With its mild and sunny climate, there’s no shortage of things to do in Victoria.
The British colonial charm that put British Columbia’s capital on the map now wrestles modern foodie culture, intriguing ethnic enclaves, and once-in-a-lifetime outdoor escapes – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s head over to Vancouver Island and take a deeper look at the top Victoria BC activities.
Best Things to Do in Victoria
Embark on a Victoria Whale Watching Tour
As much as we love the whale watching tours in Vancouver, I have to admit it. Victoria might be the best city in British Columbia for whale watching.
You can choose from a wide variety of Victoria whale watching tours that depart from the Inner Harbour or Fisherman’s Wharf. And unlike in Vancouver, you’re just a short run from the grounds.
Each tour allows you to see a variety of whales, including orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales. You’ll likely even spot some dolphins, seals and sea lions. But it’s not all fun and games. You’ll also learn about these magnificent creatures’ life cycles and migration habits.
After one sighting, you’ll unequivocally agree that the local whales are one of the best things to see in Victoria, BC.
Visit the Enchanting Oasis that is Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens is unquestionably the area’s most popular tourist attraction. So naturally, it is right at the top of our list of places to visit in Victoria.
This world-renowned botanical garden features over 55 acres of stunning floral displays, making it a must-see for any nature lover. This urban oasis’s lush greens and colourful blooms attract over one million people a year.
If you’re visiting Victoria in the spring, be sure to check out the annual tulip festival. Over one million tulips bloom in Butchart Gardens during this time, making for a truly breathtaking sight. And, of course, come summer, the entire complement of flowers is in full bloom.
But not to worry, this National Historic site remains popular year-round – even during Christmas.
Related: Vancouver to Butchart Gardens Tours
Have Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel
Want to immerse yourself in Victoria’s unique colonial charm? Afternoon tea at the Empress is the best way to do it.
At Victoria’s most iconic building, you’ll enjoy the hotel’s famous flakey scones and scrumptious pastries alongside loose-leaf tea served in royal china by Queen Elizabeth in 1939. For true decadence, finish up with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose.
This stately ritual has been one of the top things to do in Victoria for 114 years and counting – and it’s the ultimate in vacation pampering.
Related: Find the Best Hotels in Victoria BC, for your holiday
Take a Leisurely Walk or Bike through Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is a 150-acre park located in the heart of the Inner Harbour. This scenic spot for a leisurely stroll or a vigorous bike ride offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This ocean-front park also features a number of historical monuments, like the world’s 4th tallest totem pole (127 feet) carved by Kwakwaka’wakw craftsman Mungo Martin.
Furthermore, it holds an important status as Mile 0, the western terminus of the 8,000-kilometre-long Trans-Canada Highway. Undoubtedly, Beacon Hill Park is one of the best places to visit in Victoria for a little quiet contemplation.
Take a Victoria Hop on Hop off Tour
If you’re looking for a quick way to check off numerous items on your Victoria clipboard of fun? See the entire city on a Victoria Hop on Hop off bus tour.
For one low price, you’ll ride a UK-style double-decker bus to 15 of the best Victoria tourist attractions. And the best part? You can jump off wherever you’d like on your own customized itinerary.
This tour is one of the top Victoria activities for families, the elderly or hurried cruise passengers.
Related: Best Victoria Sightseeing Tours
Savour a Bite at Local Victoria Restaurants
This charming harbour city lives by a simple motto: eat, drink, and discover.
That’s why I want you to experience unique dining experiences like 10 Acres. This farm-to-fork ‘slightly finer dining’ restaurant shows off the best of ethically raised local ingredients. In fact, most of them are sourced from their own farm!
For something more casual, the area’s British heritage comes to light: fish and chips is a popular choice for visitors strolling the city. I recommend the wharf-side Redfish Bluefish for a modern take on this traditional favourite.
But otherwise, the city is home to the second-highest concentration of restaurants in North America. So if you’re looking for fun things to do in Victoria, a foodie crawl should be at the top of your list.
