Victoria (British Columbia)
It's a medium-sized city with approximately 350,000 in Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula. Nicknamed the Garden City for the Butchart Gardens and the abundant green space within the city, it also lies within the world's most northern Mediterranean climate at a latitude of 48.5° North.
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See the Victoria 7 day forecast at Environment Canada
The main way to get to Vancouver Island and Victoria is via, BC Ferries (+1-888-223-3779) which operates a ferry from Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) to Swartz Bay, a half hour drive north of Victoria. As of April 2014, one way fares are $53.25 per regular sized passenger vehicle (not including the driver), and $16.25 per driver or adult passenger (12 years and over). Children between the ages of 5 and 11 are $8.15. Children under the age of 5 are free.
Payment can be made by cash or credit card, and debit cards can be used at an automatic ticket terminal for foot passengers, but not on the ferry or at the vehicle toll booths. Service runs on the odd hours between 7AM and 9PM during the winter (with extra sailings at busier times) and every hour during the summer. The ferry ride is 1 hour and 35 minutes. Reservations are not required but recommended during peak travel times, including weekends throughout the summer months. There is a $15 charge for reservations made 7 days in advance; $17.50 if less than 7 days. Vehicles without a reservation sometimes have to show up a few hours before they can actually board (there can be multiple sailing waits during peak travel times), so make sure that you check their website to see what the wait is, and make sure that you allow plenty of time to catch your sailing; as the ferry's capacity is usually limited by the amount of space on the car decks, foot passengers can usually get on if they show up 15-20 minutes before their sailing.
Foot passengers can easily take public transit from Vancouver to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to Victoria:
- From Vancouver International Airport, take the SkyTrain to Bridgeport Station and then change to bus number 620. From other locations in Vancouver, catch bus number 620 from either Bridgeport Station or Ladner Exchange. Bus fare is $3.50 from Vancouver International Airport and $5 from Vancouver proper when zone travel is in effect. On evenings after 6:30PM and on weekends and holidays bus fare is $2.50. Exact fare is required. Translink has detailed information about routes and fares.
- From the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, board bus numbers 70, 72 or 73 to travel to downtown Victoria. Bus number 70 is an express bus and still takes about an hour to travel from Swartz Bay to Victoria. Buses 72 and 73 stop in Sidney and Saanichton. Bus fare is $2.50; exact change is required. BC Transit provides detailed information about routes and fares.
As space on the buses is often oversubscribed, it is highly recommended to disembark from the ferry on the lower car deck instead of using the overhead walkways. Passengers who leave this way will reach the bus stops ahead of the crowd.
Other ways to get to Victoria by boat:
- Pacific Coach Line, +1-800-661-1725, offers an express coach service between Vancouver (downtown, Vancouver Int'l Airport, Cruiseship Terminal) and downtown Victoria. This bus service runs on BC Ferries, and tickets can be purchased on board for the trip into town. Cost from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria is approx. $43 one way, or approx. $10 for the trip into town.
- Victoria Clipper, +1-800-888-2535, operates a modern ultra-fast catamaran ferry from downtown Seattle. Fares $US66-80 less for seniors, half price for children. Service is once a day in the winter and up to 3 times a day in the summer. The sailing time is 2.5 hours.
- MV Coho/Black Ball Ferry Line, +1 250 386 2202 (CA) +1 360 457-4491 (US), is a passenger and vehicle ferry running from Port Angeles, Washington across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Crossing time is 90 minutes, and fares are USD61.50 for car and driver and USD17.00 per passenger (USD8.50 for children under 11). Service runs all year except for an annual refit for one week in Winter time. In the winter, this ferry runs 2 sailings a day and in the summer up to 4 sailings per day each way are scheduled.
- Washington State Ferries, +1 206 464-6400, operates a passenger vehicle ferry between Anacortes and Sidney (about half an hour from Victoria) through the San Juan Islands. Passenger or pedestrian fare is USD17.50 each way, vehicle fare including driver is USD46.50 (increases to USD59.85 May–October). This service does not operate during the winter season, generally from the second week of January until the end of March.
By recreational boat
Victoria is a popular destination for boaters from the U.S.A. as well as the Vancouver area. The trip is a long one; the leg across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca from Puget Sound is over 50km. Because of frequent gales and small craft warnings, the boating trips may be rough, and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has a "no one turned away policy".
- Oak Bay Marina While technically not part of Victoria, this incorporated municipality is on the sea to the east. It is a delightful location and an easy bus/taxi/bicycle ride to downtown Victoria.
While Victoria is on an island, it is accessible from the rest of the island by roads and from the mainland by taking one of the car ferries described in By boat. Victoria is connected to Nanaimo and other northern points by the Trans-Canada Hwy 1. BC-4 connects Victoria to Sooke and Port Renfrew. BC-17 connects Sidney (and Vancouver via BC ferries) to Victoria. You can also bring your car on the Black Ball ferries to Port Angeles, WA and the Washington state ferries from Sidney to the San Juan Islands and Anacortes, WA.
