So much to see, so little time. Victoria, British Columbia’s Island capital, is packed with enough sights, scenery, museums and eateries for multiple visits. The good news? It’s easy to get to, easy to get around, and you can always come back for more. Guest Blogger Sue Kernaghan shares with us her Top 5 Must Do’s when in Victoria:
1. Get active in the Fittest City in Canada
Victorians always seem to rank first when Canadians tally their cycling, walking, hiking, and kayaking habits. It’s easy to see why. The country’s mildest climate makes most outdoor activities, from hiking to golf, feasible year round, while the city’s bike and pedestrian-friendly traffic coaxes more commuters into their sneakers and bike shoes than anywhere else in the country. To join in, just grab a map and follow the seaside pedestrian path around the Inner Harbour, jog through Beacon Hill Park, rent a bike and cruise along the seaside Dallas Road, or head out kayaking on the gorge. Check out www.tourismvictoria.com for more info.
2. Stroll through the Butchart Gardens
Yes, everybody does it, but when you stand on the edge of the Butchart Gardens’ ivy and flower-draped sunken garden, watching the Ross Fountain leap 21 metres (69 feet) in the air, you’ll understand why this 106-year-old, 22-hectare (55-acre) horticultural gem tops so many must-see lists.
More than 700 varieties of flowers grow in four themed gardens — Japanese, Italian, rose, and sunken — in this National Historic Site, first planted in a former quarry in 1904. (Don’t miss the Rose Carousel, a traditional wooden merry-go-round.) Each evening, thousands of tiny lights illuminate the gardens and, on Saturdays in summer, fireworks light up the sky. Come winter, there’s skating at a romantic outdoor rink.
3. Visit the Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum (RBCM) is always worth a trip, thanks to its top-ranked First People’s Gallery and its innovative takes on BC’s social and natural history. Eager for an insider’s peek into the museum’s inner workings? Check out Royal BC Museum: Behind the Scenes to meet key players from the Natural History department and view collections long before they make their way to the masses.
4. Sample local food and drink
Victorians love their food, and artisanal production of everything from cheese to gin is booming in and around the city. The best way to sample it? Go with a local. Food writer Kathy McAree for example, runs Travel with Taste, an urban culinary walking tour, revealing the city’s food and wine secrets as guests stroll, snack and meet the chefs. Just north of town, the Saanich Peninsula and Cowichan Valley together form Canada’s newest and fastest growing wine country; with more than a dozen wineries, two traditional cideries and even an artisanal distiller of gin. Grab a map and follow the burgundy and white Wine Route signs or join a tour: you can visit organic farms and wineries and stop in at a sustainable village with Friendly Organics, sample farm gate wines with Vancouver Island Wine Tours, or travel to Sooke and learn about oceanic gardens with Outer Coast Seaweeds. For more information check out www.wineislands.ca
5. Go Whale Watching
Several pods of Orca, also known as killer whales, live year round off the southern coast of Vancouver Island. One of the most popular (and exciting) things to do in Victoria is to see these magnificent creatures in the wild; chances are you’ll also spot seals, porpoises, sea lions, and marine birds too. Victoria’s whale watching guides, whether heading out in inflatable zodiacs or comfortable yachts, all follow strict whale-protection guidelines and keep a respectful distance, yet still get close enough for an unforgettable view.
Many boats, including trips run by Great Pacific Adventures, Ocean Explorations, and Springtide Whale Tours, have on-board naturalists and hydrophones so passengers can hear whale calls. Prince of Whales also offers tours from Victoria, as well as trips between Vancouver and Victoria by whale watching boat.
Want to start planning your next trip to Victoria? Check out our Discover Canada Sale or call one of our agents at 1-866-502-4605. From hotels to activities, we’ve got some fantastic offers this summer.