sorry guys, no ball caps either. (But for ladies, fancy tea hats and fascinators are permitted.)


The Empress tea is a bit splurgey at $95 CAD (approximately $70 USD) p.p. or $135 CAD (around $100 USD) if you add a glass of Laurent Perrier Cuvée Brut champagne – but totally worth it!

18) Spy whales!

Adventurous things to do in Victoria? Go whale watching!
Adventurous things to do in Victoria? Go whale watching!

Yes, Victoria has whales – it’s one of the best spots for whale watching on Canada’s west coast.

And you can go whale watching in Victoria, BC, on a boat tour.

Talk about a Victoria must-see experience!

The types of whales found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and waters surrounding Victoria include orcas (killer whales), humpback whales, gray whales and minke whales.

If you’re lucky, you may see a whale breach (jump out of the water) right up close.

Then again, you may just see a whale tail in the distance.

The peak whale watching season is from May to October, when there’s a 95% chance you’ll spot whales in Victoria.

You’re also likely to get close-up views of seals, porpoises, eagles, sea lions and other local marine life on your Victoria whale watching tour.

Sea lions love hanging around the waters off Victoria, Vancouver Island.
Sea lions love hanging around the waters off Victoria

Whale sighting guarantee

Now you know, of course, that whales are wild creatures. So on the day you decide to go, they may not want to play nice and show up for you.

The good news is that many companies offer a “whale sighting guarantee” – if you don’t see a whale, they’ll invite you on another tour for free.

Most tours leave from Victoria’s Inner Harbour. And most are staffed by a marine biologist.

You can choose from several different types of whale watching vessels.

Whale watching by Zodiac

Here’s a 5-star-rated, small-group whale watching tour in a high-speed Zodiac-style boat with Prince of Whales.

Guaranteed: The exciting three-hour ride is almost as much fun as spotting whales!

You wear a warm full-flotation cruiser suit. You look like the “Michelin Man” (or Gal), but you’re toasty and comfortable zipping through the water in the open air!

Orca Spirit Adventures also offers high-speed Zodiac tours. There’s a maximum of 12 passengers, and your Zodiac driver is a certified marine naturalist.

Small coastal cruiser with heated cabin

Or maybe you’d prefer going out on a small, covered coastal cruiser?

Whale watching in Victoria, BC, on a Five Star Whale Watching boat
Orcas and humpback whales are commonly sighted in the waters around Victoria (Credit: Five Star Whale Watching)

Five Star Whale Watching offers a highly-rated, three-hour whale watching tour on a small high-speed vessel with indoor and outdoor viewing. The inside cabin is heated, and complimentary coffee and hot chocolate are offered.

As the group size is limited to 12, the whale watching experience is fairly intimate and there’s lots of room on the boat to see the whales.

Committed to responsible whale viewing, Five Star is a founding member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Larger whale watching catamaran

Another option is this half-day whale watching adventure with Prince of Whales on a larger purpose-built whale watching vessel. The comfy power vessel has a heated inside cabin and two washrooms.

You’re accompanied by an expert crew of three to four naturalist guides (as well as the captain, of course).

The cost includes free photos of the trip.

Other whale watching Victoria, BC, tours

Several other outfitters also offer whale watching tours in Victoria, including:

19) Shop Lower Johnson Street

Colorful Johnson Street is one of the best places to shop in Victoria, BC
Colorful Johnson Street is one of the best places to shop in Victoria, BC

You could shop on Government Street. You’ll find great shops there.

But get off the tourist trail slightly and wander along lower Johnson Street (nicknamed “LoJo”), between Government Street and Store Street.

Here, you find colorful, early 19th-century buildings from the gold-rush era lining both sides of LoJo. They house a variety of eclectic shops and boutiques selling everything from locally designed fashions to jewelry to home décor.

LoJo is, in fact, one of the best places to visit in Victoria, BC, for boutique shops.

Some stand-outs?

John Fluevog Shoes is the place to go for unique artistic shoes and boots. Outrageously high platforms with thick heels are a signature design.

One of our favorite stores in Victoria, this place is eye candy for shoe-aholics!

Colorful shoes at John Fluevog Shoes in Victoria, BC
Love shoes? Then you’ll love this shoe store on Lower Johnson Street!

Also pop into Lululemon for stylish yoga-inspired athletic wear.

You may know the popular chain was founded in BC (in Vancouver).

We also love Zingaro Floral Perfumery.