By cruise ship
Each year, from April through October, over 200 large cruise ships dock at the Ogden Point cruise ship terminal, with berths for three cruise ships and about 2.5km southwest of the downtown inner harbor, and disembark more than one-third million visitors to the greater Victoria area. Ogden Point is a transit port for cruise ships, typically coming from or going to San Francisco or Seattle, i.e., no cruise ship is home ported at Victoria.
To get to downtown Victoria from Ogden Point, cruise ship visitors have many options: take a pleasant 30-minutes walk through the James Bay residential area (Dallas St. along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then north on Menzies St.), hop on ($2.25) the public bus #30 or #31 that runs along Dallas St., use the Ogden Point Bus and Marine Cruise shuttles at the terminal, or hail a taxi/limo lined up at the pier.
Bus companies travel to Victoria from Vancouver (including Vancouver International Airport), Seattle and from other points on Vancouver Island. Buses travelling to Vancouver Island use BC Ferries, so you still get to enjoy the ferry ride. Some bus companies will make announcements on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry inviting foot passengers to purchase bus tickets for the ride into Victoria. This option is faster than the public transit option noted above, but also more expensive.
- Pacific Coach daily bus service from Vancouver or Vancouver International Airport; takes almost 4 hours to get to downtown Victoria, leaves every two hours from YVR, and costs ~$48 adult one way.
- Greyhound Greyhound travels from various points on Vancouver Island to Victoria.
- Tofino Bus daily express service between Victoria, Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino.
- West Coast Trail Express summer service running along the West Coast Trail connecting Victoria and Nanaimo to Sooke, Port Renfrew, Gordon River and Bamfield.
Public transit from Victoria International to the city is not that great (routes 79 and 83 go there but infrequently), but the YYJ Airport Shuttle Bus picks you up from the airport and takes you to many downtown hotels (tel 1-778-351-4995 or toll-free 1-855-351-4995, 45 minutes one-way, adults $24).
You can also get into Victoria quickly and easily from Vancouver by either helicopter or floatplane. Helicopters into the city operate from Vancouver Harbour or Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR) by Helijet with prices from $119 each way, this will take you into the center of Victoria. Floatplanes land in Victoria Inner Harbour (IATA: YWH), just meters from the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the BC Parliament buildings. Canadian floatplane operators include West Coast Air, Harbour Air and Sea to Sky Air, all of which operate from Vancouver Harbour, with prices at $99-190 each way. There is a new floatplane terminal in operation just outside the Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR) with a shuttle service operated by Harbour Air. Harbour Air has also introduced seasonal service from Whistler to Victoria Inner Harbour. Daily scheduled floatplane service to the Inner Harbour is also available year round from downtown Seattle's Lake Union on Kenmore Air. Fares, which include complimentary shuttle transfers to/from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA) range from $108 to $169 each way. Salt Spring Air also provides year-round service from Vancouver and YVR to Maple Bay near Duncan and to the Pat Bay Seaplane Base, just west of Victoria International Airport (YYJ).
Walking is an easy, free, and fun way to explore the entire downtown area. Make your way from hotel to museum to shops; stop for coffee; stroll along the harborside; grab a pint and some fish-n-chips - take it in!
BC Transit runs a network of buses throughout the Saanich Peninsula and forms the mainstay of Victoria's public transit network. Regular fares are a flat $2.50. Children aged 5 and under are free. Bus tickets can be purchased in books of ten, and give a slight discount. Day passes are also available; they cost $7.75 regularly or $5.50 for youth or seniors. Transfers may be requested once you have paid your fare. They are good for 60 minutes of travel. Victoria, along with Kelowna, Toronto and Ottawa, is one of only a few cities in North America which use double decker buses in their city transit systems.
Biking Victoria is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Canada, which may have something to do with the very mild winters. There are many places to rent bikes. One place is CycleBCRentals, located at 685 Humboldt St. (phone +1-250-380-2453 or toll-free +1-866-380-2453). Bike rentals start at $6 and they also rent scooters and motorbikes here.
Pedicabs Take a guided tour of Victoria with an expert pedicab tour guide. The Victoria Pedicab Company offers city tours, garden tours, and customized tours. (Phone +1-250-884-0121)
- Beacon Hill Park, bounded by Dallas Rd on the south, and Douglas St. on the west. The south end is on the waterfront, with walking path and a view of the Olympic Mountains across the strait. Here you can see wild peacocks running around. Beacon Hill Children's Farm, which features a goat petting area, is located within Beacon Hill Park .
- Butchart Gardens, 800 Benvenuto Ave. in Brentwood Bay, at the westernmost point of Keating X Rd, +1-866-652-4422, . A large garden planted in what was formerly a limestone quarry. Quite remarkable. During the summer they have fireworks set to music and during winter evenings, the gardens are lit up and include displays illustrating the twelve days of Christmas. You can reach Butchart Gardens from Vancouver and Victoria on several bus tours and also by public transit from Victoria or the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
- British Columbia Aviation Museum, 1910 Norseman Rd, ☎ +1 250 655-3300. Open 10AM-4PM (May 1- Sept 30) and 11AM-3PM (Oct 1 - Apr 30). In Sidney on the north edge of the Victoria International Airport. Admission $8 Adults, $6 Seniors and $4 Children 12-18.
