There's so much to do and see in Victoria, it's just a matter of choosing. Whether you're strolling along the causeway in the Inner Harbour, thumbing through comic books, spotting the local whales, indulging in West Coast cuisine or taking in a local theatre production, Victoria B.C. activities and attractions add up to a trip to remember.
In Victoria there is never a shortage of things to do. From international icons like The Butchart Gardens to hidden gems like Canada's oldest Chinatown to adventure on the high seas with a whale watching tour, your days in Victoria can be as busy as you want them to be.
Admire the stunning architecture and history of the Craigdarroch Castle, zipline 150 above the ground, visit the world-class Royal BC Museum or take your kids to the Victoria Bug Zoo.
Vancouver Island offers world class alpine sports with one of the larger mountains being Mt. Washington Alpine Resort. Mount Washington is located 25 kilometres west of the Comox Valley, 50 kilometres south of Campbell River and 100 kilometres north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Skiers and snowboarders currently have 1,600+ acres of terrain to choose from serviced by nine lifts including a high speed six pack and a high speed quad. Frequently receiving record breaking snowfall, Mount Washington is one not to miss.
Boating & Sailing
The Islands are surrounded by water, so what better way to get around them than by boat? The archipelago of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands provides boaters and sailors with some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. A network of marinas and marine parks make getting ashore easy. Bring your own boat, rent from numerous charter companies or take a guided cruise. Getting out on the water is recommended to visitors to truly experience life in Victoria and on Vancouver Island.
Bike and Cycle
Known as the cycling capital of Canada, Victoria offers hundreds of kilometres of bike paths, bike lanes and bike routes in the city. The Lochside and Galloping Goose Trails connect the entire region from Sidney to Sooke. Mountain biking trails at Mount Work Regional Park and a BMX track located in the nearby community of Colwood make for fantastic jumps and excursions off the paved path. Professional racing cyclist Ryder Hesjedal was born in Victoria and still calls the city home.
Fishing is a true West Coast activity that combines sightseeing, wildlife viewing, adventure, sport and a fresh meal all in one special experience! Our picturesque coastline is world renowned for its diversity and natural beauty. The large variety of species available makes for some of the finest year-round fishing the world has to offer.
From the waters of Sooke, which is located 45 minutes west of Victoria, to the numerous banks centered in the Strait of Juan De Fuca and all the way to Oak Bay, fishing hot spots are abundant in the 70 mile long strait. Many charters and trips depart from the heart of downtown Victoria. What're you waiting for? Go fish!
Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours
Experience Victoria at a slower pace from the unique vantage of a horse-drawn carriage. Professional, insightful drivers give fully guided tours of downtown and the surrounding areas, including the buzzing Inner Harbour, the beautiful scenery of Beacon Hill Park and the Dallas Road waterfront, and the historic charm of James Bay.
Many operators will pick you up at your hotel or restaurant, and provide blankets on cooler days. Victoria's carriage horses are well-loved and respected, and their health and well-being are of the utmost importance to the owners, staff and local residents who have grown attached to these amazing animals.
Occasions are made special when experienced through the slow rhythm of a carriage. Make it a date and arrive via carriage to afternoon tea!
The waters surrounding Victoria are home to an abundance of marine wildlife. The orca, or killer whale, and the humpback are the main whales found in the area, but gray and minke whales are also sighted. Sea lions, seals, porpoise and a number of marine birds are also residents. Three pods of resident orcas totaling 75 whales live in Victoria's waters.
Visitors can join local certified naturalists for a guided marine adventure tour to see and learn about these animals first-hand. A marine wildlife tour usually includes a trip to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Race Rocks is the most southern part of Vancouver Island and of Canada on the Pacific coast. It is Canada's first Marine Protected Area and is home to an abundance of marine life.
From modern art displayed in charming heritage buildings to First Nations' galleries telling the story of Victoria's cultural history through art and textiles, Victoria's art galleries are attractions not-to-be-missed. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria houses an impressive collection of over 15,000 objects mainly from B.C., Canada and Japan. Changing exhibitions throughout Victoria's art galleries keep things fresh and new for locals and visitors alike.
