comScore

Victoria & Vancouver Island Travel Guide

Canada

#3 in Best Places to Hike in North America

Best Things To Do in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Devote a day to Victoria's picturesque Inner Harbour. Here you'll find popular sites like the Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as cafes and restaurants boasting wonderful views of the water. After you've exhausted central Victoria, get a feel for British Columbia's natural side: Spend some time at the renowned Butchart Gardens, hike through Goldstream Provincial Park or enjoy a ferry ride to nearby Sooke (and keep your eyes peeled for whales). Just make sure you save an afternoon for the Cowichan Valley, where dozens of small vineyards offer tours and tastings.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

British Columbia is peppered with vineyards. To snag a taste of BC vino (and maybe even a few bottles to bring home), spend a day or two in the Cowichan Valley – second only to the Okanagan as the province's highest producing wine region. Occupying the heart of Vancouver Island  roughly 35 miles northwest of Victoria  the Cowichan Valley is home to a variety of different wineries and tasting rooms. The best way to get a feel for this part of the island is to stop at several vineyards for a tasting. To participate in the renowned Savour Cowichan Festival, plan to visit in late September and early October.
... more
Wineries/Breweries Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Cowichan Valley
British Columbia is peppered with vineyards. To snag a taste of BC vino (and maybe even a few bottles to bring home), spend a day or two in the Cowichan Valley – second only to the Okanagan as the province's highest producing wine region. Occupying the heart of Vancouver Island  roughly 35 miles northwest of Victoria  the Cowichan Valley is home to a variety of different wineries and tasting rooms. The best way to get a feel for this part of the island is to stop at several vineyards for a tasting. To participate in the renowned Savour Cowichan Festival, plan to visit in late September and early October.
... more

#2
Sooke Free

#2 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Free
This little community on the southern tip of Vancouver Island makes for a quaint and quiet alternative to Victoria. Sooke's sheltered harbor is filled with fishing boats rather than tourists, and its numerous parks provide a scenic backdrop for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You'll also find an assortment of water activities here  including fishing, sailing and whale watching  thanks to the town's location on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
... more
Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Sooke
This little community on the southern tip of Vancouver Island makes for a quaint and quiet alternative to Victoria. Sooke's sheltered harbor is filled with fishing boats rather than tourists, and its numerous parks provide a scenic backdrop for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You'll also find an assortment of water activities here  including fishing, sailing and whale watching  thanks to the town's location on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
... more

#3

#3 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Free
The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are hard to miss. These neo-baroque structures with their impressive blue dome face off against Victoria's famed Fairmont Empress Hotel and make an excellent backdrop for an Inner Harbour stroll, especially at night when the facade is dressed in lights. But if you want a closer look at the building (which dates back to 1898), many travelers suggest a tour. Although you can take a self-guided tour, you should consider tagging along on a free guided tour, according to recent visitors.
... more
Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Parliament Buildings
The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are hard to miss. These neo-baroque structures with their impressive blue dome face off against Victoria's famed Fairmont Empress Hotel and make an excellent backdrop for an Inner Harbour stroll, especially at night when the facade is dressed in lights. But if you want a closer look at the building (which dates back to 1898), many travelers suggest a tour. Although you can take a self-guided tour, you should consider tagging along on a free guided tour, according to recent visitors.
... more

#4

#4 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Free
Located about 11 miles northwest of the Inner Harbour, Goldstream Provincial Park houses a stunning array of flora and abundant natural beauty across its 1,200 acres. But the real reason to visit this public wildlife area is rather fishy: Spend some time by the Goldstream River from late fall to early winter, and you're bound to catch a glimpse of the annual salmon migration. Between October and December, chum, coho and chinook salmon can be seen leaping upstream to their ancestral spawning beds. The park's trails follow the river closely, allowing you to get a good look at the watery highway.
... more
Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Goldstream Provincial Park
Located about 11 miles northwest of the Inner Harbour, Goldstream Provincial Park houses a stunning array of flora and abundant natural beauty across its 1,200 acres. But the real reason to visit this public wildlife area is rather fishy: Spend some time by the Goldstream River from late fall to early winter, and you're bound to catch a glimpse of the annual salmon migration. Between October and December, chum, coho and chinook salmon can be seen leaping upstream to their ancestral spawning beds. The park's trails follow the river closely, allowing you to get a good look at the watery highway.
... more

