Positioned on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia. A city with a British colonial past named after Queen Victoria, Victoria is undoubtedly the center of all kinds of fun activities. If you’re visiting Victoria, BC, for the first time, you’ll be amazed by so many exciting things this city offers. In this article, you’ll find things to do in Victoria if you plan on visiting Victoria anytime soon.
1. Things to Do in Victoria
Who doesn’t love the idea of visiting a new city? I guess no one. But it is no fun to visit a new place without a proper knowledge of what uniqueness lies in a particular city. Here is a list of things to do in Victoria that you can check before planning your vacation.
1.1. Visiting Historic Sites is Informative yet Fun
Historic sites in Victoria tell some untold stories. Here is a listicle of popular historic sites in Victoria, British Columbia you must visit:
1.1.1. Victoria’s Chinatown National Historic Site
When you think about exploring downtown Victoria, you must remember visiting Victoria’s Chinatown. This Chinatown on Vancouver Island is undoubtedly Canada’s oldest Chinatown. After San Francisco’s Chinatown, this Chinatown in Victoria is the second largest in the entire North America.
The present-day Chinatown is popular among tourists. In fact, the Chinatown attracts visitors for so many reasons. Some of these reasons include the narrow Fan Tan Alley, Chinese businesses, and an old Chinese school. This Chinatown is also a National Historic Site of Canada since 1995.
While visiting Chinatown, you must go to Fan Tan Alley even though you don’t have much time left. Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest commercial street in North America, is unquestionably a blissful place. You will find several small shops, restaurants, apartments, offices, and an art gallery in Fan Tan Alley.
1.1.2. Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a “bonanza castle” reflecting the Victorian lifestyle and architecture. A bonanza castle falls under the category of houses that were built during the Industrial Age. Wealthy entrepreneurs of the industrial age built these massive houses. Robert Dunsmuir, a coal baron, was the original owner of this castle.
After Robert Dunsmuir died in 1908, this castle turned into a military hospital, a college as well as a conservatory. Currently, Craigdarroch Castle is being restored to its original glory.
Craigdarroch Castle attracts visitors mostly because of the use of strained glasswork. You will undoubtedly find yourself compelled to explore the lavish furnishings at the beautiful Craigdarroch Castle. The intricate woodwork also entices visitors to pay more attention to Craigdarroch Castle.
1.1.3. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site
If you are looking for significant historic sites in Victoria, Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site makes the list. British built a coast artillery fort, Fort Rodd Hill, in the 1890s in order to defend Victoria as well as Equismalt Naval Base.
If you are visiting Fort Rodd Hill, you can watch gun batteries, underground magazines, guard houses, and command posts. You will find numerous signs that were used to interpret signals.
Audio as well as Video stations at Fort Rodd Hill tell you the history behind the fort. The staff of Fort Rodd Hill are also friendly, and old ones will also tell you some fun details about the place.
1.1.4. Hatley Castle
Hatley Castle is a significant historic site in Victoria. Samuel Maclure designed the castle on James Dunsmuir’s demand. In addition, Messrs. Bret and Hall took charge of designing the gardens and surroundings of Hatley Castle.
After James retired from his business, he chose to enjoy the rest of his life at Hatley Castle. His wife and daughter also spent their last days at Hatley Castle. Dominion Government then purchased the castle for $75000. Thus, Victoria’s Hatley Castle became a Naval Training Establishment.
The identity of Hatley Castle kept changing over the years. It became the Royal Canadian Naval College and then became the premises of RCN-RCAF Joint Services College. Furthermore, Hatley Castle also turned its identity to the Royal Roads Military College. The Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia later transformed this castle into Royal Roads University.
If you are at Hatley Castle, you will not hesitate to appreciate its beautiful history. In fact, you will fall in love with the lovely gardens on the premises and the forested area nearby. The beautiful view of Equismalt Lagoon will certainly leave you amazed.
