Victoria is the capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Many tourists rightly consider that Victoria is the most pleasant and beautiful city in Canada. Very often it is called Garden City. When in many provinces of Canada it’s still snowing, in Victoria violets are already blooming and covering the lush gardens and parks of the city with a wide colourful carpet.
Spring comes to Victoria city so early because of its mild Mediterranean climate. The city is located in the south east of Vancouver Island and separated from the mainland by the deep Strait of Georgia. Victoria is an important port city, cruise ships often stop here during their voyage.
If you are going to visit Canada for the first time, it’s quite a valid question: What to do in Victoria BC? For sure, from your first sight you will fall in love with this lovely cosy city, but before that happens let us offer you a list of things you must do in Victoria BC.
1. Royal BC Museum
Royal British Columbia Museum is a History Museum in Victoria, including the Museum of Art and Natural History, and is a perfect place to visit for those on a family holiday. Critics call it one of the best things to see and do in Victoria BC. Royal BC Museum was founded in 1886. The size of the collection amounts to more than 7 millions items! Royal title was granted to the museum by Queen Elizabeth II.
Sightseeing tours allow you to get a lot of new information on the Pacific coast. The Museum is famous for its huge unique exhibitions, allowing you to plunge into the past and see what Victoria was like 100 years ago, and to enjoy its cobbled streets and antique shops.
It includes a lot of galleries, three of which are permanent: natural history, modern history and the history of the local people. A large collection includes archival records, and specimens of natural history and artifacts. Here are a few disciplines: botany, paleontology, entomology, ornithology, ichthyology and zoology. There is a breathtaking model of a submarine of the Victorian era, located in a huge 360-litre aquarium. The collection of fossils has about 55,000 specimens aged from 600 million to 20 thousand years ago.
2. British Columbia Legislature Building
One of the essential things to do in Victoria BC Canada is visiting the British Columbia Legislature Building. It was built in 1898. Its main architectural feature is its numerous domes.
On the lawn in front of the Parliament building there is a statue of Queen Victoria. Nearby there is a statue of a soldier in honour of fallen soldiers of World War II and the Korean War. At the top of the central dome there is gold-plated statue of Captain George Vancouver.
The Parliament Building looks especially great at night because of the numerous lights set on its facade.There are free guided tours through the British Columbia Legislature Building and its vicinity all year round.
3. Inner Harbour
This place is a complex of entertainment and attractions, including a tour by seaplanes and hang-glider; tours to habitat of grampus, sea lions, seals and a variety of marine life; kayaking and canoeing; as well as just relaxing, combined with sport fishing.
While enjoying a sightseeing flight on a seaplane, visitors can view the Juan de Fuca Strait in all its glory. Also from a bird’s-eye view you can look at the San Juan Island, the Rocky Mountains and the west coast of Canada.
If visitors wish to experience more extreme sensations, they will be able to ride a kayak or canoe, to feel the force of the currents and waves, and enjoy the local scenery. Also in this area anyone is able to test themselves in sport fishing, trying to catch large predators as well as nimble, small creatures of the ocean.
4. Craigdarroch Castle
One of exciting things to do in Victoria British Columbia is visiting Craigdarroch Castle. It is the famous Victorian mansion, located on a hill near the city. It was built back in the 1890 by the Scottish immigrant, coal miner, and later influential “coal baron” Robert Dunsmuir.
Since 1979 Craigdarroch Castle has been a National Historical museum. There are 39 rooms in the building, some of which have retained their original appearance. Others have been restored. Huge stairs (87 steps) opens the way to the view of the mountains, the bay and Victoria. Each year this place is visited by more than 150,000 tourists.
In the vast ballroom of the castle there is an old piano, which guests can play. Inside the Castle you can hear classical music, and dip into the atmosphere of the time. Mannequins, wearing costumes of the era recreate the full picture.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is an interesting place and one of the free things to do in Victoria BC, where you can relax and enjoy the fresh, cool air; taste the local seafood; watch sea animals: seals and whales; take a walk along the ocean coast.