#5

#5 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Free
The Inner Harbour is Victoria's primary tourist neighborhood. The harbor itself  home to various fishing boats and colorful floating homes  is framed by wide pedestrian streets, often frequented by street vendors and buskers. Numerous cafes and restaurants line the sidewalks and provide the perfect locale to savor an afternoon cup of tea while keeping your eyes peeled for whales playing in the open water. The Inner Harbour also hosts some of Victoria's most popular attractions, including the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament Buildings. If you're embarking on a boat or ferry tour, this is where you'll likely start your journey.
... more
Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Inner Harbour
The Inner Harbour is Victoria's primary tourist neighborhood. The harbor itself  home to various fishing boats and colorful floating homes  is framed by wide pedestrian streets, often frequented by street vendors and buskers. Numerous cafes and restaurants line the sidewalks and provide the perfect locale to savor an afternoon cup of tea while keeping your eyes peeled for whales playing in the open water. The Inner Harbour also hosts some of Victoria's most popular attractions, including the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Parliament Buildings. If you're embarking on a boat or ferry tour, this is where you'll likely start your journey.
... more

#6

#6 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

The Royal British Columbia Museum offers visitors a comprehensive introduction to the region's history and culture. Exhibits include tribal artifacts from the First Nations, natural history displays and even replicas of Colonial-era settlements. The museum also boasts an IMAX theater and rotating special exhibits.
... more
Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Royal British Columbia Museum
The Royal British Columbia Museum offers visitors a comprehensive introduction to the region's history and culture. Exhibits include tribal artifacts from the First Nations, natural history displays and even replicas of Colonial-era settlements. The museum also boasts an IMAX theater and rotating special exhibits.
... more

#7

#7 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Sitting on the eastern edge of Vancouver Island's Strathcona Provincial Park, the Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of the region's most prominent ski areas. And it's easy to see why: The resort boasts 81 alpine runs and 1,657 feet of vertical drop. Couple that with an average 38 feet of annual snowfall and you've got a powder hound's paradise. Recent travelers who visited during ski season said the resort is small, but well-groomed and family-friendly.
... more
Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Mount Washington Alpine Resort
Sitting on the eastern edge of Vancouver Island's Strathcona Provincial Park, the Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of the region's most prominent ski areas. And it's easy to see why: The resort boasts 81 alpine runs and 1,657 feet of vertical drop. Couple that with an average 38 feet of annual snowfall and you've got a powder hound's paradise. Recent travelers who visited during ski season said the resort is small, but well-groomed and family-friendly.
... more

#8

#8 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

These world-renowned gardens have been wow-ing Victoria visitors since 1904. Resting on 55 acres about 14 miles north of the Inner Harbour, The Butchart Gardens were carefully constructed by Jenny Butchart on her husband's former limestone quarry. Today, nearly 1 million people stop by each year to meander along the property's flower-lined paths. Visit on a summer evening to see the gardens illuminated by colored lights and to enjoy some musical entertainment.
... more
Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
The Butchart Gardens
These world-renowned gardens have been wow-ing Victoria visitors since 1904. Resting on 55 acres about 14 miles north of the Inner Harbour, The Butchart Gardens were carefully constructed by Jenny Butchart on her husband's former limestone quarry. Today, nearly 1 million people stop by each year to meander along the property's flower-lined paths. Visit on a summer evening to see the gardens illuminated by colored lights and to enjoy some musical entertainment.
... more

#9

#9 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Challenging the Parliament Buildings from across the Inner Harbour is the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel. Built in the early 20th century, the Empress is one of the region's oldest hotels, and its Colonial Indian decor pays tribute to Queen Victoria's reign as Empress of India. But while the interior decoration is worth a photo or two, the main reason to visit this colossal hotel is for the tea. The Empress has been participating in this time-honored Victorian tradition since opening its doors, and according to travel experts and recent visitors, teatime continues to be a decadent affair here. (Fun fact: The tea served at the Empress is the hotel's own specially crafted brand.)
... more
Cafes Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Fairmont Empress
Challenging the Parliament Buildings from across the Inner Harbour is the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel. Built in the early 20th century, the Empress is one of the region's oldest hotels, and its Colonial Indian decor pays tribute to Queen Victoria's reign as Empress of India. But while the interior decoration is worth a photo or two, the main reason to visit this colossal hotel is for the tea. The Empress has been participating in this time-honored Victorian tradition since opening its doors, and according to travel experts and recent visitors, teatime continues to be a decadent affair here. (Fun fact: The tea served at the Empress is the hotel's own specially crafted brand.)
... more

#10

#10 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Free
It's not sandy shores that draw visitors to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island's southwest coast  it's the craggy coast of Botanical Beach. This rocky shoreline features dozens of tidal pools that house a variety of marine creatures like mussels, snails and sea stars. You'll also be able to spot gray and killer whales feeding at various points along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (the best time to see gray whales is during their migration from the Mexican coast to Alaska in March and April). In fact, the terrain here is so diverse that it was home to the University of Minnesota's marine biology station during the early 1900s. Today, visitors are welcome to explore the beach (and its residents) for themselves – an activity recent visitors highly recommended. 
... more
Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
It's not sandy shores that draw visitors to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver Island's southwest coast  it's the craggy coast of Botanical Beach. This rocky shoreline features dozens of tidal pools that house a variety of marine creatures like mussels, snails and sea stars. You'll also be able to spot gray and killer whales feeding at various points along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (the best time to see gray whales is during their migration from the Mexican coast to Alaska in March and April). In fact, the terrain here is so diverse that it was home to the University of Minnesota's marine biology station during the early 1900s. Today, visitors are welcome to explore the beach (and its residents) for themselves – an activity recent visitors highly recommended. 
... more

