Welcome to Victoria, the City of Garden
If you happen to be in BC, Canada or a local resident looking for a day trip of weekend trip, Victoria is one of the best place to visit. The place is very tourist friendly, and most of the attractions are easily accessible. It is only 1 1/2 hours ferry ride from Vancouver and about 1 hour from Swartz Bay to the Downtown Victoria. Here is a short video to give you an idea about Victoria. Enjoy!
My first outside of Vancouver is when I went to Victoria, BC. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and about 100km (60 miles) away from Vancouver City the largest city in BC. Victoria is a favorite one day or more getaway for locals and tourist alike. It is a fairly small city, tourist friendly, and it offers quite a lot of activity that will keep kids and adult entertained during the duration of the stay. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Victoria, I stopped counting, because until now it’s still going and going. I still go back there at least once a year during summer for an overnight trip.
Going to Victoria is very easy regardless of you drive or not. The most common way to go to Victoria is through Super Ferry. It’s a huge ferry with cafe, shops, gaming area and comfortable seat. Your vacation starts when you board the ferry. During summer, most of the people stay out in the deck to enjoy the view and enjoy the sun, which by the way we only experience 2-4 months/year. The trip is about 1.5 hrs not too bad at all, you wouldn’t even feel that it’s over. You can big a car with you, or you can just walk on foot. Check here for the fate rates. If you are going there on a holiday long weekend and you are driving, make sure to come early and check the sailing time. The lone could get really long on buy days like that. You can also buy your ticket online to secure your spot. If you are not driving, just check the sailing time and come at least 30 minutes before, you can also buy a ticket online to bypass the line up. Normally, sailing starts as early as 6am, and every hour after that. Make sure to check the last sailing time if you plan to go back late. Once you get to the pier, there will be buses outside that goes to downtown and butchart garden. Make sure to have cash ready for the fare and exact amount only. There’s a per trip fare (2.50) and there a one day fare (5.00CAD). If you plan to take a bus while going around the city, a day pass is the way to go. Although most places to visit in downtown is walking distance, plan ahead to save time and money.
What I Love About Victoria
Victoria is my favorite out of town city to visit for so many reasons.
- Accessibility: On the top of my list is accessibility. In just about 2 – 3 hours, I’m there, and all that is just through public transportation, no driving at all. That’s just going there, and going around the city is the same. You can walk on foot to most attractions (or run), in fact I would suggest you walk to appreciate the surroundings better. It’s one way to truly enjoy Victoria, especially when you walk down the Coal Harbour, Chinatown, Ogden Point Breakwater or to Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Accommodations: Victoria offers a variety of options for accommodations. From huge elegant hotel like “Empress Hotel”, to regular hotels and now the popular air B&B. I always book a Super Ferry one day vacation package which includes round trip ferry fare and hotel. The Super Ferry Victoria vacation packages are very reasonably priced and the hotels are good. They have option for you whether you plan to stay around downtown, or slightly away from it. In my case, I always choose to stay at Days Inn Hotel besides the parliament building. The location is central and walking distance to almost everything in downtown. The hotel are ok, the staff are very polite and welcoming and it the package also comes with a buffet breakfast. All good things in one hotel, so why not. It’s not a high end fancy hotel, but it works for me as long as it is clean, safe and central which is my main concern in looking for a place to stay.
- Dining options: Of course food is a huge consideration when I travel. I am a foodie by heart and a good and reasonably priced food is something that I often look when I travel. Having said that, Victoria offers a lot of dining options. From fine dining polish restaurant, to casual dining at the wharf, to variety of amazing food trucks. I never go for fine dining, I always like experiencing a more casual local food where I can enjoy a nice view and sunshine, or just an opportunity to sit on the park and quietly have my meal and relax. I always go for small kiosk in the Fisherman’s Wharf or at my favorite Red Fish Blue Fish Food Truck.
- Attractions: A lot of attractions to keep me busy and most of them are located in downtown, except for The Butchart Garden, Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Castle although they are also easily accessible by public transportation. For me, walking in downtown area itself is an activity on its own. In the many times I had visited Victoria, I visited Butchart Garden, Craigdarroch Castle, Hatley Castle, Wax Museum, Parliament Building Tour, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ogden Point Breakwater, Beacon Hill Park and more.
- Tourist Friendly: I never felt more safer visiting Victoria even on my own. I’ve visited this place couple of times with friends and some just by myself and not even once I felt unsafe. The city is quite small, the people are friendly and the place is easy to get around. The streets are properly marked, attractions are easy to find.
My Favorite Attractions
The Parliament Building
One of the main attraction of Victoria is the Parliament Building. It is situated at the heart of downtown in front of the beautiful Inner Harbour. This is where the BC Provincial Government assembles to make the laws and decisions for the province and it is also where the legislation assemblies are held.
Inside the Parliament Building
The Parliament Building is open to the public. You can either go with the public tour and explore the place on your own. The public tour starts 9:00am-5:00pm and the self guided tour is from 8:30am-4:30pm. Check their schudule for more details. The public guided tour last for 30 – 45 minutes, free of charge and is done in either English or French.
Parliament Building at Night
There’s nothing like experiencing Victoria at night. This is one of the reason why I like staying overnight rather than just making a day trip. The downtown looks different at night with all the lights coming from the buildings, especially the Parliament Building. The entire corner of the Parliament Building is surrounded by bright lights which makes it stands out from the rest of the building.
