Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Moving to British Columbia, Canada? What do you think of when you hear the word Victoria? Probably, tea, crumpets, The Empress Hotel, and the Butchart Gardens. But there’s actually a whole lot more to the city. It’s extremely popular with tourists – probably because it’s such a pretty city with a lot to see and plenty going on. Restaurants are great and it’s close to a number of wineries too. It’s an outdoorsy place with loads of hiking and biking trails and in the summer the sea kayaking in the nearby Gulf Islands is superlative.
And for some background on Victoria – a city that’s been called - More British Than The British - here are 10 weird, fun, interesting, and downright useful facts about Victoria, BC.
1. Butchart Gardens
The famous Butchart Gardens, which opened in 1904, are only about a twenty-five-minute drive from downtown Victoria. They can be appreciated in all seasons but they are particularly spectacular in spring. The gardens are seen by over one million people annually.
Come enjoy our breathtaking 22 ha (55 acres) of gardens year around. In Spring, countless tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths will give you a buffet of fragrances and colours. You’ll be saying “wow” when you experience our Summer: The Rose Garden, evening entertainment, subtle night illuminations, the Saturday firework show, and boat tours to name a few of the delights.
2. Inner Harbour
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the heart of the city. It’s flanked by historic buildings and sees all sorts of boat and floatplane activity on the water. The Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum, and the BC Parliament Buildings are all in this area.
Victoria Harbour is a harbour, seaport, and seaplane airport located in the Canadian city of Victoria, British Columbia. It serves as a cruise ship and ferry destination for tourists and visitors to the city and Vancouver Island. It is both a port of entry and an airport of entry for general aviation. Historically it was a shipbuilding and commercial fishing center. While the Inner Harbour is fully within the City of Victoria, separating the city's downtown on its east side from the Victoria West neighbourhood, the Upper Harbour serves as the boundary between the City of Victoria and the district municipality of Esquimalt.
3. Cycling Capital
Victoria is the Cycling Capital of Canada – and for good reason. It boasts an extensive system of bicycle paths; in fact, you can cycle from the ferry in Schwartz Bay on a bike path all the way to downtown Victoria. Then if you’re energetic you can continue on into Sooke too. Plus it’s easy to make your way by bike to the Gulf Islands or to the Cowichan Valley area.
4. Ferry Rides
You can get to Victoria via ferry (and a drive from the ferry terminal) from Vancouver and Nanaimo. There are ferries from Washington State too – including ones that do a Victoria – Port Angeles run and a Sidney to Anacortes ferry. Floatplanes come from all over, including regularly scheduled flights from downtown Vancouver. And of course, there is an international airport that is particularly easy to fly in and out of.
5. Home of Festivals
Victoria is home to numerous festivals including the Victoria Flower and Garden Show, the Tall Ships Festival, the Victoria Marathon, the Great Canadian Beer Festival, and the Independent Film and Video Festival – and that’s just a few of them.
Victoria is a city that likes to celebrate and we have dozens of annual festivals to prove it. Enjoy the smooth sounds of the TD Victoria International Jazz Festival in June, find great family fun at the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival in July, or sip spirited creations at the Art of the Cocktail festival in October. Victoria is full of life all year long.
6. Parliament Buildings
At night the Parliament Buildings are lit up with over 3,000 lights. An incredible sight, even for residents who have spent years in the city.
Overlooking Victoria's majestic Inner Harbour, the Parliament Buildings are open to the public year-round. Visitors are invited to discover the architectural splendour of the Parliament Buildings and learn about British Columbia's Legislative Assembly.
The Parliament Buildings are open to the public from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Visitors are welcome to join one of the regularly-scheduled guided tours or to explore the buildings on their own self-guided tour. During the busy summer season, the Parliament Buildings are open for tours seven days a week, including statutory holidays.
Victoria has the second-highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, second only to San Francisco.
With a wealth of international cuisines, renowned chefs, fresh seafood, and striking landscapes, it can be a difficult task choosing where to dine in Victoria, Canada. Victoria is home to magnificent restaurants, adored for their stunning settings, delicious menus, and mesmerizing decor, perfect for romantic dates, family dinners, and celebratory meals.
8. China Town
Victoria has the second oldest Chinatown in North America, only behind San Francisco. It is in Chinatown that you can find the narrowest alleyway in all of Canada.
Victoria‘s Chinatown is a testament to the resiliency of the culture and traditions brought to Canada by Chinese immigrants more than 150 years ago. These days, Chinatown proudly stands out in the downtown landscape of BC’s capital. As one gets closer to the Gate of Harmonious Interest, the ornately decorated arch marking the entrance to Chinatown centre on Fisgard Street, the neighbourhood’s presence is revealed: bold colours of lucky red and gold, distinct architecture, and business names written in Chinese on shop windows.
9. Cold-Water Diving
National Geographic designated Victoria as one of the best cold-water diving destinations for its marine diversity and water clarity. In fact, the renowned Jacques Cousteau Society considers it the second-best region, only behind the Red Sea.
10. Orca Whales
Victoria’s waters are home to 3 separate species of Orca Whales, totaling over 80 mammals.