A traveler’s paradise nestled on Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and a must-visit destination for nature lovers, architecture buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts. Thanks to its English heritage, the city boasts some seriously impressive colonial architecture, as well as first-class fish and chips. Explore Victoria’s picturesque parks and botanical gardens, visit one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, and don’t forget to order a cup of afternoon tea when visiting this vibrant city. To make the most out of your stay, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Victoria BC.
1. Craigdarroch Castle
A beautiful Victorian castle located in the Rockland neighborhood, the Craigdarroch Castle is one of the city’s finest historical attractions. With 39 rooms fitted with furnishings from the 19th century, this impressive four-story castle is open to the public and offers guided tours. From the magnificent stained glass windows and well-preserved woodwork to lavish furniture, there is no shortage of cool artifacts inside the Craigdarroch Castle. If you wish to see how the upper classes lived in the 19th century and enjoy spectacular views of the city below, a visit to this magnificent castle is simply a must.
2. Beacon Hill Park
Visiting Victoria with the kids? Make sure to spend an afternoon at the lovely Beacon Hill Park. Spread across 75 acres of land, this picturesque park is home to a large number of attractions including several playgrounds for the little ones, cricket pitch, children’s petting zoo, water park, and miniature golf. The views from the parks are amazing, as well as the walking paths around the lakes. Visitors will also have a chance to see animals like squirrels, otters, and raccoons here at Beacon Hill Park.
3. British Columbia Parliament Buildings
There are many things to do on Vancouver Island and a visit to the British Columbia Parliament Buildings promises to be a memorable experience. With magnificent views of the Inner Harbour, this cluster of Neo-baroque style buildings with white marble and impressive domes is one of the city’s most important landmarks. Daily tours of the buildings are available and allow travelers to see attractions such as the statue of Queen Victoria, a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver, and many others.
4. Royal BC Museum
Established in the 19th century, British Columbia’s provincial museum is without a double the best museum of natural and cultural history in the country. Visit the three permanent galleries including modern history, First Nations history, and natural history, enjoy interactive displays such as a replica HMS Discovery ship, and walk through an amazing rainforest. An interesting fact is that British Columbia’s largest IMAX® screen can be found at the Royal BC Museum.
5. Chinatown, Victoria
I bet you didn’t know that Victoria is home to the oldest Chinatown in all of Canada. It is one of the favorite sightseeing destinations for tourists and attracts large numbers of visitors every day. Expect to see many locally-owned Chinese businesses ranging from cute cafes and shops to massage parlors and small theaters. There is also a nice Buddhist temple worth checking out, as well as casual eateries where you can sample authentic Chinese cuisine.
6. Victoria Bug Zoo
If you are looking for unusual things to do in Victoria, BC, I recommend paying a visit to the famous 6 Victoria Bug Zoo. I know that not everyone is a fan of bugs, but most of the visitors say how this zoo is actually a great place to visit and the kids just love it. Located just a short walk from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, this quirky place is home to a variety of creepy crawlies including everything from scary scorpions to gigantic tarantulas. If you are not grossed out by bugs, you may even hold some of the insects.
7. Miniature World
If you are young at heart of visiting Victoria with your kids, make sure to stop by the Miniature World. This interactive museum houses several attractions including the smallest operational sawmill in the world, two of the world’s largest dollhouses, and a large model railway. There is also the Wonderful World of the Circus, Space 2201 A.D., King Arthur’s Camelot, Enchanted Valley of Castles, and much more. To sum it all up, the Miniature world allows you to bring out your inner child and enjoy a variety of detailed displays of fantasy.
8. Fisherman’s Wharf Park
One of Victoria’s most popular destinations, the Fisherman’s Wharf Park is located just around the corner from the famous Inner Harbour. Expect to see dozens of fishermen’s vessels and fancy yachts, Mexican food and fish and chips, and colorful floating homes. Whether you wish to grab a scoop of ice cream, book a whale watching trip, or enjoy the marina’s wonderful atmosphere while listening to live music, there is no shortage of fun activities at the Fisherman’s Wharf Park to keep you entertained throughout the day.
9. Inner Harbour
One of the most beautiful harbors in the world, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is a favorite gathering spot for many tourists. Framed by picturesque pedestrian streets dotted with street vendors and numerous cafes and restaurants, this area is also home to some of the city’s most popular attractions including the Fairmont Empress, the Royal BC Museum, and the BC Parliament Building. Go on a stroll around the water to snap some cool photos of the harbor’s colorful floating homes and fishing boats. It is also worth mentioning that the harbor hosts a bunch of festivals and other events in summer.
10. Scenic Marine Route
If you are searching for things to do outside Victoria, BC, the Pacific Marine Circle Route allows you to explore a 255 km paved route and see many diverse communities, rivers, forests, and wild landscapes. The Cowichan region is one of the best areas on Vancouver Island, so it comes as no surprise that the Scenic Marine Route is a popular weekend activity for both locals and tourists. From exploring the wine country and enjoying beautiful open green spaces to visiting colorful villages where life is slow-paced; there is plenty to look forward to on this incredible route.
11. Ogden Point Terminal & Breakwater
Ogden Point Terminal & Breakwater is an ideal destination for travelers who wish to enjoy a peaceful hike and admire the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This 800-foot-long walkway is located close to the Inner Harbour and goes all the way from the Dallas Road to an impressive lighthouse that offers spectacular views of the harbor. Make sure to check out the Unity Wall mural along the way which is a large public piece of art.
12. Government Street
A major road in the city, Government Street is one of the most popular things to do in Victoria, BC. This commercial and entertainment street is home to many attractions ranging from historical buildings and museums to shops where you can purchase everything from handicrafts and souvenirs to clothing. Whether you wish to take your kids to Roger’s Chocolates, sign up for a Ghostly Walks Tour, or wander through Market Square, there are many interesting places worth visiting on this vibrant street.
13. Black Ball Ferry Line
A ferry service which operates from Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island to Port Angeles, Black Ball Ferry Line offers a 90-minute crossing in a modern ferry that features a variety of amenities including comfortable lounges, gift shop, a small cafeteria, and a duty-free store. Enjoy the easily accessible outside deck which offers magnificent views of the Olympic Peninsula. In case you wish to grab something to eat, specialty sandwiches and a wide variety of refreshing drinks are available onboard.
14. Empress Hotel National Historic Site of Canada
Travelers who wish to experience the classic Victorian British tradition should definitely head out to the lovely Fairmont Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour and have a cup of afternoon tea. One of the city’s best-loved landmarks, this historical hotel is well-known for its vast lobby and a luxurious setting. The afternoon tea service here is extremely popular with nearly 100,000 annual guests from all over the country. Around 20 international teas are available to order, as well as freshly-baked scones, sandwiches, and tarts.
15. The Butchart Gardens
With over one million visitors per year, it’s easy to see why the Butchart Gardens is one of the most popular things to do in Victoria BC. These world-renowned gardens are home to beautiful flower-lined paths where travelers can admire the beauty of nearly 1,000 flower and plant varieties. Some of the most-visit areas here include the Italian garden, rose garden, Japanese garden, and sunken garden. If you are planning to visit the gardens in the evening, expect to see beautifully colored lights and live music entertainment. Boat and carousel tours are available on-site.
16. Mount Washington Alpine Resort
Located just a short drive from the Comox Valley, the Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a family-friendly recreation destination where travelers can enjoy both summer and winter activities. Whether you wish to enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter or experience summer activities like miniature golf, gondola rides, and mountain biking, a visit to the Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a memorable experience for the entire family and a fantastic thing to do in victoria BC.