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Victoria, British Columbia

Updated on February 8, 2015

The Beautiful City of Victoria

In a province of exceptional beauty, Victoria still stands out of one of Canada's most lovely treasures. Situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, Victoria enjoys a wonderful climate which means the gardens are gorgeous. Daffodils in February? Believe it!

As the capital city of British Columbia and a prime tourist destination as well, Victoria offers much in the way of museums, historical sites, government buildings, restaurants and tourist attractions. Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862, which made her officially 150 years old in 2012. Maybe Victoria is a city to add to your list of must- see destinatons this year.

Image Credit: Author's Photo

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Victoria Harbor and BC Legislature
Victoria Harbor and BC Legislature

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Natural heart of the city

Victoria is situated on a stunning natural harbor. Many famous buildings face the inner harbor including the Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum and the British Columbia Legislature buildings - home of the provincial government. Tourist attractions abound in the area, and so do the street vendors and buskers. On a summer day, the harbour buzzes with activity. Everyone wants to be outside strolling along the water, enjoying the sun and fun!

Image Credit: Author's Photo

Empress Hotel Victoria BC
Empress Hotel Victoria BC

The Empress Hotel

Majestic historical landmark

After it opened in 1908, the majestic Empress Hotel quickly became the accommodation of choice for royalty, movie stars and other famous people. Today, it is an icon of the city and a delightful reminder of a bygone age. Afternoon Tea at the Empress is a favorite tourist "must do". You reserve well in advance for one of several sittings. When you arrive, you are ushered to your table in the opulent tea lobby. The d├ęcor is reminiscent of the Victorian colonial era when Queen Victoria was Empress of India. Elegance is the order of the day as you savour the special blend of Empress tea served in Empress Royal Douton china cups and a three-tiered plate of fancy sandwiches, pastries and fruit. Later, you can wander through the hotel to gaze at the lovely Edwardian architecture from the inside.

The Empress has been extensively restored and still operates as a hotel, now under the Fairmont banner. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Image Credits: Author's Photos

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Flowers are everywhere. The Empress is surrounded by lush gardens, arbors and walkways.Afternoon Tea at the Empress is an event to be remembered. The special tea blend is served in china exclusively made by Royal Doulton for the Empress Hotel.Behind the Empress Hotel you can look down for a glimpse of the gardens the guests enjoy.The Empress Hotel is a well-known landmark in Victoria. Restoration has preserved it as an excellent example of Edwardian architecture in Canada.Tulips are tucked into a small plot along Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel.
Flowers are everywhere. The Empress is surrounded by lush gardens, arbors and walkways.
Flowers are everywhere. The Empress is surrounded by lush gardens, arbors and walkways.
Afternoon Tea at the Empress is an event to be remembered. The special tea blend is served in china exclusively made by Royal Doulton for the Empress Hotel.
Afternoon Tea at the Empress is an event to be remembered. The special tea blend is served in china exclusively made by Royal Doulton for the Empress Hotel.
Behind the Empress Hotel you can look down for a glimpse of the gardens the guests enjoy.
Behind the Empress Hotel you can look down for a glimpse of the gardens the guests enjoy.
The Empress Hotel is a well-known landmark in Victoria. Restoration has preserved it as an excellent example of Edwardian architecture in Canada.
The Empress Hotel is a well-known landmark in Victoria. Restoration has preserved it as an excellent example of Edwardian architecture in Canada.
Tulips are tucked into a small plot along Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel.
Tulips are tucked into a small plot along Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel.
Royal BC Museum
Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum

In view of the inner harbor, the Royal British Columbia Museum is just across the street from both the Empress and the legislative buildings. In the same complex are the National Geographic IMAX theatre with its six story high screen, and the BC Archives.

Royal BC Museum

Victoria's Market Square
Victoria's Market Square

Explore Market Square

A funky thing to do in Victoria

For a unique shopping experience, visit the eclectic boutiques of Market Square. You will find it few minutes north of the inner harbor just before you come to Chinatown. Heritage brick-and-beam buildings frame a sunken, open air courtyard that is home to one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and a winter farmers' market. And there are more buskers!

