Two cities, only 100km (60 miles) apart, built on Canada’s wild colonial frontier in the late Victorian era, Vancouver and Victoria have much in common—but they have even greater differences between them. Chalk it up to their origins: Well-mannered Victoria was created by merchants; rambunctious Vancouver by a handful of adventurers and a chatty saloonkeeper. Even today, while Vancouver is sleek, sophisticated, even glamorous, it can also be gritty and rough. Victoria, on the other hand, is quainter, quieter, and much less likely to break out in random acts of bad behavior. Still, both cities share a similar West Coast climate, laidback lifestyle, and spectacular natural beauty.
Vancouver, which is located on British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, still has a few of its original late Victorian neighborhoods, but it is for the most part a sleek, contemporary, multicultural city that just happens to be surrounded by nature on a grand scale, thanks to the North Shore Mountains that tower over the city. Meanwhile, Victoria may be only a short ferry ride away over on Vancouver Island, yet it is a world apart, and that world is a charming, English one of Victorian and Edwardian low-rises surrounded by pretty gardens and serene coastal seascapes.
Different though they may be, both cities are active, outdoorsy places, with a deep-rooted eco-consciousness. That applies to the exciting food culture, too—these days, you have to try hard to find a place that isn’t all about local, organic, sustainable, handcrafted fare, and in Vancouver especially, you’ll find a delicious Asian influence thanks to a huge Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian population.
Visitors will want to bring good walking shoes and a spirit of adventure. They will want to take tea in Victoria and climb a mountain in Vancouver, to discover the haunting beauty of First Nations art, to relax in a beautiful garden, and to sip a pint of local craft beer on a sunny patio. They’ll want to taste spot prawns and xiao long bao. They’ll want to dance to the wee hours on Granville Street and take tea at The Empress. The one thing they may not want to do, though, is to leave.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.