20 Best Things to Do in Victoria, BC: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Victoria, the capital of Canada’s British Columbia Province, sits on the rugged southern tip of Vancouver Island and boasts stunning nature.
The city’s museums showcase its complex history, ethnic mix, and native origins. The waterfront, especially the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf, is popular with locals and tourists alike, and Victoria’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in North America.
1. Royal BC Museum
Located next to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the Royal British Columbia Museum was established in 1886, with the archives added in 1894. Today, it houses the Provincial Archives and Museum of British Columbia, whose goal is to collect and safeguard artifacts, specimens, and documents relating to the human and natural history of British Columbia. The museum has three permanent galleries: modern history, natural history, and British Columbia First Nations history.
The collections comprise around seven million objects, including artifacts, natural history specimens, and archival records. The natural history gallery has about 750,000 specimens, mostly from BC and neighboring provinces, states, or territories.
The museum also offers traveling exhibits, and some notable past exhibits have focused on the RMS Titanic, Egyptian artifacts, Leonardo da Vinci, the Vikings, and many others. The museum is also home to the IMAX Victoria Theater, which offers educational and entertaining movies.
2. Beacon Hill Park
A favorite of Victorians and deeply connected to the city’s history, Beacon Hill Park stretches over 75 acres along the shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Formalized in 1882, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis amid a busy urban environment consisting of a mix of natural and artfully landscaped parks.
The views from every corner of the park are breathtaking, whether the fields are covered with miles of seasonal wildflowers or a storm painting the sea and sky in shades of grey.
Beacon Hill Park has sports fields, a children’s zoo, miniature golf, several playgrounds, a cricket pitch, a bowling club, and a water park. The Cameron Bandshell hosts many concerts on warm summer evenings, and the wind carries the scent of flowers from Victorian flower beds and a rose garden, while trees, lakes, and bridges offer walking paths.
As you stroll through the park, you can see herons, otters, raccoons, and squirrels, and the canals offer turtles and screeches.
3. British Columbia Parliament Buildings
British Columbia Parliament Buildings is a magnificent group of ornate Neo-Baroque buildings located north of Belleville Street and facing the Inner Harbor. Its construction was completed in 1897 and started operating a year later. The entire complex is on a grand scale: the façade is 500 feet wide, with two wing pavilions and a huge central dome.
The combination of Baroque symmetry, brilliant white marble, several domes, and the rusticated surfaces of the Romanesque Revival style made the buildings an impressive legislative seat for the young province.
There is a statue of Queen Victoria on the front lawn and a statue of a soldier honoring the province’s dead soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Perched on top of the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver.
There are free daily tours of the buildings, and visitors are invited to watch debates while the House sits and dines in the parliamentary dining room.
4. Marine Scenic Route
The Pacific Sea Circle Trail is the perfect way to see much of the Cowichan region and southern Vancouver Island, from the sheltered East Coast to the wild and rugged West Coast.
The scenic 255-kilometer paved route passes through dozens of diverse communities. Between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew is a 55-kilometer-long section with a wild landscape of great mountain views, old-growth forests, and cold, clear rivers.
Along the way, you can explore wine country, visit some of the West Coast’s most beautiful parks and beaches, learn about First Nations history, and visit various colorful towns, villages, and cities, all in one spectacular journey. By highway.
5. Things to Do in Victoria, BC: Craigdarroch Castle
Perched on top of the hill in the Victoria Rockland neighborhood, Craigdarroch is a massive Victorian castle built in the 1890s for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family. It was a proud symbol of his wealth, which he had recently acquired from Vancouver Island coal.
Today, the four-story building is a house museum that is beautifully restored and open to the public, showing how the wealthy lived in the era of Queen Victoria.
Spread over 25,000 square feet, Craigdarroch Castle has 39 rooms, and no expense was spared in its construction. Granite was brought from British Columbia, an oak staircase came from Chicago, and tiles were shipped from San Francisco. Originally the castle was surrounded by 28 acres of landscaped land, but most of it has now been sold.
Most of the lavish furnishings, intricate woodwork, and magnificent stained glass windows have been preserved, as well as much of the original furnishings, making tours of the castle a sheer delight.
6. Fisherman’s Wharf
Located next to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf is where the locals bring their visitors. There is good food on every corner, live music, a wonderful atmosphere, breathtaking views, an entire floating city next door, pleasure yachts moored in the harbor, and sturdy fishing boats bringing in the day’s catch.
Grab an ice cream, a plate of fish and chips, or a cup of coffee and sit at one of the many benches or picnic tables to enjoy the feel and buzz of a true working port. Fisherman’s Wharf is also where you can book kayaking and whale-watching tours or board one of the many ferries to neighboring communities.