Visit the Market Square Website

Image Credit: Author's Photo

The Gates of Harmonious Interest in Chinatown, Victoria
The Gates of Harmonious Interest in Chinatown, Victoria

Victoria's Chinatown

The oldest in Canada

Step through The Gate of Harmonious Interest for a sensory experience as you experience Canada's Oldest Chinatown. Browse the dry goods shops filled with charming treasures in tiny rooms opening off one another. Savor the exotic scents and tastes of the grocery shops and restaurants. Explore narrow Fan Tan Alley, once the entrance to a maze of passages, courtyards, opium dens, and gambling clubs, now home to fascinating shops and studios.

Image Credits: Author's Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Gate of Harmonious Interest was built in China and erected in Victoria in 1981.Today Fan Tan Alley is home to many interesting shops. You can still see the original construction of the passages leading from the alleyway.Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America.The old Chinese Public School was built in 1909 and has been well preserved.Dark and mysterious, Fan Tan Alley was once the entrance to a maze of convoluted passageways, courtyards, opium dens, and gambling clubs.
The Gate of Harmonious Interest was built in China and erected in Victoria in 1981.
The Gate of Harmonious Interest was built in China and erected in Victoria in 1981.
Today Fan Tan Alley is home to many interesting shops. You can still see the original construction of the passages leading from the alleyway.
Today Fan Tan Alley is home to many interesting shops. You can still see the original construction of the passages leading from the alleyway.
Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America.
Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America.
The old Chinese Public School was built in 1909 and has been well preserved.
The old Chinese Public School was built in 1909 and has been well preserved.
Dark and mysterious, Fan Tan Alley was once the entrance to a maze of convoluted passageways, courtyards, opium dens, and gambling clubs.
Dark and mysterious, Fan Tan Alley was once the entrance to a maze of convoluted passageways, courtyards, opium dens, and gambling clubs.
Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia
Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia

The City of Gardens

If you love flowers, Victoria will delight you. It enjoys the mildest climate in Canada and is in a temperate rain forest as well. Translation? It's the perfect place for gardens. The folks who live here revel in their gardening good fortune. Azaleas, camellias, arbutus trees. You'll see a riot of color and beauty everywhere you look - the public buildings, the parks, the hotels, the private homes.

To spend even more time enjoying gardens, you can take a short drive northwest of Victoria and spend the day surrounding yourself in the glorious color of Butchart Gardens. Once a private residence, this site is now open to the public. Around 1900, Robert Butchart quarried limestone for the concrete industry on his property. Rather than live by an abandoned quarry, his wife, Jennie Butchart turned the pit into a stunning sunken garden. The project pleased them so much that they continued to expand, adding a Japanese garden, an Italian garden, a rose garden and many other landscape features. If you love beauty, this excursion is well worth your while.

Visit the Butchart Gardens Website

Image Credits: Author's Photos

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Add Victoria to Your Travel Wishlist

Secret Beaches of Greater Victoria: View Royal to Sidney
Secret Beaches of Greater Victoria: View Royal to Sidney

Would you like to explore beaches only the locals know about? This book describes one hundred beaches in and around Victoria. The profits from this book support local environmental work and the international humanitarian group, Doctors Without Borders.

 
Victoria: Crown Jewel of British Columbia, Including Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich and the Peninsula
Victoria: Crown Jewel of British Columbia, Including Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich and the Peninsula

This book is a photo essay, history book and travel guide that will delight you both before and after you visit Victoria. Written by Vancouver Island local, Susan Mayse, whose family has a long history in the area, with photography by Chris Cheadle.

 
Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula (Canada Series)
Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula (Canada Series)

If you love photo books, the images captured in this one will not only please you, they'll help you remember your visit, or make you feel like you've been there if it hasn't happened yet.

 
Portrait of Greater Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island
Portrait of Greater Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island

More photography by Chris Cheadle, internationally recognized travel photographer. And since he is a resident of the area, he knows where to find the very best shots.

 

Official Tourism Websites - Great resources for your travel planning

Look for the slogan - Super, Natural British Columbia, Canada

Where is Victoria?

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, West Coast, Canada

A markerVictoria, BC -
Victoria, BC
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    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      I live in Victoria. You have done an excellent job of showcasing our beautiful city. I'm proud to call it my home.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 5 years ago

      I've never been to Victoria, but it looks like a beautiful place to visit.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love visiting Victoria! There is always so much to see and do. I would love to visit Butchart Gardens especially in the spring. Haven't visited those lovely gardens since I was a child.

    • profile image

      BC-Islander 5 years ago

      I just went there during the snowstorm a couple weeks ago (January 2012) but it looks like you were there when things were alive and blooming! I hear it is the garden city, can not wait to go back in the Spring/Summer months.