×

Explore Greater.

Victoria is a true one-of-a-kind land on the Pacific coast. Sign up to have travel guides, upcoming events, travel tips, and more delivered to your inbox.

Book Your Stay

Menu
A man with an orange hat standing in the woods at sunset.

FAQ

Glad you asked. Find answers to FAQs on Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Canada below.

Q: Where is Victoria?

Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off the West Coast of beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Victoria finds itself nestled between the lush coastal rainforests of the island and the tranquil waters of the Salish Sea, where the Haro and Juan de Fuca Strait’s converge. Victoria was born out of the traditional lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt people. We are located below the 49th parallel, making us one of Canada’s southernmost cities. We are 112km from Vancouver, 174km from Seattle, 1,453km from San Francisco, and 4,329km from Toronto.

Q: What’s the weather like?

Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada. Greater Victoria is one of Canada's driest areas, with an average snowfall of just 25 centimetres (9.75 inches) and an average rainfall of 592 millimetres (23 inches), less than recorded precipitation in Vancouver, B.C. or Seattle, Washington. Summers are pleasantly warm (but not too hot) and the winters are mild.

Q: How do I get to Victoria?

Getting to Victoria is part of the experience, and there are many ways to enjoy this piece of the adventure. Victoria and Vancouver Island are extremely accessible.

Arrive by boat: BC Ferries and the COHO Ferry from Black Ball Ferry Lines offer transit options for cars, bicycles, and foot travellers from Vancouver, British Columbia and Port Angeles, Washington respectively. 

Can’t wait to get here? Helijet International Incorporated offers downtown-to-downtown helicopter service between Vancouver and Victoria. Helijet presents a beautiful way to discover British Columbia’s rugged coastline.

Greater Victoria has storied maritime and aviation traditions. Harbour Air Seaplanes brings together the best of both worlds aboard their carbon-neutral fleet of floatplanes, including the world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft. Harbour Air connects Victoria to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, popular Vancouver Island destinations Tofino and Nanaimo, as well as British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

Travelling from Seattle? Hop aboard the FRS Clipper for a downtown-to-downtown walk-on walk-off travel experience as you skim past the San Juan islands on your journey. Take to the skies aboard one of Kenmore Air’s downtown-to-downtown seaplane flights that connect you with Victoria in a mere 45 minutes.

Coming in from a little further out? Fly into YYJ Victoria International Airport. YYJ has been named one of the top-ten most loved airports in the world by CNN, and twice named ‘Best Regional Airport in North America’ by Airports Council International. The Victoria International Airport champions green initiatives with a robust sustainability plan.

The Wilson’s Group’s BC Ferries Connector is perfect for travellers between Vancouver and Victoria who are looking to leave the car behind. If you’re getting the gang together, Wilson’s Transportation Ltd. offers chartered bus services between Vancouver and Victoria with coaches that can accommodate up to 58 people. Their large fleet is perfect for small conferences or large conventions with hundreds of attendees.  

Q: How long are the ferry rides?

Ferry departures and travel times are below.

The Lower Mainland (Tsawwassen) to Swartz Bay (30 minutes north of Victoria)
BC Ferries - 1 hour and 35 minutes

Seattle, WA to downtown Victoria, BC
Victoria Clipper Passenger Ferry - 2 hours and 30 minutes

Port Angeles, WA to downtown Victoria, BC
Coho Ferry - 1 hour and 35 minutes

Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC (30 minutes north of Victoria)
Washington State Ferries - 3 hours

Friday Harbor (San Juan Island), WA to Sidney, BC (30 minutes north of Victoria)
Washington State Ferries - 2 hours and 30 minutes

Q: What is Victoria know for?

Victoria is known for its unparalleled connection with nature. Surrounded by water, and full of adventure, home to majestic Orcas, lumbering Humpback whales, Giant Pacific Octopuses, and more. Hop aboard one of our certified whale watching guides’ vessels to experience our aquatic playground in an exhilarating and tactile manner. The tangled roots of the island’s lush coastal rainforest weave through the very fabric of the city.

Victoria is known for a rich urban-rural balance that places fresh local producers right on our doorstep, fostering a culture of farm-to-table dining unlike anywhere else. Local restaurants such as 10 Acres fuel their tantalizing menus with produce fresh from the Saanich Peninsula.

Victoria is known for craft beer. Home to 17 unique craft breweries, including Canada’s oldest brewpub, Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, Victoria is always pushing the boundaries of craft brewing forward. 

Victoria is known for its grand history. The Songhees and Esquimalt peoples have tended the lands and shores of Victoria for thousands of years; European settlers brought Victorian era architectural practices to the city delivering the old-world charm that Victoria’s modern downtown core is known for. 

