4 DAY TRAVEL ITINERARY
Is sustainability at the forefront of your next vacation plan? Greater Victoria is the destination for you. Destination Greater Victoria is proud to be carbon neutral and is proudly a Biosphere Certified Destination. Home to the IMPACT Sustainability Travel and Tourism Conference, hosted at the carbon neutral Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria leads the way when it comes to green travel. In a city surrounded by water and connected to nature, you’re never more than a stone’s throw from innovative, one-of-a-kind, local businesses that put sustainability first, including hotels, restaurants, and world-class attractions.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION: INN AT LAUREL POINT
Leading the way since 2009, the Inn at Laurel Point was British Columbia’s first carbon neutral hotel, and since beginning that commitment over one million guests have enjoyed an environmentally conscious stay. The Inn at Laurel Point can trace its commitment to a reduced carbon footprint all the way back to its founding in 1989, when architect Arthur Erickson integrated a marine cooling system into the design, pumping ocean water throughout the property for efficient temperature controls. The Inn’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t end there; over 77% of waste is diverted and water consumption has been reduced by 15%. The Inn at Laurel Point is also proud supporter of Soap for Hope Canada and the Great Bear Rainforest Carbon Project. The Inn is as much a testament to art and architecture as it is sustainability: During your stay, explore the spacious hallways and enjoy eclectic art collections from Vancouver Island and abroad. Don’t forget to check out their house restaurant Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio for local, sustainable fare that is complemented by ingredients grown in their onsite garden. The Biosphere Certified Inn at Laurel Point can’t wait to welcome you for one of the most sustainable stays in the city.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION: PARKSIDE HOTEL & SPA
When it comes to sustainability, Parkside Hotel & Spa lead by example. Parkside combines its exemplary hospitality with proactive sustainability. Parkside Hotel & Spa are carbon positive certified with Offsetters, Synergy Verified, Vancouver Island Green Business Certified, a BBB4Good Partner, and Green Key Global with a 5 Key rating. In addition to all this, their spa is Surfrider Certified as an Ocean Friendly Business. Dedicated to doing their part for our future, Parkside is Biosphere Certified, achieving 11 of the sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations Agenda 2030 by breaking down each individual goal and working as a team to better their business, their practices, and our future. Just because Parkside is carbon friendly doesn’t mean they skimp on amenities: This beautiful hotel offers a 25-metre swimming pool, fitness centre, free wifi, movie theatre, electric vehicle charging stations, rooftop gardens, complimentary bikes, business services, event spaces, and more!
Local Tip: Book your family a Rooftop Marshmallow Roast! Gather round a fire pit in their rooftop garden and savour locally made marshmallows with all the S’more trimmings. The package includes a one-hour rental of a rooftop gardens fire pit, S’mores for four with locally made marshmallows and Rogers’ Chocolates, paper plates, wet wipes, roasting skewers, and a blanket. Spaces are limited, but you can book your spot up to one month in advance.
Find the responsible accommodation provider that’s right for you. Victoria is home to 13 Biosphere Certified or Biosphere Committed hotels, each with their own distinct takes on West Coast hosptitality. For more responsible accommodation providers check out:
- Huntingdon Manor Hotel (Biosphere Certified)
- Fairmont Empress (Biosphere Certified)
- Chateau Victoria (Biosphere Certified)
- Oak Bay Beach Hotel (Biosphere Certified)
Did you know Victoria is one of North America’s most walkable cities? Take advantage of our walkability by leaving your car behind. Connect to Victoria via Vancouver flying aboard Harbour Air Seaplanes. Carbon neutral since 2007, Harbour Air has been an industry leader when it comes to sustainability, being the world’s only carbon neutral airline. Harbour Air are always looking for new ways to operate more sustainably, whether that be optimizing aircraft and taxi-ing, actively managing flight loads, implementing paperless ticketing, or introducing recycling programs. Since 2007, Harbour Air has offset 100% of emissions associated with fuel use, employee commute, utility consumption, business travel, and paper use. To some, sustainability can be a buzz word, but the only buzzing Harbour Air does is aboard their all-electric commercial aircraft! First test flown in 2019, Harbour Air’s ePlane, produced in partnership with Washington based magniX, is a 750-housepower all-electric motor retrofitted DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver that will ultimately turn their 40+ seaplane fleet from carbon neutral to carbon zero! Harbour Air hopes to begin their first commercial flights aboard the ePlane in 2023. With all the great sustainability initiatives it’s no surprise that this airline is Biosphere Committed and well on the path towards Certification.
