Victoria is well-known among simply smart travelers as an attractive island city that is well worth a side excursion from Seattle, northern Washington or Vancouver. But this delightful city of 83,000 people located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island has so many charms and attractions that you should put it on your list as a worthy stand-alone destination.
Set around a picturesque harbor, Victoria is reminiscent of a seaside city in England because of its architecture and ambiance. Double-decker buses and tea rooms are much in evidence. The downtown core is dominated by the classic Fairmont Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Provincial Legislative Building. Strolling up Wharf and Government Streets brings visitors past many alluring shops and restaurants, Bastion Square and Canada’s oldest Chinatown.
Since it is surrounded on three sides by water and is on a large island, Victoria is a center for outdoor recreation on land and sea and a popular whale watching port.
Before You Go, Do some pre-trip research at:
Victoria is accessible by car, boat and plane.
- By car and ship, vehicles and passengers carried onboard the ferry from Vancouver, B.C., Seattle or Port Angeles, Washington and passengers only to Seattle, WA.
- By air, Victoria International Airport is 16 miles north and is served by eight airlines. Floatplane trips from Vancouver are available at harbourair.com.
- Victoria’s Ogden Point Cruise Terminal is currently the busiest in Canada. Nearby Seattle and Vancouver also have extensive cruise departures.
When You Are There
- Visit the inner harbor area.
- Wander around Government Street.
- Check out historic Bastion Square’s shops and restaurants.
- Take a ride on the Victoria Harbor Water Taxi.
- Walk around LoJo (Lower Johnson Street)-shopping and restaurants.
If you have a couple of days in town, check out:
- The gorgeous grounds at world-famous Butchart Gardens.
- High tea at The Fairmont Empress or Butchart Gardens.
- The Royal BC Museum.
- Craigdarroch Castle.
- A hop-on-hop-off city tour with CVS Sightseeing.
If You Have Several Days, enjoy:
- Whale watching. Excursions leave from Victoria Harbour.
- Vista 18 Grill and Wine Bar for good food and spectacular views (18th floor of the Chateau Victoria Hotel) and excellent Italian food at Il Terrazzo Ristorante on Johnson Street. Reservations strongly advised.
- Renting a car and exploring Esquimalt and the Sanich Peninsula on the island.
Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For Victoria
Dress seasonably and smartly. Weather can get cool so wear layers and bring comfortable walking shoes. While this is a tourist town, the local fashion is a bit more dressy than the typical resort town.
Destination At A Glance
Mobility Level:. Low. Victoria is fairly flat and most places are accessible.
When To Go:. Year-round. The mild Pacific climate enjoys moderate temperatures year-round and is frost free two-thirds of the year. Average mid-winter highs are in the mid-40’s and in the 70’s in summer.
Where To Stay: The Chateau Victoria is an excellent value a short walk from the harbor. The Fairmont Empress is world famous and very upscale.
Getting Around: No car is needed. The city is quite walkable and the few must-see destinations out of town such as Butchart Gardens are readily accessible
Special Travel Interests: Whale watching, water sports.
Editor’s Notes: Orenstein is a syndicated travel writer from Florida’s West Coast. He and his wife Virginia enjoy simply smart travel and writing about it. They can be reached at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com. Check out their travel tips, photos, articles and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and like them at www.facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel/.