Victoria is known for its royal treatment. From high tea to horse drawn carriages, spa retreats to boutique hotels, in Victoria, you can treat yourself like royalty.  

Victoria is known for its gardens. They don’t call us the Garden City for nothing. Home to some of Canada (and the world’s) most iconic gardens. Victoria is a flower lover’s dream come true .

Victoria is known as a city that puts sustainability first. Home to British Columbia’s first carbon neutral hotel, The Inn at Laurel Point; the world’s first carbon neutral airline, featuring the world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft, Harbour Air Seaplanes; and Canada’s first carbon neutral fast-food restaurant, Big Wheel Burger; Victoria is a pioneer in the world of sustainability. Destination Greater Victoria is proud to be carbon neutral, and our Victoria Conference Centre is also designated carbon neutral, the perfect venue for your next green conference. Destination Greater Victoria is proud to host IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism at the Victoria Conference Centre, which aims to drive, inspire and demonstrate innovative and collaborative sustainable solutions for positive tourism development across Canada.

Q: How many days should I spend in Victoria?

With so much to discover and explore, Victoria is the perfect destination for both short transient stays and long-term vacations (some of us never left!). One thing’s certain: no matter how many days you stay for, you’ll wish you had one more! The walkability (and cyclability) of the historic downtown core makes quick and easy getaways a breeze, showcasing many of the region’s top hotels, attractions, and restaurants. For those looking for a truly immersive experience, exploration into Greater Victoria’s many one-of-kind communities allows you to experience the region as a local, while giving you day after day of unique experiences.

Q: What is there to do in Victoria?

A trip to Victoria is a journey to one-of-a-kindland. Whether it’s your first or fortieth visit, the best part about Victoria is it just keeps getting better! Victoria is a boutique city on a global scale that balances the refinement of modern living with a rugged West Coast connection to nature. Enjoy world class attractions, such as whale watching, art studios and museums, year-round golfing, and more. Engage with our unfiltered natural environment on the Salish Sea or in the lush coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island, connecting with beaches & lakes, gardens & parks, or taking a tour of the Pacific Marine Circle Route. Home to the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada, Victoria is a diner’s paradise, the freshest locally sourced ingredients are harvested straight out of our backyard and paired with seafood line-caught daily from our little slice of the ocean. With a unique urban-rural balance unlike other major cities, Victoria replaces buzzwords with buzzing bees, and does farm-to-table dining on a scale of metres not miles.

Q: What should I see in Victoria?

Victoria is an eclectic mix of quirky individuals and one-of-a-kind communities. When you bring so many great people together in one spot, you create an environment that is welcoming and engaging no matter what your interests are. First time here? No worries, Victoria is accessible, walkable, and with sustainability always at the forefront, a breath of fresh air. Some fantastic experiences for first time visitors are Butchart Gardens, The Parliament Buildings, the Royal BC Museum¸ and whale watching. Been there? Done that? Although many of our great attractions offer unique experiences that vary with the seasons, those looking for something a little different can visit WildPlay Element Parks, the Victoria Bug Zoo, Tea at the Empress, or Phillips Brewing and Malting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great attractions in Victoria.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Victoria?

Summer! Wait… No, Spring… No, it’s gotta be fall… Or maybe it’s winter? Victoria’s unique sub-Mediterranean climate makes visiting the destination enjoyable no matter what time of year you visit. Each season offers a whole new perspective to see the city and its many great attractions. For spring visitors, Victoria is in full bloom, Cherry Blossoms bring the city to life in full colour and our furry and feathered friends return to the city from their winter slumber. Visitors in summer can enjoy warm weather, sand beaches, and migratory whales. For those who love fall most of all, our foliage adorns autumn hues, salmon return to the rivers to spawn, and the harvest season brings the bounty of our local producers fresh from the earth to your table. Despite perceptions of the rainy Pacific Northwest, Victoria’s unique climate, protected by the Olympic Mountains, blesses the city with significantly less rainfall than the nearby cities of Vancouver and Seattle. In winter the city becomes a winter wonderland (often without the snow) as our Victorian era architecture dons festive lights, carriage tours take over the roadways, and Victoria delivers the Christmas season unlike any other city in North America.

Q: What food is Victoria famous for?