Music for all tastes fills local halls, cathedrals, nightclubs and pubs, public parks and the Inner Harbour. If you are looking for jazz in a laid-back lounge, rock in a local pub, hip hop in an underground club or classical in a concert hall or even outdoors, Victoria has something to make your stay harmonious.
The performing arts are well represented in Victoria and on Vancouver Island. Professional and amateur theatre and dance companies perform in historical playhouses, modern arts centres and small, picturesque community theatres. A wide array of exceptional performances captivate audiences throughout the year.
Surrounded by ocean, it's no secret that Victoria stuns with some of the most charming and accessible beaches and lakes of the Pacific Northwest. Victoria's beaches, like the Esquimalt Lagoon, invite visitors with stunning views of the harbour, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains in Washington, all just a short stroll from Victoria's core. Picnic in the grass or enjoy the sandy beach at the Willows Beach. Not far from Downtown Victoria, families can enjoy a pleasant day along the Cordova Bay or Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, which has watersports, swimming spots and hiking.
Further outside town, the coast is lined with hidden sandy coves like the incomparable China Beach. Or you can explore rocky shores home to ancient Douglas firs and Sitka spruces and long hiking trails along the shore like at Matheson Lake. Additionally, Greater Victoria is home to numerous lakes that are perfect for swimming, water sports, boating and kayaking. Explore the gallery and listings below to find your perfect beach.
Indigenous heritage and legacies live on in Victoria and Vancouver Island, with a variety of ceremonies, potlatches, dances and masks. An Indigenous experience adds value to any visit to Victoria.
2014 marked the beginning of a new festival in Victoria: The Indigenous Cultural Festival, which took place June 19-21. Hosted by the Indigenous Tourism Association of BC in partnership with the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, this annual event increases community engagement with the diverse experiences offered by local indigenous culture. These include dance, story telling, carving, singing, and food. It is three days filled with colour, sound, education and appreciation of the wonders of our local Indigenous culture, held on the Royal BC Mezzanine and along Victoria's Inner Harbour.
While Victoria may be known for its incredible natural beauty, it’s celebrated for its arts and culture. Home to an exciting, diverse arts community, you’ll find no end of things to do and see including theatre productions, concerts, dance performances, workshops and arts exhibitions. Venues range from contemporary galleries, stages and concert halls to historic theatres and even castles. Visitors will enjoy a wide range of celebrations from music festivals to boat festivals. And the holidays in Victoria are truly magical: The city comes to life with carollers, ice skating, concerts, a national gingerbread showcase, a Christmas Ferris wheel, and decorations that sparkle throughout the city.
Victoria's mild climate and scenic surroundings are just part of the reason why the city is known as a year-round vacation destination. Spring in Victoria is especially lovely, and brings with it celebrations of everything from gardens to indie theatre to craft beer.
• Storytelling comes to life during the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival. See 5,000 performers and students of music, dance and the dramatic arts take over local stages March-May. Be the first to experience new works by Canada's finest performers at the Belfry Theatre's SPARK Festival, which features shows, readings and workshops.
• To be at the forefront of independent theatre, add Uno Fest to your calendar. The annual independent Victoria Film Festival attracts a diverse lineup of films spanning shorts to documentaries to experimental works, encourages innovation and creativity, and draws locals and visitors alike to experience a 10-day celebration of cinema and film.
• Victoria Beer Week celebrates Victoria’s booming craft beer scene with almost two straight weeks of craft beer events, workshops and seminars across the city.
• If kilts, bagpipes and feats of strength are your thing, experience the impressive athletic-strength competitions of the nine-day Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival, where Scottish culture, art and sport take centre stage.
Long, warm days and star-filled evenings allow extra hours to savour the best Victoria has to offer. Food, drink and fun await, and thanks to an abundance of sunshine, colorful blossoms line the city streets.