Zingaro is a lovelyperfume and gift shop in Victoria, BC.
Pop into Zingaro for sweet scents and lovely gifts

You’ll find old-fashioned stationery, hand-crafted beeswax candles, pretty vases, scented soaps and body oils, and of course, perfume.

Zingaro is a lovely shop to pick up a gift for a special female person in your life.

And for a pretty little succulent, bouquet of flowers or pot plant to give as a hostess gift (or to keep for yourself), browse Rook & Rose.

20) Visit the Victoria Art Gallery

Nestled in the historic Rockland neighborhood, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria houses some 20,000 works of art – the largest public collection in British Columbia.

Especially on a dreary day, the Art Gallery is a great place to visit in Victoria.
The Art Gallery is a great place to visit in Victoria, especially on a dreary day

The gallery consists of an 1889 mansion connected to a low-rise concrete building, housing seven state-of-the-art galleries.

Be sure to see the permanent display of works by BC’s beloved artist Emily Carr, who painted BC landscapes and scenes of the lives of First Nations people.

The Asian collection – including a grand Chinese bell from the Ming Dynasty along with exquisite amber and ivory carvings – is sure to catch your eye too.

In the Asian garden, you can see the only authentic Japanese Shinto shrine in North America. For this reason, it’s probably the most unique Victoria attraction.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria


The art gallery is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays).

Hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for Thursday (when the gallery is open from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm) and Sunday (when the gallery hours are 12 noon to 5:00 pm).

For more information

See the Victoria Art Gallery website.

21) Bicycle the Lochside Trail

Bicycling the Lochside Trail is one of our favorite things to do in Victoria, Vancouver Island.
Bicycling the Lochside Trail is one of our favorite things to do in Victoria

The Lochside Trail is a lovely wide 18-mile (29-km) trail running between Victoria and Sidney.

The trail meanders through idyllic scenery – past the Gorge Waterway, country lanes, green suburban backyards, rural farms and bird sanctuaries.

It’s used mostly by bicyclists, though it’s open to walkers and joggers too. Like the Galloping Goose Trail (#7), it’s pretty well flat all the way.

For an easy oh-so-scenic ride, bicycling the Lochside Trail is something you must do in Victoria, BC!

See the Lochside Trail map

Download a PDF map of the Lochside Trail, with points of interest and other great info.

22) Stroll through Chinatown

Colorful Chinatown is one of the top places to see in Victoria, BC.
Colorful Chinatown is another one of the top places to see in Victoria, BC

Victoria’s Chinatown is Canada’s oldest Chinatown – and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco.

See the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest, flanked by two huge stone lion sculptures.

Check out the Chinese restaurants too.

And duck into Fan Tan Alley. At three to six feet wide (less than two meters wide), it’s the narrowest street in the country.

Named after the Chinese gambling game of Fan-Tan, the alley was once a popular gambling district with betting parlors and opium dens.

Today, it’s lined with more than a dozen cute shops selling matcha teas, locally made jewelry and homemade ice-cream.

Why not make the most of your time in this colorful part of the city and join a hidden Chinatown food tour? Hands down, it’s among the cool things to do in Victoria for food lovers!

23) Get lost in Beacon Hill Park

Our biggest and best city park is Beacon Hill Park.

A pretty peacock in Beacon Hill Park
Pretty peacocks roam Beacon Hill Park

Located right downtown, this beautiful park is home to duck ponds, fountains, flower beds, rose gardens, sprawling lawns, playgrounds and a Garry Oak eco-system.

Footpaths wind throughout the 200-acre park, which can also be accessed by road. Peacocks roam freely in the park too.

An especially interesting feature is the Moss Lady, found near Douglas Street.

Lying on her side, she’s a 36-foot-long (11-meter-long) sculpture of a sleeping lady, created using a stainless steel frame covered with soil on which moss grows.

We also like looking up to spot the Great Blue Herons that nest in a section of the park (also by the Douglas Street side).

The nesting and breeding season for herons is spring and summer, so that’s when you can see (and hear!) them. Do be careful not to get splattered with the white bird poop!

24) Admire the totem poles in Thunderbird Park

Colorful totem pole in Thunderbird Park
Colorful totem pole in Thunderbird Park

Thunderbird Park is a small park right next to the Royal British Columbia Museum (#5). It’s home to a collection of First Nations totems and a traditional long house.

Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the poles.

All were carved in the onsite carving studio as replicas of ancient totems on display in the museum that were starting to decay. The originals are now in storage.

