Cowichan Valley

#9 in Best Things To Do in Victoria & Vancouver Island
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Cowichan Valley2 of 3
Andrea Johnson/Courtesy Tourism BC

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Prices vary by winery
Hours vary by winery

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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 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. Or, to participate in the region's annual wine festival, plan to visit in late August.

But wine isn't the only reason to visit this beautiful stretch of Vancouver Island. The Cowichan Valley is also home to golf courses, art galleries and plenty of hiking terrain. Many travel experts also recommend bringing a bike so that you can cover more ground without confining yourself to the car. Recent visitors recommended the Cowichan Valley Trail for cycling and hiking.

The Cowichan Valley is about 35 miles north of Victoria. If you've got your own set of wheels (and a day or two of wiggle room on your itinerary), many travel experts suggest you take the nearly 180-mile Pacific Marine Circle Route, which hugs the coastline from Victoria west to Port Renfrew before meandering into the forests of the Cowichan Lake area and the Cowichan Valley. There's also a more direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway that takes about 45 minutes. If you'd rather travel by boat, you can make your north way to Brentwood Bay (about 13 miles north of the Inner Harbour) and catch the Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry to Cowichan. For more information on lodging, wineries and other things to do in the valley, visit the Tourism Cowichan website.

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#1 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.

Although the majority of recent visitors recommended spending a few hours at the Inner Harbour for the view, some suggested devoting at least half a day as there is always something interesting to see and do. For an even more charming scene, return in the evening, when the Parliament Buildings are lit up. 

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