Time to stretch our legs, this is Canada’s most walkable city after all. After dropping your luggage off at your sustainable hotel, it’s time for a mosey on over to Spinnaker’s Gastro Brew Pub along the Songhees Walkway for one of Victoria’s best breakfasts. The winding path offers some of the best views of Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbour, landmark buildings, and downtown core. When you arrive at Spinnaker’s, you’ve discovered a local favourite and true culinary pioneer. In addition to being Canada’s first brewpub, Spinnaker’s is a trendsetter when it came to local, seasonal, sustainable cuisine. For over 20 years, Spinnaker’s has worked with local farms, fishermen, cheesemakers, and chocolatiers to serve up the freshest pub food you’ve ever experienced. All these great local ingredients are complimented by house-smoked seafood, herbs picked from their very own gardens, and mineral water straight from their deep well aquifer. The food is exquisite, but make sure you leave space for one of their house beers, ciders, or soda pops that pair brilliantly with any meal. Among their many firsts, Spinnaker’s is is the first brew pub in Greater Victoria to commit to Biosphere Certification.
Back across the harbour, it’s time to head over to Victoria Kayak and get out on the water. Offering kayak rentals and tours, Victoria Kayak provides a unique emissions-free way to connect with our stunning west coast environment. Surrounded by water, Victoria has no shortage of bays, quays, and coves to explore as you paddle through the Inner Harbour or wind through the Gorge Waterway. Victoria Kayak’s tours offer a distinctive way to view Victoria’s many oceanfront landmarks and take in our abundant local wildlife such as harbour seals, otters, herrons, eagles, and if you’re really, really lucky, even an Orca.
Local Tip: Victoria truly comes to life at dusk. Enjoy a sunset tour with Victoria Kayak and witness the dazzling lights of the BC Parliament Buildings as over 3000 bulbs illuminate the beautiful architecture of one of BC’s most iconic structures.
Start the morning off right, with a breath of fresh air aboard one of Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Watching Tours’ beautiful vessels, the world’s first Biosphere Certified marine ecotour operator. Hop aboard one of their floating classrooms (high performance boats) and connect with our awe inspiring marine environment and the majestic creatures that call the Salish Sea home as you skim across its tranquil waters. This isn’t an aquarium tour; Eagle Wing takes you into the heart of our many cetaceans’ natural environment for an unforgettable and sustainable experience. Proudly Canada’s first 100% carbon neutral whale watching provider, Eagle Wing is a forerunner in environmental stewardship being the first whale watcher to support 1% For the Planet and winning numerous sustainability awards including Canada’s Top Sustainable Tourism Award – twice! All of Eagle Wing’s tours are as educational as they are exciting, and from May to November any given tour has a 95-98% chance of seeing a whale. Didn’t see a whale on your tour? Eagle Wing offers Guaranteed Whale Sightings and will invite you back on complementary tours until you do – now that’s customer service!
Victoria is spoiled for choice when it comes to sustainable whale watching providers. Centrally located on Victoria’s Inner Harbour, Prince of Whales Whale & Marine Wildlife Adventures offers responsible whale watching tours just steps from downtown Victoria’s major hotels and attractions. Biosphere Certified, Prince of Whales is a true leader in the space of sustainable eco-adventures, as the only carbon-positive whale watching company in British Columbia. For almost a decade, Prince of Whales has supported 1% For the Planet, doing their part to keep the Salish Sea pristine for both our revered marine mammals and wildlife, but also for the next generation of explorers across its tranquil waters. To learn more about Prince of Whales’ commitment to responsible and sustainable travel click here.
Local Tip: When it comes to engaging greenly with our blue waters, Eagle Wing and Prince of Whales are not alone, Victoria’s whale watching tour providers put sustainability at the forefront of all their efforts. Other Biophere Committed whale watchers include:
Five Star Whale Watching. Five Star is committed to becoming the first carbon negative whale watcher, boasts a zero-waste policy (they recycle their engine oil into heating oil for example), and is Victoria’s first World Cetacean Alliance Certified Whale Watching Operator. Five Star is so committed to our environment that their vessels feature low noise propulsion systems to create the least amount of underwater noise.
