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Top Things to Do Victoria BC

Whale watching

Victoria provides one of the premier destination for whale watching adventures. Resident Orcas and Humpbacks offer the main attraction but there are others to be seen as well. The local resident Killer Whales are familiar with the boats and often let the boats come very close. The Inner Harbour is the departure point for year-round whale watching tours, harbour cruises, kayaking tours, and fishing and boating charters. Check out our page on whales for Vancouver Island for more info.

Empress Hotel Tour

The Empress Hotel THE notable Victorian landmark. It is worth getting the tour of the hotel since there is so much history here, you can’t appreciate it by just walking through without a guide. With its ivy strewn outer walls to coincide with its spectacular view of the Inner Harbour, the Empress has impressed dignitaries the world over. Considered by some, as the heart and soul of the city, it has been continually renovated over the years, combining the old world with the modern and leaving guests awestruck at its splendor.

Butchart Gardens

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People travel from all over North America and the world just to see 55 acres of incredible floral displays in every season. Butchart Gardens is about 30 mins from Victoria towards Sidney, but is one of the top attractions to the area.

Fisherman’s Wharf

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Just around the corner from Victoria’s Inner Harbor and the Ogden Point cruise ship terminal, Fisherman’s Wharf is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. This unique marine destination offers food and ice cream kiosks, unique shops and eco-tour adventures in the heart of the working harbour. Wander down the docks with your lunch, buy seafood fresh off the boat, see moored pleasure vessels and float homes, and watch as fishing vessels unload their wares. Adventures include whale watching and wildlife-viewing tours, kayak rentals and fishing charters.

Fishing

Though Victoria may not have the top fishing on Vancouver Island, the winter fishing can be good for both salmon and halibut. 2015 was a good year for halibut fishing around the Victoria area and should continue into 2016. Check out our Victoria page for fishing.

Taxi Harbour Ride

Victoria’s inner harbor is very busy with all kinds of boat traffic. The tour guide will give you a storied history about Victoria’s harbor and will head over to Esquimalt and back.

Tour the Parliament Buildings

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and you can take a tour of the Parliament buildings and even sit in on a public session. Just walk up to the front door and you will be directed where to go for the tours.

Royal Museum

RoyalBC-museumThe Royal British Columbia Museum has over 7 million objects collected and stored within its walls. Yes, you heard it correctly, 7 million! The museum features 3 permanent galleries and covers 8 disciplinary studies, providing a vast array of diverse scientific and artistic topics. The 3 permanent galleries consist of the First Peoples, Modern History and Natural History. Founded in 1886, the Royal BC Museum continues to attract many guests along with its extensive volunteer list that now exceeds 500! Don’t forget to check out the IMAX theatre as well.

IMAX Theatre

The National Geographic IMAX Theatre is the only Imax on Vancouver Island and has showings starting every hour during the day. It is six stories high and 25 meters (81 ft) wide and is located inside the Royal BC Museum.

Carriage Ride

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Relax in a horse-drawn carriage and capture the romance of the Inner Harbour under the soft glow of the city lights. Private carriage tours include Old Town, Chinatown, Beacon Hill Park, heritage homes, and the Dallas Road waterfront. Fabulous horse drawn carriages have been delighting visitors with rides through Victoria for over 100 years!

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

puts you back into am era of unfettered wealth and ostentation. Learn the fascinating history of this poor Scottish coal miner who built an empire and became the wealthiest and most influential man in British Columbia.

Beacon Hill Park 
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is a historic sanctuary in Downtown Victoria, with landscaped gardens, bridges, ponds, abundant wildlife, and spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains. A delightful quiet envelops this sunny spot, where walking trails link with neighborhood streets that lead down into the busy hum of Victoria. Beacon Hill Park was the site of an ancient village inhabited for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the colonial settlers. In 1956, renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist Mungo Martin and his team raised the world’s tallest freestanding totem pole in Beacon Hill Park (38.8 meters or128 feet).

Street performers

There are allotted time set for street performers on the harbor front walk. They normally perform on the lower level to both the upper and lover levels get to watch. Having the allotted time slots seems to have reduced the number of performers and talent, but it can still be worth a look.

Victoria Harbor at night

The Empress and Parliament Buildings are worth seeing at night and walking around the harbor can be magical, especially during summer months when the temperatures are balmy.

Victoria Public Market

If you need something fresh the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson takes local cuisine to a higher quality. Every type of food and beverage is present, so come hungry and thirsty. Victoria Public Market is located at 1701 Douglas Street, Victoria. Visit their website for the hours of operation for the Public Market and Farmers’ Markets.

Drive Dallas Road

Dallas road takes you around the southern tip of Vancouver Island. During the summer time there are many beautiful gardens on display towards Oak Bay. During the winter time the waves crashing can be fun to watch. Para-gliders hang out here during some of the summer days.

Fisgard Lighthouse

and Fort Rodd Hill work together to provide two important historical roots into the community. Located in the same area, Fisgard is Canada’s oldest West Coast lighthouse (1860) and still fully operational, while Fort Rodd was an old gun battery built to protect the navy base at nearby Esquimalt Harbor.

Ogden Point
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Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out into the ocean. The famous quote by the late Christopher Reeve can be taken as something more than a metaphor at Ogden Point. At nearly 800 metres long, the point extends into the ocean and offers a unique opportunity to walk out to sea and enjoy great views in all directions. Make sure that you have plenty of time as the return walk takes about 30 minutes. Be very careful as there are no railings on either side, so the walk is only recommended for the adventurous and well prepared.

The Robert Bateman Center

 – The Robert Bateman Centre is fast becoming one of the finest art galleries, not only in Victoria but Canada as well. Displaying the definitive collection of his life’s work, the Bateman Centre offers many exhibits that expand and espouse on man’s place in nature. Inspirational as well as philosophical, the individual is taken through many commentaries that forces one to come to grips with the dichotomy of our natural world. Come and see why Robert Bateman is considered one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and conservationists. The Robert Bateman Centre is located at 470 Belleville Street, in the Steamship Terminal on Victoria’s Inner Harbor.

Government House and Gardens

Government House is the estate of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Queen’s royal representative in British Columbia. Government House is a national historic site embracing 36 acres, including rare Garry oak woodlands and ornamental gardens in various styles. Government House is located in the heart of the Rockland neighborhood in Victoria, at 1401 Rockland Avenue, a 5-minute drive or 20-minute walk from downtown. With occasional exceptions, the grounds are open daily free of charge to the public from sunrise to sunset. Visit and enjoy a cup of tea at the interpretative center, Tuesday to Saturday from May through September.

Hatley Castle

A castle masquerading as a University, or is the other way around? Either way, the estate of the distinguished James Dunsmuir is elegantly crafted. As you walk the grounds, you might start to wonder: Have I seen this place before? Well if you have watched the X-Men film series, you might recognize Hatley Castle as the famed home of Professor Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. And speaking of schools, the grounds are now home to the Royal Roads University. The university and its gardens are also surrounded by an urban forest…and Wolverine.

Emily Carr House

is the childhood home of Emily Carr, a Canadian icon, who’s Modernist and Post-Impressionist paintings helped change the way art was noticed and perceived. Take a walk back to the ambiance her family knew in the 1870s and explore her early sculptures and pottery.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

 houses one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art, with special historic and contemporary exhibits on display throughout the year. An Asian garden located on the grounds includes the only authentic Japanese Shinto shrine in North America.

Helmecken House

was built in 1852 for pioneer doctor John Helmcken. It is now considered the second oldest residence in all of BC.