The Perfect One Day Itinerary in Victoria
Boasting world-renowned gardens, romantic Victorian architecture, and a dynamic culinary scene – all on the edge of the Pacific coastal harbour – Victoria, BC is not to be missed.
Found on the southernmost tip of lush Vancouver Island, Victoria receives nearly four times more sun than Vancouver and much more temperate winters. And while you could spend weeks exploring, we’ll help you make the most of just one glorious day in B.C.’s capital city.
The ferry ride to Victoria’s Swartz Bay may be as enchanting as Victoria itself; eagles soar overhead and the salty ocean breeze lifts your hair as you sail through the picturesque Howe Sound.
Getting to Victoria by ferry is easy, simply take the ferry from Tsawwassen terminal (approximately 40 minutes South of Vancouver) to Victoria’s Swartz Bay. They tend to be busy, especially during peak season, so make a reservation to avoid the wait!
Stroll the Inner Harbour
Stretch your legs while getting a feel for this beautiful city by strolling the Inner Harbour. The Inner Harbour is the beautiful centre of downtown Victoria, around which two of Victoria’s most beautiful buildings are centered – the Legislative Building and Empress Hotel. During the summer months, it is the hub for live music, shows, and art.
Hope you’re hungry!
While Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal undisputedly hold the title of Canada’s best food cities, Victoria’s vast cuisine demands attention. The Food Network accredited it the “Best Brunch in Canada”, and it is no doubt taken very seriously by Victoria locals.
Try the mouth-watering lobster benny from Nautical Nellies, or get in line and see for yourself what all the fuss is about at Blue Fox Café.
Or, to ensure you hit all the best spots while learning about Victoria’s history, try taking a food tour from A Taste of Victoria Food Tours.
A short walk from the inner harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see. Instead of paved streets, meander the docks and enjoy the colourful and eclectic floating homes. At this funky marine destination, you’ll also find quirky shops by local artisans and small floating eateries serving up everything from fresh seafood to ice cream.
Chinatown and Fan Tan Alley
As the intricately designed Gate of Harmonious Interest rises to meet you, you’ll know you’ve made it to Victoria’s famous Chinatown.
What was once a crude collection of wood shacks built by Chinese immigrants seeking gold, it’s presence now stands as a testament to the vitality of culture and tradition brought by these immigrants nearly 150 years ago.
Today, although you may not be able to find gold, you’ll certainly find mouth-watering Asian cuisine, and a multitude of colourful shops.
Make sure you pass through Fan Tan Alley – at just under four feet in width it is the narrowest street in the country. Originally a hiding place for illegal opium dens, gambling, and other outlawed activies, the street is now a tourist mecca. Squeezing through the narrow street from Fisgard to Johnston street is also said to bring good luck!
Hope you’re (still) hungry
The options for delicious cuisine in Victoria are endless, and the options for fish and chips alone are abundant, but there is one place that deserves special recognition: Red Fish Blue Fish.
Don’t be fooled by the tiny, unassuming red shack and don’t be turned away by the long queue stretching down the pier: the fish and chips are really that good.
There’s no better way to work off a lunch of fish and chips by cycling around the city. Victoria has one of the best bike lane system in Canada, and on a sunny day it is the perfect way to see as much of the city as possible in a short time.
You can easily rent bikes downtown, or take a guided biking tour with The Pedaler Cycling Tours.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
After cycling the city, you deserve to relax by sipping a cold beer on a sunny patio while listening to live music. (And if you didn’t cycle the city, hey, you still deserve it. You’re on vacation!)
In Market Square, there’s something for everyone. Beer lovers can try The Spinnakers Brewpub or a brand-new brewery called Whistle Bouy, and coffee fiends can indulge in an afternoon cup of joe and delicious pastry from Hey Happy.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Finally, a visit to Victoria wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. A banal limestone mine turned National Historic Site, the gardens are a testament to one woman’s creative vision, hard work, and steadfast hospitality.
With over 900 plant varieties and 55 acres of garden which include a Japanese garden and a Sunken Garden, it is certainly a flower-lover’s paradise.
What are You Waiting for?
Victoria is as rich in beauty as it is in history and culture. No matter what you’re interested in, Victoria has something for everyone.
Written by Katrina Martin. Photos courtesy of ©Lisanne Smeele