Victoria

Destination Location

Victoria, BC
Hotel reviews summary
5.0

Our guest rating from 1 reviews

Overview

There's no better place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life than the scenic and relaxing city of Victoria, British Columbia's capital.

Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria is better known for its lush gardens, green spaces and woodlands than the stressful pace of modern city life found in many other regional metropolises.

British influence is abundant in Victoria. Named after England's longest reigning monarch, local architecture is reminiscent of the old Victorian era. Downtown you'll find many cafés open for high tea, numerous antique shops welcoming you with open doors, horse drawn carriage rides and plenty of cozy English-style pubs.

But don't write Victoria off as sleepy or old fashioned. A vibrant nightlife keeps this island city's heartbeat pulsing. Clubs, cabarets and pubs offer music, dancing and evening entertainment for every taste. From casual to sophisticated, jazz to country, intimate to sprawling – you're sure to find a night spot you'll love.

Victoria is also home to a vibrant arts community. You can find local artists displaying their work at the picturesque Inner Harbour between street performers showing off their unique talents. Concerts, theatrical performances and festivals – such as the Victoria Symphony Splash – are commonplace on the island, many of which are held outdoors.

A trip out on the waters surrounding the island can bring sightings of orca whales, seals and loads of other wildlife. You can easily go for a stroll or bike ride and enjoy Victoria's wealth of natural lookout points and learn why the city earned its nickname as "City of Gardens". Or, learn about British Columbia's rich history at the Royal BC Museum, where you'll find exhibits and galleries galore, including a tribute to the indigenous Haida people and their beautiful art.

Seafood lovers need not look any further than around the corner on the island. The catch of the day is barely off the boat when it reaches the kitchens of Victoria's many fine dining restaurants. At the end of the day, cap the whole experience off with a peaceful rest in a room at the famous Empress Hotel, one of Canada's most renowned hotels.

Victoria is a fantastic destination for:

  • culture and history
  • outdoor adventure
  • golf

Airport served by: YYJ

Destination basics

With some of the most moderate weather in Canada, Victoria boasts an annual average temperature of 14 C, falling below zero on average only twice a year. With its mild weather and staycation feel, it’s no wonder so many visitors are inspired to move here.

Separated from British Columbia's mainland by the Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits to the northeast and by the Strait of Georgia to the southeast, Victoria boasts a temperate climate with mild winters and dry summers.

Temperatures here are rarely too hot or too cool. Average winter temperatures range between 8 C and 4 C, with average summer highs around 22 C. Packing light almost always works when travelling to Victoria.

If you’re headed here in December, just be sure to pack an umbrella. December is this island’s rainiest month. July, on the other hand, is the driest in Canada.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Victoria
Home to a rich indigenous culture, the neighborhoods of the city of Victoria are testament to unique facets of history, architecture and a dynamic spirit. While the focal point of the city lies at the rocky edge of Vancouver Island, its surrounding neighborhoods span varying landscapes that make up the Greater Victoria area. This metropolitan area includes historically significant municipalities such as Saanich, Esquimalt and Oak Bay, besides the cities of Sooke and View Royal. Here’s an in-depth exploration of the distinct neighborhoods of Victoria that add to its vibrant personality.

Downtown Victoria
Fueled by the advent of industrial development during the latter years of the 19th-century, Downtown Victoria is where numerous businesses continue to thrive, flanked by major city landmarks. Resting on the regal streets of Centennial Square is the Victoria City Hall, while steps away is the illustrious Empress Hotel (presently the Fairmont Empress Hotel), built in 1908 .Surrounded by View, Government and Douglas Streets is the Bay Centre mall that attracts innumerable shoppers with its global brands and merchandise. The historic center also comprises of other prominent squares such as Bastion Square and Market Square.