#11

#11 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

If you're traveling to Victoria with kids in tow, many recent visitors recommended a stop at the Victoria Bug Zoo. Located a block or so north of the Inner Harbour, this fairly small facility is home to a large number of creepy crawlies. Here, you'll come face to face with gigantic walking sticks, furry tarantulas and even glow-in-the-dark scorpions. Recent visitors rave about the zoo's employees, who are ready to answer any questions you may have about their six- and eight-legged friends. Plus, you can even hold some of the insects – a major point of praise for reviewers.
... more
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Victoria Bug Zoo
If you're traveling to Victoria with kids in tow, many recent visitors recommended a stop at the Victoria Bug Zoo. Located a block or so north of the Inner Harbour, this fairly small facility is home to a large number of creepy crawlies. Here, you'll come face to face with gigantic walking sticks, furry tarantulas and even glow-in-the-dark scorpions. Recent visitors rave about the zoo's employees, who are ready to answer any questions you may have about their six- and eight-legged friends. Plus, you can even hold some of the insects – a major point of praise for reviewers.
... more

#12

#12 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

To sample the Victorian high life, head about a mile east of the Inner Harbour to Craigdarroch Castle, a National Historic Site. This impressive site was built in the late 1800s for coal tycoon Robert Dunsmuir. Although it's more of a mansion than a castle, visitors can explore 39 rooms, each of which is decked out in furnishings from the turn of the 20th century. Even if you aren't a big history buff, many previous visitors recommend stopping by Craigdarroch Castle for the views of downtown Victoria. The only gripe among reviewers: The house doesn't have any ramps or elevators, making it difficult for visitors with mobility issues to tour the upper three floors of the castle.
... more
Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Craigdarroch Castle
To sample the Victorian high life, head about a mile east of the Inner Harbour to Craigdarroch Castle, a National Historic Site. This impressive site was built in the late 1800s for coal tycoon Robert Dunsmuir. Although it's more of a mansion than a castle, visitors can explore 39 rooms, each of which is decked out in furnishings from the turn of the 20th century. Even if you aren't a big history buff, many previous visitors recommend stopping by Craigdarroch Castle for the views of downtown Victoria. The only gripe among reviewers: The house doesn't have any ramps or elevators, making it difficult for visitors with mobility issues to tour the upper three floors of the castle.
... more

#13

#13 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

While you wouldn't normally relate Canada with the jungle, the tropical wetlands thrive in the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. As its name suggests, this indoor facility is home to around 3,000 butterflies spread across its 12,000 square feet. But they aren't the only critters: The gardens also host a variety of birds and fish, including flamingos and koi fish. You'll find all of these creatures mingling amid the flora, creating a vibrant, colorful atmosphere.
... more
Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
While you wouldn't normally relate Canada with the jungle, the tropical wetlands thrive in the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. As its name suggests, this indoor facility is home to around 3,000 butterflies spread across its 12,000 square feet. But they aren't the only critters: The gardens also host a variety of birds and fish, including flamingos and koi fish. You'll find all of these creatures mingling amid the flora, creating a vibrant, colorful atmosphere.
... more

#14

#14 in Victoria & Vancouver Island

Miniature World continues to delight the young and the young at heart with its numerous tiny worlds. Sitting just a short walk from the Inner Harbour, this interactive museum houses dozens of miniature displays and dioramas. Follow the model Canadian railway as it travels across the country or spend some time at the big top in the "Wonderful World of the Circus" display. If you are a literary buff, you'll appreciate a glimpse of the world of Dickens, while time travel aficionados should check out the "Space 2201 A.D." display.
... more
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Miniature World
Miniature World continues to delight the young and the young at heart with its numerous tiny worlds. Sitting just a short walk from the Inner Harbour, this interactive museum houses dozens of miniature displays and dioramas. Follow the model Canadian railway as it travels across the country or spend some time at the big top in the "Wonderful World of the Circus" display. If you are a literary buff, you'll appreciate a glimpse of the world of Dickens, while time travel aficionados should check out the "Space 2201 A.D." display.
... more

Explore More of Victoria & Vancouver Island



Find the Best Price

Enter your check in and check out dates to find the best price

PriceFinder powered by TripAdvisor Primary Logo