Victoria is a picturesque city located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It is the capital of British Columbia and was ranked as one of the top 20 cities worldwide for its quality of life. It is easily one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest and chock-full of rich history. Victoria became a British settlement during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1843. Subsequently, the city is also named after her. Home to a myriad of historic buildings, beautiful Pacific coastline, lush rainforest, and picturesque mountains, Victoria is the go-to destination for nature and history lovers. The city is also known for its vibrant culture, in Victoria, you will find the oldest Chinatown in Canada and diverse indigenous communities who were natives to the island long before European settlements. Popularly dubbed as “The Garden City”, it is known for its perpetually pleasant weather and almost year-round gardens making it a perfect destination at any time of the year. So, if you decide to pack your bags and take the leap, (after the pandemic of-course), here are 15 places you must visit.
1. Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum is an iconic landmark that is the perfect blend of the modern and the antique. It offers visitors the chance to experience the cultural and environmental history of British Columbia. It features a variety of exhibits and galleries showcasing the 550 million years of natural history and 9000 years of human history in British Columbia.
2. The Butchart Garden
The Butchart Gardens are one of the biggest tourist destinations in Vancouver. It consists of a sprawling 20-hectare site, home to many exotic species of flora. It features miniatures of traditional gardens from countries across the world. The gardens have several open spaces where occasional performances take place. In the winter, they are fitted with an outdoor skating rink and glamorous Christmas decor, making the place a sight to see in every season.
3. The Parliament Buildings
The Parliament buildings were designed by architect Francis M. Rattenbury and the construction was completed in 1897. They are a set of grand stone structures influenced by Baroque Architecture. They have symmetric gardens and landscape elements. It is possible to tour these building from within a horse-drawn carriage, providing an immersive regency experience.
4. Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. It encompasses hiking trails, garden features and recreational areas for an assortment of sports including baseball, cricket, tennis and lawn bowling. The park offers spectacular views of the snowy peaks of the Olympic Peninsula from its highest point.
5. Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historic Site. It is a magnificent work of Victorian Architecture located in an affluent neighbourhood of Victoria. The grandiose mansion was commissioned by a wealthy coal entrepreneur in the 1880s but unfortunately, he died before the project was completed. The house is open to public visitors.
6. Inner-Harbour Pathway
The Inner Harbour is a scenic tourist neighbourhood flanked by wide streets and bustling with street vendors. The harbour is home to various fishing boats and floating homes. Apart from the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament buildings, the Inner- Harbour Pathway is known for the numerous cafes and restaurants that line its sidewalks making it a perfect venue for an afternoon stroll.
7. Miniature World
A short walk away from Inner-Harbour is Miniature World. A museum dedicated solely to a wide range of miniature displays and dioramas. If you are a history buff or just a fan of cute little art pieces, Miniature World cannot be missed.
8. Hatley Castle
If you are a fan of the X Men movie series, then you are probably familiar with Hatley Castle already. It was featured in the movie series as a School for Gifted Youngsters. The castle estate consists of extensive Japanese, Italian and rose gardens. This Gothic Revival style structure is being used for the Royal Roads University since 1995.
9. Fan Tan Alley
Fan Tan Alley is known as the narrowest alley in Canada. The narrowest point of the alley is 0.9 m wide. It is a part of the Chinatown neighbourhood of Victoria. It is named after the Chinese gambling game Fan-Tan since the alley was originally a gambling district. Today it is brimming with small shops, an art gallery, a Chinese cafe, restaurants, apartments and offices.
10. Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Provincial Park is located about 11 miles away from Inner Harbour. The park boasts of a beautiful collection of flora across a nearly 1,000-acre area. If you visit the park during the right season; say late fall to early winter you may catch a glimpse of the annual salmon migration.
11. Fairmont Empress
Fairmont Empress is another building designed by architect Francis M. Ratttenbury. Built in 1908 the Fairmont Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour is one of Victoria’s most recognizable landmarks. This historic hotel has hosted celebrities and famous people throughout the decades, including members of the British Monarchy.
12. Cowichan Valley
Cowichan Valley consists of a scattering of vineyards. Although the location is quite a distance away from Victoria- 35 miles away to be exact, the area is definitely worth your time. Cowichan Valley is the second-highest producing wine region in British Columbia. The region has a splendid wine festival every year in August. Visitors also recommended the valley for its golf courses, art galleries, hiking and cycling trails.
13. Victoria Butterfly Gardens
The Victoria Butterfly Gardens, as the name implies, are home to thousands of butterflies. The facility spreads across 12000 sq. ft. But the butterflies aren’t the only attraction; birds and fish, including flamingos and koi fish, are also showcased.
14. Victoria Bug Zoo
Located a block or so north of Inner Harbour, The Victoria Bug Zoo is a relatively small facility dedicated to creepy crawlies. You’ll find a variety of bugs and insects, even arachnids
15. The Maritime Museum of British Columbia
The Maritime Museum engages people with the maritime culture and history of the Pacific Northwest through rotating exhibits, educational and community-based programs, research services, and more.