SpringTide Whale Watching & EcoTours. SpringTide proudly runs their vessels on biofuel, uses environmentally friendly paint on the bottoms of their vessels, uses synthetic oils over traditional oils, and fits their vessels with aluminum anodes instead of zinc (zinc anodes are known to release toxins into the Ocean). When you step foot on a SpringTide vessel, you know your jumping feet first into responsible action on the Salish Sea.
Orca Spirit Adventures. Orca spirit is a leader in responsible whale watching, they are BC Green Business Certified – Green Level, Surfrider Certified as BC Ocean Friendly Business, Gold Level of GreenStep Sustainable Tourism, and offer Carbon Neutral tours certified by Offsetters. Orca Spirit aren’t just leaders in conservation, they help support the broader research and conservation community. Orca Spirit has adopted multiple killer whales through the Whale Museum, as well as supporting the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Center for Whale Research, Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders Rescue, Ducks Unlimited, and the World Fisheries Trust. Somewhere between all this great work to protect our natural environment, they also find the time to offer some of Victoria’s best whale watching experiences!
Back on dry land, let your sea legs guide you to Big Wheel Burger. Fresh, local, and delicious, Big Wheel uses ingredients that support agricultural longevity and have minimal environmental impact. Fast food doesn’t have to be junk food, at Big Wheel all their ingredients are sourced within 100 miles of their location. In addition to their local focus, Big Wheel is 100% carbon neutral, supporting The Great Bear Rainforest Carbon Project. And it’s not just good food, all Big Wheel’s packaging is 100% compostable and they are able to divert 90% of their waste from ending up in landfills. This diverted waste makes its way to their FED Garden project which breaks it down into high-quality compost to be used in community gardens. Now that’s food you can feel good about.
After a long day, it’s time for a carbonated, malty, hoppy pour of sustainability straight into your pint glass. You heard that right, even the beer here in Victoria is sustainable, and nowhere showcases that better than Phillips Brewing & Malting Company. Home to quirky, colourful branding, and some of Victoria’s most iconic beers, Phillip’s was founded on a dream and a mountain of credit card debt, and over the years has grown to be arguably BC’s favourite craft brewery. Phillip’s invests heavily into environmental initiatives including, their ReFUSE Partnership, lifecycle analysis (which has lowered emissions 30% per six pack in two years), C02 Recapture, Steam Recapture, Refrigeration Reclamation, Bottle Pool Membership, Spent Grain Program, Recycled Paper Labels, Glass Repurposing, and a Water Reduction Strategy. These bold initiatives have led to Phillip’s receiving several notable accolades including being named The Drinks Magazine’s International Green Company of the Year. Bottoms up to a good cause!
Some of Victoria’s best sustainable businesses are located outside of our bustling downtown core, so today is about going further and exploring greater, before returning downtown for a sustainable shopping experience. Before we begin our expedition into Greater Victoria, we need to figure out how we are getting there. There’s no better way to connect with the Saanich Peninsula than by pedal power! Rent a bicycle or eBike from Biosphere Committed The Pedaler Cycling Tours and Rentals. The friendly staff at The Pedaler will get you set up safely with all the equipment you need for your self-guided tour of the Flavour Trails. Once you’re all set to go, hop on one Victoria’s many bike arteries, the Lochside Trail, and begin your gentle cruise into the Saanich Peninsula.
Local Tip: Don’t have time to stray too far from downtown? No problem, The Pedaler offers guided tours of some of Victoria’s most beautiful neighbourhoods and landmarks.
First up on our tour, the historic Butchart Gardens. Aside from being Canada’s most beautiful gardens (and we like to think, the world’s), The Butchart Gardens is also an environmental trailblazer. As you meander through the photogenic Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, and Japanese Garden, you can be assured that everything at this sprawling site is focused on preserving the planet for future generations. Environmental initiatives connect to every facet of this National Historic Site, whether in the gardens themselves, visitor services, food services, seed and gift store, or their broader facilities. Everything from nonchemical weed control to drip irrigation to electric boats and recycled materials are powering the magic behind the stunning living artistry that is the gardens. This 100+ year old garden has been an industry leader since it first came to life out of Jennie Butchart’s vision in 1904 and continues to push boundaries in environmentalism to this day.
