The provincial capital of Victoria, B.C. has long been boasted as North America’s most English city. This postcard-perfect city offers a unique blend of old, classic charm and new world experiences. To help you make the most of this beautiful time of year, we’ve created a travel guide to help inspire exploration and new adventures.
Getting to Victoria
There are two main ways to get to Victoria – drive and take the ferry or book a flight. Ferrying and driving may be cheaper but it is considerably more time consuming and inconvenient than flying. Of course, we may be a bit biased, be we think there’s no better way to see the gorgeous Pacific Northwest than from a bird’s eye view. Traveling by air allows you to see so much spectacular scenery, such as mountains, islands, and cities. Furthermore, flying with us will maximize your time away. No traffic, no ferry lines, no TSA, no hassle. Here at San Juan Airlines we offer chartered flights to Victoria that will get you there in just a little over an hour. Once you arrive at Victoria International Airport, it’s about a 30-45 minute drive to the city. With a chartered flight, you will have exclusive use of the airplane. With numerous airports between Seattle and the north end, you can choose how much you would like to drive or fly. Check out our prices, which vary based on distance flown.
Read about more about getting to Victoria on Tourism Victoria.
Things To See and Do
Where Government Street & Belleville Street intersect- Inner Harbour is one of the most beautiful harbors on the planet. During the summer, there are plenty of festivals, shows, and music on the harbor. There are also many ecotourism businesses, restaurants, an international ferry terminal.
Government Street Area
Government Street is a lively street full of some of Victoria’s biggest tourist attractions. There is shopping, good food, the harbor, and sites (especially at night). This a great place to just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere and architecture of Victoria.
The cluster of majestic Neo-baroque style Parliament Buildings overlook Inner Harbour and are open to the public from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30 am to 5:00 pm year-round. The buildings are enormous and will for sure leave you in awe. There are 30-45 guided tours that are free, or you can wander around on your own any day of the week. If that doesn’t sound interesting enough, there are actors dressed as characters from Canadian History that engage with the crowd.
Butchart Gardens is a highly recommended, must-see oasis that is over 100 years in the making. These popular floral gardens have become a National Historic Site of Canada and remain privately owned by the family. These gardens are a dream for any nature lover and even for those who aren’t, you will likely be surprised. If you have a chance, make a reservation for dinner. In the evening, sometimes there is an open-air symphony performance going to add to the surreal atmosphere. Make sure to bring your walking shoes as it is a long walk through the gardens and you’ll definitely want to take your time to see it all and “smell the roses.” Check out the Butchart Gardens website for more details.
Spanning 75 acres along the shore of the Juan de Fuca Strait, Beacon Hill Park is a nice oasis from a busy urban area. The park was developed 1882 and It is deeply connected with the city’s history. There are many things to do at the park, such as miniature golf, a petting zoo, sports fields, playgrounds, a cricket pitch, a water park, and concerts during the summer.
Take a carriage tour to enjoy an iconic sightseeing experience. Their majestic horses and knowledgeable guides will escort you on a relaxing and enjoyable ride through this historic city, and the professional tour guides will tell you some history, fun facts, and stories to keep you entertained along the way. There are many tour packages available on the Tally Ho website. What cool way to save some legs and still see the city!
This stunning indoor facility is home to around 3,000 butterflies and spans 12,000 square feet. The gardens also have birds and fish, and you’ll find all of these creatures mingling throughout the garden, creating a vibrant and colorful atmosphere. Check out Butterfly Gardens’ website for more information.
Just 16 km from downtown Victoria, Goldstream Provincial Park offers something quite different from the urban adventures of B.C.’s capital. There are a number of trails where you’ll see giant trees, impressive waterfalls, a winding river, flowers, birds, and interesting fish. The trails range from easy and wheelchair accessible to tough hikes through the hilly land. Those feeling more adventurous can climb up to Mt. Finlayson, one of the highest points in Victoria, to see some spectacular views.
Craigdarroch Castle is a mansion built in 1890 by Robert and Joan Dunsmuir who were once the wealthiest people in British Columbia. The ‘castle’ features a luxurious interior with beautiful woodwork, unique Victorian artifacts, and a collection of stained glass, all within a nice walk from downtown Victoria.
Places to Stay
“From luxurious and exclusive to the charming and affordable, Victoria’s accommodations are sure to suit everyone.” –Tourism Victoria
The Fairmont Empress Hotel – Treat yourself to this iconic hotel, which has been regarded as a Condé Nast Readers’ Choice and Gold List hotel, and honored with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel. The Empress is world famous for its Royal Afternoon Tea served in the sophisticated Lobby Lounge.
Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites – Located in the heart of downtown, just steps from the Inner Harbour. The employees are excellent, the hotel is spacious, and the views from the balcony are spectacular.
Hotel Grand Pacific – Right next to the British Columbia Legislature, the Hotel Grand Pacific was recently voted in the Top 500 places to stay by Travel + Leisure Magazine. It’s also just 2 blocks from Victoria’s downtown restaurant and shopping scene.
If you’re looking for something else, you can browse more places to stay on Tourism Victoria.
What to Bring
Comfortable, all-weather shoes. It’s important to remember that you’ll be walking a lot, and since Victoria is a city that can be rainy one hour and sunny the next, you’ll want to pack shoes that are both comfortable and supportive.
Rain jacket. Of course, if you’re traveling in the Pacific Northwest you’ll want to pack a rain jacket! A lightweight, packable jacket that you can easily fit in your pocket when not using it would be best!
Sun protection. Victoria gets sunny as well. Since you’ll likely be outdoors a lot, it’s important to be prepared to protect yourself from those harmful UV rays. This means sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are all important items that should be on your list of things to bring.
A picnic blanket. You’ll find nice patches of grass at Beacon Hill Park or in front of the Parliament buildings, which are both a great place to rest those legs and have lunch. One that’s waterproof and folds up nicely might be a good idea so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet.
We hope this article was helpful! If you’re looking for more information and things to do in Victoria, make sure to head to Tourism Victoria! We would love to hear from you and see your photos. Share your adventure with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #SanJuanAirlines. Safe travels!