Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt, Oak Bay
Victoria - and more specifically downtown and the communities of Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich - is the ideal starting point to explore truly unique history, shopping, sightseeing, dining and nightlife opportunities.
Step back in time
Explore thousands of years of history, from First Nations artifacts to modern times, at the renowned Royal BC Museum, then step across the street for an insider's view of the imposing Parliament Buildings. Make time for some of downtown's smaller slices of history too, including Carr House, the childhood home of much-loved artist Emily Carr, and Helmcken House, one of the oldest homes in the province. Take a turn by foot, bike or perhaps horse-drawn carriage around Beacon Hill Park, home to a children's farm and petting zoo. Or stroll through the cobbled-stoned streets of downtown before hopping on a harbour ferry to Fisherman's Wharf for some delicious dockside fish & chips.
Savour the flavour
With more restaurants per capita than almost anywhere else on the continent, Victoria is a foodie wonderland. Dive in with dim sum in Canada's oldest Chinatown or with fresh-caught seafood at a dockside café. Victoria's chefs work magic with fresh and organic local fare, whether you're dining by ocean view or candlelight.
Visit colourful Oak Bay to enjoy a dinner of sustainably harvested seafood at the waterfront Marina Restaurant, or take in a show at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel's dinner theatre. A vibrant community only ten minutes from downtown, Oak Bay's seaside setting boasts beautiful beaches and walks as well as a vibrant visual arts culture.
Shopping is the best therapy
Government Street, a main shopping artery, is the place for souvenirs, fashion and people-watching; the Bay Centre alone has more than 90 shops. Treat yourself to a Victoria Cream at Rogers' Chocolates (the 1903 store is as appealing as the confections). On LoJo (short for Lower Johnson Street), browse for local designs among the boutiques that line this historic and visually stunning street.
Smell the roses
Take time out to visit the ballroom, parlours and turret sunroom of Craigdarroch Castle, a grand mansion built in 1889 by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, then check out the top-ranked Asian art at the nearby Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Gardens abound among the stately mansions in this area. Top options include the serene Abkhazi Gardens, a stunning example of West Coast horticulture, complete with a tea room and a romantic back story, and the regal grounds of Government House, the residence of the Queen's representative in British Columbia.