25) Explore Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Our Victoria, British Columbia, travel guide continues now with a spot of history…

To explore historic military command posts and learn about Victoria’s wartime secrets and maritime history, head to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse.

This National Historic Site of Canada is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria.

Built in 1860, Fisgard Lighthouse was the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada.
Built in 1860, Fisgard Lighthouse was the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada

Built in the late 1800s, Fort Rodd is an artillery fort built to defend the base of Canada’s Pacific naval fleet. You can tour the 19th century guardhouses and bunkers.

The lighthouse is about a 10-minute walk from the Fort Rodd Hill gates. Dating back to 1860, it’s still functioning (but is automated now).

The former lighthouse keeper’s home has exhibits covering the 200+ shipwrecks that have earned the surrounding area the nickname: “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

And you can climb the stairs of the lighthouse to the top, where you get fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Mountains.

Fort Rodd Hill, Victoria


Fort Rodd Hill is open daily year-round (except for December 25, 26 and January 1) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (and until 5:00 pm from May 1 to October 15).

Fisgard Lighthouse is also open daily from May 1 to October 15 (but is only open on Saturday and Sunday outside of this period).


The admission cost allows entry to both Fort Rodd Hill and the lighthouse.

For more information

See the Parks Canada website on Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.

26) Meander around Swan Lake and up Christmas Hill

Floating bridge at Swan Lake, Victoria
George walking across the floating bridge at Swan Lake

The Swan Lake and Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is one of the best places to go in Victoria, BC, for nature lovers.

There are two parts to the 116-acre nature sanctuary, located on the edge of the city.

Swan Lake consists of marshland, frequented by finches, wrens, great blue herons, nesting ducks and other birds. A walking trail winds around the lake, passing over a series of wooden and floating metal bridges.

Christmas Hill is a rocky hill, 358 feet (109 meters) high, with meadows of wildflowers and stately Garry Oak trees. From the top, you get spectacular views of Victoria.

Swan Lake walk

A very pleasant walk is to follow the loop trail around Swan Lake and then climb up Christmas Hill.

From the Swan Lake parking lot, make your way to the Swan Lake Nature House, then walk clockwise on the flat gravel-and-dirt trail around the shallow lake.

Back at the nature house, find the path taking you to Nelthorpe Street. Cross McKenzie Ave. and you’ll see the trail leading up to the top of Christmas Hill.

Once at the summit, retrace your steps to the Swan Hill parking lot.

The whole round-trip walk is a little more than 2.5 miles (4 km).

27) Tour Hatley Castle

Hatley Castle, Victoria, BC
Many popular movies and TV shows have been filmed at the Edwardian estate of Hatley Castle

Hatley Castle was built in 1908 by coal magnate, James Dunsmuir.

In 1940, the Department of Defence bought the estate and until 1995, the castle was the mess hall for cadets and officers at Royal Roads Military College.

Today, the castle and surrounding gardens (leased by Royal Roads University) is a national historic site known as Hatley Park National Historic Site.

The castle, museum, gardens and gift shop are open to the public.

For film buffs, this is probably going to be one of the most fun places to see in Victoria, BC. That’s because Hatley Castle has been featured in several Hollywood movies and TV shows.

If you’ve watched the X-Men series, Deadpool, Descendants, Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Killing or Smallville, you’ve seen it!

Visiting Hatley Castle


The gardens are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily.


Wandering the gardens is free.


Guided 60-minute walking estate tours take you through the gardens, the first floor of the castle and the lower-level museum. They’re offered from May to September.

28) Get spooked on a ghost walk

John Adam's, founder of Ghostly Walks, dressed all in black and carrying a cane
John Adam’s, founder of Ghostly Walks (Credit: Discover the Past)

Oooh… Enjoy eerie tales and delve into Victoria’s dark history on a one-hour guided ghost walk.

We have to hand it to Discover the Past! Headed by history enthusiast John Adams, it’s the family-run company which operates these top-notch, award-winning tours.

They’ve been bringing Victoria’s stories to life for thousands of visitors since 1999. We too have heard their chilling tales and shivers ran up and down our spines.

The night-time tour starts at Victoria’s Visitor Info Center.

First up: A stop in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. It’s rumored to be one of the most haunted hotels in the world.

Then you’ll continue on to some of Victoria’s spookiest spots – Helmcken Alley and Bastion Square. (Creepy fact: This square was the site of the city’s public hangings back in the day).

