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First Timer's Guide to Victoria

 

Museums, markets, neighbourhoods and more! Here’s our guide to the top 10 must-do activities in Victoria.

 

Royal BC Museum


Whether this is your first or twentieth visit, the Royal BC Museum’s extensive galleries and interactive spaces will surprise you with something new and engaging. With 26,000 square feet of indoor exhibits and seven million artefacts there is no better place to see all of BC in an afternoon. Authentic objects are brought to life in the renowned First Peoples, Modern History, 20th Century and Natural History Galleries as well as an ever-changing feature exhibition gallery.


Fisherman’s Wharf


Home to fishing vessels and float homes, Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see. Find your favourite float home, try local fish and chips and admire the views of the harbour. Go on a whale watching adventure with Eagle Wing Tours on either on a covered boat or a speedboat style boat to search for orcas, humpbacks and other local marine life. Alternatively, you could try kayaking with Kelp Reef Adventures and paddle out with your guide to a local bull kelp forest, keeping an eye out for marine life along the way

Dallas Road

 
Dallas Road is one of the most scenic spots in the city. Follow the coastline and discover driftwood covered beaches, shallow bays and unparalleled views of the Olympic Mountains. Take a walk out to the Breakwater and see the intricate First Nations artwork painted on either side, find one of the world’s tallest totem poles at the entrance to Beacon Hill Park and the beginning of the Trans-Canada Highway at Mile 0. You’ll often see display kites being flown at Clover Point as well as kite surfers and paragliders taking advantage of the ocean breeze.

Victoria Public Market


Modeled after popular markets such as the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Atwater Market in Montreal, the Victoria Public Market features permanent vendors and daily changing day vendors. Try plant based meat alternatives at The Very Good Butcher, find sweet and savoury pies at The Victoria Pie Co, or sample a porchetta sandwich from Roast. Stop by for a cooking demo, or eat lunch at a communal table and listen to live music. 

Beacon Hill Park


Beacon Hill Park is one of city’s favourite green spaces. Stroll the gardens past ponds and bridged streams, keeping an eye out for resident peacocks and blue herons. Make a stop at Beacon Hill Children’s Farm (open March to September), full of adorable animals including goats, sheep, alpacas and donkeys. The goat stampede is a daily highlight (trust us!). Complete the experience with a towering soft serve ice cream from the Beacon Drive In!

Neighbourhoods


Finding local neighbourhood gems is the best way to truly explore a new city! It’s easy to get around either on foot or by bicycle, and finding different neighbourhoods won’t take you long from the downtown core. Visit James Bay and discover local coffee shops and restaurants nestled amongst heritage homes. Head to Oak Bay and stroll through the village, making stops at delis, pubs and galleries lining Oak Bay Avenue, or take a Victoria Harbour Ferry over to Vic West to find the Gorge Park Japanese Garden and visit Dockside Green to pick up freshly baked goods from Fol Epi bakery.  

BC Ale Trail


Victoria is the cradle of the "craft beer revolution," home to Canada’s first brewpub and some of British Columbia’s most popular breweries. Craft beer and local food go hand in hand here and today Victoria is home to some of the country’s best restaurants and breweries. Visit breweries including Vancouver Island Brewery and Phillips Brewing, or stop Spinnakers Brewpub, the oldest in Canada, for locally source food and a flight of beer. Take the Victoria Harbour Ferry on the Pickle Pub Crawl or join a bicycle tour with the Pedaler. West Coast Brewery Tours also offers van tours and operates a hop-on-hop-off shuttle bus that visits all of the downtown breweries.

Afternoon Tea


Victoria’s love of tea began over a century ago when British immigrants brought their favourite beverage to Vancouver Island with them. Tea culture has remained strong in Victoria and recently many providers have infused local teas in to their products, from cocktails to ice cream. While afternoon tea continues to be a beloved ritual in Victoria, the city’s hotels, restaurants and cafes have put their own twist on this classic tradition, crafting their menus with delicious local fare. Go for the iconic Tea at the Empress, or try local favourites such as Venus Sophia Vegetarian Tearoom and Eatery or White Heather Tearoom

Shopping


From handmade pieces to luxe brands, you’ll want to spend some time browsing Victoria’s boutiques. On Lower Johnson Street, create a custom printed pair of Converse sneakers or Vans at Baggins Shoes, home to the largest collection of Converse in the world, or browse Oscar and Libby’s in historic Market Square to find quirky gifts. Discover a treasure trove of boutiques on Fan Tan Alley: find distinctive umbrellas, parasols and canes The Umbreallatorium and Canery, or pore over hundreds of vinyl records at The Turntable.

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