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Things to do in Victoria

Things to do in  Victoria

Welcome to Victoria

Perched on the southeastern shores of Vancouver Island, Victoria—the capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia—has a rich colonial history dating back to the 19th century. Bus and walking tours take Garden City visitors to top attractions such as Antique Row, Beacon Hill Park, Craigdarroch Castle (a National Historic Site of Canada), Oak Bay Marina, and Mount Tolmie, while the famous Butchart Gardens delight travelers from across the world with their enchanting floral displays. Food tours showcase the region’s diverse cheeses, fine chocolates, craft beer, and divine seafood; while overhead, sightseeing seaplane flights offer bird’s-eye views over the coastal scenery. For many visitors to Victoria, though, one activity stands out among all the others: whale watching. Cruises depart from Victoria and head into the deep waters of the Salish Sea, where gray, humpback, killer, and minke whales can be seen breaching and crashing through the waves. Travelers also regularly spot other native wildlife such as marine birds, otters, porpoises, sea lions, and seals. For visitors with a little more time on their hands, three- to eight-day tours hit farther-flung destinations such as Barkley Sound; Strathcona-Westmin Provincial Park; and the snowy peaks—or summery hiking and mountain biking trails—of Whistler, where travelers can experience the best of the Canadian wilderness.

Top 15 attractions in Victoria

#1
Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

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Butchart Gardens, established in 1904, treat visitors to an enchanting floral show that changes with the seasons. Covering 55 acres (22 hectares) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the botanical space is intricately laid out into separate themed gardens with landscaping that impresses and inspires gardeners and nature lovers alike.More
#2
Victoria Inner Harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour

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A trim wedge of water rimmed with top landmarks, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the city’s bustling port. Whether you’re hopping a whale-watching cruise or enjoying a sea breeze, the Inner Harbour is an essential stop when exploring Victoria. Among its highlights are the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel and the narrow streets beyond.More
#3
Victoria Chinatown

Victoria Chinatown

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First established in the mid-19th century, Victoria Chinatown is among North America’s oldest. Now a National Historic Site, Victoria’s Chinatown is home to cafes, studios, herbalists, tea rooms, and shops, as well as the narrow Fan Tan Alley, which measures 35 inches (88.9 centimeters) wide at its narrowest point.More
#4
Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

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In 1890 Scottish coal baron Robert Dunsmuir built Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia, to showcase his inordinate wealth. This 39-room hilltop mansion is rich with opulent details, including multiple turrets and chimneys, a red slate roof, stained-glass windows, wood carvings, antique furnishings, and gold-framed paintings.More
#5
Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park

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Sheer natural beauty is just the start of the appeal of of Beacon Hill Park, which sprawls across the southern edge of Victoria, British Columbia. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, with a petting zoo, splash parks, playgrounds, sports fields, seemingly endless footpaths, and one of the tallest totem poles in the world.More
#6
Royal British Columbia Museum

Royal British Columbia Museum

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From totem poles to ancient fossils, British Columbia’s history is on display at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Explore vast collections covering the natural world and human heritage, with dioramas that place historic artifacts in context. A soaring IMAX screen and special exhibitions add to the museum experience.More
#7
Fairmont Empress Hotel

Fairmont Empress Hotel

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The grand style of the Fairmont Empress hotel sets the tone for Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where boats tie up just steps from the city’s most historic landmarks. Visiting the Fairmont Empress is not just for overnight guests; afternoon tea here has been a Victoria tradition for more than a century.More
#8
British Columbia Parliament Buildings

British Columbia Parliament Buildings

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Constructed in the 1890s, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings still serve as home to the province’s legislature. Built according to the designs of young British architect Francis Rattenbury, the neo-Baroque complex’s imposing size, copper domes, turrets, and stained glass ensure a commanding and stately presence.More
#9
Sidney (Sidney-by-the-Sea)

Sidney (Sidney-by-the-Sea)

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Life revolves around the water at this laid-back coastal community north of Victoria. The action centers on the seafront where you’ll find a sculpture-dotted walkway, a beach scattered with sea glass, and a pier where locals crab and cast fishing lines, as well as an aquarium housing marine life native to the Salish Sea.More
#10
Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

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Fisherman’s Wharf is an eclectic combination of tourist shops and residential float homes. Although the fishing heyday has passed, at which time when a fishing vessel was tied to every slip at the Fisherman’s Wharf except the two “live aboard” docks, the atmosphere hasn’t changed much. Colorful characters still roam the docks, but now often rub shoulders with passing tourists rather than sea-hardened fishermen.The live aboard homes have been transformed into beautiful float houses, each as eclectic as the last and proudly carrying its own décor and charm.Seals are a near constant at the dock and they receive more than their share of bait from the local fish stores that aim to keep tourists happy and registers ringing. The small collection of shops includes an ice cream shop, BBQ grill, fish and chips stand, and a coffee house, alongside an excellent Fish Market and Crab Sales. There’s also some outgoing tourism, as whale watching and sea kayaking tours kick off from Fisherman’s Wharf and head out to sea through the harbor.More
#11
Mt. Tolmie Park