1.2. Exploring Museums Tells You History
Museums have been teaching history and culture for a very long time. Generally, enthusiasts don’t forget to visit museums in order to learn new things in the area of their interests. Thus, museums contribute as major tourist attractions even in Victoria. These are some of the well-known museums in Victoria you must visit:
1.2.1 Royal British Columbia Museum
Since 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum has been operating as Canada’s treasure of culture. In 2003, the museum merged with another organization, “The Archives.” Thus, the Royal BC Museum became the storyteller of British Columbia’s natural history. Royal BC Museum also represents human history. In fact, the Royal BC Museum aims at safeguarding history for the future.
Queen Elizabeth gave the museum the “Royal” title, and Prince Philip bestowed it. BC Museum is nothing but a representation of what British Columbia has dealt with throughout the years.
Royal BC Museum has 3 permanent galleries. Natural History Gallery, Becoming BC Gallery, and First People’s Gallery are the 3 permanent galleries. You will learn about British Columbia through several artifacts, specimens, and documents.
Royal BC Museum is a suitable place for those who are fascinated with British Columbia. In fact, the Royal BC Museum allows you to explore newfound facts and research.
1.2.2 Maritime Museum of British Columbia
If you want to indulge yourself in maritime culture as well as the history of the Pacific Northwest, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia is your place. Since 1955, the Maritime Museum of Victoria, BC, has been engaging people.
The building of the Maritime Museum changed to the one in downtown Victoria in 1963-64. Currently, the museum is located on Douglas Street.
This Victoria, BC, museum has a collection of around 35,000 artifacts. You will also find 800 models of ships and maritime heritage items in this museum. There is a reference library in the Maritime Museum, which is home to 6000 volumes.
Maritime Museum keeps organizing several events, exhibits, community-based programs, research services, and educational programs to engage more visitors.
1.3. Falling in Love with Greenery is one of the Soothing Things to Do in Victoria
No matter what your idea of fun is, you can’t deny that greenery is actually soulful. You simply forget everything and throw yourself in the lap of nature. Victoria has a beautiful landscape, allowing you to explore greenery. Therefore, taking yourself in the middle of such a landscape is one of the soothing things to do in Victoria.
Here is a list of places you can visit in Victoria if you want a treat for your eyes and soul:
1.3.1. Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC, is an amazing park with a stretch of over 740,000 sq. meters. To be clear, Beacon Hill Park has natural areas and manicured fields, which you will allow. Several environmentally sensitive areas are reserved for further protection.
Garry Oak Ecosystem is one of the endangered ecosystems in Canada. If you visit Beacon Hill Park in spring, you will see blazing yellow buttercups. Intense blue camas and stunning pink shooting stars also add extra beauty to the landscape.
In addition, there are several other endangered species protected in Beacon Hill Park. Yellow Montane Violet and Violeta primrose are a few such species that are rare and enhance the beauty of the park.
For a fun-filled holiday, you will find tennis courts, 2 playgrounds, and 2 spray parks. Lawn bowling and pickleball courts add more fun to your holiday. You can also go picnicking with your family in this Victoria BC park.
Whether you are alone or you are with your family, you will enjoy Beacon Hill Park. You will also get ample parking space in Beacon Hill Park. There are more than 330 parking stalls available at this park. In fact, street parking is easily available in Douglas Street Village, Cook Street Village, and Dallas Road.
1.3.2. Butchart Gardens
For more than 100 years, Butchart Gardens has been adoring Victoria, British Columbia. Butchart Gardens is Canada’s National Historic Site.
Robert Butchart was a cement manufacturer who, along with his wife, moved to the West Coast. The idea of moving to the West Coast lies in the fact that the needed limestones for cement production. Mrs. Butchart, like others in the cities, commissioned Kishida to design a Japanese garden.
After years of transitions, the garden is now Butchart Gardens. You can go there to enjoy blooming floral display gardens. There are more than 900 varieties of bedding plants in Butchart Gardens.
