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Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is a vibrant city filled with plenty of interesting, quirky, and historical attractions. From colorful gardens to epic hikes and hands-on museums, Victoria has something for every interest and we here at Road Affair don’t want you to miss out on a single thing. That is why we have carefully crafted this list of the best things to do in Victoria so that whether you’re planning a weekend or week-long vacation to Canada’s Garden City, you can build the perfect itinerary.
- 1 Wander Through Butchart Gardens
- 2 Explore Chinatown
- 3 Go on a Whale Watching Cruise
- 4 Visit Craigdarroch Castle
- 5 Learn About Canadian History at the Royal BC Museum
- 6 Stroll Past Colorful Homes at Fisherman’s Wharf
- 7 Explore Old Military Structures at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse NHS
- 8 Admire the Architecture at Hatley Castle
- 9 Climb the Malahat SkyWalk
- 10 View Tiny Displays at Miniature World
- 11 Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel
- 12 See the Butterflies at Victoria Butterfly Garden
- 13 Make Friends With Bugs at the Victoria Bug Zoo
- 14 Explore Beacon Hill Park
- 15 Enjoy a Cup of Tea at Abkhazi Garden
- 16 Go Hiking at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park and Sooke Regional Park
- 17 Take a Tour of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
- 18 Learn About Aviation Technology at the BC Aviation Museum
- 19 Informasi Tempat Wisata Alam di Dunia
Wander Through Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens is one of the city’s most iconic attractions and easily one of the best tourist attractions in Victoria. This internationally renowned garden is over 100 years old and features 55 acres of exquisite flora and fauna and 26 greenhouses to explore, including a Japanese, Mediterranean, and Rose Garden. In the evening, the gardens transform into a magical illuminated oasis with over 3000 lights twinkling throughout the grounds. Butchart Gardens is open year-round and is especially beautiful during the Christmas season as the gardens put on a Magic of Christmas Light Display. Visitors can roam the festive grounds on a guided tour and listen to carollers and live brass bands sing their favorite holiday tunes.
Butchart Gardens is located a 30-minute drive from Victoria. Visitors can make their own way there or book this express roundtrip shuttle.
Victoria’s Chinatown is the second oldest Chinatown in North America and a must-see in Victoria for tourists. The area is home to a vibrant food scene where you can sample some delicious Asian foods from bakeries and dim sum restaurants. Chinatown’s streets are lined with hip cocktail bars, apothecaries, and authentic shops to meander through, but perhaps the most quirky attraction to visit is Fan Tan Alley. This tiny street is Canada’s most narrow street, measuring less than a meter wide (three feet). The whole street is lined with interesting shops and near the end of the alley is the Chinese Canadian Museum – Victoria Exhibit, where tourists can learn more about Chinese Canadian immigrants and their stories.
One of the best ways to explore and appreciate this colorful neighborhood is with a guided tour. This two-hour guided food and history tour of Chinatown offers a great way to learn more about this historic area while indulging in the best foods the neighborhood has to offer.
Go on a Whale Watching Cruise
Vancouver Island is one of the best places in the world for whale watching, especially over the last few years, as whale enthusiasts and researchers have noted the rising number of humpback and Bigg’s killer whales in the area. The phenomenon, dubbed the “humpback comeback,” is especially good news seeing as humpback whales were on the brink of extinction not too long ago. According to the Canadian Pacific Humpback Collaboration, only 293 humpback whales were recorded visiting Vancouver Island in 2017 but that number has nearly tripled in 2023 with over 800 individual whales recorded in the area so far. While you may be able to spot these large sea creatures from the beaches and bays of the island, the best way to go whale watching is on a guided tour. This three-hour guided whale-watching tour by Zodiac boat is the ideal adventure for those who want to spot sea animals. The tour includes transportation to and from your accommodation, as well as hydrophones to listen to the whales communicate underwater.
Visit Craigdarroch Castle
This gorgeous Victorian castle is a must-see for those sightseeing in Victoria. The Victorian era in Canada was a wild west of opportunity, and no one took better advantage of this time on the West Coast than Scottish immigrant Robert Dunsmuir. The fabulously wealthy industrialist made his fortune in the Vancouver Island coal industry and the vastness of his wealth is reflected in the ornate architecture of his mansion, Craigdarroch Castle. Visitors to Craigdarroch Castle can tour the four-floored home and admire all the magnificent details. From intricate stained-glass windows to detailed wood carvings and stunning Victorian furnishings, this Vancouver attraction offers a glimpse into what wealth in the late 1800s looked and felt like. Tourists can opt to take a self-guided or guided tour of the home, which lasts around an hour. Another option is to group an admission ticket to the castle with a hop-on, hop-off city bus tour.
Learn About Canadian History at the Royal BC Museum
Before you head out to explore the neighborhoods of Victoria, consider first dropping in for a visit at the Royal BC Museum. The museum is home to several engaging exhibits on the history of the province and the city of Victoria, including an exhibit on Victoria’s Old Town which brings old Victoria back to life with life-sized buildings and interactive storytelling.
