Welcome to our wonderful city! Victoria, capital of British Columbia, just 2 hours north east by ferry from Vancouver and the mainland. It boasts a population of approximately 335,000 and although the largest city on Vancouver Island, it is still small enough to easily get around. We are surrounded by ocean, rainforest and mountains and within 20 minutes of the city limits, they are at your doorstep. From here you can hike, cycle, sail, dive, or just drive and explore nature at its finest.
Calendar of Events
Every month, every year, Greater Victoria is host to a number of interesting and unique fun public events which are loved by both locals and tourists alike. Here are just some of my favourites…
The Symphony Splash, a free open air classical concert held every August in the inner harbour, is one of the most popular, so much so that many people lay out their rugs and chairs hours before the concert begins just to ensure they have a good seat! The harbour makes the perfect backdrop for splendid orchestral music.
The annual Jazzfest – 10 hot days and nights of the coolest music in town with over 325 musicians from around the world performing jazz, blues and world music is not to be missed. The festival is fondly described as “the best and largest music festival on Vancouver Island ”.
Then there is the International Folkfest – an inter-cultural arts festival combining music, dance and theatre that will keep you entertained for hours.
A fleet of the most competitive racing sailboats converges on Victoria for the annual Swiftsure race, the longest-running yacht race in the Pacific Northwest. The race takes place in the Juan De Fuca Strait - about 200 boats take part in the short, middle and long distance events. It makes a great spectator sport.
The Classic Boat Festival takes place in the Inner Harbour every August. It is a must for boat lovers – many of the classic boats allow you to climb aboard and take a closer look.
The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival is a great multicultural celebration where you will experience not only dragon boat racing but also a taste of Asia with the many stalls and eateries.
The Victoria Flower and Garden Show appeals not only to the avid gardeners but also to those wanting guidance and presentations on how to care for your garden. There are also evening concerts and children’s activities – all taking place at the Royal Roads campus every July.
Shakespeare In The Summer is a month of outdoor Shakespearian plays performed on the Camosun College Campus, each year re-enacting a different play. Summer 2005 performances are “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Cymbeline”.
The Victoria Fringe Festival is an international comedy improve festival which combines comedy, drama and dance from around the world.
Every April the annual
Royal Victoria Marathon takes place - for every class of runner. It comprises a marathon, half marathon, 8km road race and kids marathon – great for the whole family. Olympians and elite world athletes live and train here, here’s your chance to blend in with them!
General City Tour Information
There are so many places to visit and things to do in the heart of Victoria, here are just some of the top attractions: Take a leisurely walk along Victoria’s inner harbour enjoying the beautiful scenery and taking in the street performers and local craft stalls.
If you’d prefer a guided tour rather than exploring by foot, one of the best ways to get around is by authentic double decker tour bus or horse drawn carriage. Both transportations can be found in front of the Empress Hotel.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel proudly looks out onto the activities of the Inner Harbour. With its turn of the century architecture it is a real focal point.
Situated just a stone’s throw from the Empress are the magnificent Parliament Buildings, built in 1893. Regular tours operate during the summer months.
Also close by is the Royal British Columbia Museum, regularly updating its attractions. Housed within the museum is the IMAX National Geographic Theatre which has a 6 story high screen giving you a powerful and involving film experience.
You can visit Helmcken House, BC's oldest standing home open to the public. It is situated behind the Totem Poles and Longhouse at Thunderbird Park, beside the Royal BC Museum.
If you explore a little further into old downtown along Wharf Street, you will find Bastion Square which, in the summer months is home to many artists and local craftsman selling their works to the public.
Also in Bastion Square is The Maritime Museum of BC where you can explore maritime history.
There is an enormous amount of recreational activities that can be done in the Greater Victoria area, for people of all ages:
From aerial tours around Victoria and the Gulf Islands, wine tasting and brewery tours in the Saanich Peninsula to taking in shows at the theatre and visiting one of the many museums downtown. Perhaps sampling one of the cuisine tours, or taking a scenic rail tour further up island would be more appropriate. Whatever your interests, Victoria has something here for you. For those wanting to sample naval history, check out Fort Rodd Hill. Here you can explore gun batteries and underground magazines built a century ago, as well as searchlight emplacements, command posts...and much more.
