The Best Things to Do in Victoria BC
I’ve been living in Victoria, BC, Canada for nine months now and I absolutely love it here. I adore being close to the ocean and I love that Victoria is still a big city but has a much more laid back atmosphere than Vancouver. I think my favorite areas in Victoria are downtown, China town, and all the beaches and hiking trails. If you’re planning a trip, then make sure you check out these things to do in Victoria BC.
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Go Beach Hopping
Some of the most popular beaches in Victoria include Gonzales Bay Beach, Dallas Beach and Spiral Beach. Like I said before, I love being close to the ocean. Growing up in Kelowna BC, I was lucky to live near the big and gorgeous Okanagan lake, but something about the ocean has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s the way the air smells fresh and salty or the fact that just walking along the shore you can see a whole new universe filled with little crabs and barnacles and all sorts of life just waiting to be noticed. It could also be the tide and how the moon pulls the ocean back and forth or the sound of the pounding waves on the rocky shores in a storm, the ocean spray licking at your shoes.
Visit the Royal BC Museum
Being the Anthropology graduate that I am I love the museum in this city. Of the times I’ve visited this year I have especially enjoyed the Living Languages exhibit. The Living Languages exhibit is interactive and features a ton of languages native to British Columbia that are either endangered or were looked down upon and beaten out of people in Canada’s dark period of residential school systems. At the exhibit you can go look at words in English and then in another language written out such as Cree or Ojibway and press a button that has a voice recording of someone saying that word in their mother tongue. It’s a very fascinating exhibit.
Enjoy the Colorful House Boats at Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of my all time favorite places in Victoria. You can enjoy the view of the many colorful house boats here, some of which have been turned into restaurants and boutiques. There’s a house boat you can eat delicious tacos at, a candy shop house boat and more. The most famous place to grab a bite is at Barb’s Fish and Chips.
You can also see a few seals at Fisherman’s Wharf but keep in mind that the reason they are there is because people often throw fish into the water for them to eat. It’s not good for the seals as they have become dependent on humans to feed them, and while they may be cute, I would highly discourage you from feeding them as well. When you see them you will notice that some of them are extremely fat due to not having to work for their food.
PS. You can also go whale watching or kayaking from Fisherman’s Wharf. Find out more here.
Explore Fan Tan Alley
Fan Tan Alley is a super narrow alleyway in Victoria filled with hidden boutiques, ice cream shops, bakeries and more. My favorite boutique in Fan Tan Alley is Whirled Arts. It’s a beautiful jewelry shop filled with all kinds of handmade necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. They also carry clothing as well.
Check Out the Beautiful Parliament Buildings
The Parliament Buildings in Victoria are truly stunning. Not only is the architecture beautiful, but the green areas surrounding the site are beautiful too. If you visit the grounds of the Parliament Buildings you will have a view of the ocean to the front and you can hang out in the green spaces to your hearts’ content. You can also take a tour of the interior of the buildings and there are many tour options to choose from.
Stop by the Famous Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens are just less than a 30 minute drive from Victoria and well worth the trip. The Gardens have been around for more than 100 years and are absolutely beautiful. Make sure you set aside a good amount of time to fully explore the 55 acres of gardens. Butchart houses 900 different plant varieties and there are also 26 greenhouses on the property too. There are many different kinds of tours you can go on and you can also choose to wander aimlessly through the gardens yourself. Check out this web page for prices and tour information.
Visit Russell Books for a Good Read
There are tons of beautiful used book stores in Victoria, but one of my absolute favorites is Russell Books. They have a huge selection of both new and used books, as well as a floor dedicated to vintage and collectibles. Russell Books also has many antiquarian and out-of-print books as well. With all these options, you’re sure to find something you love, and can read on the beach or at one of Victoria’s beautiful cafes.
There are lots of amazing places to go for a hike in and near Victoria. Among the most popular are Mount Tolmie and and the Upper and Lower Thetis Lake Trails. A bit further away is Kinsol Trestle which I love as well. There are tons of hiking trails to choose from so check out this article that I wrote for Explore Magazine about ten of the best hikes near Victoria.
Hang Out in Cook Street Village
Cook Street Village is a cute part of town filled with cozy cafes and green spaces. I love just walking around the area and grabbing snacks there. Plus it’s super close to my apartment, which is very convenient.
Visit the Emily Carr House
If you decide to seek out a piece of art history then one of the coolest places to visit here is The Emily Carr House. It’s not so much a gallery as it is a museum. The house is where Emily Carr lived in painting and writing about the many wonders of Vancouver Island throughout the early 20th century. You can go explore her garden and home and really get a feel for who she was and how she lived.
Where to Eat in Victoria BC
Grab a Burger at the Bin 4 Burger Lounge
Bin 4 is the absolute best burger joint in Victoria. They make delicious gourmet burgers with local ingredients. They also have plenty of vegetarian options and they are allergen friendly. There’s dairy free options and gluten free options. Bin 4 has a few different locations throughout the city. You can find all their info here.
Enjoy Incredible Green Tea at Just Matcha
Just Matcha is located super close to Fan Tan Alley, so after you’ve done some shopping, it’s the perfect pit spot. They also have a location in Oak Bay. Just Matcha serves a wide variety of matcha lattes, pure matcha and even baked goods infused with matcha. They even sell matcha bowls and whisks to help you make the perfect tea at home.
Grab Tacos at La Taqueria
If you’re in the mood for tacos, make sure you check out La Taqueria. They even have a selection of vegetarian tacos to choose from as well! My boyfriend, Arturo, is from Mexico City and he said that the tacos at La Taqueria are the most authentic tacos he’s had in Canada!
Grab a Coffee at Bean Around the World
Speaking of beautiful cafes, one of my absolute favorite cafes in Victoria is Bean Around the World. The coffee beans that are used here come from all over the world but are all locally roasted. Bean Around the World also has delicious paninis, pastries and desserts as well! To top it all off, the atmosphere is cute and quirky and you’re sure to have a great time.
Festivals and Events to Attend
I love that there is always something going on in this city. Whether it’s the Pride Parade, Car Free Day, or the famous music festival, Riffllandia, you can never get bored in Victoria, BC. If you’re interested in attending one of the festivals listed above, make sure you plan your vacation around those dates. You can find more information on the festivals by clicking on their names above.
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