Visitors can easily spend a couple of hours at the Royal BC Museum as it’s not only home to local artifacts and exhibits, but international exhibits as well. The museum is also home to the largest IMAX theater in the entire province, offering an immersive cinematic experience for new releases and documentaries.
Stroll Past Colorful Homes at Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is an excellent area to enjoy a stroll with a cup of coffee. The area is quite beautiful with colorful buildings and floating docks with plenty of friendly seals sunbathing. Visitors can enjoy a stroll along the wooden pathways and pop into the floating restaurants and vendors to sample fresh seafood or indulge in a refreshing pint. The David Foster Way trail leads along the waterfront from Fisherman’s Wharf to Belleville Street Garden, offering plenty of opportunity to spot marine life. Another great attraction in the area for families is Dino Lab Inc., an interactive dinosaur museum that offers guided tours along with an excavation experience where visitors get to work on real dinosaur bones!
Explore Old Military Structures at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse NHS
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse is a fantastic place to visit in Victoria for those who want a glimpse into Canadian history. Construction on Fort Rodd began in 1895 by the British as a West Coast artillery fortress, but Fisgard Lighthouse had already been around for several years prior to Vancouver Island becoming part of Canada. Fisgard Lighthouse is the West Coast’s oldest lighthouse, being built nearly 40 years prior to the fort in 1860. Together, the fort and the lighthouse offer a glimpse into Canada’s military history and visitors will find several exhibits and displays on WWII, military artillery and guns, and bunkers. Tourists can tour the ground on a self-guided audio tour or using the Parks Canada National App’s digital guided tour.
After a visit to the fort, make your way next door to Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary to walk along the Coburg Peninsula and try your luck at seeing eagles and herons flying over the saltwater lagoon.
Admire the Architecture at Hatley Castle
Hatley Castle, located right behind Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, was built by James Dunsmuir, son of the mining industrialist Robert Dunsmuir. James took over his father’s business endeavors after his death and rose to become the wealthiest and most influential man on the West Coast during the early 1900s. But unlike his father who showcased their wealth by building an ornate castle in the downtown district, James constructed his mansion in a more country setting. But he still made sure the castle had all the best bells and whistles money could buy. Hatley Castle was constructed in an Edwardian style, measuring 200 feet wide with over 50 rooms on the 640-acre estate. Today, many of the additional buildings have been demolished, but the castle and grounds are still well intact to tour.
You may even recognize Hatley Castle as Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men series. The castle has also been featured in other popular movies and TV shows like Deadpool, Smallville, Arrow, and Descendents.
Today, the castle is home to the Royal Roads University administration offices and is open to the public for guided tours during the Spring and Summer. However, the stunning gardens are open to the public year-round and include a Japanese, Italian, and Rose Garden.
Climb the Malahat SkyWalk
Malahat SkyWalk is one of Vancouver Island’s most popular attractions and for a good reason. This soaring, nearly 2,000-foot-tall tower features a spiraling wooden platform that allows tourists to climb up to 65 feet above the Douglas fir forest, offering outstanding views of the island, mountains, and sea. Perhaps the best part of this attraction isn’t how you get up the tower, but how you get down. Visitors can opt to take the same spiraling staircase down or jump in the spiraling slide for a thrilling ride to the bottom! Malahat Skywalk is open daily all year long.
View Tiny Displays at Miniature World
If you’re wondering what to do in Victoria with kids, then look no further than Miniature World. This quirky and fun museum is the perfect place to spend a few hours with the family. The museum features 85 displays of both historical-based and fantasy-based worlds in miniature form. Two of the largest doll houses in the world, circa 1880, can also be found in the museum. WWII battle displays, futuristic worlds, and British Columbia’s logging industry are just some examples of the miniature worlds you can expect to see on a visit to this charming museum. Miniature World is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and is free for children aged four or younger.
Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel
The Fairmont Empress Hotel, known as Canada’s Castle on the Coast, is another classic landmark in Victoria. This massive chateau-like hotel was constructed in 1904 by the Canadian Pacific Railway company as part of their business plan to create iconic hotels in Canada’s most beautiful destinations for their wealthy rail riders. Since then, the hotel has become a staple of Victoria and it’s where you’ll often find celebrities, especially if movie or TV filming is going on nearby. However, you don’t have to stay in the Fairmont Empress Hotel to experience the building’s beauty and luxury. Instead, you can book an elegant afternoon tea in the hotel’s famous Lobby Lounge complete with a live pianist. The hotel’s traditional English afternoon tea comes with dainty finger sandwiches, a selection of pastries, and scones all served on finely detailed china ware that was a present to the hotel from the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1939. You could also upgrade your afternoon tea package to include a glass of Laurent Perrier Brut Cuvée or Laurent Perrier Brut Rosé for the ultimate luxury tea. For those with little ones who want to join, the hotel also offers a Princesses and Prince’s afternoon tea for kids.
Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is easily one of the most popular things to do in Victoria, so if this sounds like something you want to experience we suggest booking a reservation immediately. As this is an elegant affair, there is a strict dress code in place for afternoon tea. This means no flip-flops, hats (with the exception of fancy tea hats), tank tops, athleisure clothes, or offensive graphic shirts.