1.3.3. Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Provincial Park lies at a distance of 17 kilometers from downtown Victoria. This park falls under the category of an old-growth temperate rainforest.
While visiting the park from December to February, you will find bald eagles feasting on the dead carcasses of Chum Salmon. The annual salmon run attracts visitors who want to learn about the salmon life cycle.
In addition, you will find a few well-maintained and enticing hiking trails across Goldstream Provincial Park. You can take hiking trails to reach Mt. Finlayson.
1.3.4. Mount Douglas Park
In the Saanich area of Victoria, British Columbia, you will find Mount Douglas Park. Mount Douglas Park is a hidden gem you must visit. Mount Douglas allows you to enjoy a 360° view of the surrounding area of Victoria.
In the east, you will see Haro Strait. Towards the north and west, you can observe Saanich. And in the south, you have your favorite downtown Victoria.
This steep mountain park has beautiful trees everywhere. You will feel like you are wandering in heaven once you visit Victoria’s Mount Doug.
1.4. Witness Diverse Wildlife
No wonder several things about nature amaze every human. But don’t you get curious about how wildlife so diverse exist altogether? Victoria has a diverse wildlife that attracts every visitor. If you are new to Victoria, you will fall in love with the diversity and uniqueness.
Here are the places you need to visit in Victoria:
1.4.1. Go to Victoria Bug Zoo
A minizoo in Downtown Victoria, Victoria Bug Zoo has been welcoming visitors since 1997. Victoria Bug Zoo is a miniature world of bugs lying near the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
You will definitely enjoy exhibits of about 50 different species of bugs. The Bug Zoo exhibits include several insects, arachnids, and various arthropods.
This bug zoo in Victoria has the largest tropical insect collection in the whole of North America.
You can find online tickets for Victoria Bug Zoo easily.
1.4.2. Visit Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Victoria Butterfly Gardens is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Victoria, British Columbia. The indoor facility in Victoria is home to more than 75 species of butterflies and moths.
The Butterfly Gardens is not just about butterflies but has several other creatures living. Koi fish, poison dart frogs, blue and gold macaws, and flamingos also attract visitors.
1.4.3. Take a whale-watching tour
Even though there are several things to do in Victoria, tourists don’t forget whale watching.
You can easily take Victoria whale-watching tours. Sea orcas, grey whales, minkewhales, and humpbacks can easily be spotted in Victoria. While you explore the Salish Sea, you will also find several other water animals.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour area is a suitable whale-watching ground. You can simply go to these whale-watching grounds and have fun.
April to November is the right period for whale watching in Victoria. But colder months also won’t leave you disappointed if you want to go whale watching.
1.5. Enjoying Patio Beer is One of the Crazy Things to Do in Victoria
Patio Beer is popular among people because of its idea of bringing fun to outdoor areas. If you are in Victoria, you will find several breweries serving this amazing fermented drink, patio beer. You can simply soak yourself in the sun and have a good drink with different snacks.
1.5.1. Craft Beer Market
Craft Beer Market is common among visitors for its huge outdoor patio. This outdoor patio is all about freshness.
Address: 450 Swift Street
Hours: Opens daily; hours vary
1.5.2. The Local
Ocean views with a fun environment are what the Local offers.
Address: 1205 Wharf Street
Sunday to Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
1.5.3. The Surly Mermaid
The Surly Mermaid is an oceanfront patio space for a fun-filled day.
Address: 9851 Seaport Place #1b, Sidney
Hours: Opens daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
1.6. Go Hiking
Hiking excites many people, whether tourists or locals. Victoria has a beautiful landscape. Thus, Victoria proves to be a perfect destination if you want to go hiking.
In fact, you will find several hiking trails ready to welcome you to Victoria. The most important hiking trails include the Trestle Bridge Hiking Trail, Beacon Hill Park Loop, and Victoria Inner Harbour Trail.
1.6.1. Trestle Bridge Hiking Trail
Trestle Bridge Hiking Trail is a 3.5-kilometre hiking trail in Victoria, British Columbia. This trail ornates Goldstream Trestle Park.
