Victoria BC Canada is one of the most charming cities I have seen. It is a small town with a lot of history, culture, nature and a lovely harbor. What makes it perfect for me is the fact that it is a very walkable city. You rarely need transportation – just walk around. I was there during the fall season and the streets were such a pleasure to walk.
There is never ample time to see everything that a city has to offer, especially to a curious traveler. One must choose what one should spend time on to get the essence of the city. So, here is my list of things to do in Victoria BC Canada if you have 2 days there as I had.
Historic Places in Victoria BC Canada
Legislative Assembly of BC
Victoria BC is the capital of British Columbia, so it obviously houses the legislative assembly here. The building is a 120-year-old British Era building and is popularly called parliament building. It looks beautiful when it is lit up in the evening.
Do take its free guided tour that tells you all the stories of the exhibits. You must hear the anecdotes its architect Ratternbury who lied to get the contract and how he was later killed by his wife or her lover.
Must see here is the red colored legislative assembly hall.
The Iconic Empress Hotel
You can not miss the impressive Empress Hotel built in the first decade of 20th CE for the businessmen visiting Victoria Canada. It is a Fairmont group hotel now after a 2017 renovation. You can take a walk around the lobby area and restaurant. I was fascinated to see an India connection here. There is a Bengal Room that earlier used to be Bengal Lounge. A library here has some vintage books.
High tea at The Empress Hotel is highly recommended, I guess it is a British tradition that many places try to keep alive.
Located at 20 mins walk from downtown, this small castle is charming, to say the least. You can go around and take a look at how people lived, however, remember it was not always a castle. The building has seen many avatars like a bank, a hospital, a college and now a tourist attraction.
As of now, it is maintained as if a rich noble family lived here.
Museums in Victoria BC Canada
Royal BC Museum
Across the road from Parliament building is the Royal BC Museum. I loved this museum for its totem poles that are scattered all around it. At the upper levels, it takes you through the First Nations history, art and culture. You can even learn to speak some of the First Nations Languages.
Read More – First Nations of British Columbia
In another natural history exhibit, this is the first time I saw the diorama of a Mammoth – yes, it is not just a word but a giant but extinct animal. There is a section on maritime history and a recreation of an old Victorian house telling you the modern history.
If you like museums as I do, you can easily spend, you can easily spend 3-4 hours at the Royal BC Museum. There is a National Geographic IMAX theatre where you can watch interesting documentaries. I watched the one on Canadian Railways – it was fascinating.
Located behind the Royal BC Museum is this rather quirky museum that has hundreds of miniature models depicting cities, landscapes, events, and characters. It is fun to walk through the aisles and see the miniature world on both sides – a la Gulliver.
What I remember most from here is the working model of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is a great way to see the evolution of human habitation in a nutshell.
If you are traveling with kids, they would surely enjoy this place.
The Robert Bateman Centre
This is a center right next to inner harbor where you can see the collections of wildlife artist Robert Bateman. Actually, you can his work online too on this website.
When I visited there was an exhibition of wood art was going on where multiple artists had carved out various things from a single Walnut tree.
British Columbia Aviation Museum – I could not fit in this museum in my schedule.
Gardens in Victoria BC Canada
Gardens are its most fascinating part. Some of them take you into a zen-like state where you feel calmness all around you. Every morning I walked through these perfectly maintained yet with a hint of wilderness gardens. Have you read my detailed post on them?
Read More – Gardens of Victoria BC
Inner Harbor Walk
Victoria BC literally hangs around the inner harbor, that is full of colorful boats. You can start walking from one end and walk to the other end, stopping to take in the views that change around it. The majestic parliament building and the Empress Hotel stand tall overlooking the harbor.
At one end of the harbor, seaplanes are landing and taking off.
I remember a metal spindle standing on the path telling you tales through the symbols.
Fisherman’s Wharf Walk
This is the most beautiful part. Small hut like colorful homes floating in the water. When you walk here you are standing in between the water and the land. I went here early morning before the shops opened up and before the boat rides and water sports started. This means I had the whole place to myself to walk around. Big and small boats were parked on the banks.
If you are a foodie, go here in the evenings to taste some local food. This is the time I am told the place is bustling with activity.
Ogden Point Breakwater Walk
Ogden Point is 10 mins walk from downtown. From here goes a wall into the sea on which you can walk. It is as close to walking on the water as possible for common humans.
I had no idea about this when I visited. It was on my morning walk that I discovered this. I was not sure if I can walk, but then regular morning walkers invited me to come along. You walk roughly a kilometer into the sea when you meet a small lighthouse. There are benches here to sit. While walking you can look into the water for some aquatic life, and above to see the birds flying. I saw some seals and water snakes.
However, the best view is of the layers of mountains across the sea. In November, all the peaks were snow-clad.
Just at the entrance of Ogden Breakwater is a giant sundial. I could not make out how it works and it is a cloudy day did not help.
China Town Walk
Chinese like the Indian Marwaris went wherever their business took them. They created a China town and lived happily there within their community following all their traditions and rituals. China town is quite old and as always colorful.
The most intriguing part of China town is the narrow Fan Tan Lane, where barely a person can walk. The lane gets its name from one of the games that were played here. You can still game parlors in the lane.
China town in Victoria BC Canada is one of the oldest China Towns in the country.
Shopping Walk at Government Street
Government Street is the best place to go shopping. You can buy local chocolates at Roger’s chocolate shop. The shop is warm and lovely and so are the chocolates.
I stopped at many artist shops or maybe we can call them designer shops selling some interesting stuff – a good mix of tradition and modernity. I did window shopping mostly.
Read More – 20 Best Canada Souvenirs to Buy
Visit the Tobacconist shop to revisit the history of Tobacco and see some amazing Cigars.
Some metal sculptures hugged the lamp posts with poetry written on them.
From here you can go to the Market Square that now looks like an upmarket hangout area.
Modes of Travel to Victoria BC Canada
Victoria BC is an island, so you have to take the sea route or air route to reach it. Both the ways to reach it are beautiful.
I took a Seaplane from Vancouver to Victoria BC. In a 45 min or so ride, you fly over lovely islands always look like jewels thrown in the sea. A Seaplane flies pretty low, so it is like sitting in a drone and watching the live footage. The Seaplane can take only 10-12 people so it is a very cozy way of traveling.
Video of Seaplane Ride
Have a look at the video of my Seaplane ride.
On my way back, I took the ferry that is actually multi-storied like a cruise ship complete with restaurants and coffee shops. It is fun to go on the top deck, or just walk around the ship that carries your buses on its lower floors. The ferry ride is for 90 minutes or so but with road travel, it takes 3-4 hours of travel time.
I highly recommend one round on Hop on Hop Off bus. The whole loop takes around 90 minutes but it takes you through all the points of Interest. You can, of course, get down at places that interest. What I liked the most on this trip was the drive along the coast. You get a good vantage point from the top of the bus. The commentary by the bus driver tells you almost everything that you need to know about the city as a first-time visitor.
Just walk around this charming little city surrounded by water.