- Chinatown, Fisgard St. between Store St. and Government St. The street is decorated with Chinese ornaments including The Gates of Harmonious Interest. There are some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese fruit and vegetable stores, bubble tea and coffee shops and Canada's smallest 'road', Fan Tan Alley!
- Emily Carr House, 207 Government St, ☎ +1 250 383-5843. Emily Carr is one of Canada's greatest and most loved artists. Her house is within walking distance of the Inner Harbour and Beacon Hill Park. Fee $5, students $3.50, families $15.
- Inner Harbour In the summertime the Inner Harbour is full of artists, buskers and other entertainers. The music performers are not permitted to stay in one place for very long, so the entertainment is constantly changing. It still may seem too long with some of the Bagpipers. Many find it fascinating to watch the float planes taking off and landing also. In the springtime, the inner harbour is filled up with many beautiful flowers.
- Legislative Buildings, ☎ +1 250 387-3046. At the Inner Harbour. At night it is lit up with 13,000 lights. Free public tours are excellent.
- Miniature World, 649 Humboldt St (at the back of the Empress Hotel), ☎ +1 250 385-9731. An extensive display of miniature landscapes, cities etc., some rather bizarre or at comically mismatched scales. Includes the world's smallest working saw mill at a scale of 1:12.
- Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Bellville St (between the Legislature and the Empress hotel, near the Inner Harbour), ☎ +1 250 356-7226. Daily 9AM–5PM. This tell's BC story, especially from 1850 to 1920. It has amazing exhibits, and is easily worth half a day. There are three permanent galleries: Modern History, story of the European settlement; First Peoples, pre-contact and post-contact; and Natural History, mainly oceans, large animals, and climate. All are explained with phenomenal immersive exhibits. This is one of two museums in Canada holding the 'Royal' designation. $15 adults, discounts for students and seniors, prices vary for special exhibitions.
- IMAX Theatre, 675 Bellville St (part of the Royal BC Museum), ☎ +1 250 953-4629. A variety of shows on the IMAX screen. $9.75 adult admission, $7.50 for seniors, students and youth, $5 for children. Tickets are not included with regular museum admission but discounted combo tickets are available.
- Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum, 1050 Joan Crescent (in the Rockland area), ☎ +1 250 592 5323. This castle was built in 1890 by a wealthy and powerful Scottish family who at that time owned a quarter of Vancouver Island. Great architecture. About 25 minutes' walk from the downtown core, or else take buses 11 or 14 up Fort St.
- Victoria Bug Zoo, 631 Courtney St, ☎ +1 250 384-2847. Open daily except Christmas and New Years, 10AM-6PM (extended summer hours). Fee $8 (several discounts). Looking at bugs while on holidays doesn't sound like it'd be appealing, but this is a fantastic little place filled with very knowledgeable and friendly guides, and where else would you get the chance to hold so many crazy creatures?
- Abkhazi Gardens, 1964 Fairfield Rd, ☎ +1 250 598-8096. Love affairs make great stories, and this one resulted in a great garden. Prince and Princess Abkhazi along with designer John Wade came together and created a garden that took over 40 years to come together on a beautiful property overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains.
- Harbour tours Small harbour ferries (about six passengers) provide transport around and a view of the Selkirk Waterway and Inner Harbour.
- Galloping Goose Trail. A few places rent bikes and this is a great afternoon or day trip. The trail runs on a decommissioned rail bed from downtown to Sooke.
- Whale Watching For those who are a bit more adventurous there are several Whale Watching companies which operate from the inner harbour. Some are located underneath the Tourist Information centre. The companies offer up to three hour trips and have a good success rate at finding one of the three resident pods of Orcas. One such company is Prince of Whales, +1 250 383-4884. Prices from $55 per person. Orca Spirit Adventures, +1 250 383-8411, offers covered vessels with luxurious indoor seating, liquor license, and onboard washrooms as well as open zodiac tours. Another good one is Ocean Explorations, +1 250 383-6722. Another good one that guarantees whale sightings is Eagle Wing Tours Whale Watching, +1=800=708-9488.
- Nature! The surrounding Victoria area is also an amazing place to explore if you're more inclined towards natural spots. From the Inner Harbour you can walk in either direction along the water to the very popular local Dallas Road, or you can cross "The Blue Bridge" and end up on the Westsong Walkway into Esquimalt. Both have beautiful views of the Inner Harbour and even Port Angeles across the water. If you're feeling more energetic check out some of the attractive parks in Victoria's neighbouring towns including Oak Bay, Saanich, Langford, Sooke and Sidney.
- Wine tasting There are five wineries within a 45-minute drive of Victoria, on the Saanich Peninsula, including some estate wineries. These wineries have a wide range of wines including those made from their own grapes, grapes grown elsewhere and fruit wines. Crush Wine Tours, +1 250 888-5748, offers a three-hour tour visiting three of the wineries, guided by a friendly and well informed guide.
There are many different schools in Victoria including ESL & Language schools, films school, art school, private colleges and so on.