James Bay
James Bay is a scenic gem located to the southwest of Victoria’s Downtown neighborhood, and is peppered with just the right balance of history and Victorian charm to allure visitors. Christened so as to honor the city’s founding father, Sir James Douglas, the neighborhood is easily the oldest residential community in the city. Its quiet streets hum with a historic tenor, brought alive by well-preserved landmarks such as the home of celebrated native Canadian artist, Emily Carr, and the Helmcken House, where Victoria’s first surgeon resided. Flanked by the Inner Harbor, the Outer Harbor and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, James Bay allows for soothing views from every corner. Although the bay boasts of a number of exalted buildings, the emerald expanses of Beacon Hill Park form its most winning crest.

Rocklands
All paths in the Rocklands neighborhood lead to stately mansions that are emblematic of elegance and old money, the most famous one being the 19th century Craigdarroch Castle. Aside from the castle, the streets of Rocklands are speckled with brilliantly designed buildings characteristic of the Arts-and-Crafts architecture style. This affluent neighborhood is also home to the sprawling estate of the Government House, a modern Tudor style residence with well-manicured gardens that houses British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor. Those with an inclination toward the arts can flock to the Art Gallery of Victoria, where exhibits range from noteworthy works by native Canadian artists, to creations by globally acknowledged artists.

Chinatown
It comes as no surprise that the inclusive city of Victoria is home to this Oriental nugget. This National Historic Site houses numerous Chinese immigrants that called the city home during the Gold Rush, bringing with them a flurry of sub-cultures, businesses and unique architecture. Known for being the second oldest Chinatown in North America, this neighborhood brims with character and architectural quirks. Stroll along the Fan Tan Alley on Chinatown’s Fisgard Street, where the most narrow walls in Canada feign to close in on you, or marvel at intricate Asian architecture at the historic Chinese Public School. But most of all, watch as this distinct neighborhood blends in effortlessly with the cultural landscape of British Columbia.
Having been around for more than a century now, Victoria is a seasoned maven when it comes to the art of entertainment. Its museums tell engaging stories about its local history and culture, and its galleries speak a thousand words through their varied artworks. Come night, the city takes on a pulsating form, with its trendy nightclubs catering to the youthful vibe of university students and nocturnal tourists. Music hums through the city’s veins, with some of the most vibrant music festivals and performances making their presence felt annually.

If not in the form of festivals, music manifests itself in various jazz rooms across the city, such as at Hermann’s Jazz Club or at events organized by the Victoria Jazz Society. It is also prevalent in short yet inspired live music performances in pubs and local bars. Visit the Copper Owl for a taste of local acoustics, while the Canoe Brewpub marries pop and indie tunes with serene waterfront vistas.

Nightlife
A majority of the city’s nightclubs are concentrated around Downtown Victoria, in fairly close proximity, allowing for plenty of opportunities for bar- and club-hopping for adventurous night crawlers. The Sugar Nightclub and Upstairs Cabaret promise a night full of fun and energetic frolic to nightly DJ grooves, while clubs such as Paparazzi and Lucky welcome their share of LGBTQ denizens with open arms. Those who like to try their luck may do so at the View Royal Casino, offering nearly 600 slot machines and a sprawling avenue for fun gambling.

Museums
The museums of Victoria take you through a temporal roller-coaster of sorts, making your visit here quite enriching. The Royal British Columbia Museum deep-dives into its most enviable archives to tell you about its natural history. Nearby, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia thrills you with its nautical tales. The Craigdarroch Castle’s preserved exhibits bring alive the lives of the affluent Dunsmuir family, while the Emily Carr House and Helmcken House portray the forgotten stories of their noteworthy inhabitants.

Festivals
Known as the “Garden City” for its abundance of natural parks, Victoria makes full use of these green expanses to host annual festivals during the summer. The dramatic Dragon Boat Festival begins in full swing during mid-August, where varied communities come together for a heated race along the Inner Harbour. The Inner Harbour also plays host to the Victoria Symphony Splash. Here you can witness first-hand, the marvelous orchestra perform on a floating stage, while fireworks erupt in the evening sky. In June, those with a proclivity for Jazz music are captivated by the TD Victoria International Jazz Fest organized by the Victoria Jazz Society. At the height of summer, the Feast of Fields festival and Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine opens to food connoisseurs and oenophiles.

