With the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, it’s a good time to get away and relax before the madness of cooking, cleaning, family and more is here. Have you ever been to Victoria, British Columbia? If not, now’s a good time to visit.
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
A little history before you go:
Victoria was named after Queen Victoria and is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, having been settled by the British in 1841. The area was inhabited for thousands of years prior to that settlement by the Coast Salish First Nations peoples.
In 1843, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post was established and in 1849, the crown colony was established and a town was laid out to make the capital of the colony. By 1858, Victoria became the port, supply post and outfitting center for miners after the discovery of gold in British Columbia.
Victoria is approximately 62 miles from Seattle by airplane or ferry and is roughly 25 miles from Port Angeles. There are lots of great options for getting to Victoria, including:
- Daily flights from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Victoria International Airport
- If you’ve never been on a float plane, now is the perfect time with Kenmore Air Seaplanes offering daily flights between Seattle and Victoria.
- Board the passenger only high-speed catamaran with daily service on the Victoria Clipper.
- Drive north to Anacortes and board a Washington State Ferry to Sidney, B.C.
- Drive across the Canadian border to Tsawwassen and take a B.C. Ferry Services Inc. to Victoria.
- Drive west to Port Angeles and board the Black Ball Ferry Line to Victoria – it’s a passenger and vehicle ferry.
Don’t forget that since you are traveling out of the country, you will need appropriate documentation:
- If you are traveling by airplane, you will need a U.S. Passport.
- If you are traveling by land or sea, you can use a passport or an Enhanced Driver’s License.
There is so much to do in Victoria, and since you only have two days, prepare for a busy weekend. We have pulled together an itinerary for Saturday and Sunday with some visitor favorites.
- Your first stop is going to give you a little history of the region at the Royal British Columbia Museum – the museum houses three permanent collections and hosts touring exhibits from around the world.
- Walk across the street and visit the nearby B.C. Parliament Buildings, home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and take part in one of the free guided tours of the neo-baroque buildings.
- Stop for lunch at local favorite, Sam’s Deli. Try one of their famous made-to-order sandwiches, fresh soup and salads. But don’t fill up too much – you’ve got afternoon tea later.
- After lunch, head to the 39-room Craigdarroch Castle, which was constructed in the 1890s as a family residence for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. The four-story castle is known for its lavish furnishings, stained-glass windows and intricate woodwork, which are all on display to visitors.
- Stop by the Lieutenant Governor’s estate at 1401 Rockland Avenue – you can’t go inside the home, but you can walk the 36-acre grounds, which are tended by volunteers, and includes the British Columbia native plant garden, cottage garden, an orchard and a formal Victorian rose garden.
- In the afternoon, head to world-famous The Fairmont Empress for afternoon tea. Sip The Empress Tea, sample Empress scones, delectable pastries and tea sweets and take in the opulent atmosphere. Queen Elizabeth II, Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy, John Travolta and Princess Margaret have all had afternoon tea at The Empress. Make sure to make a reservation so you can ensure you have a table at the time you want.
- Take a tour of Hatley Castle – built by the Lieutenant Governor in 1906, the 40-room Scottish baronial-style home was purchased by the British federal government in 1940 for use as the King’s royal residence at the outbreak of World War II. The royal family (including King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth, and their two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret) never moved into the castle and it became the Royal Roads Military College. In September 1995, the college was reopened as Royal Roads University a public university.
- Visit Chinatown – it’s North America’s second-oldest Chinatown behind San Francisco’s. It was started after the massive influx of Chinese from California because of the gold rush in Fraser Canyon. Make sure to walk along Fan Tan Alley – the narrowest street in Canada.
It’s been a busy day! Go back to your hotel and rest up for tomorrow – we’ve got another packed day planned for you to make sure you get the most of your trip up north.
- On Sunday morning, visit the historic Christ Church Cathedral to hear the bells ringing between 8:45 and 9:15 a.m. The first eight bells were purchased and installed in 1936 and the last two were added in 1983 and dedicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and dedicated to Prince William.
- After hearing the bells, enjoy brunch at local favorite The Marina Restaurant. It’s buffet style, so you can fill up on Belgian waffles, homemade scones, croissants, omelets, French toast and so much more!
- If the weather’s not too bad, head to Race Rocks, a marine ecological reserve at the eastern entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The park includes ocean, rocks and reefs and is home to a vast number of marine life, as well as California and Northern sea lions, Harbor seals and Elephant seals.
- As a last stop, visit the world-renowned Butchart Gardens to see the various gardens, including the Sunken Garden, the Ross Fountain, two 30-foot totem poles and Rose Carousel.
We hope you had fun on your two-day trip to Victoria – with so much to see and do, you will probably want to come back for another visit.