29) Ride in a horse-drawn carriage

This is a really classic way to see a bit of the city. You can engage in a spot of sightseeing in Victoria, BC, from a horse-drawn carriage.

Horse-and-carriage rides in Victoria, BC
See the city the way people did in the 1800s

We’re aware of two companies which show you the city’s historic and natural beauty as you clip-clop along, guided by a uniformed driver guide.

Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, which started in the 1850s, offers several options.

For example, their 60-minute Salish Sea carriage tour takes you through the quiet streets of James Bay, Victoria’s oldest neighborhood, and along the Dallas Road waterfront.

For a longer ride, check out their signature 90-minute horse-drawn carriage ride through historic Victoria – for up to six passengers.

The tours are private and can take up to six passengers in the carriage. And even if it’s cool outside, you’ll stay cozy and warm, covered by fluffy blankets.

Victoria Carriage Tours also offers horse-and-carriage rides.

Whoever you choose to go with, a carriage ride is one of those classic Victoria experiences that adds a bit of historical romance to your sightseeing.

30) See salmon spawn in Goldstream Provincial Park

Goldstream Park is one of the best places to visit in Victoria, BC, to enjoy nature.
Goldstream Park is one of the best places to visit in Victoria, BC, to enjoy nature

Wondering what to see in Victoria, BC, in autumn? Thousands of Pacific salmon fight their way up Goldstream River to spawn then. It’s an incredible sight!

Just 10 miles from downtown Victoria, Goldstream Provincial Park is the site of an incredible salmon spawning run each fall.

The salmon appear by mid-October and can be seen until late December. Chum salmon are the most common, but you may also see Coho and Chinook species.

Find a good spot on the banks of the Goldstream River and watch the fish pushing their way upstream against the current.

Salmon push their way upstream to spawn.
Salmon push their way upstream to spawn

You’ll see females digging nests (called “redds”) to lay their eggs (called “roe”).

The male salmon will look different than they do in the ocean – they’ll have hooked jaws, which they develop just before the spawning season to fight off other males.

And unlike the silver color they have while living in the ocean, many of the salmon will have turned red in color. This is because they’re beginning to absorb their scales and the flesh is now becoming visible.

After spawning, the salmon die. So toward the end of the salmon spawning season, you’ll see lots of bald eagles flying in to feed on the salmon carcasses.

There are also some delightful nature and hiking trails in the park. The park is thus well worth visiting in spring and summer too.

We especially like the short hike to Niagara Falls.

This lovely waterfall cascades down 156 feet (47.5 meters) to a large rock pool, where people like to splash and swim about in summer.

Niagara Falls in Goldstream Provincial Park
We have a Niagara Falls in Victoria – and you can swim in the pool at the base

See the Goldstream Provincial Park map

Download a PDF of the park map showing where to park, the trails and the waterfall.

31) Do a food walking tour

A fun way to get a taste of the city in two hours is on a guided food-and-history walking tour.

This award-winning tour by A Taste of Victoria Food Tours is a 2023 Viator Experience Award winner. It was also voted one of “Canada’s Top 10 Experiences” by TripAdvisor readers in 2021.

It takes you to many of the best places to visit in downtown Victoria, BC – like Market Square, Trounce Alley, Government Street and Fan Tan Alley.

Along the way, it includes six to seven local tastings, from perogis (or pierogies) and craft beer to French patisserie goodies.

32) Ride the hop-on hop-off bus

Two red hop-on/hop-off buses in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC
The hop-on hop-off bus is a fun way to see Victoria (Credit: Gray Line)

For a scenic overview of many of Victoria’ best attractions, take a ride on the hop-on hop-off bus (operated by Gray Line).

The sights these bright red double-decker buses stop at include:

  • BC’s Parliament Buildings (#6 above)
  • Craigdarroch Castle (#14)
  • the Empress Hotel (#17)
  • Chinatown (#22)

Sit upstairs on the open-air top deck for the best views.

Your hop-on hop-off pass is good for 24 hours.

33) Attend a festival

Into art, sailing, music? We have several events and festivals in Victoria, BC, that are worth catching.

We particularly love these fun Victoria events:

Symphony Splash

Visitors gather in front of The Fairmont Empress for Symphony Splash in Victoria, BC.
Visitors gather on the lawn in front of The Empress for Symphony Splash

If visiting Victoria, BC, over the first weekend of August, you’ll catch the city’s marquee summer event – Victoria Symphony Splash.