? Coming from Vancouver? Check out the 5 best Victoria tours from Vancouver.
Take a Seaplane Tour of the Coast
If you’re looking to take your holiday or special occasion day to a whole new level, then Victoria seaplane tours are quite literally the way to do it.
There’s no greater view of Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel, Inner Harbour, Olympic Mountains, and Strait of Juan de Fuca than via this 30-minute sightseeing flight. You’ll get a birds-eye view of the Victoria sightseeing experience.
Even better, your tour is also aboard the world’s first carbon-neutral airline. And you’ll even receive a convenient hotel shuttle for that true door-to-air experience.
Paddle Around the Inner Harbour
The Garden City is essentially one giant peninsula made up of the Inner Harbour and the Gorge Waterway. Expect a series of small bays offering protected waters to be explored during the Summer months.
Toss in the area’s mild climate and abundant wildlife; you have the recipe for a killer afternoon. In fact, you won’t even realize you’re getting in some exercise! On a summer day, going for a paddle is one of the best Victoria activities for active travellers.
Related: Vancouver to Victoria by Sea Plane
Visit a Tropical Oasis at Victoria Butterfly Gardens
The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Victoria BC, for families.
As its name suggests, this tropical garden is home to over 500 butterflies. However, it also contains thousands of tropical birds, reptiles, turtles and plants.
In addition, the gardens also have a number of educational exhibits, so it’s the perfect place for your children to learn more about these amazing creatures.
Conveniently, the attraction is located relatively close to Butchart Gardens.
Tour Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a historic castle built in the late 19th century by wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, and it features a Victorian-style design.
Located just outside downtown, the castle is open for tours, which allow you to explore the building’s many rooms and learn its history.
Today, the castle is now a national historic site. And its complete restoration provides visitors with a quick glimpse into the privileged life of colonialists in the 1890s.
Visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
This world-renowned gallery features a collection of over 16,000 works of art, from paintings and sculptures to textiles and photographs.
Notably, the Greater Victoria Art Gallery hosts the largest collections from venerated BC artist Emily Carr.
You’ll also find one of the largest collections of Asian art in Canada, including a large Japanese-style Shinto shrine. The gallery also offers a variety of educational programs.
So if you’re artistically inclined, the AGGV is easily one of the top attractions in Victoria, BC.
Related: Best Cheap Hotels in Victoria
Head out to Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Provincial Park is one of the best outdoor activities in Victoria, BC, for visitors. Particularly those who’re looking for hiking and biking trails.
If you find yourself in town between October and December, you can witness one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles anywhere in North America. These majestic creatures return every year to feast on spawning chum salmon.
Located 16 km north west of the city, the park is also a great place for camping if you’re dying to spend a night or two under the stars. And there is even a beautiful waterfall!
Watch the Sunset from Dallas Road
Dallas Road Waterfront Trail is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Victoria.
This seaside route offers stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. Stretching from Clover to Ogden Point, there is a seemingly endless selection of isolated spots to watch the sunset over the Pacific.
For this reason, it’s one of the best things to do in Victoria for couples. Make sure to head there for golden hour – you’ll thank me later.
Sample Victoria’s Craft Breweries
Victoria may be the most important stop on BC’s Ale Trail. There are so many great breweries that it has even been dubbed ‘Canada’s craft beer capital.’
Visit the British Columbia Parliament Buildings
It sounds almost strange to say, but if you’re a lover of politics, this will be one of the best places to visit in Victoria, hands down.
These historic buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, as well as a number of other government offices.
The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are open for tours, which allow you to explore the chambers and learn about the history of the building. But most locals prefer to employ the grounds as a picnic spot due to their fantastic location at the heart of the Inner Harbour.
Check Out the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site
Located just outside Victoria in the suburb of Colwood, Fort Rodd Hill is a National Historic Site that was formerly a fort that defended the city from a potential American attack (hard to believe, I know).
Today, this National Historic site allows visitors to tour historic battlements, weapons depots, and other displays.