1.6.2. Dallas Road Waterfront Trail
Dallas Road Waterfront Trail is a 7.5 km trail in Victoria, British Columbia. This trail is the prime choice among locals of Victoria.
1.6.3. Victoria Inner Harbour Trail
Victoria Inner Harbour Trail is a 5.0 km trail. This Inner Harbour trail is popular among Victoria hikers because of birding, road biking, and hiking. So, you will meet different people while taking this trail.
1.7. Satisfying Your Taste Buds is One of the Most Significant Things to Do in Victoria
What makes a holiday extra spicy? Well, the answer is delicious food. And if you are in Victoria and trying to have a fun-filled day, you need to try different cuisines. You will find several restaurants, coffee shops, and eateries in Victoria, British Columbia, to relieve all your stress.
Here are 3 restaurants you must go to if you are in Victoria:
Operating since 1979, Pagliacci’s is a restaurant in Victoria famous for Italian cuisine. Pagliacci’s has a cheerful ambiance and serves amazing food. You will find dishes named John Doe and the Prawn Broker on the menu.
Whether you are on a diet or eating healthy, you won’t be able to resist some carbs and delicious cheesecakes.
1.7.2. Ferris Oyster Bar
Ferris Oyster Bar is known for its versatility. This place has three different restaurants: a seafood eatery with fine dining in a heritage building, an oyster bar with a summer patio with beautiful decor, and a tapas and wine bar. Even on the busiest days, you’ll definitely end up getting a table in any of these restaurants.
You will get to enjoy fresh on and champagne by candlelight in this oyster bar. You will also enjoy several local shellfish at Ferris Oyster Bar.
1.7.3. Green Cuisine
If you are searching for a vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, you must try Green Cuisine at Market Square. This Victoria restaurant particularly offers vegetarian and vegan dishes.
You will definitely find rice and salad on the menu. But the specials of Green Cuisine vary every day, leaving you with the idea of visiting again. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, don’t forget to try lemon cheesecakes and house-made gelato.
1.8. Taking Guided Tours is Easy
Victoria is a city of one of the most majestic islands, Vancouver Island. In fact, tourists love to explore not just the city but the area surrounding Victoria. But Victoria doesn’t leave you clueless when it comes to exploring popular tourist attractions and fun activities. If you are new to Victoria, you can easily take guided tours across the city.
You can easily ditch sailing, diving, and flying and take guided tours across Victoria, British Columbia. You will enjoy informative guided tours across the city without a doubt. These guided tours across Victoria have so many options available.
You can take a car, boat, or even horse-driven carriage tour. Victoria carriage tours are common among tourists as they get to enjoy simplicity and thrill.
1.9. Trying Adventurous Sports is the Perfect Choice among Thrilling Things to Do in Victoria
No one can hate a little thrill and adventure. It should be noted that adventure uplifts your overall spirit and fills your energy. In fact, Victoria is the right place for you if you can’t resist the adventure.
Here are a few adventurous activities you can do if you are in Victoria:
Every adrenaline junkie undoubtedly seems familiar with skydiving. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you should not forget that skydiving with the Georgian Bay view is a delight. Vancouver Island also offers some amazing skydiving experiences.
Leaping from a plane at a height of 15000 ft above Victoria will make your experience thrilling. Tandem skydiving with the help of an experienced skydiver makes it easy for new beginners.
After the parachute deploys, you will enjoy 60 seconds of free fall above Victorian land. Before you land safely, you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
Sea kayaking plays an important role in Victoria’s tourism. Fun isn’t complete without kayaking in Victoria. Since the city shares its boundary with the Pacific Ocean, paddlers get several options to explore. Oak Bay, Sidney Waterfront, and Swartz Bay ferry terminal offer several kayaking facilities.
You can also take a kayaking trip along the Gulf Islands for a few hours, days, or weeks. These kayaking trips are usually guided.