Theater
Housed in a 19th-century building, the hub of all theatrical performances is undoubtedly the Belfry Theater located in the Fernwood neighborhood. Contemporary Canadian works take centerstage here, with nearly 10-12 plays featured per season. The neighboring Rocklands are home to the Langham Court Theater, that has been producing contemporary shows since 1929.
Victoria loves putting its rich West Coast cuisine on the culinary map, with a host of marvelous picks in every neighborhood. With a progressive farm-to-table movement leading the way, most of Victoria’s restaurants make use of fresh local produce available in its naturally endowed geographic region. Besides its native cuisine, Victoria is also blessed with a handful of global-cuisine restaurants. For a romantic Italian dinner, head to Il Terrazzo, while the Restaurant Matisse offers refined French dining in its intimate quarters. Then there is the quintessential American diner by the name of Jam Cafe, promising incredible food without the fuss.

Victoria’s restaurants have something for every mood and audience, ranging from waterfront fine dining restaurants, to breezy bistros and friendly pubs, a few of which have been listed below.

Downtown
Before you go anywhere else, you will find that Downtown Victoria has some of the best culinary jewels stowed away for you. On the iconic Government Street, the Brasserie L’Ecole serves excellent French dishes alongside fragrant wines, while Zambri’s on nearby Yates Street is known for its honest-to-goodness Italian fare. Joining the European restaurant bandwagon is the Tapa Bar, an informal establishment on Government street serving flavorful small plates and Spanish wines. A little further down the road on Wharf Street is Nautical Nellie’s Steak and Seafood House, for those who love surf 'n' turf cuisine.  

Oak Bay Village
Home to some of the best restaurants-with-views in the city, the Oak Bay Village neighborhood spoils you with its culinary choices. The bay area celebrates the city’s penchant for exceptional seafood at the waterfront Marina Restaurant, besides offering soaring views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The cozy Oaks Restaurant on Oak Bay Avenue serves a breakfast for champions, and also upholds the charming tradition of serving afternoon tea. It is here at the Oak Bay Village that the eponymous Oak Bay Beach Hotel stands tall, inviting peckish visitors for a quick bite at the resident Kate’s Cafe. It also caters to an elite clientele at the sumptuous Dining Room, replete with unparalleled coastal views. A visit to the Oak Bay Village will remain incomplete without experiencing the English-inspired aura of the Penny Farthing Neighborhood Pub, where a bowl of homemade West Coast Clam Chowder will you utterly satisfied.

James Bay
For a definitive tea experience that only the British seem privy to, head to the James Bay Tea Room and Restaurant. This heritage tea house on Menzies Street serves everything from dainty scones and crumpets, to the famed Welsh Rarebit and kipper. Alongside tea rooms, a flurry of coffee shops thrive in this picturesque neighborhood, ranging from native chain coffee shops, to independent ones such as the Breakwater Cafe and Bistro. A few minutes away near Irving Park, the Heron Rock Bistro presents a winning daytime menu, ideal for lazy breakfasts and boozy lunches. However, it is near Fisherman’s Wharf that you will find the most widespread selection of seafood restaurants to choose from, be it the uber-chic AURA, or the humble yet inspired Barb’s, known for its good old fish and chips.

Fernwood
Minutes away from Downtown, the quaint scenery of Fernwood belies its diverse culinary ambition. From fancy tapas and wine at the award-winning Stage Wine Bar, to exotic Dolmades and Keftedes at the Ithaka Greek Restaurant, Fernwood is a melting pot of culinary cultures. Restaurants such as The Fernwood Inn, a family-friendly gastropub, and the Tartan Toque, known for its flavorful wings and burgers, are both testament to this fact. Fernwood is also home to Cold Comfort, an innovative ice-cream parlor that introduces quirky flavors at the turn of every season.

