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Victoria City Guide

Updated: December 6th, 2023


Edited by Kirat Sekhon

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia the westernmost province of Canada. Victoria boasts many historic buildings and some of the most beautiful museums in Canada. Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Victoria’s British ancestry is evident in the double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens, and tearooms. The city is now a cosmopolitan center with a vast array of attractions and a lively entertainment scene.

About Victoria

About Victoria

The city of Victoria has a population of nearly 94,000 while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria has a population of 394,000. The city was named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, and is affectionately known as the “Garden City”. Victoria is a very attractive city and a popular tourist destination supported by a thriving technology sector that has grown into the largest revenue-generating private sector in the city, and British Columbia as a whole.

The relatively snow-free climate and slow pace of life in Victoria help make it a popular destination for retirees who enjoy the temperature and life in general. Victoria also boasts a rich First Nations and British history heritage, you will see many First Nations’ arts-infused in and around the city, as well as traditional British practices such as afternoon tea. At the heart of downtown Victoria, you will find the inner harbour, which is beside the Parliament Buildings and next to the famous Fairmount Hotel.

Where is Victoria on the Map

The city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is about 60 miles (100 km) south-southwest of Vancouver, the largest city in the province. It is situated on the southern point of Vancouver Island between the Juan de Fuca and Haro straits. The major city on the island is Victoria.

Climate/Weather in Victoria

Victoria has a diverse climate. A milder alpine climate is created by the state's mountainous Great Dividing Range in the center and east. The winters in Victoria are extremely cold, rainy, and usually overcast, while the summers there are cool, dry, and partially cloudy. The average annual temperature fluctuates between 37°F and 66°F, seldom falling below 28°F or rising over 72°F.

Work and Jobs in Victoria

Victoria's unemployment rate was 4.4% in August 2023. This is slightly higher than the national average of 4.1%, but still well below the pre-pandemic rate of 5.2%. The number of jobs in Victoria has been increasing steadily over the past year. In July 2023, there were 211,900 jobs in Victoria, up from 202,700 in July 2022. This represents an increase of 4.5%.

In-Demand Jobs in Victoria 

  • Healthcare and social assistance: This is the largest industry in Victoria, with 40,200 jobs. The sector is projected to grow by 11.1% by 2028.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: This industry employs over 33,000 people in Victoria. The number of jobs is expected to grow by 14.5% by 2028.
  • Sales and services: With 32,600 employees, this industry is expected to grow by 13.1% by 2028.
  • Construction: Employing 32,200 people, the construction industry is projected to grow by 18.7% by 2028.
  • Manufacturing: With 21,000 employees, the manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 8.8% by 2028.
Position Company Annual Salary Range in CAD
911 Emergency/Non-Emergency Call Taker E-Comm 9-1-1 67,663.20–79,585.60
Student Recruitment Officer University of Victoria 136,299.60–177,929.60
Registered Nurse -SPH- Island Health 79,004.80–120,787.20
Wraparound Facilitator - HerWay Home- Island Health 80,067.20–100,405.60
BAND 2 - Ombudsperson Officer BC Public Service 160,159.52
Events Operations Coordinator University of Victoria 131,129.60–169,940.00
Geomatics Technician - GIS Province of BC 143,317.36–163,775.36
Parking Ambassador The Corporation of The City of Victoria 60,235.20
Bindery Operator - Printing Island Health 47,389.20

Cost of Living in Victoria

The cost of living in Victoria, Canada, is influenced by various factors, including housing, transportation, groceries, and more. Based on the provided data, Victoria's overall cost of living index is 85.17, compared to Toronto's 92.86. A lower index generally indicates a relatively lower cost of living.

These figures are based on Numbeo's Cost of Living Index as of October 2023. Actual costs may vary depending on individual circumstances.

Category Victoria, Canada Toronto, Canada
Consumer Prices 83.07 90.98
Groceries 87.53 92.02
Rent 104.21 125.29
Restaurants 83.25 93.53
Transportation 77.31 85.71
Utilities 92.78 102.56
Healthcare 92.80 91.53
Education 87.10 95.11
Leisure 79.28 89.44
Clothing 81.78 92.53
Overall Cost of Living 85.17 92.86

Neighborhoods in Victoria

Victoria BC has long since outgrown its reputation as being occupied by the newly wed and retirees. Today it is a vibrant city surrounded by appealing communities and home to a population diverse in ethnicity and demographics. Even though retirement living is popular in Victoria, chief among the reasons why people choose to live and settle in Victoria is that compared to the rest of Canada it is really pleasant for most of the year, with freedom to get out and enjoy different outdoor activities and especially safe neighborhoods.