See the Butterflies at Victoria Butterfly Garden
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Victoria that’s a bit different, then consider visiting the Victorian Butterfly Garden. This gorgeous attraction is set in an exotic jungle setting, complete with an indoor waterfall, pond, and insectarium. There are over 70 kinds of butterflies in the sanctuary, tallying about 2,000 butterflies in total. The lush rainforest setting isn’t just home to butterflies though. You’ll find plenty of other exotic animals like chameleons, parrots, flamingos, tortoises, and more throughout the jungle setting. The Victoria Butterfly Garden is open daily all year long except for December 25th.
Make Friends With Bugs at the Victoria Bug Zoo
Explore all things creepy crawly at the Victoria Bug Zoo! This is a fantastic attraction for those with an interest in insects or traveling with kids. The zoo features over 50 different species of animals, from insects to arachnids and everything in between, and aims to stop the spread of misinformation and negative stereotypes about bugs through enthusiastic education and hands-on experience. While touring the zoo, visitors will find an educator on duty to whom they can ask questions or even ask to hold certain bugs. Tourists can expect to spend up to two hours at this fun and unique Victoria attraction.
Explore Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park has so much to do and see that it’s definitely worth a visit while you’re in town. If you’re traveling with little ones, you can pop over to the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm to check out the animals in the petting zoo and visit the baby goats. Kids are even welcome to help brush the goats. The main part of the park is home to several interesting landmarks that you should stop and see while strolling through the green space. This includes the World’s Tallest Free-Standing Totem Pole, which towers 127 feet above the park. On the other side of the park, you’ll find a giant statue of a woman sleeping peacefully known as the Moss Lady. Flowering Crocosmia grows from her head, giving the illusion of hair, while her 35-foot-long body is covered in a special clay-based acidic soil to allow for moss to blanket her. Another interesting landmark in the park is the Mile Zero Monument, which marks the end of the Trans-Canada Highway. One of the best ways to explore Beacon Hill Park is with a guided carriage tour from Victoria Carriage Tours, where you’ll get to ride through the park on a horse-drawn carriage as your driver shares interesting tidbits and historical facts about the area.
Enjoy a Cup of Tea at Abkhazi Garden
Abkhazi Garden is a hidden gem in Victoria that many tourists miss when visiting. The garden was built by the Prince and Princess Abkhazi when they settled in Canada in 1946. Hidden behind a hornbeam hedge sits their one-acre garden that the two spent 40 years carefully curating, even referring to it as “their baby”. When the couple passed, the garden was left in the hands of someone else until The Land Conservancy group purchased it to save the unique garden from becoming a townhome. Today, visitors will appreciate the variety of plants and trees throughout the garden, but even more so how the garden was designed. The best way to experience the garden is by indulging in afternoon tea in The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden, which requires a reservation.
Go Hiking at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park and Sooke Regional Park
Those looking for activities in Victoria on a hot day should make their way to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park and Sooke Regional Park. The two parks are right beside each other and are located just under an hour’s drive from Victoria. There are plenty of walking trails, waterfalls, and swimming holes throughout the area that are perfect for those looking to cool down. The provincial park gets its name from the boulders that smashed huge holes into the river bed and walls when they got swept into the river thousands of years ago. Today those holes are perfect for swimming and cliff jumping. You can also try your luck at gold panning in the creek if you have the equipment!
Take a Tour of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Seeing as Victoria is the capital of the province, it’s also home to the parliament buildings, including the BC Government Caucus and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. These extravagant government buildings are a wonder to see and are accompanied by equally beautiful fountains surrounding the buildings. Visitors, especially Canadian tourists, should consider signing up for a guided tour of the Legislative Assembly. This is a fantastic free thing to do in Victoria as you not only get to see the detailed architecture up close, but you’ll also learn more about how the Canadian government works and the processes and debate behind passing bills that govern life in the province. Guided public tours run only on weekdays and tour times for the upcoming week are posted on Fridays online. You can also choose to tour the parliamentary buildings on a self-guided tour by picking up a self-guided tour book at the Tour Desk or downloading it online.
Learn About Aviation Technology at the BC Aviation Museum
Calling all aviation enthusiasts! This is one attraction in Victoria that you can’t miss out on. This large aviation museum is set across three hangers and has some seriously cool displays. You’ll find several thousands of artifacts (full-size and model), engines, and artifacts on display in the museum, along with aircraft undergoing restoration. There is a fantastic assortment of aircraft as well, like float planes, bush planes, and forest fire-fighting water bombers that speak to the importance of planes on the West Coast. There are also several WWI and WWII planes (both replica and real) on display, including a 1942 Lancaster Bomber, a Supermarine Spitfire, and an Avro Anson Mark II. Some of the planes even have flight simulators inside, which is a huge hit with kids! The BC Aviation Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Well, that brings our list of the best things to do in Victoria to an end. You should have everything you need to build the ultimate itinerary for your trip to Victoria, BC!
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