• If you love all things weird, wacky and wonderful, partake in the Victoria Fringe Festival which brings 12 days of live performance from around the world, including an eclectic mixture of spoken word, drama, musicals, dance, comedy, magic, theatre. For music (and craft beer) lovers, the annual Phillips Backyard Weekender brings together the best of Victoria’s mid-summer offerings with live music, fresh craft beer, local food and great people.
• Spend a day on the farm during Feast of Fields to enjoy a walking tour, tasting the bounty along the way. Think of it as a 40-course meal. For more urban appeal, try Taste: Victoria's Festival of Food and Wine, which features 100 selections from Victoria's vineyards, waters, fields and farms. The only rule: Arrive with an appetite.
• Music fills the air at Victoria Symphony Splash, when the Inner Harbour becomes a floating outdoor concert stage. It's the largest annual outdoor symphony event in Canada.
• If jazz calls to you, listen up at TD Victoria International Jazz Fest, where 10 days of jazz programming brings devoted fans to see renowned artists perform in June.
• The Dragon Boat Festival in mid-August features 90 teams, often in themed attire, competing in celebration of loyalty and commitment to the community.
The days may be shorter, but there's no shortage of things to do on crisp autumn days and evenings in Victoria. The brilliant colours of fall hint at the vibrant festivals of the season.
• Four days, multiple stages, 150 performances: The only thing you need for an all-access pass to the musical wonderland that is Rifflandia Festival is a wristband. Stroll from stage to stage along “Electric Avenue,” sample local food, and experience the best of Victoria’s music and arts community.
• And don’t forget about Halloween! As the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, Victoria has a torrid history that comes to life during the month of October. Visit the Ghosts of Victoria Festival for everything from pumpkin art to haunted trolley cars to ghostly walks. Also, check out Dracula at Craigdarroch Castle. Whether it's the chilling ghost stories, zombies or scary zip lines that make you gasp, October in Victoria, B.C. will leave you breathless.
• There's more to a memorable cocktail than just the ingredients. October's Art of the Cocktail is one of Canada's premier mixology events. The Grand Cocktail Tasting will open the door to a world of elegant spirits, while the Cocktail Workshops will pique your inner mixologist and the professional bartender competitions will impress even the most seasoned cocktail enthusiast.
• The world-class Salmon Run at Goldstream Provincial Park fascinates visitors of all ages as thousands of chum salmon return each fall. Watch the salmon struggle against the current while bald eagles forage for food.
From holiday lights on the Parliament Buildings to Father Christmas at the Royal BC Museum to the jingle of horses pulling carriages and clip clopping down the cobblestone streets, winter in Victoria is truly magical.
• There's no better place to be during the holidays than Victoria. The city captures this magical time of year with events, lights, parades and more. Stroll through a "forest" of decorated trees at the Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre. Christmas at Craigdarroch Castle encapsulates the spirit of a traditional Victorian Christmas. And no seasonal celebration is complete without the Magic of Christmas at The Butchart Gardens.
• If a good meal is what you are after, Dine Around & Stay in Town tickle your taste buds and dive into Victoria's culinary scene at over 60 participating restaurants offering three-course prix-fixe menus between January and February. Don't just come for a bite either, choose to stay the night! Many of Victoria's hotels offer special accommodation rates during the event.
• There's no better place to celebrate the Chinese New Year than in Victoria, home of Canada's oldest Chinatown. Spectators line the streets to watch the Dragon Parade, a performance rich with colorful and elaborate costumes, live music and traditional dance.
Victoria is the ideal playground for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. On land or at sea, outdoor Victoria B.C. activities are possible year-round in our temperate climate. From ziplining through treetops to crescent moon kayaking, diving, hiking or cycling, visitors will delight in the wild beauty of the Island.
Hiking & Walking
Victoria itself is a very walkable city, but if you are looking for more than just a stroll through the streets they have plenty of hiking and walking trails to choose from that will provide you with fresh mountain air and sweeping vistas. Whether you're looking for an easy hike or a multi-day trek, we've got a Victoria B.C. activity for you.