7. Ogden Point Breakwater
The Ogden Point Breakwater is a narrow 800-foot-long walkway not far from the inner harbor that ends with a beautiful lighthouse and offers unparalleled views of the harbor and surrounding landscape. The walk begins at the Ogden Point Café. On Dallas Road, where you can find an interesting interpretive exhibit that tells the story of the breakwater’s construction and the local marine life.
The breakwater was completed in 1916 and is made of concrete and cinder blocks on a rock foundation. A recently added attraction is the Na ‘Tsa’ maht or Unity mural, a large piece of public art painted on the interior of the breakwater that portrays the relationship between First Nations and settlers, creating a symbolic bridge between cultures.
8. Miniature World
Located on the north side of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, Miniature World lets you immerse yourself in a bit of fantasy and history and bring out your inner child with over 80 miniature yet highly detailed displays of places, events, and themes, all accompanied with appropriate sounds, making the experience exciting and real.
You can see the world’s smallest operating sawmill, eleven years to build, two of the world’s largest dollhouses, and one of the world’s longest model railways. There’s also a highly detailed Circus World, Frontierland, Space 2201, Fantasyland, King Arthur’s Camelot, and much more. read more
9. Robert Bateman Center
Located on the second floor of the historic neoclassical 1924 Steamship Terminal in Victoria’s Inner Harbor, the Robert Bateman Center is an art gallery featuring a collection of paintings by Robert Bateman, the legendary Canadian nature and wildlife artist and naturalist. Wildlife who dedicated his life to painting nature.
The collection houses more than 100 of Bateman’s works, spanning seven decades of his life and ranging from large dramatic close-up nature paintings to his smallest drawings, and is the largest ever assembled. There is also a multimedia video about his life and a fascinating interactive gallery of bird songs. The center has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Victoria’s Inner Harbor that vividly reflect Bateman’s paintings.
10. Whale Watching Excursions
Whale watching is a rare pleasure that can’t be enjoyed in so many places, and going with an acclaimed and acclaimed tour company like Eagle Wing makes that pleasure even greater. Aboard their comfortable and safe open or enclosed boats, you can spend up to three hours searching for and following these magnificent creatures that frequent the waters around Vancouver Island.
All staff members are highly trained and experienced, certified naturalists and marine biologists and will help you learn and understand this unique marine ecosystem and the animals that live here.
You can see orca whales, humpback whales, various types of seals, bold eagles soaring overhead, sea lions, and much more. And if it’s not your lucky day and no whales show up, you can come back for free and try again.
11. Victoria Bug Zoo
For bug lovers, the Victoria Bug Zoo is the ultimate thrill. Since it opened in 1997, this mini zoo in central Victoria has seen a steady stream of children, both big and small.
About 40 species of live tropical insects from around the world live safely in large transparent boxes, so you can observe them and their habitats without disturbing them.
You can see mesmerizing walking sticks, glow-in-the-dark scorpions, graceful praying mantises, giant hairy tarantulas, and Canada’s largest ant colony. Expert guides will tell you about the insects, their habitats, and habits and teach you how to handle them safely. There is always a new bug in the museum, so each visit is different and unique.
12. Abkhaz Garden
Once upon a time, in 1946, a young prince named Nicolas Abkhazi wanted to create the most beautiful Garden for his princess Peggy. He bought a narrow piece of land overgrown with weeds and created what is now called the “garden that love built.” After the couple died, his ashes were scattered among their beloved rhododendrons. The Abkhaz Garden is a 1.4-meter fairy tale garden overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the distant Olympic Mountains.
It is one of Victoria’s favorite places to escape the noise and rigors of city life. There is an interesting interplay between the wooded areas and the rocks, some of which are bare and some of which are planted with rock plants.
The small pools among the larger rocks are a playground for the local ducks, and in the lower part, the Garden is covered with old oaks and dense rhododendrons, as magnificent as when their prince and princess lovingly tended them.
13. Royal Theater
A stage that has seen Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sarah Bernhard, Luciano Pavarotti, and many other great artists of our time, the Theater Royal is one of Victoria’s most treasured performance venues and tourist attractions. The intimate 1,416-seat theater decorated in the Rococo/Renaissance Revival style opened in 1913 and was used as a movie theater between 1917 and 1981.
The theater is home to the Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony. Managed by the Royal & McPherson Theaters Society, the Royal Theater is Vancouver Island’s premier venue for attractions such as Beach Boys and Celtic Thunder concerts and can be rented out for social events.
Passing through the Gate of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard Street, you enter Victoria’s Chinatown, one of the oldest neighborhoods in North America and the oldest in Canada. It began to grow in the mid-19th century when many miners and railway builders arrived in Vancouver from China.
At the time, Chinatown was known for its narrow dark alleys and small courtyards and was always buzzing with life with its shops, theaters, massage parlors, gambling dens, and opium dens.
It is still a popular place for Chinese Canadians to live and work. It is the heart of the cultural community, with a Buddhist temple, community organizations such as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the Chinese public school, well-maintained residences, and shops.