Fresh food, of course! Greater Victoria is a grass roots movement of bringing sustainable produce fresh from the countryside to your plate. From the vineyards of the Cowichan Valley to the sprawling farmlands of the Saanich Peninsula, Greater Victoria’s restaurants serve up world-class dining powered by fresh ingredients from local producers in our own backyard. Every day, trawlers scuttle across the tranquil waters of the harbour bringing home the rich bounty of the Salish Sea, while our farmers, foragers, and vintners work the lands from seed to harvest to ensure only the best organic, sustainable produce makes it to market. A few recommendations for experiencing the best in local cuisine are 10 Acres, Agrius, Wind Cries Mary, Boom + Batten, Q at the Empress, and Blue Crab Seafood House. When your ingredients are as good as ours, why go anywhere else?

Q: What’s with the tea?

There’s nothing more Victorian than high tea. Tea in Victoria blends turn-of-the-century elegance with modern refinement. While many hold perceptions that Victorians are on island time, the truth is, we are on tea time! We hold our pinkies up proudly and sip and savour the best blends from around the world. Treat yourself like the princess (or prince) you are with unrivaled harbourfront views at Tea at the Empress enjoy teas served in fine china gifted to the hotel from the King and Queen in 1939. Explore manicured gardens at the Tea House at Abkhazi Gardens, once the home of the former Prince and Princess Abkhazi of Georgia. Experience high tea in an authentic setting at Pendray Inn and Tea House, where its rich wood accents, stained glass windows, and antique furnishings add to the ambiance of a delightful spot of tea. Uncover a wide array of high tea options, including seasonal selections, at the White Heather Tea Room. Discover one of Victoria’s oldest merchants, Murchie’s Tea & Coffee, where you can take your favourite blends home with you. Or live Victoria’s rich history at Silk Road Teas in the heart of Canada’s oldest Chinatown.

Q: How large is Victoria?

Greater Victoria covers an area of 695.35 square kilometers. The City of Victoria's population is 85,792 (2016). The Capital Region population is 392,000 (2017). The population of Vancouver Island is 799,400 (2016).

Q: What is Greater Victoria?

Greater Victoria is a medley of unique but geographically similar communities in the Victoria area. From Oak Bay to Sidney, Esquimalt to the Cowichan Valley, and Saanich to Port Renfrew, Greater Victoria spans the southern coastline of Vancouver Island. The area is one of the most ecologically diverse in Canada, ranging from sand beaches, rocky bluffs, rolling farmlands, mighty rainforests, blooming gardens, and craggy mountains. The area boasts terrific seafood, second-to-none farm to table dining, as well as a complex wine, cider, and craft brewery scene. Go deeper, explore greater.

Q: What’s Victoria’s main industry?

Victoria's primary industries are information technology, tourism and government.

Q: What’s it like living in Victoria?

In a world where everything looks the same, we’re not remotely like anywhere else. This is one-of-a-kindland. Things just fit here. Old school meets new school. Nature meets city. Traditional meets unconventional. Victoria is where people and ideas come together to put our own twist on things. There’s something about Victoria that fosters a freedom to think outside the box. It’s part of our culture. We are a mixture of stories, cultures and ways of thinking that continually inspire us in everything we do. Ours is an environment that inspires and moves you to return the favour. And move we do. We run, hike, kayak, and bike just to get closer to the beauty that surrounds us. We proudly blaze our own trails and do things in our own unique way. We are a thriving hub of artisans, innovators and creators. We support and celebrate everything Victoria. It is our commitment to each other. We take care of each other and our home. Our commitment to sustainability, ocean research and technology continue to show how we can lead the world from our little piece of it. We are sophisticated, quirky, laid-back and proudly independent. We’re not far away, just further ahead. 

Q: Why is Victoria known as the “Garden City”?

With tulips, roses, and Japanese maples, Victoria is known as the Garden City because of its sprawling gardens! Whether meandering through the photogenic sunken garden at the National Historic Site, Butchart Gardens, connecting with Victoria’s rural countryside at the volunteer-run Gardens at HCP, exploring a princess’ fairytale at the Abkhazi Gardens, or taking a second to smell the roses castle-side at Hatley Park, Victoria’s gardens are a sight to behold no matter which season you visit. Our gardens welcome spring blooms, fall hues, and come to life draped in millions of festive bulbs during the holiday season. Aside from immaculately curated garden spaces, Victoria is home to many community parks that flex their green thumb by showcasing the unique biodiversity of our region, such as Beacon Hill Park and the Gorge Waterway.

Q: What is the “royal treatment”?

To explain the “royal treatment” we must take you back to Victoria’s recent past. As the British Empire expanded westward across the continent, the crown saw a need to create a settlement to facilitate travellers between their new territories and the burgeoning gold rush in Canada’s north. Fort Victoria was born in 1843, named for Britain’s Queen Victoria. Modern Victoria, the provincial capital, was born out of this pioneer spirit. The city’s unique history holds deep ties to the British Royal Family and Victorian era architecture, making it a popular destination for history buffs and royalists alike.