The city center alone comprises of 50 gated neighborhoods, over 1000 affordable housing, and numerous luxury apartments, condos, and townhomes.

Downtown Victoria

Nestled between ocean waters and mountainous wilderness, downtown Victoria is an urban oasis. Residents and visitors can enjoy a mix of restaurants, shops, museums, and city parks. The area also boasts world-class golf courses, hiking trails, and fishing expeditions, providing a rare opportunity for diverse experiences in a single day.


Home to the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel and the Royal British Columbia Museum, Fairfield is a historic neighborhood with a rich cultural scene. The museum offers insights into natural history and Aboriginal culture, while the Empress Hotel, built in 1908, is a beloved landmark on the Inner Harbour.


Known for the enchanting Craigdarroch Castle, Rockland is an affluent area with grand heritage homes. The castle, a gem of Victorian architecture, was commissioned by Scottish immigrant Robert Dunsmuir in the 1880s. Rockland also features Government House and immaculate gardens.

Inner Harbour and Old Town

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia in Bastion Square showcases items from the age of sail. Old Town, with its historic buildings along streets like Wharf Street and Government Street, offers a charming stroll. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, west of Victoria, preserves gun batteries and the Fisgard Lighthouse.

Saanich Peninsula

The Butchart Gardens, a premier tourist attraction, is a horticultural masterpiece on the Saanich Peninsula. Started in 1904, the gardens feature diverse themes, including Italian, rose, and Japanese gardens. Nearby, the Hartley Park National Historic Site includes a castle built in 1908 and lush gardens.

In addition to these central neighborhoods, Victoria encompasses communities like Cadboro Bay, Sidney, Gordon Head, Oak Bay Village, and Cedar Hill, each contributing to the city's vibrant and diverse tapestry. The city's pleasant climate and safe neighborhoods make it an attractive place for people of all ages and backgrounds.


The city’s transport system is one of the most reliable in Canada, fast, safe and convenient. The public transport system consists of the public bus, a cross-harbor ferry, and the popular Sky Train, the city’s Automated Rapid Transit system.

The city’s Blue Bus system is especially popular with working people and it includes a bus express service system from Vancouver to BC Ferry’s horseshoe terminal. The bus fares are relatively cheap with an adult one-way ticket costing CAD2.75 and CAD4 for two, a preloaded compass pass can also be bought in advance with a duration of 30 days within a specific bus route.

Things to do in Victoria

Things to do in Victoria

There is always something to do in Victoria, British Columbia. An urban oasis surrounded by ocean waters and mountainous wilderness, the city offers the best of both worlds.

Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the restaurants, beautiful shops, museums and city parks complemented by world-class golf courses, hiking trails, and fishing expeditions. What’s so amazing about having such a variety of options in such close proximity is the very rare opportunity to have a number different experiences in a single day – golf in the morning, skiing in the afternoon, a walk through the Butchart Gardens followed by an evening at the symphony. The possibilities can seem endless!

Royal British Columbia Museum

British Columbia’s provincial Museum is situated midway between the Parliament Buildings and the world famous Fairmont Empress Hotel. It is by far the best museum of natural history and culture in Canada. Walk through a rainforest, view animals on West Coast beaches and in tidal wetlands, sit among the aboriginal memorial mountains, and learn about the First Nations people’s struggles after European settlement. Other interactive features include an exact replica of the HMS discovery – the ship that brought Captain Vancouver to these shores, and a street of shops in old town.

Outside the museum, is the Thunderbird Park, home to a traditionally carved memorial and house poles. Nearby, the small mid-19th-century Helmcken House is the oldest residence in British Columbia still standing at its original site, the house once belonged to J.S Helmcken, a practicing local doctor, and politician. He is most known for campaigning vigorously for the then British colony of Victoria, and British Columbia to join the newly establishment confederation of Canada.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel

Built in 1908 for the Canadian pacific, like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, the Fairmont Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour is one of Victoria’s best-loved landmarks. The Architect Francis M. Rattenbury was responsible for the designing the Empress, entering the vast lobby of this iconic hotel is like walking back in time to before the First World War. Afternoon tea served with great style is an experience for any visitor. An extension on the north side of the Empress Hotel houses a collection of several dozen scenes in miniature at Miniature World. The models of historical events, castles, and dollhouses captivate the young and old alike.