The biggest school is the publicly funded University of Victoria. Located on a hill within a short walk from the ocean, UVic prides itself on its beautiful campus with tree-lined paths, large gardens, lush green grass and a large fountain.
The school is on the smaller side, with the whole campus located inside a circular road known as Ring Road. You can walk from one end of campus to the other in 15 minutes – and that is if you walk slowly. UVic is home to many international students and just completed several new residence buildings for those who wish to live on campus. Many different programs are offered, but the school is known for its Earth Science, environmental law and fine arts departments, among others. The campus community is very earth friendly – as is the city of Victoria itself – and is a good place to catch cheap theatre, free lectures and small music, art or film festivals.
- Camosun College, 3100 Foul Bay Rd, ☎ +1 250-370-3000, e-mail: email@example.com. A major community college in Victoria with two campuses. Interurban campus offering degrees, diplomas, and certificates focussing on business, technologies, trades. Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence is based on this campus. Camosun offers degrees in athletic therapy and coaching. It concentrates on skills based education. Lansdowne Campus has nursing, medical radio technician, criminology, dental and academic studies programs. Camosun classes have a maximum of 35 students and provide close contact with instructors. Camosun also enjoys having many international students and new residents to Canada taking ESL courses. Toll free phone: +1–877–554–7555. www.camosun.ca
Victoria is full of little shops tucked away in every nook and cranny in the centre. Souvenir shops are all around the Inner Harbour. Although people generally think Victoria is a tourist destination only, there are more than just tourist shops.
- Americans so inclined may want to take the opportunity to pick up a Cuban Cigar or two. Thanks to new trade agreements with Cuba, you can import up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars into America.
- Government Street, from the Inner Harbour up to Chinatown, is the biggest (and rather touristy) shopping drag. The best way to go is just to wander the streets but make sure you check out some little gems like Market Square, at the bottom of Johnson St. In the summertime there's live music here.
- Fort Street is otherwise known as Antique Row. From Blanshard to Cook Streets, Fort Street is lined with small antique shops and auction houses.
- The Inner Harbour has artisans selling their crafts during the summer (and part of spring and fall as well sometimes), and Bastion Square (off of Government Street) often has a summer craft market as well.
- LoJo or Lower Johnson Street has several higher-end fashion boutiques. It's a good place to find local and international designer clothes.
Victoria has the second-highest number of restaurants per capita of all North American cities! The waterfront tourist area is home to a wide variety of restaurants and eateries, including several English-style pubs. Try the fish and chips or shepherds pie for a taste of England in Canada. For a more eclectic Victoria experience, check out the classy restaurants that surround Chinatown, offering interesting west-coast fusion and Asian dishes.
- Ocean Island Cafe Lounge, 791 Pandora, ☎ +1 250 385-1784. 5PM-midnight. Located inside Ocean Island Inn dinner from $6-$9.
- Garrick’s Head Pub (est. 1867), 69 Bastion Square, +1 250 384-6835. A simple pub — and “One of the oldest English pubs in Canada” according to their website — but with excellent food and amazing friendly service. As is typical in such pubs, not a great selection for veggheads, but their veggie burger (nuts and chick peas) is really fantastic. The fries are beer-battered to a lovely crispy dark golden colour and the fish is cooked really well, flaky, not squeaky. Mushy peas that come with the steak pie are very tasty. Lots of traditional British food… but with taste. Not enough for you? How about that fireplace?
- Bent Mast Pub and Restaurant, 512 Simcoe St, ☎ +1 250 383-6000. In James Bay. A great place to drink, eat, make friends, and have fun. Talk to the staff for a bit of the history of this old Victorian house and invite your friends!
- Irish Times, 1200 Government St, ☎ +1 250 383-7775. Wonderful pub meals, good beer and lots of seating.
- Spinnakers Brewpub, 308 Catherine St, ☎ +1 250 386-2739. Within walking distance of downtown. A great place to go for a drink or a meal. Pub: 7 days a week, 11AM-11PM. Restaurant: 7AM-10:30PM. There is a restaurant on the main floor, and a brewpub upstairs. Great atmosphere and a nice view of the inner harbour, especially in the evening. A variety of in-house brews, as well as whatever else you want to drink.
- Swan’s Restaurant and Hotel, ☎ +1 250 361-3310. Swan’s brews their own beer and feature live music every night of the week.
North American Cuisine
- Blue Crab Bar & Grill, 146 Kingston St. In The Coast Harbourside Hotel & Marina, 480-1999 Beautiful harbor-view dining with elegant atmosphere.
- Fairfield Fish and Chips, 1277 Fairfield Rd, ☎ +1 250 380-6880. They are closed Sunday and Monday and most holidays. Get your chips to go and take them 4 blocks down to the waterfront and enjoy the view of Juan De Fuca Strait. They do an especially light and fluffy batter.
- Ferris' Oyster Bar & Grill, 536 Yates St, ☎ +1 250 360-1824. A large menu and classy atmosphere, perfect for first dates or nights out with friends. Even the burgers are good.