The first lighthouse on Canada's west coast, Fisgard Lighthouse is still in operation, and is a National Historic Site, open for tourist season with guided tours. Victoria has a good selection of art galleries, depending on your tastes, the more popular galleries can be found here. Whatever your interests, Victoria has something here for you.
Parks, Trails & Gardens
Greater Victoria, from Sidney to the north and Sooke to the south - has some of the best parks and attractions on the west coast of British Columbia! Here are just some of the many …..
Beacon Hill Park is a beautifully landscaped 200 acre site lying close to the city centre which boasts some interesting tree and plant species – and for the kids contains the popular petting zoo, where they can play with the animals hands-on.
Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park is situated close to the suburban areas of Royal Oak and Central Saanich. The freshwater lake is popular with swimmers, windsurfers, sailors, water-skiers, fishers and rowers.
Thetis Lake Park is popular for swimming and fishing with its freshwater lakes and beaches. It also offers many wooded trails teaming with Garry-Oak’s and Douglas firs.
On the outskirts of Greater Victoria, close to the suburbs of Langford and View Royal lies Goldstream Provincial Park home to the salmon run and bald eagles in the Autumn and Winter months and with an old-growth temperate rain forest just waiting to be explored.
On the west coast, one park not to miss is East Sooke Regional Park. You can hike along the windswept rocky coast, through beautiful rain forest and experience some of the best fishing spots south of the island.
Close to the park is the Sooke Potholes, a popular swimming spot and a great place to explore.
Closer to the centre of town is Esquimalt Lagoon. This is a scenic saltwater lagoon and a bird sanctuary for migratory birds.
For hard-core hiking, the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail offers a 47 kilometre hiking trail which runs along the west coast of southern Vancouver Island starting at China Beach and leading through to Botanical Beach close to Port Renfrew.
There is also The West Coast Trail, part of the Pacific Rim National Park, which runs along the coast southeast of Barkley Sound close to Port Renfrew.
A popular Victoria trail that lies on abandoned rail beds is
The Galloping Goose Trail, where you can travel for nearly 60 kilometres. You can cycle, walk, or ride a horse along this former rail line past some of B.C.’s finest scenery.
A popular place for bird watching and 5 kilometres of trail past lagoon and marsh lies Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, which also has a nature centre run by Parks staff.
On the grounds of The Royal Roads University campus, you will find the beautiful Hatley Castle which looks out onto the Olympic Mountains, Hatley Park and Gardens with heritage trees, Japanese, Italian and rose gardens – well worth a visit.
Probably the most spectacular of all gardens you will see in BC is The Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of beautiful floral display – you can easily spend a full day here. Summer evenings are lit up with breathtaking firework displays.
Here in Greater Victoria, nature has been exceedingly kind. We are blessed with a unique all-terrain playground offering endless outdoor activities all year round. You will find there is something for everyone. If your idea of enjoyment is to sit back with the wind in your sails and take in the west coast by sea, there are numerous boating and sailing excursions, rentals and clubs.
Whilst you’re out there, don’t be surprised to see whale watching boats full of excited tourists.
Kayaking and canoeing is also popular, not just out to sea, but you can rent a kayak and explore the inner harbour.
There are many diving and snorkelling opportunities all over Vancouver Island, or if you fancy scuba diving closer to home, there is a wonderful dive site just by Ogden Point, close to the city centre.
Cycling and mountain biking is big in Victoria, particularly with the Galloping Goose trail and many other scenic narrow trails and crazy single tracks through rugged mountainous terrain.
A number of stables offer horseback riding, mainly situated in the scenic agricultural area of Saanichton, just north of Victoria.
If you prefer both feet on the ground, maybe walking tours or bird watching is more for you.
With our temperate climate and natural beauty, Victoria and its surrounding islands offer some of the best golf courses in Canada with breathtaking ocean and mountain views, luxurious facilities, elegant club houses, and colourful gardens. Most golf courses in Victoria offer many interesting activities year around.
Mount Washington is Vancouver Island’s ski hill. They offer not only ski-ing and snowboarding but also operate snowshoe walking, dog sledding and tube riding – perfect for the kids! (Approximate drive time:2 1/2 hrs. from Victoria)
Victoria boasts the mildest climate in Canada. Greater Victoria is one of Canada's driest areas, with an average snowfall of only 25 centimetres (9.75 inches) and an average rainfall of 592 millimetres (23 inches), less than recorded precipitation in Vancouver, BC or Seattle, Washington. Summers are pleasantly warm, but never too hot and the winters are mild. For current weather conditions and climate
It is always interesting to discover the history of a city. For instance, did you know Victoria is Western Canada's oldest city? The City began in 1843 as a Hudson Bay Company trading post, named in honour of Queen Victoria.
