Greetings! If you’ve been following along lately you’ll know that I have recently returned from a short Princess Cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, with one port of call in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria had been on my bucket list for decades and ironically enough, I have now visited this charming city twice in the last 9 months. That’s because last August Brad and I took a cruise to Alaska that also stopped in Victoria. In fact, I selected that particular Alaska cruise primarily because Victoria was on the itinerary. So, having now visited this charming city twice in less than a year, I feel somewhat qualified to share with you my Top 10 Things To Do In Victoria, BC.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

On our latest visit to Victoria the Town Cryer, as well as representatives from television & media were on hand to welcome the ship, as ours was the 1st cruise ship of 2017 to arrive in port. We felt very welcomed by the warm & friendly inhabitants of Canada’s oldest western city.


#1 The Butchart Gardens

Victoria is internationally renowned as the “City of Gardens” in large part because of the magnificent Butchart Gardens. Designated a National Historic Site of Canada , The Butchart Gardens receive more than a million visitors each year to what is one of the best floral-display gardens in the world. Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada so the gardens here bloom all year. For a comprehensive tour of this beautiful place read my Butchart Gardens blog post by clicking here. The gardens cover more than 55 acres of a former limestone quarry. While there I highly recommend partaking in a traditional British-Style Tea at The Dining Room restaurant.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | The Butchart Gardens | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comTOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | The Butchart Gardens |
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | The Butchart Gardens | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comTOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | The Butchart Gardens |

By the way, the Butchart Gardens are located about 14 miles north of Victoria proper. You’ll need to drive there by car, taxi or tour bus. have buses that leave throughout the day from the Empress Hotel. An adult fare is about $47 and includes admission to the gardens. Visit The Butchart Gardens website by clicking here.

800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC V8X 3X4

#2 The Fairmont Empress Hotel

When one thinks of Victoria it is likely the iconic Empress Hotel that comes to mind. Situated in the picturesque Inner Harbor, its location is a perfect vantage point from which to explore the waterfront and nearby Parliament Buildings.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

The gardens surrounding the hotel were in full bloom for our visit.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

The hotel is currently undergoing renovations which in my opinion are taking this classic yet timeless turn-of-the-century architectural masterpiece and giving the Grand Dame a very pleasing update. I really enjoyed the design, which takes the beautiful aspects of the old and ingeniously incorporates it into a modern and chic new ambiance.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

A grand tradition for over a century, the Empress serves England’s most beloved ritual of afternoon tea in the sophisticated Lobby Lounge. Number of cups of tea served annually at The Fairmont Empress Hotel: 500,000

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

Tea at the Empress is a quintessentially Victoria experience but during our visit with 2 small children in tow, we opted for a casual lunch of delicious pizza in the Q Bar.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

I loved how giant photos of Queen Victoria were on display behind the bar, evocative of the recent PBS Masterpiece Mini Series, Victoria, that I recently enjoyed.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel Q Bar |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fairmont Empress Hotel |

721 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia Canada V8W 1W5
Telephone 250 384 8111 | Website:

#3 Parliament House

Overlooking Victoria’s majestic Inner Harbor, the Parliament Buildings are open to the public year-round. Visitors are invited to discover the architectural splendor of the buildings and learn about British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly. Parliament is open to the public from Monday thru Friday between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm. During the busy summer season, the Parliament Buildings are open for tours seven days a week, including holidays. Visitors are welcome to join one of the regularly-scheduled free guided tours, or to explore the buildings on their own self-guided tour. You might even consider sitting in on one of the Legislative Assembly debates. Then dine like a legislator in the Parliamentary Dining Room, open to the public year round for breakfast & dinner. Reservations are recommended for this elegant yet affordable restaurant. Also be sure to visit at night when Parliament House is illuminated by 3,560 lights.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Parliament House |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Parliament House |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Parliament House |

Photo Credits & Tourism Victoria

Security is tight and ID’s are required. For more information visit Parliament’s website here.

#4 Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle was built by Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. Known as Canada’s Castle, it was built on a hill overlooking the city of Victoria between 1887 & 1890 during the reign of Queen Victoria. The castle boasts 20,000 square feet of interior space and has 39 rooms that have been meticulously restored, giving visitors a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. Now a National Historic Site, the castle is open to the public year round.

1050 Joan Crescent
Victoria, BC V8S 3L5
Tel: 250.592.5323

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Craigdarroch Castle |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Craigdarroch Castle |

#5 Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is one of downtown Victoria’s crown jewels. The 200 acre park is beautifully landscaped and adorned with bridges, lakes and ponds, and an alpine and rock garden. Horse-drawn carriages meander through the park and peacocks roam freely. A petting zoo gives kids the chance to experience farm animals up close and personal. Also on display, one of the world’s tallest totem poles, standing 128 feet tall.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Totem Pole in Beacon Hill Park |

A roadside attraction, the Mile Zero Monument marks the beginning of the Trans Canada Highway and is located in Beacon Hill Park.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Mile 0 Monument in Beacon Hill Park |