- John's Place, 723 Pandora Ave, ☎ +1 250-389-0711. A local favourite with some of the best staff in town and excellent food at decent prices. Brunch for two is about $27.50 including tax and tip. The Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce is to die for (10 varieties, $8.95-10.95)! Great place for Saturday or Sunday brunch. Comfortable, casual family & friends atmosphere. Open 364 days/year, M-Th 7AM-9PM, F 7AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-10PM, Su 8AM-9PM.
- Shine Cafe, 1458 Fort St. A very popular brunch spot located at Oak Bay Corners (Fort and Pandora), outside of downtown. A particularly interesting dish they make is Scottish breakfast with black pudding and potato scones. Expect a long wait after 11AM on weekends.
- Big Wheel Burger, 341 Cook St. A classic American cheeseburger joint with a focus on sustainability. It is Vancouver Island's first and only carbon-neutral restaurant. Delicious cheeseburgers and shakes gluten-free, vegetarian options and kid-friendly. Serves beer and wine as well.
- Brasserie L'ecole, 1715 Government St, ☎ +1 250 475-6260. Open Tu-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. A highly-acclaimed fine dining destination with the atmosphere of a classy but comfy Parisian restaurant. Probably the best food in Victoria.
- Cafe Brio Restaurant, 944 Fort St, ☎ +1 250 383-0009, toll-free: +1-866-270-5461. Victoria - Cafe Brio is open seven nights a week for dinner from 5:30PM - Advance reservations are highly recommended; "Cafe Brio, the hottest restaurant in Victoria, is a destination for serious diners from all over the U.S. and Canada." writes Northwest Palate Magazine.
- Il Terrazzo Ristorante, 555 Johnson St. Off Waddington Alley. Great Italian in a charming patio atmosphere.
- Oh Gelato! Italian Ice Cream, 1013 Government Street. 66 flavours of beautifully-presented gelatos, garnished with bits of fruit or chocolate to illustrate their flavour, at $6.95 for a two-scoop cup. Also snacks and Canadian food souvenirs. Worth a stop to photograph the gelato.
- Pagliaccis, 1011 Broad St, ☎ +1 250 386-1662. One of the most popular Italian restaurants in town. Intimate settings and addictively scrumptious endless free bread. Always a good experience.
- Rathskeller Schnitzel House, A taste of Bavaria, best German food and beer in town; authentic interior and atmosphere! Live accordion music most nights.
West Coast Fusion
- Venus Sophia Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery, in the heart of Chinatown on 540 Fisgard Street. Tues - Sun 10AM - 5:30PM. Vegetarian gourmet meals, creative cooking style with inspiration from all over the world. Great coffee and desserts. Lots of vegan and gluten free options. $10 - $15 meals. Telephone: (250) 590 - 3953. www.venussophia.com
- Rebar Modern Food, 50 Bastion Square, +1 250 361-9223. M-W 8:30AM-9PM, Th-Sa 8:30AM-10PM, Su 8:30AM-3:30PM (brunch). A partially vegetarian restaurant with a diverse modern menu, and a nice location. Limited vegan options, and many menu items contain fish. Lunch for under $10 per person, dinner for under $15.
- The Mint, 1414 Douglas St. Between Pandora and Johnson, 386-6468 & 361-9223. Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine in a swanky atmosphere, DJs included. A popular spot for students.
- The Noodle Box, 626 Fisgard St, ☎ +1 250 360-1312. and 818 Douglas St., +1 250 384-1314. Hours M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-8PM. Another very popular spot for locals. Serves southeast Asian food fresh and in a takeaway box. Wait times vary depending on the time of day (for example, 20-25 minutes during lunch hour rush), but the meal is worth it. Minimize the wait by phoning in your order in advance. The boxes look deceptively small, but they make a very filling meal.
- Mo:lé, 554 Pandora, between Government and Wharf, +1 250 385-6653. A trendy restaurant serving fusion breakfast, lunches and dinners.
- Afternoon Tea at Venus Sophia Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery, in the heart of Chinatown on 540 Fisgard Street. Charming tea room with unique décor and ambience. Offers a fresh twist on traditional afternoon tea - locals love it. Generous portions of finger sandwiches, dainty tarts, shortbread, fruit, scones and more to be enjoyed with a fresh pot of organic loose leaf tea from an extensive selection. Tea is served in antique English teacups and teapots. Served daily from Tuesday to Sunday 09:00-17:00 Price: $25.50 per person (tax and 15% gratuity not included). Children's tea available for $15.50. Dress code: Casual/Smart-casual. Telephone: +1 250 590-3953. Reservations recommended, walk ins welcome.
- Afternoon Tea, at the Empress Hotel (see under "Lodging"). This is quintessentially Victoria or unbearably kitsch, depending on your taste. Afternoon Tea, served from 12:00, includes fine teas, fruit with cream, and elegant petite sandwiches. Altogether it is a full meal. Price changes with the season, from $48 per person in summer to $38 in the winter. West Coast Tea, served Th-Sa from 19:00 onwards during the summer only, builds on the concept but is designed for cruise ship visitors. $42 per person. Reservations required, and should be made 1-2 weeks in advance at +1 250 389-2727. Dress-code is "smart casual": dresses and ties not required, but avoid tank tops and flip-flops.See also.