The Victoria Symphony puts on a free evening classical concert from a barge in the Inner Harbor. Crowds gather all around onshore. Fireworks finish off the spectacle.

Moss Street Paint In

One day a year in summer, Moss Street is closed to traffic, and over 100 artists set up shop to paint and sell their work.

There’s also plenty of food, drink and music at the Moss Street Paint In.

If it’s sunny, expect more than 30,000 art lovers to be out and about!

Music on the Lawn

A free series of evening rock n’ roll and blues concerts is held on the lawn at the BC Government House in summer. Bring a blanket or your own chair.


The international Swiftsure race has multiple courses
The international race has multiple courses; yachts in the longest overnight race venture out into U.S. waters before finishing back in Victoria (Credit: Swiftsure)

Head down to Clover Point on Dallas Road on the morning of the annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race. The race starts in various stages.

You’ll see hundreds of yachts stream by, their billowing sails catching the wind.

Boaters come from as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand to participate in this premier sailing race event in the Pacific Northwest.

Where to stay in Victoria, Canada

Before moving to Victoria, we used to visit the city for long weekends – we even spent a few days here on our honeymoon!

We’ve actually bedded down in quite a few of Victoria’s lovely hotels and B&Bs.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel has a wonderful outdoor pool by the sea.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel has a wonderful outdoor pool by the sea (Credit: Oak Bay Beach Hotel)

Then before moving here, we stayed in several Airbnbs to figure out which area of the city we wanted to lived in.

For hotels and B&Bs, see our post with (updated) reviews of the best hotels in Victoria.

For more homey accommodations with a kitchen, see our post on some of Victoria’s great Airbnbs and Vrbo vacation rentals.

We especially like Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner). It’s similar to Airbnb, except only whole homes or apartments are offered (not shared stays or just a room).

See these Victoria listings on Vrbo. You can apply filters to show only those accommodations that are centrally located, have 4+ star ratings, are “highly rated for cleanliness” and are offered by Premier Hosts (which is what we do when searching on Vrbo).

Airbnbs and Vrbo accommodations with kitchens make for great home-away-from-home bases for discovering all those fun things in Victoria we just spoke about!

Getting to Victoria

There are several ways to get to Victoria from Vancouver or Seattle.

From Vancouver, you can take a car-and-passenger ferry with BC Ferries. Or you can fly commercially or on a seaplane with Harbour Air.

Day trips from Vancouver to Victoria are popular in summer. See, for example, this combo seaplane and ferry day tour.

From Seattle, you can take the Victoria Clipper high-speed passenger ferry or the M.V. Coho car ferry (Black Ball Ferry Line) from Port Angeles. Or you can fly commercially or on a seaplane with Kenmore Air.

You can also do a day trip from Seattle to Victoria if your time is short.

Getting around in Victoria, BC


Victoria is a very walkable city.

If you’re staying in downtown Victoria, you can easily explore the Inner Harbor (#10 above) and the downtown core – including the Royal BC Museum (#5), the Parliament Buildings (#6), Government Street, Johnson Street (#19) and Chinatown (#22) – on foot.

In fact, walking is the best way to see and get around the downtown area.

The Empress hotel overlooking Victoria's Inner Harbour
The downtown core is easy to explore on foot

Victoria Harbour Ferry

Little passenger water taxis operated by Victoria Harbour Ferry criss-cross the Inner Harbor.

They operate frequently and are an especially fun way to get between locations on the Inner Harbor and Gorge.

Prices vary, depending on the taxi ride (or tour), but regular Victoria Harbour Ferry rides from one dock to another cost $12.50 CAD (about $9.00 USD) per adult.

They operate seven days a week. See this live map of what the water taxis are up to at any given moment!

Public buses

The public bus system (run by BC Transit) is pretty good for getting around Victoria.

See Victoria Regional Transit System. It operates throughout Greater Victoria, serving the Victoria International Airport, all ferry terminals (including Swartz Bay) and communities like Langford, Metchosin and Sooke.

In the central Victoria area, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for a bus. (We’ve experienced slower service on Sundays though.)

Tickets are cheap at $2.50 CAD (less than $2 USD) for a single fare. Or you can buy a $5 CAD DayPASS directly from the bus driver for all-day access.

You can pay cash on the bus, but give the exact amount, as you won’t get change back.


Taxis are more expensive than taking the public bus, but they’re also a more convenient way for getting around in Victoria, BC – and they’re reasonably affordable for short distances.