Kayaking & Paddling
Victoria and its surrounding area is considered to have some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the world. Vancouver Island has approximately 3,500 kilometres of ocean coastline, 700 lakes, 160 rivers and 890 streams for paddling. These waterways are located amid spectacular West Coast scenery and are shared by an abundance of marine creatures and wildlife.
The shores surrounding Greater Victoria are a paradise for water sport enthusiasts. Those without any experience can enjoy the water with an introductory stand-up paddleboard or kayak excursion, or even a relaxing chartered sail. Enthusiasts can challenge and immerse themselves in some of the world's best scuba diving, kite boarding, windsurfing and more, just minutes from downtown.
Victoria has an extraordinary assortment of cuisine - from elegant fine dining to casual bistros, waterfront pubs and top-notch cocktail lounges. Victoria BC restaurants are blessed with an abundance of local fare including outstanding locally made wines, ciders, beers and spirits. They also offer celiac-friendly dining suggestions at restaurants in Victoria.
Surrounded by coastal waters and the rich farming regions of the Saanich Peninsula and Cowichan Valley, Victoria's gourmet chefs are blessed with an abundance of local produce right in their own backyards. In Victoria, you can meet the chefs, meet the farmers and visit the farms.
Victoria's rich and interesting history can be explored through the city's abundant museums and heritage sites. The impressive list includes the well-known sites like the Royal BC Museum or Hatley Castle and smaller hidden gems like the Emily Carr House or Point Ellice House.
Gardens & Parks
Victoria has long been known as the "City of Gardens." With our mild climate, gardening is a year round passion which has resulted in an abundant array of gardens world-renowned for their beauty and individual charm. That's why the International Garden Tourism Network awarded Victoria with the International Garden Destination of the Year award in 2015. Take a garden tour and experience it for yourself!
As early as February, blooms spring up throughout the city while most of Canada is still covered under a blanket of snow. They also have a hanging basket tradition that spans over 75 years. Hanging baskets are placed on downtown lampposts every June to signal the start of summer.
Welcome to Victoria, B.C.'s Craft Beer Capital! With a variety of small boutique-like producers, Victoria is famous for its locally made beers, ciders, wines and spirits. Explore the city's brewing culture, learn about the brewing process and get a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a brewery or enjoy some of the many excellent brews with a delicious meal at one of many Victoria taphouses.
From Victoria Beer Week to the Great Canadian Beer Festival, the city is host to several annual beer-focused events that showcase, celebrate and educate Victoria's residents and visitors about craft beers.
With thirteen craft breweries right in town and several handfuls of unique restaurants whose menus are built to showcase local beer, it is clear that a dedication to high-quality, locally-made brews is a key component of Victoria's distinctive culture.
THE BC ALE TRAIL
Destination Greater Victoria is a proud partner of the BC Ale Trail. Check out the best of Victoria's craft beer scene, as well as a special beer-tinerary for those who want to experience it all.
VICTORIA BEER WEEK
Victoria Beer Week is a nine-day series of events highlighting a broad selection of BC craft breweries while educating greater Victoria residents about craft beer.
Shopping in Victoria is fabulous! Whether you are just window shopping or on a major shopping spree in Victoria you can browse quaint shops, local markets, shopping centres and department stores to find your heart's desire. Victoria offers everything from antiques to the wares of local artisans and the designs of the hippest trendsetters. The city's layout encourages strolling and exploring the many side streets and alleyways at an easy pace.
Victoria is a golfer's dream. With a climate that encourages golfing year-round, Victoria and Vancouver Island are home to many of Canada's most beautiful and challenging courses.
Victoria is also the gateway to the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, 250 kilometres of Pacific golfing paradise from Victoria to Campbell River with 11 gorgeous golf courses to choose from.
Even if your swing isn't quite up to par, golfing in Victoria will provide an experience that will leave your vacation bragging rights intact.