- Green Cuisine, 5-560 Johnson St (in the Market Square centre), ☎ +1 250 385-1809. Summer: daily 10:00-20:00, Winter: M-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-17:00. Vegetarian Restaurant offers a buffet of 100% vegan dishes. $1.75 per 100g, with fruit drinks and soy milk shakes about $4 on top of that. A generous meal for two was under $30.
Because Victoria’s downtown is fairly small, most of the nightlife is located within walking distance. Cabs aren’t too expensive and there isn’t too far to go to get from point A to B. Victoria's police force has an aggressive crackdown on drinking and driving, so take a cab, all you have to do is stumble to Douglas and eventually you will grab one before someone else. But if it’s a “special” night like Halloween or New Year’s Eve, expect a bit of a wait. Compared to clubs in larger cities, cover in Victoria is cheap, ranging from $3 to $10. Fridays and Saturdays: expect to pay $7 to get in the door and another $2 to check your coat. Compared to larger cities, Victoria's liquor is pretty pricey. There is a law in Victoria that requires all drinks to cost $3 at minimum for a serving of alcohol. Expect to pay at least $3 but most likely more for each drink. Beers and shots are about $5. Most bars have cash machines inside, and accept only cash as payment.
- Lucky Bar 517 Yates. A bit small, but not nearly as costly as others. Wednesday night is Mod Night so dress in your hipster finest. Thursday night's "Hang The DJ" is probably the most tasteful music in the city, and the music-snob crowd reflects that. The crowd is a mix of straight and queer. Monday night is 90210 so dress to impress and get down there early.
- Touch View St. (at Blanshard). Formerly known as 'The Red Jacket' This opulent nightclub is frequented by a posh crowd looking to see and be seen. The crowd tends to be a bit more ethnically diverse. The bar itself is large (when both sides are open) and features a bright fish tank that is very cool when you’re drunk. When this club is popular, usually Thursdays, expect to wait in line unless you come early or know the right people. Mondays are the hipster night - complete with DSLR photographers and enough electro and mash ups to choke a portland donkey.
- For a slightly older crowd, head to Upstairs Cabaret (in Bastion square). Above the popular pub Darcy’s, the place gets busy on Saturday after the pub crowd are kicked out at 01:00 when the (awesome) rock cover band finishes. Upstairs is a good size and plays a wide variety of music. The staff often ignores all patrons but their friends but with a bit of persistence you’ll get a drink.
- Club 9one9 is probably the largest club in Victoria, with a sunken dance floor and multiple bars. Used to be called Legends and was very popular. in the basement of the Strathcona hotel which also features the Clubhouse, Rooftop and Big Bad John's
- For rock and 80s fans, go to Rehab (formerly Evolution) at 502 Discovery. They play classic and modern rock, retro, electro etc. depending on the night. Retro night on Wednesday’s is especially popular and the drinks tend to be a bit cheaper. The crowd is really mixed, all ages and walks of life.
- Victoria's gay crowd, although usually more comfortable at Lucky or Hush, will occasionally show their support and hang out at Paparazzi (formerly known as Prism) the “official” gay bar on Johnson St. The music is pumping and special drag shows or karaoke contests are often. Straight people are welcome…sort of…if they are willing to have a little fun anyway. This place is also home to the only good Karaoke night in town.
- Another “sort-of” gay bar is Hush. The music is almost purely pounding trance and other dance music genres and anyone is welcome. The bar is fairly small but you can find it on Government St. This is basically where everybody went after the City of Victoria completely destroyed the awesome rave scene that used to happen here.
- Redd's Roadhouse Pub (Redd's Pub), 3020 Blanshard St (In front of Topaz Park), ☎ +1 250 382-4400. 11:00-23:00. Sports bar featuring all sports events in huge TV screens, daily specials, game nights and live bands. $30.
- Moon Under Water Pub & Brewery, 350B Bay St, ☎ +1 250-380-0706. Mon-Thurs 11:30AM-11PM, Fri 11:30AM - Midnight, Sat 11:30AM - 11PM, Sun 11:30AM-8PM. A "Beer" bar. Food is matched to the beer. In-house German-inspired beers are served along side craft beers from around British Columbia. Free overnight parking.
There are a number of areas to stay in Victoria with the most popular location being downtown. Other options include Sidney, the West Shore and the Upper Harbour district.
- Blue Ridge Inns, 3110 Douglas St, ☎ +1 250-388-4345, toll-free: +1-800-997-6797, fax: +1 250-388-7613, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty wide range of pricing, from $70 a night for a single bed to $500+ a week for deluxe cabins. Quaint rooms, but they have coffee makers, and you can request rooms with microwaves and fridges.
- Comfort Hotel & Conference Centre, 3020 Blanshard St (In front of Topaz Park), ☎ +1 250-382-4400. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 12 noon. Free parking, hot breakfast and Internet. Fitness room, sauna and jacuzzi. $85.