Craigdarroch Castle

Victoria’s Craigdarroch Castle is a fairy-tale mansion, and widely considered a gem of Victorian architecture. Scottish immigrant and entrepreneur Robert Dunsmuir commissioned the home for his wife in the 1880s. Dunsmuir made his fortune in coal mining but died before the mansion was completed.

The mansion is located in a particularly affluent area of Victoria. The elegant Rockland centers on Rockland Avenue, which is lined with grand heritage homes including Government House – the official residence of Her Majesty’s representative in British Columbia. The house itself is closed to the public but the immaculate gardens are a delight for everyone.

Maritime Museum of British Columbia

The former Court House in Bastion Square is now the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, displaying a host of items from the age of sail. A centerpiece of the museum is the “Tilikum”, a large Indian canoe in which, at the beginning of the century, some fearless souls voyaged to England. Also appropriately commemorated at the Court House is the somewhat legendary Richard Mathews Begbie, whose administration of justice at the end of the 19th century led to him being christened “the Hanging Judge.”

Surrounding the Bastion Square is the principal thoroughfares of Victoria’s Old Town – Wharf Street, Government Street, and Douglass Street, running north-south, and Johnson Street, Yates Street, and Fort Street crossing them. A lovely area to stroll, Old Town boasts some historic buildings and old-fashioned shops such as Rodger’s Chocolate and the tobacconist E.A Morris.

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site

The gun batteries at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, about 13 kilometers west of Victoria, used to guard the sheltered waters of Esquimalt Harbour, once a British Naval Base. The guns were in service from 1895 to 1956. Today, the well-preserved fortress can be visited. Nearby the Fisgard Lighthouse was the first on the west coast of Canada and is now a definitive landmark.

Butchart Gardens

One of British Columbia’s premier tourist attractions is the magical Butchart Gardens at Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. Here in 1904, the wife of a prominent businessman in Canada Jennie Butchart started to lay out a fragrant garden in abandoned limestone workings. Flourishing, not least because of the mild climate, the gardens have since been developed into a 20-hectare horticulture tour de force that is unrivaled in Canada.

The Italian garden, rose garden, Japanese garden, and sunken gardens are among the loveliest. Open spaces among pools, fountains, and the many exotic plants are used for artistic and musical performances.

Hartley Park National Historic Site

The Hartley Park National Historic Site consists of a castle built in 1908 by former British Columbia Premier and coal baron, James Dunsmuir, and an Edwardian estate, with Japanese, Italian, and Rose gardens. Visitors can choose to walk through the gardens or take a guided tour of the castle – now a base for the Royal Roads University.

Education in Victoria

Education in Victoria

The city of Victoria in British Columbia boasts an exceptional education system overseen by the provincial government. Fully immersed within the Greater Victoria School District, Victoria offers a diverse range of educational opportunities, from primary to tertiary levels.

Primary Education

Living in Victoria provides access to a high-quality primary education system. Many elementary schools in Victoria now offer popular French immersion programs alongside English programs. The city's commitment to education ensures a variety of learning options tailored to individual needs from kindergarten through various life stages.

High School Education

Victoria is home to the oldest high school in Northern America, Victoria High School, founded in 1876. The Greater Victoria School District, comprising three districts – Greater Victoria, Sooke, and Saanich – maintains a high-quality and progressive education system. With a total of 26 Elementary Schools, 10 Middle Schools, and 7 Secondary Schools, the district serves approximately 20,000 students.

Tertiary Education

Victoria, British Columbia, stands out as a city with a substantial international student population, offering globally recognized qualifications. The province aims to attract more international students, recognizing their contribution to enhancing the overall educational experience. Notably, the University of Victoria, with over 100 programs and Royal Roads University, specializing in applied and professional degrees, offer diverse options for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education. The city's commitment to education is evident in ongoing developments, such as the recently announced funding for a new marine training center at Camosun College, ensuring a comprehensive array of educational choices for residents.

