Province/Territory: British Columbia

BC's Floral Capital City

  • 950 hanging baskets in summer
  • 3333 lights on the Parliament Buildings
  • 750000 cups of tea served at the Fairmont Empress Hotel

British Columbia's capital city blends British colonial charm with a fresh west coast take on fashion, food and the arts. Slip back to a time of 19th century gentility at the venerable ivy-covered Empress Hotel. See the Parliament Buildings lit up in splendour at night. Enter through the Gate of Harmonious Interest to tour Canada's oldest Chinatown and shop for curios in Fan Tan Alley. Pet a woolly mammoth at the Royal BC Museum.  Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, shop downtown's vintage boutiques or visit a towering castle built by a coal baron. Stroll world famous Butchart Gardens for its glorious sunken gardens. Marvel at the cherry blossoms in bloom in spring. Mingle with the locals on the popular seawall stroll or at Victoria's many brewpubs, bistros and restaurants specializing in fresh-caught seafood and local Vancouver Island and BC wines.

Outdoor adventure

  • Book a whale-watching excursion in the harbour to photograph orcas, marine birds and sea lions.
  • Hike in the wilds of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and search for First Nations Tsartlip middeens.
  • Tune-up with a PADI scuba course before diving at Race Rocks or at Victoria's two local shipwrecks.
  • Cycle, hike or horseback ride on the 55-km (34-mi) Galloping Goose Trail, a historic rail line running from Victoria to Sooke.

Urban adventures

  • Take High Tea as the British colonials did at Victoria’s 100-year-old Fairmont Empress Hotel, one of Canada's iconic heritage hotels.
  • Enter the house of Chief Kwakwabalasami to see the carvings created by his descendents in the First Peoples Gallery at the Royal BC Museum.
  • Visit one of the finest examples of an intact Edwardian estate at the 565-acre Hatley Park National Historic Site in Sooke.
  • Visit two of Victoria's best-loved institutions, Munro's Books and Rogers' Chocolates, established in 1885.
  • Float in locally harvested kelp in a seaweed-infused spa bath at Brentwood Bay Resort.

Arts & Culture

  • Step into the former Hollywood set for the movie Little Women at magnificent Hatley Castle and visit the downstairs Hatley Museum's exhibits of military regalia.
  • Catch the ballet, opera and symphony at Victoria's Royal Theatre.
  • Cruise through downtown's art galleries, designer's studios, curio shops and Antique Alley. Watch a super-sized documentary or blockbuster in 3-D at the six-storey IMAX Victoria theatre.

Food & Drink

  • Get cozy over cocktails in the sumptuous Bengal Room at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
  • Bring a picnic lunch to Fort Rodd Hill, a National Historic Site.
  • Take a taste tour of the ales on tap at a local brewpub.
  • Sip a fine Island Syrah at a Saanich Peninsula winery or hop aboard the historic Mill Bay ferry to tour Cowichan Valley farms and vineyards.
  • Try shitake-tofu potstickers at one of Victoria's innovative vegetarian eateries.
  • Make the short drive to the Sooke Harbour House for a meal of pan-fried Hecate Strait halibut and Salt Spring Island mussels.

Nature & Wildlife

  • Peer into an underwater world of moon jellies and sea stars on a marine biologist-guided eco-tour from Brentwood Bay Resort.
  • Stroll 55 acres of colourful flowerbeds, velvety lawns and tranquil paths at The Butchart Gardens.
  • Meet a beagle-sized bug on a behind-the-scenes Entymology Tour at the Royal BC Museum.
  • Book a whale-watching or wildlife excursion from Victoria Harbour by zodiac or floatplane.
  • Spot the peacocks in Beacon Hill Park and see emus and alpacas at the children's petting zoo.

Weather

  • Victoria is located in a sub-Mediterranean zone and takes top spot as an Environment Canada "Weather Winner" for the mildest winters in Canada.
  • Victoria boasts an average of 2,183 hours of sunshine a year and is frost-free eight months of the year.
  • Spring is mild, arriving as early as February, followed by an explosion of cherry blossoms in March.
  • Summers are dry and sunny, with average July and August temperatures of 21°C.
  • Fall, from late-September to November, brings mild, but cooler weather.
  • Winters are short and snow is rare. Average monthly temperatures in January are 6.5°C, with warmer clothing recommended from November to March.
  • Discover local weather information[]. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Quick facts

Area: 695 sq-km (432 sq-mi)
Status: Capital city of BC
Nickname: "City of Gardens"
Population: 84,002 (City of Victoria); 325,754 (The Capital Region)  
Eateries: Ranked third city in North America for the highest number of restaurants per capita.

When to go
  • Victoria's gardens bloom year-round and the annual Victoria Flower Count welcomes spring the first week in March.
  • July for family friendly Canada Day celebrations and fireworks in Victoria Inner Harbour and for street theatre during the Victoria International Buskers Festival.
  • Year-round for whale-watching and wildlife viewing tours from Victoria and nearby Sidney and Sooke.
  • Tour up to 70 decorated Christmas trees during the Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, late November to early January.
Getting Here
Getting around