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 A harbour ferry in front of the Fairmont Empress

(Destination BC photo)

Trip Ideas

Victoria's Waterfront

Perched on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is a dynamic city that capitalizes on its oceanfront location, blending outdoor adventure and a thriving local art scene. Stroll past charming heritage buildings, experience award-winning local dining, and browse boutique shops and a wealth of art galleries large and small. Head out on the water in search of resident pods of Orcas, and don't miss some of the city's well-known and beautifully maintained gardens.

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(Tourism Victoria photo)

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Be charmed by Victoria’s Inner Harbour: stroll along the harbour causeway, browse for crafts and watch street entertainers as floatplanes, yachts and whale watching boats come and go against a backdrop of19th-century architecture. Or clip-clop your way through historic Victoria from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. There’s lots to explore at the Royal BC Museum including a real Big House which is a traditional northwest coast First Nations building. After the museum head to nearby Old Town, where eclectic independent shops fill century-old storefronts.

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Royal BC Museum

The spectacular Royal BC Museum makes the human and natural history of BC come alive with its realistic and immersive galleries. See a giant woolly mammoth in the Ice Age section of the Natural History Galleries; climb aboard the H.M.S. Discovery, part of the Modern History Galleries; and view some of the stunning artwork created by BC’s First Nations in the Totem Hall section of the First Peoples Gallery. The museum also frequently hosts renowned travelling exhibits.

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Totems Poles in Thunderbird Park

For close to 75 years, Thunderbird Park has housed the Royal BC Museum’s collection of totem poles. All of the poles currently on display in the park are replicas that were carved at the onsite Carving Studio, created for the museum by master carver Mungo Martin and others working under his direction. Original poles have been moved indoors to better preserve them.

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Insider Tips

 • Shop for organic produce at the Victoria Public Market or the Moss Street Market; wander the stalls in Bastion Square.

• Paddle on up to Grilligan’s for some fish and chips, chili or poutine. This floating take out at Fisherman’s Wharf has a water-level order window just for kayakers. 

• Enjoy an evening of retro glamour at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s dinner theatre. Savour a three course meal in a manor house setting and catch a play by talented local thespians.

The Robert Bateman Centre

The Robert Bateman Centre is a unique and inspiring art gallery of nature located in the heart of downtown Victoria. Legendary Canadian artist Robert Bateman has spent a lifetime painting the magic of nature and creating a vision for the world whe...
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Architecture in Victoria

One of the most beloved things about Victoria is its sense of old world charm. Much of that sense of history comes from the rich period architecture that has been lovingly preserved throughout the city. The best known buildings are the Fairmont Empress hotel and the Parliament Buildings, both located on the Inner Harbour, both designed by architect Francis Rattenbury. Other must-sees include a handful of castles and historic mansions, neighbourhoods with houses dating back to the mid-1800s, plenty of historic cathedrals, and Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

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The Fairmont Empress

Victoria’s most stately hotel, the grand Fairmont Empress, has graced the city’s Inner Harbour since construction finished in 1908. Since then, she has welcomed famous guests ranging from Katharine Hepburn to Queen Elizabeth. Originally built for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and designed by prolific BC architect Francis M. Rattenbury, The Empress has undergone major preservation and expansion work over the years. Perhaps the biggest draw at the hotel? A decadent and not-to-be-missed afternoon tea in the elegant Tea Lobby.

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Craigdarroch Castle

Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and now a National Historic Site, Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored, giving visitors a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. The castle weaves a fascinating...
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(Leanna Rathkelly photo)

Victoria's Chinatown

Squeeze down one of Canada’s narrowest streets — the tiny, shop-lined Fan Tan Alley, to Chinatown. Stop for dim sum (Don Mee’s has been a local favourite for generations) or pull up a seat at Silk Road Tea company where a real tea master will guide you through the intricacies of a good cup of tea.
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Artisans of Victoria

Stroll Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbour to get a sense of how artistic this community really is. See buskers perfecting their craft, and browse among stalls selling locally made jewellery, artwork and other crafts. The city is home to a number of galleries displaying the works of local artisans, and there are dozens of pieces of public art on display, including a number of First Nations totem poles. The Victoria Public Market at the Hudson is the perfect place to sample some locally produced delicacies.

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Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

With nearly 18,000 pieces, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria boasts BC’s largest public art collection. On permanent display are several works by world-renowned Victoria artists Emily Carr, and the gallery is home to one of the country’s most important collections of Asian art. Originally housed in an historic 1889 mansion (now the gift shop and administration offices), the gallery has expanded to a state-of-the-art facility that regularly hosts prestigious touring exhibits.