We’ve found Bluebird Cabs to be very reliable (unlike some taxi companies in some other Canadian cities). We pre-book our rides with them when going to the airport, and they’ve always shown up on time.

Renting a car

For day trips from Victoria, if not booking a guided tour, you’ll probably want to rent a car.

Most of the major car rental agencies like Hertz have locations at the Victoria airport.

Uber? Ride sharing?

Yes! As of June, 2023, Uber started legally operating in Victoria.

You can use the ride-hailing service in downtown Victoria, at the airport and at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. At the airport, there are dedicated ride-share pick-up spots right by the arrivals door.

We haven’t used Uber in Victoria ourselves yet (we have our own cars). But we’ve heard from visitors that it works well. So we’re excited it now exists!

Now you know what to do in Victoria, BC!

Whether you have three days, a whole week or just a day, you’ll discover a host of awesome activities in Victoria, BC.

Our city has a bit of everything – culture, history, bicycle paths, beaches, boats, tons of restaurants, gardens and more.

So, when you travel to Canada, be sure to include Victoria in your itinerary!

Do you want to visit Victoria, BC? Or if you’ve already visited, what do you love most about our city?

Share any thoughts and your suggestions for things to do in Victoria, British Columbia, in the Comments below.

Experience more of British Columbia!

Vancouver: Check out the best Stanley Park bicycle rentals for biking around this epic downtown Vancouver park.

Telegraph Cove: From kayaking with orcas to grizzly bear viewing, Telegraph Cove offers thrilling wilderness adventures.

Salt Spring Island: Hiking through forests with fairy houses? Kayaking? These are just two of the many magical things to do in Salt Spring Island.

Tofino: Wicked winter weather means it’s time for storm watching in Tofino on Vancouver Island!

Galiano Island: There are enough enchanting activities on Galiano Island to keep you as busy as you’d like. See our guide on what to do, where to stay and how to reach this getaway island.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

Hey, do you love Victoria? Then pin this!

Best things to do in Victoria, BC
What to do in Victoria, Canada

Photo credits: 3, 5 to 7, 9, 16, 19, 26 to 29, 36, 39 to 43, 45 to 47, 49, 51, 53, 63 to 66, 71, 75, 82 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 44 Jondolar Schnurr

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Uday & Smita

Monday 16th of October 2023

Hi Janice and George,

You guys are just excellent and so detail-oriented. Awesome!!! Love it... Because of you, we decided to go to Victoria, BC!!!

Since retiring, we've decided to travel... It just started (for 2 yrs now).

We will contact you when we start planning our next trip for your take on that adventure!

Like we say in India... Jay Ho

Janice and George

Monday 16th of October 2023

Thanks so much for the kind comments! And you'll love Victoria :-)

David Brown

Saturday 22nd of July 2023

You guys obviously are pros but this is one of the best travel blogs I've ever read, and it's a big help to me in planning my family's trip to Vancouver and Victoria in August. Thank you for your hard work.

Janice and George

Sunday 23rd of July 2023

Thanks! Glad you love our blog! And enjoy your trip :-)


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Come visit us at Haunted Manor Mini Golf next time you are in town! 😀


Thursday 2nd of February 2023

I loved visiting Victoria in August 2022.

However, I was very disappointed that the Royal BC Museum was so empty. There wasn't much when it came to early Canadian History.

Furthermore, I was upset that we paid $20 each for a tiny tour at Hatley Castle (Royal Roads University). The tour guide was ditsy and couldn't answer questions. Although the Castle was beautiful, you only get to see the castle via a tour guide and it is only one floor. Royal Road University uses the rest of the building.

Otherwise all the things that are mentioned here are wonderful sites to see and things to do.

Janice and George

Thursday 2nd of February 2023

We're delighted you loved your visit to our home city!

As for the Royal BC Museum, it's under renovation and different exhibits are being swapped out - so you don't get the "full" experience right now, unfortunately.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment :-)


Friday 26th of August 2022

Please consider removing horse drawn carriage rides from this list. This is an outdated and unnecessary exploitation of animals. This could be replaced by the bike carts driven by paid humans who will entertain you and give you local knowledge of attractions.

Janice and George

Wednesday 5th of October 2022

From what we understand, the horses are treated very respectfully and lovingly. And the horse-drawn carriage rides are a much-loved traditional attraction in Victoria!

But it's a good idea for us to add the bicycle cart rides to our list of fun things to do in Victoria :-). We'll do that in future!