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.
Best city to visit in Canada
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.
The weather is also kind to us humans. Victoria boasts the best weather in Canada.
True, there are some cool places to visit in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) in winter. (Oh, bad pun).
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).
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.
Our restaurant and theater scene is great too.
For such a smallish city (population 400,000), Victoria punches high above its weight in this department.
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 small city in the world in the 2023 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
So, when you travel to Canada, be sure to include Victoria in your itinerary!
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
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, they’re home to 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.
The gardens are located about a 35-minute drive 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.
For a Victoria day trip from Vancouver, Landsea Tours offers a full-day tour to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver.
It includes 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 visiting Butchart Gardens.
Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic sea plane trip from Vancouver to Victoria, where you’re then taken to the Butchart Gardens and downtown Victoria, before being flown back to Vancouver.
2) Go SUP
Make like a local!
Paddle boarding is one of those super fun, non-touristy things to do in Victoria, BC.
Brian, the owner of South Island SUP, will deliver paddle boards to you at the beach from his mobile SUP shop (i.e., his van).
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
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
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.
Depending on the time of the year, you often see lots of jelly fish in the water in Tod Inlet too.
And who knows, a seal may decide to hitch a ride on your kayak!
Alternative: Kayak 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. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and seals!
5) Visit the 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.
Board a replica of the stern of Captain Vancouver’s ship HMS Discovery.
Built in 1789, it’s the ship on which Captain Vancouver first arrived in British Columbia.
See extensive displays of First Nations artifacts, a traditional “big house” and ancient totems. And watch a film in the giant IMAX Victoria theater.
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 some 7 million objects in its collection.
6) Gawk at the British Columbia Parliament Buildings
Overlooking Victoria’s picture-perfect Inner Harbor, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings are quite magnificent, to say the least.
They’re one of the most popular attractions in Victoria, BC, to photograph!
Designed by architect Francis Rattenbury, 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.
7) Bicycle the Galloping Goose Trail
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.
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.
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.)
8) Eat your way through Victoria
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.
You can find more great Victoria restaurants here.
9) Spot deer in the city
We have deer in the city. Lots of deer.
They really shouldn’t be living in the city, 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.
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
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
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!
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 take one of the Victoria Harbor Ferries (mentioned in #3) over to Vic West.
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.
11) Hike up Mount Douglas
Wondering where to go in Victoria 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).
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.
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 a little over an hour.
Some fresh air, some exercise and a great reward at the top – that’s Mount Doug!
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
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.
14) Tour Craigdarroch Castle
Calling all history buffs!
This famous sandstone castle is a place you must see in Victoria, BC!
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.
15) Duck into a café
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.
16) Check out the “wee” libraries
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.
17) Enjoy afternoon tea at the Empress
You might have guessed by now that Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, has retained a “little bit of old England.”
One of those lovely British traditions still going strong after more than a century is the Empress Hotel high tea.
Afternoon tea in the lobby lounge of the Fairmont Empress Hotel – one of the most luxurious hotels in Victoria – 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 food menu 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!
18) Spy whales!
Yes, Victoria has whales, and you can go whale watching in Victoria, BC, on a boat tour.
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.
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 whale watching tour in a high-speed Zodiac (three hours) with Orca Spirit Adventures. There’s a maximum of 12 passengers, and your Zodiac driver is a certified marine naturalist.
Guaranteed: The 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 around outside in the open air!
Small coastal cruiser with heated cabin
Or maybe you’d prefer going out on a covered coastal cruiser?
Five Star Whale Watching offers a top-notch 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 Watching Association.
Larger whale watching catamaran
Another option is this five-hour 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.
(Prince of Whales also offers a high-speed Zodiac tour as well.)
19) Shop Lower Johnson Street
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 Streets.
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.
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!
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.
You’ll find old-fashioned stationary, 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.
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.
21) Bicycle the Lochside Trail
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!
22) Stroll through Chinatown
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.
23) Get lost in Beacon Hill Park
Our biggest and best city park is 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. You’ll see peacocks 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 pee!
24) Admire the totem poles 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
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 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.
26) Meander around Swan Lake and up Christmas Hill
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.
27) Tour 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.
The castle, museum, gardens and gift shop are open to the public.
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!
28) Get spooked on a ghost walk
Ooooh… Enjoy spooky tales and learn about Victoria’s dark history on a one-hour guided ghost walk.
The tours are offered by Discover the Past, a family-run company headed by history enthusiast John Adams. They’ve been bringing Victoria’s stories to life for thousands of visitors since 1999.
The night-time tour starts at Victoria’s Visitor Info Center.
You then pass the Empress Hotel and go through the most haunted part of Victoria – Helmcken Alley and Bastion Square. (Years ago, the square was the site of the city’s public hangings).
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.
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.
Victoria Carriage Tours offers several options, like this top-rated 30-minute carriage ride by the sea.
The private tour takes you through the quiet streets of James Bay, Victoria’s oldest neighborhood and along the Dallas Road waterfront.
30) See salmon spawn in Goldstream Provincial Park
What to see in Victoria, BC, in autumn? Thousands of Pacific salmon fight their way up Goldstream River to spawn. 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.
You’ll see females digging nests (called “redds”) to lay her 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 some delightful nature and hiking trails in the park too. 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.
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 was 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 pierogis (or perogies) and craft beer to French patisserie goodies.
32) Ride the hop-on/hop-off bus
For a scenic overview of many of Victoria’ best attractions, take a ride on the hop-on/hop-off bus.
The sights these bright red double-decker buses (operated by Gray Line) 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:
If visiting Victoria over the first weekend of August, you’ll catch the city’s marquee summer even – 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.
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.
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 the most charming Airbnbs in Victoria.
We also really 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 – we filtered this for the best close-in neighborhoods, 4+ star ratings and “highly rated for cleanliness.”
Getting to Victoria
There are several ways to get to Victoria from Vancouver or Seattle.
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.
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 most water taxi rides in the Harbor area cost $8 CAD (about $6.00 USD) per adult.
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 daytrips 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 yet (we have our own cars), so we can’t give you a personal opinion. But 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.
Have you visited Victoria? What do you love most about it?
Share your suggestions for things to do in Victoria, British Columbia, in the Comments below.
Hey, do you love Victoria? Then pin this!
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