Travel Guide to Victoria, British Columbia & Vancouver Island
|The 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
Major Cites and Towns on Vancouver Island
|Victoria Inner 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.|
How to Get to Victoria
With Victoria's location on Vancouver Island, access to the city is via boat or air.
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.||
|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.||
|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.||
|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|
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.
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|
What to See and Do in Victoria
|One 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
- 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
Views Around City Center in Victoria
|The Victoria waterfront, with the Empress Hotel to the right|
|View of the Victoria waterfront from the Royal BC Museum|
|Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Building|
Victoria Inner Harbour Scenes
|The Vancouver to Victoria V2V ferry|
|H2O ... Water Taxi in the Victoria Inner Harbour|
|Victoria Inner Harbour, with the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel in the distance|
|Quiet water at the Victoria marina|
|Kayak rentals, downtown Victoria|
|Victoria Harbour Airport terminal|
|Harbour Air float plane 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.|
|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.|
|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!|
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
|The famous Sunken Gardens at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria|
|A profusion of spring blossoms at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria|
Butterfly GardensVictoria Butterfly Gardens are located a few minutes drive from The Butchart Gardens, at 1461 Benvenuto Avenue, Brentwood Bay, BC.
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 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