Next up on our peninsula tour is Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. This 10-acre farm-based cidery boasts more than 1300 apple trees and is one of the most popular agri-tourism destinations on Vancouver Island. Sea Cider uses only organically grown apples from their orchard to make their award-winning traditionally fermented ciders. Sustainability is so much at the forefront of what they do that it is part of their business philosophy and mission. The panoramic views of the Haro Strait complement any of their choice ciders. Open year round, you can experience the best cider Victoria has to offer no matter when you visit. Come raise a glass!
It’s time for some shopping, West coast style! In Greater Victoria, shopping for resale and consignment isn’t just a pastime; it’s a delightful journey of discovery and sustainability. Picture strolling through quaint shops, each brimming with character and history, where every pre-loved item tells a story of its own. There’s a palpable joy in finding a vintage gem or a quirky treasure at one of our eclectic consignment shops. The city’s vibrant reuse scene not only invites you to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle but also celebrates the unique and unexpected. So, let’s spend an afternoon meandering through Victoria’s resale and consigment shops, where each purchase is a conscious nod to the past and a hopeful step toward a greener future.
A relaxing bike ride back into town helps you burn off those post dinner calories and winds you down for a restful evening at your sustainable hotel.
It’s time to hop in a car and hit the road! “On a sustainability tour?” you might ask. That’s right, because with Alset Tours you can put the brakes on gas guzzling charter tours with a private and personalized tour aboard Canada’s first solar-powered tours in a Signature Tesla Model S 85, Model 3 Luxury Sport Sedan, or Model X Luxury Sport SUV. These whisper-quiet, zero emission tours include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel or port-of-entry and can accommodate up to six guests. Affordable, luxury, sustainable tours are the name of the game at Alset, with tours starting at $150/person for a half-day tour, and your private party enjoys the entire vehicle. The professional guides at Alset are happy to share their local knowledge about our unique corner of the globe.
No trip to Victoria is complete without a spot of tea. Known for their delicious array of teas and tantalizing savouries and sweets, The Pendray Inn and Tea House brings the 19th century concept of afternoon tea to a contemporary audience. Dress in your best ethically sourced garments and enjoy a Victorian tradition, sipping tea from delicate china. The Pendray Tea House offers all the luxury of a conventional teahouse but does it at Vancouver Island’s Green Business Collective highest certification, Green Level. And their commitment to a sustainable high tea experience doesn’t stop there, they are a certified 4 Green Key Accommodation by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, are Surfrider approved, serve 100% Oceanwise seafood, and proudly support the EcoDine Forestry Initiative protecting BC Native species’ woodlands. The Pendray eloquently blends sophistication and sustainability for a second-to-none tea experience that is loved by locals and travellers alike. Throw your pinky up with pride and enjoy the elegance of afternoon tea, while ensuring our generation continues to thrive for genrations of tea lovers to come at this Biosphere Committed Inn and Teahouse. Afternoon tea can be enjoyed Wednesday to Friday from 11:00am to 2:00pm and Saturday and Sundays from 11:00am to 4:00pm.
Full of adventure, Victoria is connected to nature in a way unlike any other city in North America. A tangled web of roots entwines our city to the mighty coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island. Immerse yourself in the greenery we work so hard to protect at one of Victoria’s many emerald parks such as downtown’s iconic Beacon Hill Park, the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in Saanich, or the magnificent Goldstream Provincial Park which boasts rugged hiking trails, as well as opportunities to see eagles, deer, bears, and the spectacular fall salmon run.
Like all great things, our last day in Victoria comes to an end. And it’s certainly not the only thing in Victoria that’s come to an end. Enjoy a walking tour with Ghostly Walks and uncover the ghastly history of Victoria’s local haunts. This evening ghost tour features everything you’ve come to expect in a walking tour: murder, hangings, romance, and hauntings! Jokes aside, Ghostly Walks is a brilliantly fun and educational way to explore Canada’s most walkable city at a leisurely place while taking in our beautiful Victorian era architecture. Hosted by the city’s best story tellers, stretch your legs, and enjoy our fresh coastal air as this human powered tour winds through our historic streets.