1.10. Go Shopping and Buy Your Happiness
Every person has a shopper inside who loves to visit different stores. If you are in Victoria, you will love to shop. From local shops to famous brands, Victoria has everything.
1.10.1. Victoria Public Market at the Hudson
Public markets reflect the originality of a city. Similarly, downtown Victoria’s Victoria Public Market reflects the reality of Victoria’s tradition and culture. This public market in the Hudson building is evidently a hub for art, food, and entertainment.
Victoria Public Market is undoubtedly a common choice among those who love fresh-farm groceries, French bakery oil, locally-produced cheese, and local meats. Specialty retail and local produce are the main attractions at this Hudson market.
You will also find several options for entertainment at Victoria Public Market. This public market organizes several community events and live music and has a children’s play center.
Even though this market is small, you will find several corners to satisfy your appetite. From small coffee shops to restaurants, you will surely find several options at this public market.
1.10.2. Mayfair Shopping Centre
Finding a shopping center for fashion is something that every shopper enjoys. Good shopping simply enhances the overall experience in Victoria. Mayfair Shopping, on Vancouver Island, is definitely a must-visit stop if you’re looking for the latest fashion.
Mayfair is home to retailers of national significance as well as regional importance. You will find several stores, including MAC, Sephora, and Coach, at Mayfair Shopping Centre. In addition, you can book a styling session with any of Mayfair’s stylists. These Mayfair stylists are experts at making you comfortable and enhancing your style.
1.10.3. Russel Books
Russell Books, in downtown Victoria, is a dreamy bookstore. Russell Books has been serving book lovers with an extensive selection since 1991.
Even so, Russell Books is not just about buying new books. You can also explore a huge range of journals, cards, calendars, and used books at Russell Books.
1.10.4. The Bay Centre
The Bay Centre has been operating as a shopping mall in downtown Victoria since 1989. This shopping mall has almost 100 stores and is a prime choice among locals of Victoria. The retail space of the Bay Centre stretches over 39,115 sq meters.
The Bay Centre has several boutique shops and restaurants. People consider the Bay Centre as a “must-shop”. The shopping center is famous for its urban atmosphere as well as architecture.
2. What is the Best Time to Enjoy these Fun Things to Do in Victoria?
Victoria receives very little snowfall throughout the year. It is very rare for Victoria to witness temperatures below 0°C.
But you must know what is the best time to visit Victoria to save yourself from any inconvenience.
Spring season in Victoria is experienced from March to May. These months are relatively warm and a great time to visit Victoria. You will find flowers blooming in Victoria during your visit in the spring season.
If you want to enjoy outdoor activities to the fullest, summer is the right choice for visiting Victoria. June-August is the warmest duration and the perfect time for going outside.
Since the weather is warm and there is very little chance of rainfall, you will undoubtedly have many things to do in Victoria. You can go biking, hiking, and whale watching if you are visiting Victoria in the summer.
In addition, you must remember summer is the busiest season for Victoria. Thus, you must book your tickets and accommodations way early.
You can also visit Victoria in the fall, but you will find drizzles. Don’t let the idea of carrying an umbrella and a sweater slip away from your memory if you are visiting Victoria in the fall.
Winter is the off-peak time for strolling through Victoria because of the cold weather and rain. But you can definitely avoid extra expenses if you are prepared to visit Victoria in winter.
3. Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Victoria
To sum it up, a holiday is not complete without fun activities. Victoria, British Columbia, is one of the most admired holiday destinations. Victoria does not only welcome every visitor but also offers several fun things to do in Victoria.
Since Victoria has a beautiful landscape, its greenery is a treat to your eyes. From significant museums to beautiful architecture, Victoria amazes you every time. No matter if you are alone or accompanied by your family, you will definitely love Victoria. You will also find adventure sports to keep you occupied and fill you with thrill.
Tell us which of the things to do in Victoria captivated you and why in the comment section below. If you know of any additional things to do in Victoria, don’t leave without sharing your experience.