One of my must do activity when I visit Victoria is just to walk around downtown at night. Its beautiful, something that you will not experience when you visit the place day time. Night time time view always gave me a different appreciation of the place. Somehow even in the dark quiet night, the bright lights makes the feel alive.
The Inner Harbour alone is good reason for me to visit Victoria. The Inner Harbour is located in the same area where the Parliament Building is located. During summer, the Parliament ground and the Inner Harbour are venues to variety of activities, like shows, festival and music. This is where the celebration of Canada 150th Anniversary took place. The shows, performances and food fare where done in the Parliament area ground and street, while the celebration of lights fireworks display was done in the Inner Harbour.
The Inner Harbour also serves float planes, yacht, water taxi and whale watching activities. From time to time, the Inner Harbor caters to performers and food and crafts vendors especially during the summer.
The Empress Hotel
The Empress Hotel became an attraction to tourist and you can probably tell why. The architecture of the building itself is captivating and unique. This historical looking hotel proudly stands in the heart of downtown Victoria also close to Parliament Building and in front of Inner Harbour. You don’t need to check-in to the hotel to experience the beauty of it. You can go inside and just walk around, but of course if you have a budget to stay here, then even better. I could just imagine what a luxurious experience it will be to stay in this hotel.
Ogden Point Breakwater
One of my recent discovery is this Ogden Point Breakwater. In my last two visit to Victoria last year, I was looking for a place that I haven’t visited before and that’s when I found this. This is a popular walk close to downtown (about 10-15 minutes form Parliament Building), a walk that gives people opportunity to watch float planes taking off or landing, or ferries passing by or to watch the relaxing sunset and sunrise.
During summer, sunset time is the more busy time at this area. The spot is perfect to relax and enjoy watching the sunset. The breakwater is a short walk only, about 30 minutes round trip and approximately 1.6km in distance. You wouldn’t even feel the short distance because of the amazing view. Whenever I want to go for a short run in the afternoon and in the morning, this is one of the place where I go to. It’s quiet, close to downtown, paved and cement road, and most of all fantastic view of the water.
You really have to visit this hidden gem in Victoria! Located about 30 minutes walk from downtown this unique marine destination offers food kiosks (Fish and Chips please!), unique shops, floating houses and eco-tour adventures in the heart of the working harbour. The path leading to fisherman’s wharf is one of my favorite walking activity. The view was breathtaking, the path well was paved and cemented and the end destination itself is worth the short walk.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to food, but the place is famous for Fish and Chips. During summer, which is always the peak season, line up could get quite long especially for the fish and chips kiosk. Although food is the main reason why people visit this place, there are also some small local shops that sells souvenir items. Aside from eating, one of my favorite thing to do here is just to walk around and admire the cute and colorful floating houses.
Those houses alone entertain me and kept me busy, something that I do just to kill the time. Aside form fish and chips, I wouldn’t leave the place without having my favorite soft serve twirl ice cream. They are a must and sometimes the main reason why I visit this place. When its time to go back to downtown, you can either take the same route and walk back, or take the water taxi which is also a nice way to admire the place.
Beacon Hill Park
If you are looking for a park to explore and spend some quite time, check out Beacon Hill Park. It is located about 16 minutes (walking) away from parliament building. It’s a huge park of about 75 acres in size, with plenty of space to sit and relax. There are fountains, ponds, flower gardens, children play ground, and wild life.
I spent about 1 1/2 hour walking around the place and it was just a relaxing activity to do. The place is not as visited and as crowded as the other attractions in Victoria so you will really feel relax, if that is what you are looking for. It’s a really nice walk, and what would even be better is if you have some snacks with you so that you don’t feel hurried to leave.
Blue Fish Red Fish Food Truck
I feel that I have to share this place because I always visit this place whenever I am in Victoria. Blue Fish Red Fish is a food truck located 1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC. They offer fish and chips, sandwiches, tacones, and something from the grill like grilled salmon, oysters etc. I personally like this place among any others that offers fish and chips, even the one in Fisherman’s Wharf. I often get the tacones which is basically battered fish with veggies wrapped in soft tortilla chips, and my favorite grilled salmon with salad. They tasted so fresh, juicy and sweet. I just cannot get enough of it. Although they are not as visible in terms of location, you wouldn’t believe the line up during summer. But then again, somethings are worth waiting for. So my tip, don’t go there whe you feel you are already hungry. Allocate an allowance of at least 30 minutes wait so that you don’t get too impatient, which could happen quite easily when you are hungry.
A little bit further away from downtown, the Craigdarroch Castle a now considered as a historic site is located at 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5 about 33 minutes walk from Parliament Building or 19 minutes by bus. A castle that was built around 1890’s will definitely give you a “Victorian Experience” of some sort. The interior of the castle, the old artifacts inside and the design will give you an idea on how people of high statue lived in a place like this. The castle requires a minimal entrance fee of 14.25CAD and is open from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Check their Rates and Schedule before you visit.
I was there ..
Yes, i was there, and I am going back there again, and again, and again. Victoria is and will always be my short getaway vacation. So when you are visiting British Columbia, find the time to squeeze in Victoria in your itinerary, you will not regret it. Until next time, this is your travel buddy, SweetNSpicy. Thanks!
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