It’s a popular spot for locals who crave good Chinese food and tourists curious about this unique neighborhood in Victoria.
15. British Columbia Maritime Museum
The British Columbia Maritime Museum tells the story of British Columbia’s rich maritime heritage through extensive collections, a large library and archives, and various community and educational programs. The collection contains 35,000 artifacts, with 800 ship models and various items related to the maritime heritage of the province.
The reference library contains 6,000 volumes, 200 historically significant titles, shipbuilding and ownership records, naval records, logbooks, plans for 1,800 ships, charts and maps, an art collection, and more than 36,000 photographs.
Most of the collection is protected in a climate-controlled space, and a small number of artifacts are displayed in the Humboldt Avenue gallery and traveling exhibits. Three historic small boats that are part of the museum’s collection are stored in the outer harbor at Ogden Point.
16. Bastion Square
Bastion Square is the historical epicenter of Victoria. Having once been a part of Fort Victoria and later the center of city life during the gold rush, its legacy continues as a historical, cultural, and commercial centerpiece. Visitors pass through its iconic ceremonial gateway arch to find some of Victoria’s best pubs and restaurants, with patios overlooking the inner harbor.
During the summer, the square also hosts a popular daily artisan market with jewelry, leather goods, handmade moccasins, and other handmade art. On Sundays, the market expands to include even more artists and a bountiful farmers’ market.
17. Tea at the Empress
Tea at the Empress has been a tradition at British Columbia’s iconic Fairmont Empress hotel for over a century, bringing the classic British Victorian tradition to diners in Canada.
Afternoon Tea service is served to over 80,000 annual guests, offering 21 lavish international teas on the menu at any given time, showcasing the best products from the world’s fastest-growing regions.
All menu items are made daily with local ingredients, including freshly baked scones with strawberry jam, honey, lavender, and a variety of delicious sandwiches and Teacakes. Exclusive bespoke children’s Tea service is also available for young diners ages five to 12.
18. Mount Tolmie Park
Mount Tolmie Park is prized for its scenic views. It has been called “The best place to see the city.” Visitors can walk or bike the park’s 1,500 meters of trails that wind through tranquil meadows and up rocky terrain to the summit.
Along the way, quite natural areas are perfect for contemplation, bird watching, picnicking, or enjoying the view. Those who venture to the summit can stand among Jurassic period rock outcroppings and see Ice Age slickensides. Scenic attractions include the city of Victoria, the Olympic Mountains, and the San Juan Islands.
19. Things to do in Victoria, BC: Emily Carr House
The Emily Carr House is a National Provincial Historic Site dedicated to the life’s work of its namesake, Emily Carr. Visitors can wander through the meticulously restored rooms on the ground floor of her childhood home and learn more about her art, his relationship with nature, and his passion for First Nations.
The iconic Canadian artist and writer are famous for her legacy of social justice in art and literature, including her book Klee Wyck, which won the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Literature. Guests are invited to tour the gardens, have refreshments on the terrace, and visit the gift shop. The visiting season is from May to September.
20. Empress Hotel National Historic Site of Canada
The Empress Hotel National Historic Site of Canada received Historic Places designation due to its chateau-style architecture that once dominated the era of railway hotels. The hotel was among other chateau-style hotels built along the transcontinental railroads for the Canadian Pacific Railway to accommodate the traveling public in style.
Known for their elegant decor and comfort, these hotels quickly grew in popularity. The massive six-story Empress Hotel has original architectural elements that exemplify the era, including asymmetrical design, polygonal turrets, brick cladding, steep copper roofs, and ornate landscaping. The 1904 Hotel has been elegantly restored, and guests have unobstructed views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things to Do in Victoria
Is Victoria BC worth visiting?
Victoria, located on Vancouver Island, is the beautiful capital city of British Columbia. It’s a popular destination for British Columbians, Pacific Northwesterners, and other travelers, as it’s an easy ferry ride (or luxurious seaplane ride) from Vancouver and Seattle.
What is the most visited place in Victoria?
The possibilities for a visit to Ballarat are endless! Where to go in Victoria? Sovereign Hill is one of the state’s most popular attractions. Sovereign Hill is its most famous attraction and draws visitors from all over the state.
Is it better to visit Vancouver or Victoria?
Vancouver is less traditional than Victoria. We have a much larger multi-cultural diversity in Vancouver than in Victoria. IMO, Vancouver is more casual than Victoria. Vancouver is bigger and busier, and traffic congestion can be noticeable, but walking all over downtown Vancouver is the way to go.
How many days should I spend in Victoria?
We recommend spending at least two days in Victoria, preferably three days if your itinerary allows it. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of things you should do on your next trip to Victoria.
What is special in Victoria?
Victoria is famous for the Great Ocean Road, a stretch of road that takes in some of the most stunning coastline, national parks, enchanting towns, and unspoilt areas that you will experience anywhere in the world.
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20 Best Things to Do in Victoria, BC: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
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