#6 Government House

Government House is the office & official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Originally known as Cary Castle, it is where members of the Canadian Royal Family and visiting foreign dignitaries are greeted and often stay while in Victoria. The grounds embrace 36 acres of lovely formal gardens which can be enjoyed by visitors. From May to September, the Cary Castle Mews Interpretive Center and Tea Room offers visitors a place to explore the history of this National Historic Site and enjoy a cup of tea as well. Public tours of Government House are offered one Saturday a month, at 9:30am and 11am. Tours are one hour in length. Visit for the next tour date.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Government House |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Government House |

Photo Credit Deddeda Stemler & Tourism Victoria

#7 Fisherman’s Wharf

Just around the corner from Victoria’s Inner Harbor, Fisherman’s Wharf offers food kiosks, unique shops and eco-tour adventures in the heart of the working harbor. Wander down the docks with your lunch, buy seafood fresh off the boat, see moored pleasure vessels and float homes, and watch as fishing vessels unload their wares. You can also take a Ferry Harbor Tour or grab a Water Taxi at Fisherman’s Wharf.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fisherman's Wharf |

Photo Credit Deddeda Stemler & Tourism Victoria

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | Fisherman's Wharf |

Visit Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf website by clicking here.

#8 Mt. Tolmie Park

Mount Tolmie is easily accessible by car (some people choose to hike) and has a 360-degree view of Victoria from the top. Widely recognized as “The Best Place to View the City”, the summit viewpoints provide an excellent panorama of greater Victoria and the surrounding region. We got a terrific view of our ship located just below in the harbor. There are miles of hiking trails through a lovely forest to enjoy at Mt. Tolmie Park.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | View From Mt. Tolmie |

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA | View From Mt. Tolmie |

#9 Chinatown

Canada’s oldest Chinatown, the 500-600 block of Fisgard Street, including the famously narrow Fan Tan Alley is a popular area for tourists. Fan Tan Alley is a very narrow lane, three to six feet wide and 240 feet long, that runs between Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue. The narrowest street in Canada, it was once a popular location for opium factories. New brick structures were built to replace the defunct opium dens in the 1910s and 1920s, and the narrow space between the buildings became known as Fan Tan Alley because of the gambling clubs that operated there from the 1910s. Since gambling was not legal, police carried out raids on the alley. To protect the gamblers, wooden doors sealed the ends of the alley and watchmen decided whom to let in and out. The buildings also contained secret escape routes in case of raids.


Photo Credit Doug Clement & Tourism Victoria

#10 Royal British Columbia Museum

The Royal British Columbia Museum offers visitors a comprehensive look into the region’s history and culture, helping visitors broaden their understanding about the provence and British Columbia’s story. Exhibits include tribal artifacts from the First Nations (Aboriginal peoples of Canada), natural history displays and replicas of Colonial-era settlements. The museum also boasts an IMAX theater that makes you feel like you are really there. They also feature many rotating special exhibits.


Galleries open 10:00 am—5:00 pm
675 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC V8W 9W2

For a further look at Victoria, British Columbia and all it has to offer watch this video.

So there you have it: TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA

Need help planning  your trip or cruise to Victoria? Contact my friend & travel agent Lori and tell her I sent you!
Lori Seeley
Group Travel Specialist
Innovative Travel Concepts
A Division of Largay Travel
Phone: 941-312-2584


Thanks so much for dropping in! 

Express Yourself!

No blog post is truly complete without a word from you. I’d be so delighted if you’d leave a comment below. 

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Thank you Tourism Victoria for several of the images seen here. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ and may not be reproduced without specific permission.


  • Shelly Mathes

    Thank you Celia, I think I would love to visit this place one day. Adding this to my bucket list!

  • You are very welcome Shelly. I do hope you make it to Victoria one day.

  • Oh, how I enjoyed Victoria! I would agree with all of your recommendations. I’ve visited many on your list, but not all. It sounds like a great excuse to go back…and I would, in a heartbeat!

    Craigdarroch Castle was a highlight and a wonderful tour. The history is fascinating. It’s changed owners and uses over many years but its a wonderful piece of the City’s history that I am glad I was able to tour. Definitely, a must.

    The Government House was closed when we went in Fall. It’s spectacular at night with all the lights. We didn’t tour it but I would love to visit on a future trip…

    It was very crowded at Butchart Gardens when we were there but it was wonderful. If you enjoy tea, the tea service was very nice. Plus, it was a great way to sit and relax after wandering around…

    Were you able to say at the hotel? Mr. B and I were fortunate to stay in a corner Gold room suite at the Fairmont directly overlooking the harbor with wonderful views of Parliament House. Even if not a guest, it is worth wandering through and, if possible, have tea and enjoy a few quite moments in a beautiful setting. Our room had a book (now out of print) about the beautiful old hotel that I really enjoyed. As a surprise and souvenir of our trip, Mr. B was so thoughtful to make arrangements to acquire a copy of the book for me when we got back.

    Thanks for your recommendations, next time we go back I will be sure to check out a few of the things on your list that we didn’t get a chance to experience previously.

    Thank you for your post and bringing back some wonderful memories.

  • Thank you very much for such a comprehensive comment Vanessa. Your suggestions are invaluable and much appreciated. As we had one more port of call on our cruise, Vancouver, we did not get to stay at The Empress but did enjoy our delicious lunch in the Q Bar. We did tour the hotel and grounds and would love to return for a stay. It’s my kinda place. I bet you cherish your book on the Empress. Have a great weekend!