Mt. Tolmie Park

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A popular destination for residents and tourists alike, Mt. Tolmie Park is widely recognized as the best place for panoramic views of the city of Victoria. Viewpoints from the summit (approximately 120 meters above sea level) offer 360-degree vistas of the Gulf Islands, Saanich, and the city of Victoria across to the Olympic mountain range and even Mount Baker in the distance on a clear day. Mt. Tolmie is located near the University of Victoria, making it an often-visited stop along the Beach Drive coastal route.Located about a 15-minute drive from downtown Victoria, the park features numerous trails for visitors to walk on. Alternatively, travelers can drive up the windy road to the summit for a fast track to the views. Plenty of picnic tables and places for drivers to pull over offer different viewing areas, and about a mile’s worth (more than 1,500 meters) of trails within the park lead hikers through meadows and up rocky slopes, with many of them going directly to the summit. The adventurous traveler can follow the trails to numerous secluded natural areas and various bird-watching outlooks.More
#12
Government Street

Government Street

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Running through the heart of Downtown Victoria, Government Street is home to plenty of shopping and local history. Along the Victoria Harbour front, the British Columbia Legislature Buildings and the Fairmont Empress are important historical landmarks, both designed by the untrained British architect Francis Rattenbury. His design for the BC Legislature Buildings, which uses white marble, a massive central dome, and lengthy façade to create an architecturally impressive home for the provincial government, was his first project. This early success led him to be awarded the contract to design the Empress Hotel, which is now one of the oldest hotels in Victoria. Between these two buildings lies the Royal British Columbia Museum, which houses a natural and human history museum and the British Columbia provincial archives.Heading north from the Empress Hotel, Government Street soon becomes an iconic shopping street. Native artwork, high fashion, and a variety of specialty stores holding everything from handcrafted jewelry to handmade chocolate take up the storefronts. More shopping is found just off Government Street, too, including Trounce Alley, known for its European fashion stores; Bastion Square, where local artisans sell handmade arts and crafts; and Johnson Street, which is a local’s favorite for exclusive design boutiques.The corner of Government Street and Fisgard runs beneath the Gate of Harmonious Interest and the entrance to Victoria’s Chinatown. Founded in 1858, it’s the oldest Chinatown in Canada and second only to San Francisco in North America.More
#13
Old Town Victoria

Old Town Victoria

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With heritage architecture and cobbled streets, Old Town Victoria exudes historic character. The area sprang to life in the 19th-century gold rushes, and today it encompasses the city’s commercial core, Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and the waterfront. Visit to see its brightly painted Victorian buildings, which house shops and restaurants.More
#14
Pacific Marine Circle Route

Pacific Marine Circle Route

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The Pacific Marine Circle Route connects some of Vancouver Island’s best coastal scenery with some often overlooked inland natural wonders within a day’s drive of Victoria, British Columbia.Beginning along the north shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, this coastal route soon starts revealing glimpses of rugged coastlines and occasional beaches. The Juan de Fuca Marine trail runs parallel to the highway; however, it’s mostly hidden from view by thick forest. These beaches are common surf breaks, too, but the waves are best in winter and the water is cold no matter the season. Once the route turns inland, it passes two iconic trees. Short hikes lead to both the San Juan Spruce and Red Creek Fur.Finally, the last major landmarks before rejoining the TransCanada highway are Cowichan Lake and River. Both are popular swimming locations in the summer, but the river is definitely busier because locals use its current to drift downriver in inner tubes.More
#15
Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature

Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature

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Devoted to the life and works of its namesake, Victoria’s Robert Bateman Centre is home to the largest collection of Bateman paintings in the world. The gallery invites visitors to discover the natural world through the eyes of the legendary Canadian painter and naturalist.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Victoria

How to Spend 1 Day in Victoria

How to Spend 2 Days in Victoria

How to Spend 2 Days in Victoria

Top activities in Victoria

Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour

Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour

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Victoria to Vancouver Seaplane Flight
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4-Hour Grand City and Butchart Gardens Tour
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3-Hour Butchart Gardens and City Tour
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2-Hour Grand City Tour
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2-Hour Grand City Tour

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Grand City With High Tea At Butchart Gardens Tour
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Vancouver Island Rainforest Guided Hike with Private Guide
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Limousine Luxury Tours and VIP Transportation
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Private Saanich Peninsula Wine Tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Victoria

