In a city that's long been known for its gardens and retirees, change is afoot. Heritage buildings that sat empty for years are being brought back to life as condominiums. The local artisan scene from food to craft beer to jewellery is booming. Tucked away in almost every corner of the city are funky bars, eateries and coffee houses. But despite the transformation taking place, Victoria still retains its relaxed island vibe.
With its compact size and spectacular natural setting, Victoria is made for walking. Wander along the waterside trail from the Inner Harbour to Fisherman’s Wharf with its colourful collection of houseboats. This is the best spot in town for some fish and chips or an ice cream. But you might have company—local seals like to drop in from time to time. For the return trip, climb aboard one of the distinctive water taxis for the short ride back to town.
Right beside the iconic Legislature Building, the Royal BC Museum will keep everyone entertained for hours. This museum is the largest in the province, housing displays that cover natural and human history, special exhibitions, and an IMAX cinema.
If you want to live like a local while you're in Victoria, then you’re going to need a bike. Rentals are available downtown and this exceptionally bike-friendly city offers a range of cycling routes that take you from urban side streets to breathtaking ocean lookouts. Galloping Goose and Lochside Regional trails are two favourites among locals. Both are built on former railway lines and connect you to quaint seaside communities.
In the mood for some retail therapy? Spend an afternoon discovering the boutique stores of Victoria’s alleys and squares. Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada with some areas less than one-metre wide. It is lined with eclectic shops and leads to the country’s oldest Chinatown. If you’re looking to purchase something one-of-a-kind, take a stroll along chic Trounce Alley. Plus, Victoria is ground zero for tea lovers. If you can’t find the perfect blend in one of the many tea shops then it probably doesn’t exist.
From a stroll along the causeway to the inner harbour and whale watching, to visiting the world famous Butchart Gardens, or indulging in some of Canada's best culinary experiences, you'll find that there’s no shortage of activities to fit into your Victoria getaway.