Whether it be local fresh seafood, top notch Italian or French cuisine or a traditional west coast meal, you will find it all here. Please click on the link below to get your taste buds watering! Victoria’s Restaurants & Eating Places
You will experience a scenic journey of natural beauty whatever your mode of transportation to Vancouver Island. Our rugged coastlines, lush forests and mountainous backdrops are just a taste of what you are about to discover.
Read on for transportation information by sea, air and ground.
- British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
There are daily year round passenger and vehicle ferry crossings between South Vancouver ( Tsawassen ) and Victoria ( Swartz Bay ) – the crossing time is approx. 95 minutes. For those wanting to visit further up-island, a ferry service operates between Tsawassen and Nanaimo (Duke Point) approx. 2 hours and between West Vancouver ( Horseshoe Bay ) and Nanaimo ( Departure Bay ) – approx. 95 minutes. There are also regular crossings from Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver to some of the many coastal Gulf islands surrounding Vancouver Island.
- US Washington State Ferry Services
Scheduled ferry crossings operate between Port Angeles, Seattle, Bellingham and Anacortes, WA to Victoria B.C.
- Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, B.C.
1.Victoria Express: 'passenger-only' ferry runs during the late spring, summer, and early fall.
2. MV Coho Ferry: car and walk-on ferry runs year round except for brief mid-winter maintenance
- Seattle to Victoria
1. Victoria Clipper: ‘ Passengers only’, offers year-round walk-on service.
3.Princess Marguerite III Ferry: Offers late spring, summer, and early fall car ferry and walk-on service. Sailing time approx. 4.5hrs.
- Anacortes, WA and Sidney, BC
Year round vehicle and passenger ferry. Sailing time approx. 3 hrs.
- Bellingham, WA and Victoria, BC
Victoria ~ San Juan Cruises offers seasonal walk-on service between Bellingham and Victoria, BC.
Victoria International Airport operates scheduled flights from Vancouver International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma Airport and numerous other Canadian and US destinations. There is also a float plane and helijet port situated in Victoria’s inner harbour which operates between Vancouver and Seattle.
- Harbour Air Seaplanes operate both business travel and scenic tours between Victoria, Vancouver and the Gulf Islands
- Kenmore Air Seaplanes operate from the U.S. and cover Seattle, Port Angeles, Victoria and the Gulf Islands.
- Helijet International Inc. operate between Victoria, Campbell River (Vancouver Island), Vancouver, Whistler and Seattle.
- Pacific Coastal Airlines
Operate a regular service between Victoria and Vancouver airports and Vancouver Island.
- West Coast Air Ltd.
Regular flights between Victoria and Vancouver Airport. Also offer tourist scenic flights.
- WestJet Airlines Ltd.
Regular flights between Victoria and other Canadian destinations.
- Airport Bus Service
Shuttle service between Victoria International Airport and downtown hotels
Daily coach transportation operates from Vancouver and Seattle to Victoria. There is also a scheduled rail service between Victoria and further up the Island.
Public transit, car and RV hire, motorbike and bicycle rentals are also available.BC Road Report Latest conditions for highways in B.C. Click on this link and select the report you require.
- Public Transit/Coaches
British Columbia Public Transit offers a well routed public bus service in and around Greater Victoria.
BC Transit Information
- Gray Line Coaches of Victoria offer sightseeing tours, vacation packages and a ski shuttle service from Victoria.
- Pacific Coach Lines operate a schedules service between Victoria and Vancouver and offer additional tours and packages
- Wilson's Transportation offers coach charters, rentals and tours
- E & N Rail stops from Victoria to Courtenay. Rail travel & tours schedule
Car, Truck and Van Hire
- Avis Rent A Car.
Avis Vehicle Hire Information
- Budget Car & Truck Rental of Victoria
Budget Vehicle Hire Information
- Discount Car & Truck Rentals
Discount Vehicle Hire Information
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Enterprise Vehicle Hire Information
- Hertz Canada Ltd
Hertz Vehicle Hire Information
- National Car and Truck Rentals
National Vehicle Hire Information
Recreation Vehicle (RV) Rentals
Buccaneer Hire Information
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