Travel Guide to Victoria, British Columbia & Vancouver Island

The historic Empress Hotel in Victoria, British ColumbiaThe historic Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria is located in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, at the southern end of Vancouver Island.

Popular with tourists from around the world, Victoria has been named both the Most Romantic City in Canada and one of the top 15 Friendliest Cities in the World.

Victoria was established as Fort Victoria in 1843 by the Hudson's Bay Fur Trading Company and was incorporated as a city in 1862.

With a perfect growing climate, Victoria is known internationally as the City of Gardens. The Butchart Gardens, just north of Victoria, are internationally known and appreciated, and host over a million visitors annually.

Vancouver Island terrain is diverse and includes sandy beaches to rugged coastlines, marshy lowlands to rolling farmland, and lush, old-growth rainforests to snow-capped mountains.

It is separated from Vancouver, B.C. by the Strait of Georgia to the east and from Washington State by the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south and southeast.

Victoria is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, with hundreds of kilometres of cycle paths, bike lanes and routes in the city, including the incomparable Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

The Royal BC Museum, founded in 1886, is one of the foremost cultural institutions in the world.

There are 48 regional, provincial and federal parks in Greater Victoria, totaling more the 7,600 hectares.

 

Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada. Greater Victoria is one of Canada's driest areas, with an average snowfall of just 25 centimetres (9.75 inches) and an average rainfall of 592 millimetres (23 inches), less than recorded precipitation in Vancouver, B.C. or Seattle, Washington. Summers are pleasantly warm (but not too hot) and the winters are mild.

The City of Victoria's population is 85,792, while the entire Capital Region includes 370,000 residents. The population of Vancouver Island, the largest island off the west coast of North America, is nearly 800,000.

Map of Vancouver Island

Map of major cities on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada

Major Cites and Towns on Vancouver Island

Victoria
Nanaimo
Campbell River
Tofino
Port Hardy
Courtenay
Parksville
Sidney
Comox
Qualicum Beach
Port Alberni
Duncan
Ucluelet

 

Victoria Inner Harbour at night, with the Parliament Legislative Assembly building in the distance outlined in lights
Victoria harbour at night, with the Parliament Legislative Assembly building in the distance outlined in lights

 

 

The Coho ferry of Black Ball Ferry Line arriving in Victoria from Port Angeles, Washington.
The Coho ferry of Black Ball Ferry Line arriving in Victoria from Port Angeles, Washington

How to Get to Victoria

With Victoria's location on Vancouver Island, access to the city is via boat or air.

Ferries

Ferries run to Victoria from Port Townsend and Anacortes, Washington, and from Vancouver, BC.

Ferry Route NM & Time Details, Times, Reservations
Port Townsend, Washington to Victoria - The M.V. Coho ferry of Black Ball Ferry Line provides service to Victoria from Port Angeles, Washington. The dock is located in the Inner Harbour Area at the Steamship Terminal building, 470 Belleville Street.

23nm

1:30

Black Ball Ferry Line
Anacortes, Washington to Sidney, BC - Car and passenger Service by the Washington State Ferry System docks in Sidney near the Victoria International Airport. Reservations are recommended and can be made online. The driving distance from the Sidney dock south to downtown Victoria is about 28 km. 2:45 Washington State Ferry System
Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) - Ferry service is provided via BC Ferries. Reservations are recommended and can be made online.

24nm

1:35

British Columbia Ferries
Vancouver (Departure Bay) to Nanaimo, BC (Horseshoe Bay) - Nanaimo is located about 111 km north of downtown Victoria. Ferry service is provided via BC Ferries from Departure Bay north of Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay in Nanaimo. Reservations are recommended and can be made online.

30nm

1:40

British Columbia Ferries
Downtown Vancouver, BC to Downtown Victoria - Luxury ferry service is provided by V2V Vacations on the V2V Empress. Docks at the Steamship Terminal building. Passengers only. 3:15 V2V Vacations
Downtown Seattle, WA to Downtown Victoria - Luxury ferry service is provided by Clipper Vacations on the Victoria Clipper. Docks at the Steamship Terminal building. Passengers only. 2:45 Clipper Vacations

 

Airlines

Scheduled airline flights into Victoria International Airport are provided by Air Canada, Delta, United, WestJet and other airlines. More than 50 flights from Vancouver and Seattle land daily, in addition to many direct flights from major Canadian and U.S. cities. The airport is about 28 km from downtown Victoria via Highway 17.

Various float plane operators such as Harbour Air, Kenmore Air, and others fly into the Victoria Harbour Airport with flights to/from Vancouver, Seattle and other locations.

 

Cruise Lines

In addition, several cruise lines dock at the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal, located in the Outer Harbour area, about one mile from the Inner Harbour and downtown. Shuttle service is provided from the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal to and from downtown. The shuttle runs a minimum of every 20 minutes. Cruise lines stopping in Victoria include Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, Holland America, Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, and others.

