Travel. It has the ability to open our minds and our hearts. It can fill us with energy. It can connect us to people. It’s such a privilege: experiencing new places, seeing different ways of doing things, tasting distinctive foods, and experiencing unique communities. But with that privilege comes some responsibility.
In visiting a place, are you contributing to the community? Once upon a time, we thought responsible travel was only related to the money that we spend in a community. And while opening our wallets can definitely support the communities we visit, there are other actions we can take that are also impactful, thoughtful, and responsible.
The good news is that simple actions can have a big impact when done by many instead of few. In Greater Victoria, we wear our hearts on our sleeves – or rather our streets, gardens, parks, and beaches. You see it in our infrastructure, one of the most walkable and bikeable cities in Canada; in the valued historical places and stories that make Victoria unique; and in the many independent, local businesses that call Greater Victoria home.
As a guest to Greater Victoria, we invite you to be part of our community, by showing the same admiration that our locals do to the things that are valued.
1. Contributing to Cultural Understanding
A great way of supporting the community in Greater Victoria is by learning about Victoria’s rich history. We’ve assembled a few ideas of activities that you could include in your visit, but these are just a small slice of what is available in our region.
This local, Indigenous-owned operator connects us with the Songhees Nation, who have stewarded the lands that Victoria is based on. Their rich culture and history are told by an Indigenous guide either by walking or canoe tour. The 7 Signs of the Lekwungen Walking tour is an insightful option offered by Explore Songhees that visits their most significant historical sites.
To learn more about the Indigenous legacies that live on in Greater Victoria, check out our Indigenous Culture page.
As one of the two historic castles in Greater Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle carries a wealth of story and intrigue. Along with boasting some of the best views in Victoria, Craigdarroch gives a glimpse of what the privileged life looked like in the 1890’s, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Special guided tours can be purchased on their website, or you can opt for a self-guided tour between Wednesdays through Sundays.
Founded by Canadian Nobel-Prize winning author Alice Munro, Munro’s Books is a landmark bookstore featuring striking artwork in a heritage setting. The building was designed for the Royal Bank of Canada back in 1909, and features beautiful 24 foot coffered ceilings and stained glass windows. Bibliophiles will relish over their extensive book collection, as well as their lovely, attentive staff ready to help (or complimenting your book choice).
Royal BC Museum
Founded in 1886, the Royal BC Museum houses artifacts representing the natural and human history of British Columbia. They hold the largest collection of First Nations archaeological material from BC, with over 192000 ceremonial and utilitarian artifacts.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Set in a historic 1889 mansion, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has the largest public art collection in British Columbia with over 20,000 pieces. It’s a vibrant, active part of Victoria’s flourishing artist community, both past and present, and houses its one permanent display of historical artist Emily Carr.
2. Protecting Biodiversity and the Environment
When we think about responsible travel, ecology and sustainability often comes to mind first, and it certainly is important. We only have one earth, and it’s our job to show reverence through our actions; by making it priority to protect our biodiversity and reduce carbon. We invite you to tread lightly and lessen your footprint. Here’s some actions you can take to make a difference.
• Sightseeing on foot or by public transportation. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you see a place from a different perspective and pace by foot, on a bike, or on public transit.
• Bring your own reusable water bottle and shopping bag.
3. Supporting the Local Economy
Victoria’s tourism industry is made up of many small and medium-sized businesses that are here to provide you a memorable experience. We have a number of businesses that are Biosphere Certified or Committed, meaning they are committed to the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations. These goals span areas including climate change, community values, the environment, and more.
You can opt to support one of Greater Victoria’s community events. Check out our Calendar of Events for the month you are visiting to get a great oversight of the local initiatives being held in our city, often by small businesses.
Our Signature Events include Dine Around + Stay in Town (end of January – February), Victoria Jazzfest (end of June), and Splash Around Town (in July) – only a few examples of several Victorian groups and societies coming together to hold a grand celebration of, and for, the city.
Eat at local restaurants. If you’ve never heard the terms farm-to-fork or sea-to-table, you will now! We relish in our island’s rich bounty from both land and ocean and are blessed with talented chefs and local food afficionados who are committed to putting only the best on our plates.