The Christmas season is here, and that means it's time to find thoughtful gifts for your loved ones. Don't worry though, holiday shopping doesn't need to be stressful when you've got Victoria's charming boutiques and sprawling bookstores to choose from.
1. Fort Street
Fabulous Fort Street runs through the heart of downtown Victoria and is home to all kinds of shops and eateries. Once known for its auction houses and antiques, it's now buzzing with independent cafés, delis, bookstores, art galleries, bakeries, tech hubs and yoga joints.
Grab a sweet treat for your walk at The Dutch Bakery, then pick up a new or secondhand read from Russell Books. A book lovers' dream, you'll want to leave yourself ample time to explore this shop where the books are literally stacked floor to ceiling, three stories high.
Image: Russell Books
2. Downtown Core & Market Square
Lower Johnson Street (LoJo) is the place to go for trendy boutique shopping in a picture-perfect setting. Visit Baggins Shoes, which lays claim to having the largest selection of Converse shoes in the world.
Tip: You can customize your shoes with any personal photo or design. The perfect holiday gift!
At the entrance to Market Square you'll find Oscar and Libby's who specialize in gifts for the upbeat and offbeat. In other words, if you're after a tea infuser shaped like a guitar or an ice cube tray of sea creatures, this is the place to go.
Victoria's self-proclaimed video game and movie geek central, Fan Favourites is a one stop shop for any movie or game lover. They've got a massive selection of both mainstream and indie genres, so you'll be sure to find that game or film your best friend has been raving about.
Image: Downtown Victoria, shopping at Bastion Square
3. Along Government Street
Running along the Inner Harbour and straight through the core of downtown Victoria, Government Street is a fantastic place to enjoy shopping and sightseeing on foot. With ample souvenir and gift shops, you'll be able to pick up a memento to remind you of your west coast travels.
Make sure to visit Rogers' Chocolates. Established in 1885, this chocolate shop is an iconic heritage store and a must-stop location on any visitors' itinerary. Pick up a few treats for yourself and grab a few Victoria Creams, the perfect stocking stuffers.
Image: Lights along Government Street, photo by Doug Clement
4. Victoria Public Market
If you like to mix shopping and eating, get thee to the Victoria Public Market in the Hudson building.
Once home to an iconic department store, the Hudson now houses a selection of permanent and pop-up artisanal vendors who sell everything from sustainably-produced hand pies to farm-sourced pantry goods.
Image: Victoria Public Market
Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and boasts a seriously intriguing past: from the rough and tumble days of the gold rush to whispers of ghosts and gamblers.
Fisgard Street is lined with fruit and produce vendors, restaurants and trendy galleries. Taste your way through yummy dim sum (try Don Mee Seafood Restaurant) or try a bowl of handmade Ramen and Korean steamed buns at Bao.
Silk Road Tea is a fabulous choice for Christmas shopping as you can choose from a selection of unique tea ware and hand-blended teas. You can't go wrong with longstanding favourites Angelwater (spearmint and rose petals) and Philosopher's Brew (lemongrass and lavender).
Tip: The small tins of loose tea make for great stocking stuffers!
Take a stroll down Fan Tan Alley, and make sure to have your camera at the ready. Not a metre wide in places, with soaring brick walls, it was once home to getaway passages and opium dens. A tad tamer today, you're more likely to find curious shops and one of a kind boutiques.
Image: Fan Tan Alley, photo by Instagrammer @martu_mai
6. Shopping Centres & Department Stores
If you're after a one stop shop, head to one of Victoria's shopping centres and department stores. In the heart of downtown, you will find The Bay Centre, which offers a large variety of clothing and jewllery stores, as well as a large food court.
Tip: It's also host to the annual Festival of Trees and is completely decked out for Christmas at this time of year.
Just outside of the downtown core are Mayfair Mall and Uptown Shopping Centre. Both are located on major city arteries and feature lots of great clothing stores. Uptown is especially festive around the holidays; they've got a massive outdoor Christmas tree and thousands of twinkling lights throughout the plaza.
Image: Uptown Shopping Centre, photo by Doug Clement
Another fantastic option for holiday shopping is to check out Victoria's local holiday markets and craft fairs. Happy holidays!