Victoria & Vancouver Island Travel Guide

Canada  #4 in Best Places to Visit in Canada
Credit

Courtesy of JoeRos/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Updated October 10, 2018

  • #1
    Things to do in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    View all Photos
    #1 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    The Butchart Gardens
    View all Photos
    #2 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    These world-renowned gardens have impressed Victoria visitors since 1904. Resting on 55 acres about 15 miles north of the Inner Harbour, Butchart Gardens were carefully constructed by Jennie Butchart on her husband's former limestone quarry. Today, more than 1 million people stop by each year to meander along the property's flower-lined

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Parliament Buildings
    View all Photos
    #3 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Royal British Columbia Museum
    View all Photos
    #4 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Goldstream Provincial Park
    View all Photos
    #5 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located about 11 miles northwest of the Inner Harbour, Goldstream Provincial Park houses a stunning array of flora and abundant natural beauty across its nearly 1,000 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

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Mount Washington Alpine Resort
    View all Photos
    #6 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Fairmont Empress
    View all Photos
    #7 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Cafes, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. But while the interior decoration is worth a photo or two, the main reason to visit this colossal hotel (if you aren’t staying there)

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Whale Watching Tours
    View all Photos
    #8 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though you may be able to spot whales from the ferry, you'll have the best chance of seeing them during an organized whale-watching tour. Plus, you'll benefit from knowledgeable guides who have access to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, which sits on the southernmost part of Vancouver Island (and Canada)

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Cowichan Valley
    View all Photos
    #9 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Wineries/Breweries, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Wineries/Breweries, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Craigdarroch Castle
    View all Photos
    #10 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    To sample the Victorian high life, head about a mile east of the Inner Harbour to Craigdarroch Castle, a National Historic Site. This impressive home was built in the late 1800s for coal tycoon Robert Dunsmuir. Although it's more of a mansion than a castle, it houses 39 rooms, each of which is decked out in

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Sooke
    View all Photos
    Sooke
    free
    #11 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. Recent visitors enjoyed the East Sooke

    ...Read More »
  • #12
    Victoria Butterfly Gardens
    View all Photos
    #12 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 thousands of butterflies spread across its 12,000 square feet. But they aren't the only critters: The gardens also host a variety of

    ...Read More »
  • #13
    Victoria Bug Zoo
    View all Photos
    #13 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're traveling to Victoria with kids in tow (or even without), 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

    ...Read More »
  • #14
    Miniature World
    View all Photos
    #14 in Victoria & Vancouver Island
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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

    ...Read More »
  • BC Aviation Museum
    View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • West Coast Brewery Tours
    View all Photos
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Beacon Hill Park
    View all Photos
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

Explore More of Victoria & Vancouver Island

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019