- HI-Victoria Hostel, 516 Yates St, ☎ +1 250 385-4511, toll-free: +1-888-883-0099, fax: +1 250-385-3232. Check-in: Noon, check-out: 11AM. A bit institutional, but a good location otherwise. 24 or 44 people in a dorm. Private rooms also available. Internet access, free wifi, laundry, luggage storage, and lockers offered. Dorms from $20/member, $24/non-members. Private rooms from $57.75/members, $65.75/non-members.
- Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites (Harbour Towers Victoria), 345 Quebec Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 1W4, ☎ +1 250-385-2405. Check-in: 12PM, check-out: 11AM. Downtown, 196 guestrooms, ocean and mountain views. $85.
- Ocean Island Inn, 791 Pandora Ave (in downtown core, corner of Pandora & Blanshard), ☎ +1 250 385-1788, toll-free: +1-888-888-4180, e-mail: email@example.com. Open 24/7. Weekly and biweekly rates available. There are also discounted monthly rates from October to May. Accommodations are comfortable and this place definitely has character (and an all-ages licensed café). Lots of rooms info and online booking on their website. Cheapest budget hotel downtown, free wireless internet in every room, and an internet café with computers that even have Skype. Shared dormitory-style rooms (4-6 people in a room) $19-$27/night; Private hotel-style rooms $28-$78/night.
- Travellers' Inn, 1850 Douglas St, toll-free: +1-888-872-8355. One of a chain of nine budget hotels in the area, closest to the inner harbour. $50-100.
- The Turtle Refuge, 1608 Quadra St, ☎ +1 250 386-4471, fax: +1 250 386-4471, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Free coffee every morning, linens are provided, free wireless internet, Laundry facilities, etc. Pretty standard, located in a very small house just outside of downtown (about a five minute walk). If you are looking for a cheap and fun place to crash, this is about as good as you can get. $14 for a dorm bed a night to $35 singles.
- UVic Housing (University of Victoria), ☎ +1 250 721-8395. Accommodation is available at Craigdarroch House for $60 (including cafeteria breakfast). Most suitable for those visiting the University. In the summer the University dorm rooms are available for $44-55 , or a 4 bedroom unit in the cluster housing for $160.
- Victoria Travelodge, 229 Gorge Road East, ☎ +1 250 388-6611, toll-free: +1-800-578-7878, fax: +1 250 388-4153, e-mail: email@example.com. In the heart of Victoria along the Gorge Waterway, rates starting at $69 per night with free internet and free parking. Pets are welcome and kids under 18 stay free. Rooms with kitchens are available.
- Abbeylee Guesthouse, 255 Government St, toll-free: +1-888-831-5660, fax: +1 250 389-2857, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A quiet elegant 1892 Victorian gingerbread masterpiece in historical James Bay, 3 doors away from the Emily Carr house. Antiques and modern comforts, gourmet breakfasts. Alternate tel +1-250-370-1469. skype: abbeyleeryan. $79-$199/night.
- Ambrosia Victoria Historic B&B, 522 Quadra St, toll-free: +1-877-262-7672. Ambrosia Victoria bed and breakfast is a historic 1897 heritage home. $125-$255.
- Best Western Carlton Plaza, 642 Johnson St, toll-free: +1-800-663-7241. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Featuring free internet and complimentary bicycle rental. $89-$179.
- Best Western Plus Inner Harbour Hotel, 412 Quebec St (650 m from coach station; 300 m from U.S. ferry terminal), ☎ +1 250 384-5122, toll-free: +1-888-383-2378, fax: +1 250 384-5113, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Complimentary continental breakfast buffet and covered parking. Outdoor seasonal heated pool, indoor whirlpool, sauna, steam room, and fitness room. Rooms are spacious, and each has a balcony or patio, some with a partial view of the harbour. Free wired and wireless internet access and tea/coffee maker are included. $99-$699.
- Birds of a Feather, 206 Portsmouth Dr, toll-free: +1-800-730-4790. Bed and Breakfast Waterfront Accommodation with free parking. $140+.
- Dashwood Manor Bed and Breakfast, 1 Cook St, toll-free: +1-800-667-5517, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Beside historic Beacon Hill Park. Eleven ocean view rooms, some with fireplaces and double Jacuzzis. Full breakfast. Free off-street parking. The style and elegance of an old-world and gracious home. Monthly and weekly rates available.
- The Embassy Inn, 520 Menzies St (Next to the Parliament Buildings), ☎ +1 250 382-8161, toll-free: +1-800-268-8161. An inner harbour hotel, offering a wide variety of rooms and suites available at your request. Free parking and wireless internet included in your booking. Starts at $89 plus taxes.
- Gazebo Bed and Breakfast, 5460 Old W Saanich Rd, toll-free: +1-877-211-2387, e-mail: email@example.com. Country manor house near the Butchart Gardens. Quiet central location with secluded cottage and elegant rooms. $145-210.
- Howard Johnson Hotel & Suites, 4670 Elk Lake Dr, ☎ +1 250 704-4656. Clean, comfortable rooms. $109-248.
- Huntingdon Hotel & Suites, 330 Quebec St, toll-free: +1-800-663-7557. Good location on the south side of the Inner Harbour. Slightly faded rooms with British character. $100-250.