Experience Victoria like a royal, visit beautiful period architecture, museums that celebrate our recent and distant past, sip high tea, unwind in lavish spas, stroll manicured gardens¸ discover original neighborhoods in the back of a horse drawn carriage, or simply experience a sleep fit for a queen in one of our storybook boutique hotels. Spoil yourself in Victoria, you deserve it!

Q: How many parks are there in and around Victoria?

There are 48 regional, provincial and federal parks in Greater Victoria, totaling more the 7,600 hectares (22,724 acres).

Q: Is Victoria pet friendly?

An unrivaled urban-rural balance makes Victoria the perfect city to bring your pets. The ancient rainforests of Vancouver Island are entwined with a network of pet friendly trails. Victoria is home to off leash dog parks, pet friendly beaches (with some seasonal restrictions dependent on location), pet friendly hotels (such as the Fairmont Empress and their beloved canine ambassador Winston), campsites, and patios, and a collection of horse trails. You can explore many of Victoria’s metropolitan and natural spaces with your four-legged companions.

Q: Does Victoria have swimmable beaches?

Surrounded by water, Victoria has countless opportunities to connect with our aquatic playground. Pocket sand beaches dot the coastline from Sidney to Port Renfrew. Each beach tells its own unique story and invites visitors to play and discover in their own unique ways. Explore tide pools for sea creatures with your toddlers or take a dip in the cool Pacific waters. Stretching sand beaches can be a great place to immerse yourself in our coastal sea without the chilly nip some northern waters are known for. We recommend Gonzales Beach and Willows Beach to experience Victoria’s seaside charm. The bravest of souls even venture in the seas in our winter seasons, enjoying such activities as the annual polar bear swim

The ocean isn’t Victoria’s only connection to water, a stunning array of lakes speckle the landscape and provide amazing opportunities for swimming in warmer waters. Families can enjoy Elk / Beaver Lake Regional Park and Durrance Lake. If you’re looking for the summer place to be, we recommend Thetis Lake, where fantastic swimming, boating, and hiking opportunities greet visitors year-round. And for those looking to take the plunge, a trip to Sooke Potholes connects adventure enthusiasts with one of the best freshwater swimming holes around.

Q: Why is the water so important in Victoria?

Victoria is surrounded by water. The Salish Sea has provided for the inhabitants of the regions for thousands of years. The rich bounty of the sea makes Victoria one of the world’s preeminent fishing destinations and feeds a west coast dining scene unlike other Pacific cities. Our rugged coastline provides a seemingly endless collection of bays, quays, coves, and beaches waiting to be explored. Beachcombers can enjoy views of distant mountain ranges and marine mammals such as orcas, humpbacks, grey whales, harbour seals, otters, and more. This connection to water has written a storied maritime heritage celebrated throughout the city, region, and even world. A beautiful inner harbour provides protection for boaters and yachters alike, as Harbour Ferries and rowers dance across its tranquil waters. The once treacherous straits that line Greater Victoria’s coasts, were made navigable by a series of turn-of-the-century, picture-perfect lighthouses that stand to this day. A landscape polka dotted with lakes provides the perfect escape for friends and families to soak up west coast sunshine in secluded environments

Q: When was Victoria established?

Victoria was established as Fort Victoria in 1843 by the Hudson's Bay Fur Trading Company and was incorporated as a city in 1862.

Q: What is the City of Victoria's motto?

Semper Liber (Always Free).

Q: Where is Vancouver Island and how big is it?

Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of North America. Tucked against the mainland coast of British Columbia and the north shore of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver Island occupies an area about the size of Holland.

The island stretches 500 kilometres (320 miles) southeast to northwest with an area of 3,175,000 hectares and 2,150 miles of coastline. It is separated from Vancouver, B.C. by the Strait of Georgia to the east and from Washington State, U.S. by the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south and southeast. Vancouver Island is actually closer to the United States than mainland Canada.

Q: What’s the geography like on Vancouver Island?

Vancouver Island terrain is diverse and includes sandy beaches to rugged coastlines, marshy lowlands to rolling farmland, and lush, old-growth rainforests to snow-capped mountains.

Q: What’s the capital city of British Columbia?

Victoria!

Q: How large is British Columbia?

British Columbia (B.C.) is Canada's third-largest province, and occupies about 10% of Canada's land surface. While B.C. is nearly four times larger than Great Britain and 2.5 times bigger than Japan, its population of 4.8 million is 14 times smaller than Britain's and its land mass is a little more than one-third the size of India.