Victoria, situated on Vancouver Island, was a real surprise on our recent trip to Canada. We had no idea what to expect and had hired a car so we could take the ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to Schwartz Bay. We wanted to be able to take in the sights and scenery of beautiful Vancouver Island as had heard much about. The ferry trip really was great, not dissimilar to crossing the English Channel, with ample space, restaurants and viewing areas on board the ferry which was larger than we expected it to be.
They city of Victoria itself, was what surprised and delighted us the most. Our hotel – The Hotel Central Pacific- was perfect; newly renovated and located next door to the British Columbia Parliament Building. The British Columbia Parliament Building is stunning and a wondrous place of architecture that overlooks the harbour, and can be seen from many vantage points. At night, the whole building is covered in lights and is a picture postcard to look at. This part of town is steeped in history with monuments recognising the states of Canada and also home to the Royal British Columbia museum as well as the Parliament Building. It’s a beautiful area of town and a great place to be based.
The inner harbour is stunning and you could sit for hours watching the seaplanes cruising in and out and the mini taxis transporting people around. One of the best spots to watch the harbour activities is Fishermans Wharf Park. The floating pier has residential houses, shops and kiosks and is a little hidden away but a great stop for tourists to have a wander around. It’s also home to friendly seals that will swim right up to you, not at all perturbed by the human activity.
Bastion Square is in the centre of town and is filled with pubs, restaurants and shops. The pub feel is vibrant and definitely recommended as a great spot for dinner. The nearby Canoe Club is also great for a night out. Whilst we were in Victoria, the new Johnson Street Bridge opened so there were lots of activities happening in that area to celebrate, but it’s obviously always a fun part of town.
Other areas to visit are the Christ Church Cathedral, the Steamship Terminal, Centennial Square, Chinatown, Miniature World and Thunderbird Park.
When you’re ready for a break, take a cuppa at the Murchies Tea House – where they serve Maple Tea that sounds sweet, but is divine and you won’t be able to stop yourself buying boxes to bring home. This amazing tea-house is a must for any tea lover. Traditional High Tea is also served at the Pendray Inn and Tea House, which is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon and the lavender scones were amazing.
The striking thing about Victoria was the contrasting elements in a relatively small area. The town is filled with tradition, history and refinery; absolutely stunning to look at and walk around. It is also trendy, vibrant and great for a good night out on the town. Victoria is home to lovely walks and scenery, and a bustling harbour town, all rolled into one and it really does have something to offer everyone.
If you have time, take a day trip out to Butchart Gardens, which were truly sensational. Several people had recommended to me and we were not disappointed. We also spent a day taking in Shawnigan Lake as well as Elk and Beaver Lakes. These spots were all close to Victoria so within a short driving distance, but do bear in mind that Vancouver Island is huge, and you could spend days exploring if you have the time to do so.
If you’re visiting Vancouver, make sure you take time out to check out Victoria and Vancouver Island – it’s a MUST on any itinerary to Vancouver or the West Coast of Canada.