Along the fishing pier you will see lines of “houseboats”, each of which is unique in its own way and not like any other one. On the dock you can feed the seals. But be careful, gulls can steal the food right out of your hands!
A Food Court is located outdoors. There you can enjoy a tasty and inexpensive meal after your walk along the pier. The restaurants offer various menus of seafood.
6. Abkhazi Garden
Actually it’s impossible to find best things to do in Victoria BC because each attraction here is unique. For example, Victoria is known for its beautiful gardens, including the famous Garden Abkhazi, the most exquisite garden in British Columbia. It was created in 1946 by the Prince and Princess Abkhazi. Throughout their life the owners maintained and improved the garden.
The Abkhazi Garden is a sunny nook, a treasure of Victoria. It includes the natural landscape of the west coast with its rocky slopes and huge oak trees. The rock garden is surrounded by pools with turtles, growing coniferous trees and Japanese maples which in 50 years have grown to an impressive size.
Abkhazi family worked together for more than 40 years to create the garden, cherishing it as a child. After their death Abkhazi Garden was passed to the wrong hands, but in 2000 the conservation organization bought it. The garden is small, but there is plenty to see. It is very quiet and extremely beautiful, especially in spring and summer. It’s the perfect place for a stroll. In the house there is a living room, which is used as a restaurant. You will find here English porcelain, fabulous food and afternoon tea – everything at the highest level.
7. Victoria Pier
Victoria Pier is the most lively part of the city. There are many shops, bars and restaurants here. Here you can rent a boat or yacht, to go fishing on the high seas.
Moving away from the centre of the city only a few kilometres, you can get into the Laurel Point Park, which is extraordinarily beautiful.
8. Scenic Marine Route
Among exciting things to do in Victoria BC we have to include Scenic Marine Route. It’s one of the most picturesque routes in the region, which runs along the eastern coast of the island. The route overlooks the beautiful scenery and unforgettable, sometimes relaxing, sometimes stormy sea and rocky coast. Some parts of the route pass through national parks and reserves where visitors can appreciate the beauty of the local flora and fauna, and breathe pure and fresh air.
Also, the route passes some Canadian museums, making it not only a place where visitors can admire the scenery, but also an important tourist region of the province. In addition to seeing the natural landscape while following the route, you can also look at the monuments and memorials of Victoria, as well as inspect the exhibits of famous Canadian museums and exhibitions.
9. Government Street
Among memorable things to do Victoria BC are visiting the numerous gardens, parks, seaside and beautiful streets that the area offers.
Government Street is located in downtown Victoria. This small street allows you to walk around exploring the local sights, old buildings, shop windows, enjoy the art of street musicians, visit Irish or British pubs. The street adds a European style to the city.
You will find a lot of cosy cafes on Government Street. It overlooks the harbour with its number of seaplanes, ferries, boats and cruisers. Numerous cyclists of all ages are seen scurrying down the street.
Government Street is popular among travellers, since there are many tourist attractions here such as the The Fairmont Empress hotel, the Parliament building and the Royal British Columbia Museum.
10. Miniature World
In our top things to do in Victoria BC we have to include visiting Miniature World. This amazing museum will impress not only children but also adults. It opens up interesting historical knowledge of Victoria and Canada, fabulous places, ordinary life in the ninetheenth century, and of military battles.
Young visitors learn a lot of new facts and information, so Miniature World is an ideal place for families with children.
Here you will find small Canadian towns, miniature trains, sawmills – it’s a great chance to feel like a giant Gulliver in dreamland!
If you intend to stay in the city for some days, let me introduce some of best the Victoria hotels downtown:
- Hotel Grand Pacific is located in downtown Victoria, just a few steps from the following attractions: British Columbia Parliament Building, and Royal British Columbia Museum.
- Inn at Laurel Point is located in the heart of Victoria. Within walking distance you will find the following attractions and facilities: Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
- Executive House Hotel is located in the centre of Victoria, just a few steps from the following attractions: Victoria Conference Centre, Miniature World and close to the Royal Opera House and Thunderbird Park.
- Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites is conveniently located close to the historic Royal Theatre, Conference Centre and the scenic Inner Harbour.