Victoria, named in honour of Queen Victoria, is Western Canada's oldest city. It is also known as the City of Gardens. Established in 1843 as a Hudson Bay Company trading post, this intimate, sophisticated seaside locale is the vacation capital of Canada and the premiere tourist spot in the Pacific Northwest. Situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria's climate is sunny and temperate, the environment pristine, and the lifestyle peaceful.
Victoria's unique character is deeply rooted in its 150-year history, a history full of colourful people and fascinating tales. The city's British colonial heritage is still much in evidence, but contemporary Victoria has a distinctly Pacific Northwest flavour.
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, includes the municipalities of Oak Bay, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt. Passenger and vehicle ferries that sail between Victoria, Seattle, Bellingham and Port Angeles dock in Victoria's Inner Harbour along with float planes and small boats. Moorage can be found near the Canada Customs wharf. At night, visit the Inner Harbour to see the nearby Legislative Buildings lit up with thousands of golden lights.
If you like specialty shops, explore Government Street. For antiquarians, try Antique Row on Fort Street. And don't forget Chinatown: Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, has interesting and unusual shops. There's also Market Square, a two-level complex with an inner courtyard that features over 40 shops and restaurants.
Things to do:
- Scenic Drives: Take the popular route along Dallas Road and Beach Drive. Stop at Cattle Point to stretch your legs and watch the sailboats, or take in the beauty of the sea and distant mountains. When you arrive at Cadboro Bay, look for "Caddy," short for Cadborosaurus, our local, friendly prehistoric sea serpent who is spotted from time to time in the bay. Be the first to capture him on film.
- Inner Harbour Walkways: One excellent route for a summer evening stroll starts at the end of Belleville Street near the Laurel Point Inn and follows the waterway to Fisherman's Wharf. A second walk begins at the Johnson Street bridge and continues along the water to the West Bay Marina. See herons, seals, mink, otters and sea lions on the way.
- Butchart Gardens: Stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns encompassing fifty acres of spectacular floral finery.
- Craigdarroch Castle: Built in 1887-90 as a home for Robert and Joan Dunsmuir, Scottish immigrants who made their fortune from Vancouver Island Coal, Craigdarroch Castle features an extensive collection of stained and leaded glass, magnificent woodwork, Victorian furnishings and decorative arts.
- Government House: A must see with its exquisite gardens.
- Royal British Columbia Museum : In one afternoon you can see all that is British Columbia. Descend into offshore ocean depths, walk along beaches, peer into tide pools, step through forests, view soaring mountains and vast plains, travel through time along the cobbled streets of a 1900's town, enter a First Nations Bighouse, go back 12,000 years to the time of the mammoth.
- Beacon Hill Park: This well-loved green space features formal rose gardens and a band shell for outdoor summer concerts. Enjoy the timeless elegance of this beautifully cultivated park.
A major whale migration occurs in mid- winter when approximately 20,000 Pacific grey whales leave the Baja Peninsula and journey north to Alaska, passing Vancouver Island en route. During the peak of migration in March and April, the whales pass close to shore. You can observe them from the Wickaninnish visitor centre at Pacific Rim National Park. Several pods spend the summer months in Clayoquot Sound, and you can see them via daily boat tours to Hot Springs Cove.