Unique Immigration Visas to Victoria

The province of British Columbia is known for many great things with its remarkable nature, diverse and vibrant city and friendly people being among them. What most people don’t know is that British Columbia is one of the most liveable provinces in Canada. Residents have said to find life much easier and have access to a wide range of job opportunities.

With Canada having over 100 immigration programs, it’s important to know how to immigrate to British Columbia in 2021 with a program that best suits you. There is no better time than now, as Canada is set to invite over 1.2 million immigrants as permanent residents within the next three years.

Continue reading to discover just which program will allow you to live that high standard of life Canada is so well-known for.

Express Entry

Express Entry is an online immigration system that manages three federal immigration programs for skilled immigrant workers to become Canadian permanent residents. The three programs under the Express Entry are:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program
  3. Canadian Experience Class

If you would like to be in British Columbia sooner than later, then the Express Entry is a great pathway to go through because of the fast processing time of as little as six months.

Express Entry is open to almost everyone, resulting in it being one of Canada’s largest points of entry. Express Entry is issuing 105,500 invitations to apply (ITA) in 2021.

How does the Express Entry system work?

After you’ve determined that you meet the Express Entry requirements, you’ll need to create an online profile. The profile needs to be completed and submitted within 90 days of starting. You’ll need the following for your online profile:

  • Your passport or travel document;
  • Education credential assessment report;
  • Language test results;
  • Certificate of qualification in a trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory (if you have one);
  • Proof of work experience (if you have one);
  • Provincial Nomination (if you have one)

Once the above is completed, you’ll get placed into a draw pool with other eligible applicants and be given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score which determines your ranking. Your CRS score will determine if you receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA). This means you will have the opportunity to apply to become a Canadian permanent resident. Each draw pool has its own unique CRS score to qualify.

However, if you don’t succeed in a particular draw you’ll be able to stay in the pool for one year increasing your chance to qualify for another upcoming draw.

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

The Comprehensive Ranking System is a point-based system used to assess Express Entry applicants and give them a score. The higher your score, the higher your rank in the draw pool which ultimately means a higher chance of receiving an ITA. The maximum score you can achieve is 1,200 points.

Another great Canadian immigration program is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), let’s see how to immigrate to British Columbia in 2021 via the PNP.

Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an agreement that has been put in place for local provinces to nominate eligible economic immigrants who want to work and stay in a particular province. In this case for those who want to live and work in British Columbia.

Your first step is the application being approved by the province, which takes a short time of four to nine weeks. Your second step would consist of medical, police and security checks. This can usually take six to eight months or longer depending on the applicant.

Once you are nominated by the British Columbian province, you will need to get a work visa before moving to Canada. The province will assist you with this process.

Direct Application Process

This form of application is sent directly to the province of British Columbia. You will need to submit a paper application via mail or courier. You could wait for your application results anywhere between 15 to 19 months.

Express Entry Application Process

If you decide to apply via Express Entry, you’ll have two options.

  1. Expression of Interest - this is where you can express interest in the province of British Columbia through your Express Entry profile. The province will nominate you if you have the right skills and experience.
  2. Apply through a Provincial Nominee Express Entry Stream

This option does have its benefits of being faster as it takes as little as six to eight months. You will also have a higher chance of receiving an ITA.

When you apply through the Express Entry, by receiving a provincial nomination you will earn up to 600 CRS points. Keep in mind that the maximum score you can receive is 1,200 points and most PNP streams have a lower CRS cut-off score than regular express Entry draws. This would mean that by having a nomination, you would almost certainly receive an ITA.

Pros Cons
A lot of natural beauty The expensive cost of living
Communities that are good for families The sheer volume of tourists
Excellent weather The island's remoteness, which makes transit more difficult

If you're thinking of relocating to Victoria, consider these benefits and drawbacks before making your choice.


Does Victoria have 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.

What are the best restaurants in Victoria?

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.

Is Victoria BC Good for Immigrants?

Newcomers have may opportunities to move to Victoria For those from all parts of the world who desire to immigrate to Victoria, Canada, this creates the perfect opportunity. Immigrants who can prove they have the skills necessary to successfully integrate into the Canadian labor market are eligible for the skilled worker visa.

One of the simplest provinces in Canada to obtain permanent residency is his. It provides work opportunities to those who fulfill employment standards as well as employer requirements from diverse industries.

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