Fort Rodd Hill is also right next to the Fisgard Lighthouse and Hatley Park – two more National Historic Sites. So you’ll get extra bang for your buck.
Hatley Park Castle / Gardens
Hatley Park has several glorious gardens that are based on international themes (Japanese, Italian etc.). The grounds also contain the beautiful Hatley Park Castle, pictured above. This building is near and dear to my heart due to its location on the campus of my alma mater, Royal Roads University.
The park is also home to a number of trails, so it’s the perfect place to go for a walk or a bike ride.
Furthermore, it leads down toward Esquimalt Lagoon, which houses one of Victoria’s nicest beaches along Ocean Boulevard.
Cool Off in Sooke Potholes
Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is one of the best things to do near Victoria for outdoor lovers, especially those who don’t mind getting a little wet.
The potholes are about an hour West of Victoria near the town of Sooke. This park is home to a number of hiking and biking trails, as well as a beautiful river.
The area’s unique rock formations were sculpted during the last ice age. And their characteristically crystal clear pools are a terrific place to cool off in the summer heat.
Explore Victoria by Bike
BC’s capital city is renowned for its incredibly high bike participation rate. In fact, many would claim biking to be the preferred method of local transport. And why not? With its seemingly never-ending network of urban bike lanes and trails, the area is a true biker’s paradise.
Whether you’re looking to explore the City Centre, encircle the stunning Seaside Loop or do some hard-core mountain biking, the area is assured to satisfy anyone travelling on two wheels.
You can rent a bike in Victoria using the orange button below.
Wander Through Canada’s Oldest Chinatown
Located on the Northern edge of downtown Victoria, this historic enclave of Chinese culture dates back to the mid-1800’s after gold was discovered in BC’s Fraser Canyon.
The area’s beating heart is the quaint Fan Tan Alley, which is the narrowest street in Canada. Formerly chocked full of gambling and opium dens, it now houses a variety of shops, galleries and cafes catering to the tourist crowd.
Today the area’s cheap rents have proved attractive for a diverse blend of artists, restauranteurs and bar owners. All in all, Chinatown has become one of the top attractions in Victoria for visitors of all ages.
Best Things to do in Victoria FAQs
What is Victoria, BC, most known for?
The city of Victoria, BC, is most famous for its quaint small-town charm and stunning colonial architecture. It is also a great starting point to explore the stunning beauty of Vancouver Island. And in recent years, has become renowned for its vibrant restaurant, bar, and craft beer scenes.
What are the best things to do in Victoria?
Victoria offers a wide range of attractions and activities. Some of the best things to do in Victoria include exploring the Inner Harbour, visiting the Butchart Gardens, exploring historic sites like Craigdarroch Castle, enjoying whale watching tours, and indulging in high tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
How can I get to Victoria from Vancouver?
There are a few transportation options to get from Vancouver to Victoria. The most popular and convenient way is to ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to Swartz Bay Terminal. Alternatively, you can take the Vancouver to Victoria Bus. Or even jump on a seaplane from Vancouver’s Coal Harbour.
What are the best things to do in Victoria for families?
Victoria offers a variety of family-friendly activities that cater to all ages. Kids are sure to enjoy a trip to Victoria attractions such as Butterfly Gardens, Miniature World, and the Victoria Bug Zoo. If you’re looking for fresh air, Beacon Hill Park, Butchart Gardens, and the local beaches will do the trick.
What are the top places to see in Victoria?
The Inner Harbour is home to many of the top places to see in Victoria. The area is a bustling hub with scenic views and a lively atmosphere that houses the Parliament Buildings, the Empress Hotel, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Beacon Hill Park, the Royal BC Museum, and of course, Butchart Gardens are also must see Victoria attractions.
Still Wondering What to Do in Victoria?
So there you have it. Whether you’re headed out whale watching, visiting Butchart Gardens, or chowing down on local food, your itinerary should be loaded with activities.
That said, if you need any additional tips, I’m still here for you in the comments below.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our summary of the best things to do in Victoria. Now it’s up to you to get out and do them!