Ogden Point Cruise Terminal in the Outer Harbour area of Victoria
Ogden Point Cruise Terminal in the Outer Harbour area of Victoria

 

 

What to See and Do in Victoria

The Royal BC Museum in VictoriaOne of the most popular attractions in Victoria is the Royal BC Museum, located at 675 Belleville Street

Victoria has attractions and things to do for all ages, and interests. Some of the popular attractions include the following:

  • Visitor Center, 812 Wharf Street , for maps, brochures, local advice, reservations, transportation ... phone 900.663.3883
  • Royal BC Museum and IMAX Victoria
  • Butchart Gardens
  • Empress Hotel National Historic Site
  • British Columbia Parliament building
  • Whale watching excursions
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • Inner Harbour boat rides, kayaking
  • Beacon Hill Park
  • Seaplane and helicopter tours
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Ogden Point Terminal and Breakwater
  • Government Street
  • Chinatown
  • Craigdarroch Castle
  • Victoria Butterfly Gardens
  • Robert Bateman Centre
  • Emily Carr House
  • Bastion Square
  • Carriage and double-deck bus tours around the city
  • Oak Bay

 

 

Victoria Travel Information from TripAdvisor

All Hotels in Victoria

Hotels in Downtown Victoria

Fairmont Empress Hotel

Hotels near Victoria International Airport

Vacation Rentals in Victoria

Restaurants and dining options in Victoria

Things to Do in Victoria

Victoria Travel Guide

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

Views Around City Center in Victoria

The Victoria waterfront, with the Empress Hotel to the right
The Victoria waterfront, with the Empress Hotel to the right



View of the Victoria waterfront from the Royal BC Museum
View of the Victoria waterfront from the Royal BC Museum
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Building
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Building

Victoria Inner Harbour Scenes

The Vancouver to Victoria V2V ferry
The Vancouver to Victoria ferry
H2O ... Water Taxi in the Victoria Inner Harbour
Water Taxi in the Victoria harbour
Victoria Inner Harbour, with the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel in the distance
Victoria harbour, with the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel in the distance
Quiet water at the Victoria marina
Quiet water at the Victoria marina
Kayak rentals, downtown Victoria
Kayak rentals, downtown Victoria
Victoria Harbour Airport terminal
Victoria Harbour Airport terminal
Harbour Air float plane at the Victoria Harbour Airport terminal
Harbour Air floatplane at the Victoria Harbour Airport terminal


Other Scenes Around the City

A popular destination for tourists in Victoria is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after the one in San Francisco. It is centered along the 500-600 block of Fisgard Street, including the narrow Fan Tan Alley.
Chinatown in Victoria
Mile "Zero" of the Trans Canada Highway, Victoria, British Columbia, at the intersection of Douglas Street and Dallas Road. The Mile 0 marker is the start of the over 8,000 km Trans-Canada Highway that spans the entire width of Canada. The monument is located on a large grassy field adjacent to Beacon Hill Park.
Mile "Zero" of the Trans Canada Highway, Victoria, British Columba
Lodging options are plentiful in Victoria, including quaint, one of kind lodging experiences, like Abigail's Hotel pictured here. With over 6,000 hotel rooms, vacation rentals, charming B&Bs and camping, the Victoria area is a great place to stay!
Abigail's Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia


The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada, just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Located on the remnants of the original cement plant, it features over a million bedding plants in over 900 varieties. Shown below is the entrance area at The Butchart Gardens.
Read more about The Butchart Gardens in Victoria
Entrance area at The Butchart Gardens, just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island
The famous Sunken Gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria
Sunken gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria
A profusion of spring blossoms at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria
A profusion of spring blossoms at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria

 

Butterfly Gardens

Victoria Butterfly Gardens are located a few minutes drive from The Butchart Gardens, at 1461 Benvenuto Avenue, Brentwood Bay, BC.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens, just a few minutes drive from The Butchart Gardens

 

Other Attractions to See on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, the largest populated landmass between western North America and New Zealand, offers a large variety of things to do in addition to those in Victoria:

  • Huge ferns in the shade at Butchart GardensHuge ferns in the shade at Butchart Gardens
    Tofino, BC ... on the Pacific Ocean ... surfing mecca, plus the Tofino Botanical Gardens
  • Harbour city Nanaimo, home of chocolate-and-custard Nanaimo bars, has an Old City Quarter with shops, galleries and restaurants. And don't miss the Nanaimo Museum and the Old City Quarter.
  • Museum, Discovery Pier, and the Discovery Passage Aquarium at Campbell River
  • Ucluelet Aquarium
  • Pacific rim National Park Reserve
  • Alberni Valley Museum
  • Cathedral Grove, between Parksville and Port Alberni ... towering giant trees and quiet trails
  • Coombs Old Country Museum
  • The Teafarm near Duncan
  • Cumberland Museum in the Comox Valley
  • Milner Gardens and Woodland
  • Horne Lake Caves and Outdoor Centre
  • Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney
  • Maritime Centre in Cowichan Bay
  • Victoria Distillers in Sidney
  • Cherry Point Vineyards in Duncan
  • Gabriola Island, reached via a 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo

 

Where to Stay on Vancouver Island ... from TripAdvisor

Hotels in Victoria

Nanaimo Hotels

Campbell River Hotels

Tofino Hotels

Sidney Hotels

Port Alberni Hotels

Courtenay Hotels

Parksville Hotels

 

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

 

Interactive Map of the Victoria, British Columbia Area

More Information about Victoria

Tourism Victoria

British Columbia Ferries

MV Coho of the Black Ball Ferry Line

Washington State Ferry System

The Butchart Gardens

Royal BC Museum

Victoria Travel Guide from TripAdvisor