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Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Home > Tourism Victoria Blog > Exploring Greater Victoria: Where to Visit Beyond the Inner Harbour

Exploring Greater Victoria: Where to Visit Beyond the Inner Harbour

Posted on April 27, 2018

You’ve had a great breakfast, you’re relaxing into the weekend, and now the only thing left is to plan your day’s adventures. Sure, you’ll be back in town for one of these festivals tonight, but why not stretch your legs and explore what else Victoria has to offer in the meantime? Look no further; here’s our guide to the best of Victoria beyond the inner harbour. Most of these are just half day trips so take your time and explore the nature and history waiting for you at our doorstep. 

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Home to the oldest lighthouse on Canada’s West Coast and the last place British soldiers were stationed in Canada, Fort Rodd Hill is a favourite day trip for families and historical adventurers. The fort itself was built in the 1800s to protect Victoria and its underground magazines and guardhouses welcome explorers young and old. Fisgard Lighthouse is also home to some fascinating displays, and even if you can’t get to the top, the views over the water to the Olympic Mountains will make for some pretty epic photos. 

Fort Rodd Hill is only about a 25 minute drive from downtown Victoria. So pack a farm fresh picnic, and stop by for some sunny lunchtime exploring! 

Photo by @Nicolebridgeo on Instagram

 Craigdarroch Castle

We’re a pretty classy city, so it makes sense that we have a few castles in our backyard. Craigdarroch Castle, built in the late 1800s, is a stunning example of Victorian architecture. It was built at a time when wealthy industrialists were making it big in Canada, and this castle showcased Scottish immigrant Robert Dunsmuir’s coal fortune in exquisite fashion. 

Want to visit the castle’s 39 rooms? Well you won’t have to travel far. It’s just a short drive from downtown, or a leisurely 30-minute walk. Post-brunch castle tour? Yes, please. 

Craigdarroch Castle
Photo by @nwbynw on Instagram


Hatley Park National Historic Site

Castle building must have run in the family, because Robert Dunsmuir’s son and heir, James, started constructing his ideal countryside estate in the early 1900s. When it was completed, Hatley Castle was the largest private residence on the West Coast. Here, James and his wife, Laura, would entertain high society and escape from the pressures of the business world. 

At the park, 15 km of trails take visitors through stunning gardens. The 565+ acres are also the ancestral home of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lkwungen (Songhees) people, and evidence of their original settlement can still be seen today. 

Hatley Park is just a 25 minute drive from Downtown Victoria, and is located quite close to Fort Rodd Hill. The castle itself is only open to visitors by guided tour, but the grounds are open for all to enjoy. 

Hatley Park National Historic Site


Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

As you explore the southern tip of Vancouver Island, you might start to appreciate how unique the ecosystems both above and below the water are over here. If you want to learn more about our fascinating marine life and its importance to the original inhabitants of the Victoria region, we know just the place!

About a half hour north of Victoria in Sidney, B.C. where Southern Vancouver Island’s only aquarium is located on the traditional lands of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nations of the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples. The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is home to over 160 species in 28 marine species and a fully intact orca skeleton, and also displays an impressive collection of Coast Salish indigenous art.

Pacific Marine Circle Route

#ROADTRIP! Loving your trip so much you want to extend it? There’s no better way check out the epic scenery outside of Victoria than with a multi-day road trip in your own style and at your own speed. The Pacific Marine Circle Route connects Victoria to Sidney, Cowichan Bay and Duncan, then continues on to Port Renfrew, Jordan River and Sooke, before ending up back where you started: downtown Victoria!

From wineries to bakeries, ancient forests to spectacular swimming spots, this is a road trip packed with photo ops and adventure. And did we mention stunning coastline? There will be plenty of that too! 

bcrobby Mystic Beach Old Growth Forest
photo by @bcrobby via Instagram