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Festivals and Events in Victoria

Festivals abound in Victoria. If you’re here on Labour Day weekend, celebrate Victoria with a splash, when the Victoria Symphony plays from a floating stage in the Inner Harbour; some music fans even take in the show from kayaks. Music lovers can also groove to the beats of the Vancouver Island Blues Bash, while the 10-day Victoria International JazzFest will be sure to get your toes tapping.

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Butchart Gardens

This world-renowned garden occupies 22 ha (55 ac) with stunning floral displays. Enjoy the Rose Carousel & Children's Pavilion! Great dining with casual & more formal dining using many local ingredients & an extensive BC wine list. Enjoy afternoon...
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Cycling in Victoria

In Victoria, join locals for a pedal along the car-free Galloping Goose and Lochside regional... Read more trails or the Seaside Touring Route. BC’s island capital is, after all the cycling capital of Canada with more riders per capita than any other city in Canada. And no wonder: the trails are flat and easy and the landscape is delightful (think rustic trestles, farmland, lakes, forests and seashore). Need some wheels? Cycle BC, Sports Rent, and CycleTreks in downtown Victoria, can set you up.

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Places to Stay

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Fairmont Empress Hotel

Recognized on the Condé Nast Gold List, The Fairmont Empress majestically rises over Victoria's Inner Harbour. With turn of the century architecture & timeless beauty, this luxury hotel showcases Vancouver Island in grand style. Award-winning Will...
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Humboldt House B&B

The Humboldt House is an elegant & private Victorian B&B, located two blocks from Victoria's Inner Harbour. Guest rooms include large jetted tubs; wood-burning fireplaces; bathrobes; stereos; gourmet in-room breakfasts; sparkling wine & chocolate ...
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Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Allow us to welcome you to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel - Victoria's first true luxury waterfront resort. Our exclusive partnerships & access will connect you to unrivalled Pacific-Northwest experiences, so that you can enjoy a comfortable pace & appre...
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Getting Here and Around

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Getting to Victoria

Getting to Victoria is a big part of the adventure. From Metro Vancouver, choose from ferry,... Read more plane, floatplane, helicopter or whale watching boat. Options from Seattle include commercial flights direct to Victoria, floatplanes or the foot passenger-only Victoria Clipper ferry.  The journey, through the scenic Gulf or San Juan islands, can take 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your mode of transport. Car ferry service is available from Port Angeles, a 2.5-hour trip.

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BC Ferries

From the countless inlets of the Southern Gulf Islands to the untamed wilderness of the rugged North, BC Ferries is the gateway to your next coastal BC journey. Sail through spectacular scenery aboard one of our modern, well-appointed vessels, ser...
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Black Ball Ferry Line

Black Ball Ferry Line operates the MV Coho providing daily vehicle & passenger ferry service with a scenic 90 minute crossing between Victoria, BC & Port Angeles, WA. Enjoy the views from the Strait of Juan de Fuca & Olympic Peninsula from our exp...
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Clipper Vacations

Clipper Vacations is a locally owned, full-service travel provider based in Seattle, WA. Since 1986, we have been your experts for travel in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, offering transportation, hotel packages and group travel. The Vi...
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Harbour Air

Experience Victoria from a new point of view with a breathtaking seaplane adventure! Enjoy a 20 minute Victoria panorama flight featuring unique views of the city & the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Day trip to the world-renowned Butchart Gar...
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Kenmore Air

Fly with Kenmore Air from Seattle to over 45 spectacular Northwest destinations. Year round daily scheduled seaplane flights leave from Seattle's downtown Lake Union to Victoria's Inner Harbour. Our seasonal flights (April to September) fly from S...
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Victoria International Airport

Victoria International Airport (Airport Code: YYJ) is the 10 busiest airport in Canada with over 1.5 million passengers per year. Victoria is well served with more than 120 daily flights.

The airport is situated approximately 25KM (15.5...

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(Tourism Victoria photo)

Victoria Harbour Ferry & Water Taxi

Get a whale’s eye view of Victoria on Victoria Harbour Ferries. This fleet of tiny foot passenger ferries criss-crosses Victoria’s harbour, with stops at the Fairmont Empress hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and more. Take a short hop, or stay aboard for a narrated tour of the waterways. The ferries run every few minutes, daily, year round; private water taxi service is also an option. On summer Sundays, the ferries, affectionately known as pickle boats, gather for a water ballet, manoeuvering to music in the Inner Harbour.
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