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56 Hours in Victoria, BC: How to Plan the Perfect Cozy Winter Escape

Posted on January 8, 2019

With a winter scene of grey and drizzle overtaking the skies, you may rightfully be craving a little more serenity to make it through the chilly months. In recent years, there has been resurgence around the concept of “hygge,” a key component of Danish culture that has helped rank them as some of the happiest people in the world. 
Hygge is the feeling of contentment that comes with simply slowing down and savouring everyday moments. It’s gathering with your close friends for a nourishing candlelit meal. Lingering over drinks or cuddling up indoors with that special someone by a crackling fireplace. As the long and dark days of winter set in, we need hygge now more than ever so embrace life’s special moments with the ones you love. 
If there was ever a North American city suited to embracing the concept of hygge, Victoria is a prime candidate. A brief ride aboard the Victoria Clipper lands you in this quaint city. From indulging in local cuisine to soaking in oceanfront mineral spas to discovering unique boutiques, to sipping on a warming cuppa tea with friends or sharing a starlit evening with a special someone, Victoria is the perfect place to transform winter’s chill into a trip full of cozy goodness. 

Day 1

11:30 a.m. – Fort Street Snacking and Shopping Stroll 
If you’re hungry for lunch by the time you arrive in Victoria, stretch your legs and wander along Victoria’s unofficial main street, Fabulous Fort Street, for a delightful selection of lunch spots. 
Image: Chorizo & Co.
Ready to munch on another snack? Continue up the street to Sally Bun. This quirky, hidden gem serves a treat that is anything but your ordinary Chinese bun. Choose from an assortment of warm, freshly baked buns filled with everything from the classic curry chicken to spinach and feta to the Northwest-inspired smoked salmon and cream cheese. Seriously, you can’t go wrong no matter which one (or three) you pick. Did we mention they also have amazing sweets? We dare you to resist their blueberry pecan cinnamon rolls.
Pro Tip: Eat outside at Fort Common, the public patio tucked behind Chorizo & Co. The perfect break from the city, one step onto the quiet, tree ensconced space and you’ll forget you’re in the heart of downtown.
Of course, you can’t forget dessert. But first, slip inside the slate grey, clean-lined Terroir Tea Salon to grab a cup of pure loose leaf tea as a delicious hand warmer. Then, make your way to the Dutch Bakery & Diner for an epic selection of freshly baked cookies, pastries, cakes, chocolates and savoury treats.
Image: @debraschoenberger on Instagram
As an added bonus, check out some of the fabulous shops lining the street. Stop by The Papery for gorgeous stationery and rare gifts you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Pick up a custom-designed piece of jewellery at Skanda or explore three stories stacked floor-to-ceiling with hard to find and unusual titles at Russell Books to cuddle up with back home. 
4:45 p.m. – Check in to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel 
Head to the downtown Budget Car & Truck Rental to pick up a set of wheels for the weekend before heading out to the oceanside neighbourhood of Oak Bay. While the community itself is nothing short of beautiful, the iconic and historic Oak Bay Beach Hotel is absolutely stunning. Situated around a series of mineral pools that hug the sea, and backed by Mount Baker and the Pacific Ocean, the hotel offers unparalleled views in every direction. Breathe the fresh ocean air, and let those worries slip away as you step into the beautifully designed property. 
5:45 p.m. – Happy Hour at Penny Farthing 
Grab a seat by one of the four crackling fireplaces at the old-fashioned Penny Farthing Pub and sit back with a smooth pint of Guinness. With rich dark wood and glass-echoed doors, you will think you’ve been transported back to 1870’s England. 
Penny Farthing Pub
Image: Penny Farthing Pub
7:15 p.m. – Dinner at Vis-a-Vis 
Tuck into the aptly named Vis-a-Vis next door, which translates to “face-to-face” in French, for a personalized and engaging experience. Grab a front-row seat with the locals to interact directly with the wine bar’s expert bartender. Here, the food and drink are meant not only to be eaten but also experienced. Be adventurous and sample whatever speaks to you on the menu. If you have trouble sorting through the impressive list of incredible dishes, the friendly staff of big-time, unpretentious foodies will be more than happy to help guide you through the options and select the perfect wine or cocktail to accompany your meal.

