Welcome to Victoria, BC!
Victoria is one of the world’s greatest small urban destinations, a compact, charming little city set in the lush, gorgeous surroundings of Vancouver Island. The city has always emphasized its British history, cricket, and red double decker buses are still in great supply. However, in the last few years, Victoria has seen a more diverse wave, embracing the global food scene, and emphasizing their First Nation heritage as well.
Tourists know the famous destinations and attractions, but a worldwide local goes deeper to find undiscovered sights and new experiences. This is an insider’s guide to the lesser known delights of Victoria, Canada.
Begin in the Old Town
The Old Town is a beautiful, historic place to start. This includes the blocks north of the Empress and west of Douglas Street, as well as Chinatown. There are wonderful old buildings and fascinating historic sights galore, including Old Victoria Custom House, and Trounce Alley, all lit by 125-year-old gas-powered street lights. The pedestrianized Bastion Square area is a great place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat in one of the Victoria restaurants or to browse the local markets.
Worldwide Local Tip: Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America. It’s also home to some of the best restaurants in Victoria BC. Check out Fan Tan Alley, one of the narrowest streets on the continent, and Don Mee for exquisite dim sum and a great view of Fisgard Street.
Don’t Skip the Inner Harbor!
Victoria’s Inner Harbor is one of the most picturesque places to be found in Canada, and a vibrant, bustling spot full of life as well. It is surrounded by stunning architecture, including the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum, and the Parliament building. Grabbing fish and chips from Red Fish Blue Fish is a must, as is a stroll around the water to watch the seaplanes landing. And if you’re feeling adventurous and angling for some whale watching, Victoria BC the best place to do it!
Worldwide Local Tip: Just around the corner from the Inner Harbor is Fisherman’s Wharf, a riot of color with an amazing array of floating homes and some mouthwateringly good restaurants. Don’t miss Puerto Vallarta Amigos, a wonderful little Mexican eatery set on a technicolored houseboat!
Outdoors in Victoria
Given its Vancouver Island location and the lovely Victoria weather, it’s no surprise that the city has some wonderful parks and gardens. Butchart Gardens is world famous and extraordinarily beautiful year-round, with Japanese, Rose, Italian, Mediterranean, and Sunken Gardens. Beacon Hill Park is another superb green space to explore, with some wonderful trails, amazing views, and the world’s fourth tallest totem pole. Finally, the stately and majestic Hatley Park National Historic Site is a must-see, with its exquisitely manicured gardens and regal Hatley Castle, which you might recognize from the films as the home of Charles Xavier and the X-Men!
Worldwide Local Tip: For a little oasis of calm right in the heart of the city, seek out Thunderbird Park. A wonderfully peaceful spot on Belleville Street, it also hides a First Nations house and a fascinating and evocative collection of hand-carved totem poles.
Enjoy Your Stay!
No trip to British Columbia would be complete without exploring the natural beauty of Vancouver Island and taking in the cultural delights and millions of things to do in Victoria BC. While tourists will stick to the main attractions, as a worldwide local you’ll get a deeper, more authentic experience, with memories that will last a lifetime!