Best Authentic Experiences

  • Wandering among the floating houses at Fisherman’s Wharf: One of the best ways to explore Victoria’s lively Inner Harbour is via the Victoria Harbour Ferries that zip from stop to stop including the colorful floating houses, shops, and eateries of Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Touring the Totem Hall at the Royal BC Museum: The Totem Hall offers a haunting glimpse into British Columbia’s First Nations heritage, but it is just one of the many intriguing exhibits, displays, and dioramas in in this engaging museum.
  • Searching for the elusive Himalayan poppy at Butchart Gardens: This gorgeous display garden is one of the city’s main attractions. Discover its heritage buildings, restaurants, and rare plants like the blue poppy from the mountainous reaches of the Himalayas.
  • Spotting an orca while whale-watching in the Salish Sea: The magnificent black-and-white orca is just one of the many creatures you’ll see while roaring across the sea in a Zodiac or cruiser.
  • Hanging with the ghost of Emily Carr at her family home: One of the most iconic of Canadian painters, Emily Carr grew up in Victoria. Visit her childhood home to glimpse where her genius sprang from.
  • Taking tea at the Empress: Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Hotel Empress is an essential tradition in this very English city. Expect a decadent feast and opulent setting right by the Inner Harbour.
  • Biking along Dallas Road: Victoria is known as the “Cycling Capital of Canada,” and this seaside path is one of the most popular, with a route that runs past gardens, totem poles, and unsurpassed scenery.
  • Eating your way along Fort Street: Fort Street has become a foodie mecca, with everything from cheese and charcuterie to Dutch cookies, artisan salts, and Asian noodles. Bring your appetite.
  • Stocking up on great reads at Munro’s Books: Quite simply, one of the world’s great bookstores. Housed in a glorious neoclassical building, staffed by passionate bibliophiles, and packed with extraordinary reads.
  • Raising a pint at Spinnakers: Victorians love their pubs, and there are many to choose from in just about every neighborhood. But this craft brew house with its exceptional cuisine is one of the best.

Best Shopping

  • Government Street: Victoria’s main shopping street downtown is a vibrant mix of tourist tat and funky boutiques. This is where you will find such quintessential local emporia as Munro’s Books, Roger’s Chocolates, and Murchie’s Tea & Coffee.
  • LoJo: LoJo is what the locals call the neighborhood that comprises Lower Johnson Street, Market Square, and bits of Yates and Wharf streets. You’ll find lots of fashion boutiques here, housed in brightly painted historic buildings.
  • Victoria Public Market: Brand new as of late 2013, the Victoria Public Market has a fantastic location on the main floor of a Belle Epoque building known as The Hudson. A great place to shop for foodie souvenirs and enjoy a grazing lunch.
  • Oak Bay Village: Some of the most fun you can have is strolling along charming Oak Bay Avenue and browsing through the many boutiques selling gardening gear, candy, charcuterie, fashion, and more.
  • Fort Street: Once known as Antique Row, Fort Street is better known these days for its foodie options. You can still pick up an Edwardian silver tea service, but you might find yourself spending more time sampling the terrines at Choux Choux Charcuterie.

Best Museums and Galleries

  • Royal BC Museum: This is one of the best regional museums in the world. It often hosts impressive visiting exhibits, like 2014’s Vikings show, but is best known for its First Nations artifacts.
  • Emily Carr House: A visit to the famous painter’s childhood home offers a poignant look at the wellspring of her genius.
  • Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: Half charming historic mansion; half contemporary exhibit space; all passionately committed to fine art. This great gallery features thousands of works from Asia, Europe, and North America, including several by Victoria’s own Emily Carr.
  • Robert Bateman Centre: Up on the second floor of the historic Steamship Terminal Building right on the Inner Harbour, you’ll find this impressive collection of the famous wildlife painter’s works.
  • Craigdarroch Castle Historic House and Museum: Until you see it, it’s hard to believe this place even exists—it’s a four-story, 39-room, multi-turreted bonanza castle that dates back to the late 19th century, filled with antiques and surrounded by gardens.

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.