Day 2

10:30 a.m. – Breakfast at Kate’s Café
In the morning, grab a pastry and a perfectly prepared latte from Kate’s Café (in the Oak Bay Beach Hotel) before hopping in your rental car and travelling past Greater Victoria's bucolic Westshore to explore rugged coastline and beautiful beaches on the southwestern side of Vancouver Island. With regular traffic, it will take you about an hour and twenty minutes to reach your first destination: Sheringham Point Lighthouse. 
12:00 p.m. – Sheringham Point Lighthouse
Standing tall above the rocky coastline, the historic 105-year-old Sheringham Point Lighthouse is one of Vancouver’s Island’s must-see secret spots. A short walk along the picturesque Lighthouse View Trail will land you at the lighthouse itself, where you and your significant other can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and sit and watch the waves for a while. Get the camera ready as you may even spot a pod of whales or catch sight of an otter cruising the shoreline.
Sheringham Point Lighthouse
Image: @itsrachaeldarling on Instagram
1:30 p.m. – Sooke Harbour House
A visit to the west side of the island would not be complete without a lunch break at the renowned Sooke Harbour House. Perched on the tip of Whiffen Spit, the elegant resort provides jaw-dropping views of the Salish Sea and the surrounding wilderness. The epitome of culinary goodness in the Pacific Northwest, the property’s Copper Room Bistro serves up phenomenal farm-to-table fare, much of which is sourced directly from the three-acre manicured rare herb and edible flower garden housed right in the hotel’s backyard.
Pro Tip: Venture outside for a leisurely stroll along the neighbouring Whiffen Spit. Find a seat on one of the wooden benches found along the path to the breakwater and soak in breathtaking views. The calm, protected waters of the Sooke Basin on one side and the open waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait on the other.
4:30 p.m.  – Couples Massage at Oak Bay’s Boathouse Spa
Zip back to the Boathouse Spa & Bath at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit with a luxurious couples spa treatment. Indulge in an intimate 60 minute side-by-side Swedish rubdown and then pamper your feet with a relaxing pedicure while you sip on a soothing herbal tea. If this doesn’t leave you feeling blissed-out and refreshed, we don’t know what will!
Oak Bay Beach Hotel Boathouse Spa
Image: Oak Bay Beach Hotel
6:45 p.m. – Dinner at Il Terrazzo
Head downtown to Il Terrazzo Ristorante for an intimate dinner for two. Filled with flickering candlelight and brick fireplaces, the quaint Italian restaurant practically oozes warmth and romance. The relaxed, romantic space offers an expertly crafted wine list and a menu of comforting Italian dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Tip: Feast on fresh seafood or opt for one of the many unique, house-made pasta dishes, like butternut squash cannelloni served with asiago, coconut curried lentils and crab cakes. 
9:30 p.m. – Night Cap at Perro Negro 
Less than a block away from Il Terrazzo, tucked away on the second floor of one of Victoria’s historic brick buildings, you’ll find Perro Negro. This cozy wine bar features an extensive list of tapas, sherry, and wines from Spain, BC and beyond. They also offer a full cocktail menu, if that’s more your style. 

Day 3

9:00 a.m. – Breakfast at Caffe Fantastico
Hop in the car and cruise along Beach Drive toward Dallas Road, enjoying the scenic views over the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountain Range beyond. Find parking outside St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site and head across the street into Tre Fantastico at the Parkside Hotel & Spa. The bright, spacious atmosphere will invite you to linger as you sip Fantastico’s own locally-roasted coffee and enjoy simple but fresh breakfast items like cold-smoked salmon on a fresh bagel or local braised greens with farm-fresh poached eggs. 
Tre Fantastico Breakfast
Image: @cavacreative on Instagram
10:00 a.m.  – Cowichan Valley Wine Tour
Following breakfast, head back into downtown Victoria to meet one of Island Time Tours’ local expert guides for the Cowichan Wine Country Tour. Climb into your private van, lean back, relax and let someone else take care of the driving and the planning for the day. On the way to Cowichan’s excellent vineyards, your expert will not only fill you in on key local players and history of Vancouver Island’s burgeoning wine scene but also show you some of the island’s most stunning views.
10:25 a.m. – Goldstream Provincial Park 
Less than 25 minutes into the drive north on the scenic Trans-Canada Highway, you’ll pull into the peaceful Goldstream Provincial Park to get a peep at the natural wonderland right outside of Victoria. Wander down to the visitor’s centre to learn more about the park and soak in some of the energy from the massive, aromatic 500-year old cedars that call the park home.
Pro Tip: Make a return trip to the park to check out the incredible Railway Trestle hike, which passes the impressive, thundering falls.
Image by @carloslazarini
11:15 a.m. – Saanich Inlet Scenic Overlook
Stop once more at the scenic overlook at the top of the rugged Malahat Drive to soak in breathtaking vistas of the lush valley below and snap awe-inspiring shots of the sparkling Saanich Inlet as it carves its way through the rugged terrain.
11:45 a.m. – Lunch & Wine Tasting at Boutique Wineries 

Kick off your day among the grapes with a stop at one of the founding boutique wineries on the island, the intimate Venturi-Schulze. Savor some of the most unique, small production wines you’ve ever tasted, such as the sweet Terracotta, which manages to simultaneously combine peach and herbal notes into a scintillating vintage. Next up, duck into the ultra-modern Blue Grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard, head upstairs to cozy up on the open second-floor landing and sample the region’s signature crystal-clear Ortega while you stare in awe at the impressive 45-acre vineyard that stretches down the sunny slope before you.

 As a final stop of the day, swing by Enrico Winery to sip on the vintage that sets them apart from all other vineyards - the rare Cabernet Libre. Don’t be surprised when, as if by magic, your guide breaks out a delicious spread of locally produced spiced pickles, Parmesan-crusted pepperoni, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), smoked salmon, apples and cheeses that just so happen to pair absolutely perfectly with your wines.

4:00 p.m. – Clipper Terminal 
With a full tummy, make your way back to the Clipper terminal to check in for the 2-hour and 45-minute cruise back to Seattle. While it’s easy to succumb to heavy eyelids after a day full of adventure, get lost in a card game or catch up on your TV shows on the ride home, don’t forget to gaze out the window or make a trip out to the back deck for a moment or two to soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you. When the last rays of sunlight illuminate the Cascades and neighbouring coastline in a golden blaze, the views are pretty hard to beat.
For more ideas, check out things to see and do in Victoria and browse the events calendar to see what fun things are going on in town! You can also search for deals on transportation, accommodation and activities. Have questions about trip planning? Reach out to Tourism Victoria on FacebookInstagram or Twitter
Victoria Clipper
Image: Victoria Clipper




No matter your style, if you're coming from Seattle and looking for a romantic getaway to Victoria, Clipper has you covered! Choose from the following packages this winter: