Victoria is a city with plenty of activities to explore for all ages. It’s one of the most picturesque capital of British Columbia surrounded by water on three sides, restaurants and you can access many of the attractions by local bus, hop in/hop off city bus and walking is another convenient mode to explore the downtown area. We have visited Victoria 10 years ago from Vancouver via ferry service and the city has not lost its charm since then.
Victoria Clipper is one of the modes of transportation that you can leverage from Seattle to visit Victoria. It’s a 3 hour ferry ride providing only passenger service and does not have facilities to take your car along with you. As there were lot of transportation options in Victoria, we decided to travel from Seattle this time. Another option would be drive by car to Vancouver and take the ferry ride service from Vancouver that has the flexibility to take your car.Victoria Clipper vacations was relaxing and was very comfortable to ride.
What to do in Victoria
I would say Victoria would be a perfect weekend gateway for tourists travelling from Northwest or other parts of the country. Some of them would even do for one day but I would recommend to spend at least 2 days to see it more relaxed if you have enough time.
If you do not have your car, you can definitely rent a car if that suits your budget. Victoria has public transportation options and they offer day passes and daily fares. The day pass costs only 5$ which is very economical and convenient too instead of the daily fare which is expensive. We used the local bus service to visit the Butchart gardens that takes an additional 15-20 min versus express bus services. The express bus service might probably have comfort seats versus local bus – it depends on what you are looking for and the available time/budget for your family.
Bike & scooter rentals is also very popular and is available in many areas within downtown. Many people travel by bike to Butchart gardens and this was a very common sight to watch during our trip.
Butchart gardens is one of the most popular and visited attractions and my favorite too. The garden is opened year round with multitude of flower collections attracting everyone’s eyes visiting the garden. The garden is accessible by car or public transit and takes only 30-45 minutes from Victoria downtown. Depending on your interest towards nature, I would say to reserve at least half a day to enjoy the beauty of the gardens. They have five different types of garden : Sunken Garden, Rose garden, Japanese, Italian and Mediterranean garden. Each of these gardens are unique and so beautiful to watch & u’ll be immersed in their lovely arrangements.
There are two restaurants and coffee shops within the Butchart gardens. If you are vegetarian, there are not choices available for dining at the Gardens. You are mostly left with coffee and light snacks. You’ll need to be prepared if ur planning for the whole day at the garden.
China Town is a very small place in Victoria. It has a grand entrance just like any China Town in other parts of the country but there were not many things to see in Victoria China Town’s area. They had very limited shops and was very ordinary compared to the ones that I’ve seen in San Francisco.
This museum is for everyone and the price is reasonable as well.We admired all the hard work that is behind the production and manufacture of every small piece to build a Miniature World together. The museum brings in some of the models depicting the history & civilizations of our ancestors, introduction to the automobile space (first cars), Canadian history, castles, dollhouses etc. They also have 11 new themed displays showing King Arthur’s Camelot which was a recent addition and we did not see this during our last visit.
The Castle is a National Historic Site of Canada and has extraordinary furnishings throughout the entire four story building. The interiors are beautifully decorated and is known for it’s woodwork and glass decorations. It’s 2 Kms from Victoria downtown and located in a residential community. This attraction involves climbing up four floors and takes approximately an hour and depends on your interest towards art/architectural likings. We came to know that this castle has been used in the past as a Hospital, College before being opened to the public as a national Historic site.
Other sightseeing places
1. Whale Watching
2. Royal BC Museum & Imax
3. Fairmont Empress Tea – We did not visit this place but heard this is a popular one and you will need to get an appointment for the tea at Empress
4. Hippo Tours – Bus riding in the water just like Ride the ducks in Seattle
Places to eat
Victoria is one of the prime spots to try seafood and you’ll see several seafood restaurants near downtown area.
In this trip, we explored 2 new places that had some delicious entrees and starters.
Milestones Restaurant has excellent seafood options. We normally restrict eating seafood outside and prefer mostly home made food. The best part was my mother tried eating Tilapia at this place and enjoyed the food.
Our most favorites at this place were Crispy Chicken Asian Bites and Chili Crusted Tilapia fish. I wanted to take a snapshot of the fish but all of us were so hungry that we missed the shot of the beautiful arrangements of the Tilapia entrée 🙂
Indian Restaurant This Indian restaurant had unique flavors and everything tasted fresh just like home-made. I have come across very few Indian restaurants that maintain the freshness of the food and this is one of them. Their Saag(Spinach) was tasting awesome and if you want to try chicken, go for the Karahi Chicken dish.