- Marketa's Bed and Breakfast, 239 Superior St, ☎ +1 250 384-9844. Edwardian heritage home serves continental breakfast. $90-$140.
- Ocean Island Suites, 143 Government St, ☎ +1 250 385-1788, toll-free: +1-888-888-4180, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Individually designed and decorated bright character suites. In quiet and historic James Bay, one block from Beacon Hill Park. Fully-equipped kitchens, queen sized beds, spacious garden/deck, private entrance, TV/DVD, laundry facilities, free parking, free wireless internet. Starts at $95/night.
- Quality Inn Downtown Victoria, 850 Blanshard St, ☎ +1 250-385-6787. Meeting & banquet facilities, pet friendly, on site restaurant, heated indoor swimming pool, free WIFI, fitness room, free local phone, kitchenette available, jacuzzi suites, executive suites
- Queen Victoria Hotel, 655 Douglas. $100-200.
- Ramada Victoria Hotel, 123 Gorge Road East, ☎ +1 250-386-1422. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Meeting & banquest rooms, business center, seasonal pool, complimentary internet, free parking, kitchenette suites, pet friendly $69-$199.
- Victoria Harborwalk Bed & Breakfast Suite, 427 Heather St, ☎ +1 250 294-9985. A popular private character suite in James Bay just behind the Legislative Buildings and the Royal BC Museum. $108-148.
- Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe, 100 Harbour Rd, ☎ +1 250-360-2999. A nice hotel, with charming staff and a slightly modern feel to it. Beautiful harbor views and lovely harbor-side dining. $130-$350.
- The Empress Hotel, 721 Government St (on the inner harbour, near the Legislature & Royal BC Museum), ☎ +1 250 384-8111, e-mail: email@example.com. Victoria's grand old hotel and most famous luxury hotel, designed in the same Edwardian style as many former Canadian Pacific Hotels such as Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. $350-500.
- Fisher House Victoria Bed and Breakfast, 333 Simcoe St (In the heart of historic James Bay Village, from the Victoria Clipper & Port Angeles Coho Ferry head five short blocks on Oswego St to Simcoe Street, turn left on Simcoe Street), ☎ +1 250 386-6252, toll-free: +1-877-386-6252, fax: +1 250 386-6254, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Comfortable, quiet accommodations in a boutique setting. Winter $75–100, high season $110-150.
- Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville St (Inner Harbour), ☎ +1 250 386 0450. Every room has a private balcony and cable TV. $175-$350.
- Inn at Laurel Point, 680 Montreal St (short walk from Inner Harbour past the Coho Terminal), ☎ +1 250 386-8721. A nice hotel with a subtle Oriental feel to it. All rooms have a view over the harbour area. Free taxi vouchers sufficient to get you to The Bay shopping centre are a nice touch. $250-450.
- The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, 623 Courtney St, ☎ +1 250-381-0999, toll-free: +1-877-624-6654. The Magnolia is a boutique hotel, infused with European elegance. $149-$499.
There is a drug presence among people living on the streets and in the bars. This means that panhandling can be a problem. Panhandlers are aggressive despite laws against this behaviour. You may wish to avoid Pandora Ave between Cook and Quadra as this is where a huge majority hang out. Do not walk around parks and grassy areas in sandals or bare feet as there are many needles discarded in these areas, city workers are quick to clean them up but it is always a good idea to be careful in these areas. However there is a strong police presence on downtown streets during the summer, especially on weekends at night. This problem is generally confined to the tourist area bounded by Blanshard Street.
Because all the bars and clubs are very close together, many drunken people spill into the streets at 2AM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and are in fact more dangerous than the street people. If you are out and about at this time (or have your downtown hotel room window open) be prepared to deal with all that drunken idiots have to offer such as public urination, shouting and rude comments.
In the unlikely event of a major earthquake, duck and cover and stay where you are during the shaking, then go outside once the shaking stops. Buildings and other structures are unlikely to collapse. Your largest threats come from breaking windows and falling objects such as ceiling tiles and bookshelves. Try to get under a table, desk, or door jamb to reduce your exposure to these threats. You are more likely to be injured if you try to run during the shaking.
The area codes for Victoria, and British Columbia as a whole, are 250 and 778. Because their areas overlap, all numbers must be dialed with the area code, including local calls.
Victoria is only a starting place to explore Vancouver Island by bus, car or bike.
Five hours by car to the west, Tofino is famous for its surfing and nature. The small town of Comox and its neighbour Courtenay are cozy and full of beautiful beaches. Head to Shawnigan Lake for a really small town and hit the lake in a canoe or the trails by foot. Nearby Hornby, Denman and Salt Spring Island each have a distinct vibe and are worth the visit just to check out something a little different. There is a lot of hiking, biking and camping. And of course, for the more city-loving folk, ferries from Victoria take you to bustling Vancouver or Seattle.
Hitchhiking is relatively common on Vancouver Island and may be useful for getting around.
|Routes through Victoria|
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|Vancouver (via ) ← Saanich ←||N S||→ END|