star-5
Great
Patricia_F, Jul 2022
2-Hour Grand City Tour
We stopped to see the city from a mountain & went through many villages & neighborhoods
star-5
Great experience on every level
Ann_K, Jun 2022
Victoria City and Butchart Gardens Private Half-Day Tour
Wonderful blend of nature, history, and learning about what makes Victoria a fun and magical place to visit and live.
star-5
A Must DO.
Colleen_H, May 2022
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
Perfect way to see the city and suitable for any activity level.
star-5
Victoria. Princess cruise April/May 2022
bankerbabe50, May 2022
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
We really got to see the whole city.
star-5
Great way to know the city
zvia_a, Apr 2022
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
It’s a great way to see the city and the tour guides were knowledgeable and super friendly.
star-4
I recommend!
Hege_S, Mar 2022
Victoria Guided Food and History Tour
A Great way to see a Good part of downtown in two hours.
star-5
Truly a must do tour!
Sally_R, Jun 2022
Victoria Guided Food and History Tour
Such a great way to see and taste the beauty of Victoria!
star-5
Outstanding sightseeing and whale watching experience
Liane_O, May 2022
Zodiac Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria
A superb experience for anyone who wants to see the Salish Sea up close and view the beauty of southern Vancouver Island from the water.
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Sailing with the Prince!
Debbie_M, Apr 2022
Half-Day Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria
We were lucky enough to see about ten Orca whales that put on quite the show for us.
star-5
Fantastic experience!
Jackie_R, Aug 2021
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
This is a fantastic way to see the city, very enjoyable, fun and informative!
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Fast and fun
JeanDenis_B, Jul 2021
Victoria to Vancouver Seaplane Flight
I wanted to visit Victoria and Vancouver on the same trip, so the flight option was the fastest and more fun way to do it.
star-5
A fantastic way to see Victoria! The...
Pamela M, Aug 2017
Victoria Panorama Seaplane Tour
A fantastic way to see Victoria!
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Highly recommend
Rosetta_P, Oct 2021
Vancouver Island Rainforest Guided Hike with Private Guide
We saw beautiful greenery, waterfalls, gardens, and some wildlife - countless photo-worthy views.
star-5
Magical trails, beautiful coast- and Seals!
Emma_K, Aug 2021
Vancouver Island Rainforest Guided Hike with Private Guide
We got to know historical facts about Victoria on our way to the hiking locations, got to see magical forest trails and beautiful views of the open waters.
star-5
Great experience, highly recommend...
Anna M, Jun 2016
Zodiac Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria
Great experience, highly recommend it while in Victoria, definitely the highlight of our trip, we got to see a humpback whale the only down size is we were a bit sore the next day but it was well worth the few aches and pains!
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Loved the tour!
Chantel_T, Jul 2021
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
We have been coming to Victoria to visit family for years and have never done the bus tour.
star-5
Really get to see the neighborhood!
Richard_S, Sep 2020
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
A great way to see the city, and Chuck gives a great running commentary when we visit the different places, and really conveys his respect and knowledge for Victoria and its neighborhoods.
star-5
This was a fun and very worthwhile...
Robert J, Aug 2017
Victoria Guided Food and History Tour
Great way to see Victoria eateries at the beginning of your trip.
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See Victoria
trayc177, Sep 2019
Hop On Half Day Sightseeing Victoria
GREAT WAY TO SEE VICTORIA.
star-5
I would highly recommend this bike...
Janice F, Jul 2017
Victoria Castles and Neighborhoods Bike Tour
They were well organized and it is a great way to see the city.
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All about Victoria

When to visit

Summer is peak season in Victoria, with dry, sunny weather perfect for harborside events including the Symphony Splash and Victoria International JazzFest. If you don’t mind crowded paths, it’s also the best time to catch Butchart Gardens in full bloom. Fall has fewer tourists and discounted hotel rooms, though watch out for closed attractions around Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October.

Time Zone
PDT (UTC -8)

People Also Ask

What is Victoria known for?

The oceanside city of Victoria, located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is known for mild weather, and it's earned the nickname the City of Gardens. It is bike-friendly with an extensive network of bike paths, plus it's got Canada’s oldest Chinatown and an impressive number of charming pubs.

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What is there to do in Victoria?

There's plenty to do in Victoria: explore Fisherman’s Wharf, wander the galleries of the Royal BC Museum, and see a variety of landscapes in Butchart Gardens. Visitors can also shop downtown, feast on fresh seafood, explore Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and ride the ferry for scenic views.

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How many days do I need in Victoria?

Some travelers spend a single day in Victoria, and a day trip provides a good introduction to the oceanside city's natural beauty. But Victoria has more to offer, and it can easily entertain tourists for two or three days with its attractions, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Inner Harbour.

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What is there to do in Victoria in the fall?

In fall, visitors can enjoy seasonal activities such as admiring the vibrant colors in Butchart Gardens. Fans of spooky history may want to book a ghost tour in Victoria, while foodies may want to celebrate cider season with a tasting at a local cidery.

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What can you do in Victoria for free?

There are many free things to do in Victoria. Travelers on a budget admire views at the Inner Harbour, explore Chinatown, picnic at Beacon Hill Park, or listen to live music in Market Square. Free tours are also available at the Parliament Buildings.

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Is Victoria worth visiting?

Yes. Victoria is worth visiting. This charming oceanside city offers plenty to do for travelers including Butchart Gardens, the Royal BC Museum, and Canada’s oldest Chinatown. It is also home to a big network of friendly pubs and areas for exploring on foot including Fisherman’s Wharf and the Inner Harbour.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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