Chinatown
Victoria’s distinct Chinese district is packed with a range of Asian street food treasures that are not to be missed. Fisgard Street is a merry milieu of Chinese letterings on glass windows, providing convincing descriptions of the delicious Asian fare available inside. More often than not, you will also find rotisserie displays to back up the claims. From BBQ pork and Honey Buns at the modest Wah Lai Yuen, to Don Mee’s eighty-year old dim sum recipes, you'll find eateries to suit every Cantonese hankering you may have. While you are here, make it a point to stop by some wonderful tea establishments too. As you stroll the Fan Tan Alley, stop by at the eponymous Fan Tan Cafe and have yourself a bubble tea, or waltz into the charming Venus Sophia Tea Room for a cup of afternoon tea and light vegetarian tidbits.

Victoria

Province: British Columbia

Country: Canada

Victoria by the Numbers
Population: 85,792 (City); 367,770 (Metropolitan)
Elevation: 23 meters / 75 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 60.8 centimeters / 23.9 inches
Average January Temperature: 7°C / 44.6°F
Average July Temperature: 23°C / 73.4°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60 Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-8 (GMT -7 Daylight Saving Time); Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 250; 778; 236

Did You Know?

Victoria’s Chinatown neighborhood is the second oldest one in all of North America, after the one in San Francisco.

Victoria is known as the ‘Cycling Capital of Canada’.

Orientation

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on Vancouver Island’s southern end. It is located 115 kilometers (71.6 miles) from Vancouver, BC and 172 kilometers (107 miles) from Seattle, WA.

Much before Victoria came to be recognized as the thriving capital it is today, its craggy coastline was inhabited by native aboriginal groups, known collectively as the First Nations people. The city wears this historical fact proudly, and several of its neighborhoods, crucial landmarks and businesses continue to reflect its humble beginnings even today.

Victoria’s inclusive personality and friendly community vibe can be traced back to as early as the 19th Century, when it partnered with European traders to foster economic progress. Initially known as “Camossung”, or “Camosack” by the Songhees, a native group, Victoria was the chosen center for the establishment of the Hudson Bay Company trading post. The year was 1843, and heading this movement was Governor James Douglas, who would later become known as the ‘Father of British Columbia’. Treaties were signed, aboriginal peoples relocated to Esquimalt, and Fort Victoria came into existence.

A few years into the birth of Victoria, the hullabaloo around gold mining reached its peak, and the chaotic era of Gold Rush commenced. The discovery of gold along the Fraser River in 1858 set the precedent for a major migratory influx, with miners streaming in from Europe, United States and even Australia, increasing the population of Victoria by leaps and bounds. The fact that Victoria was a pivotal outfitting center for the goldfields was an added impetus that attracted prospective miners.

Incoming immigration continued well into the later part of the 19th Century, especially as projects such as the Canadian Pacific Railway arose on the horizon, inviting prospective laborers. Around the same time, British Columbia prepared for a major historic moment in 1871, when it was proclaimed as the sixth province of Canada, with Victoria gaining status as its provincial capital.

Through the years since then, Victoria has stood testimony to the vagaries of time, molding and adjusting its landscape to include additions which would later be deemed landmarks, such as the stunning Butchart Gardens, and the Empress Hotel, to name a few.

Victoria delights all five senses. Year-round golf, breathtaking ocean and mountain views, above and underwater gardens and delicious (yet affordable) cuisine make Victoria one of the finest tourist destinations in the world.

In Victoria, you can pack your vacation full of attractions and activities, or you can simply choose to sit back and relax, wandering the historic neighbourhoods as you please.

Adventure seeking travellers and leisure travellers will enjoy the range of outdoor and indoor activities Victoria has to offer. These include kayaking, biking, walking trails, whale watching adventures and even dinner cruises off the coast of Vancouver Island.

Golf courses here feature lush greens that remain “green” all year, complemented by scenic seascape and mountain views. And the many public and private gardens located throughout the region are known as some of the most beautiful in North America.

Want to see it all? Take a tour! Victoria is home to numerous tour operators who offer island tours by car, double-decker bus, boat, float plane and even horse drawn carriage. You can also embark on a themed tour, like the popular “ghost tours” and British culture tours.

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