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17 Best Things to Do in Victoria BC in 2023

Are you looking for a comprehensive list of the best things to do in Victoria? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Whether you’re a local or visiting from the Lower Mainland or further afield, we’ve devised the ultimate guide to this charming city that combines natural beauty with rich history.

From historic sites to natural wonders, get ready to discover what to do in Victoria for the ultimate island getaway.


The 17 Top Things to Do in Victoria

Victoria, BC, is not just a city but a doorway to an array of unforgettable experiences. For those in the Lower Mainland and beyond, this guide highlights the top things to do in Victoria, offering a blend of culture, nature, and adventure.

Prepare to be captivated by the unique spirit of this vibrant colonial city. I can’t wait to share my favourite must-see Victoria attractions and hidden gems with you. So, let’s get started!


⛴️ Coming from Vancouver? Read my post on how to get to Victoria from Vancouver.

Visit the Floral Wonderland of Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens is a world-renowned botanical garden that receives over one million visitors a year. Spanning over 55 acres, this National Historic Site of Canada bursts with colour throughout the year. So naturally, this must-visit site tops our list of Victoria’s Best Parks & Gardens.

As the city’s most visited attraction,  these stunning gardens are most definitely worth the trip to Brentwood Bay, about 30 minutes north of town. Luckily, shuttles are available from the Inner Harbour.

In spring, the gardens burst into colour with blooming tulips and daffodils, while summer brings the spectacular Rose Garden into full bloom.

The Japanese Garden is a serene retreat, perfect for a peaceful stroll. And in winter, the Magic of Christmas Experience explodes with twinkling lights and festive decorations.



Related: The Best Butchart Gardens Tours from Vancouver

the royal bc museum in victoria, bc.

For those who love history and culture, the Royal BC Museum is a must-see attraction. The museum features exhibits on British Columbia’s natural and human history, as well as temporary exhibits that change throughout the year.

You can spend hours exploring the museum and learning about the region’s past and present. So don’t miss out on what is likely the best museum in British Columbia.

Related: Victoria’s Best Museums & Galleries


Grab Some Fish and Chips at Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a quaint and colourful area located just a short walk from the Inner Harbour. Here, you can watch the fishing boats come and go, enjoy fresh seafood, and shop for souvenirs.

Visiting Victoria via cruise ship? It is located just around the corner from the terminal, and it’s ready for you to come and discover all the amazing things it has to offer. So get ready to be wowed and amazed!

Related: The Best Victoria Food Tours

craigdarroch castle in victoria, bc.

If you’re a fan of architecture and history, Craigdarroch Castle is a must-visit attraction in Victoria. The castle was built in the late 1800s for a wealthy Scottish immigrant and features stunning Victorian-era architecture and furnishings.

You can take a guided tour of the castle and learn about its history and the people who lived there.

The attraction is known for its exquisite stained-glass windows. And at the top of a magnificent 87-step grand oak staircase lie some of the best views in Victoria.

Looking for a bed once you’re off the boat? Check out our articles on the best Victoria hotels and Victoria hostels for accommodation at every price point.

A Victoria Zodiac Whale Watching tour travels through the Inner Harbour.

Are you planning a trip to Victoria, BC and interested in whale watching? You’re in luck! Victoria is one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent creatures up close in their natural habitat.

There are a variety of Victoria whale watching tours departing from Wharf Street or Fisherman’s Wharf to suit your needs. Most tours last 3-4 hours and take you out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where you may spot orcas, humpback whales, and other species.



Related: The 13 Best Victoria City Tours

an aerial view of the malahat skywalk.

Take a Journey Above the Treetops at the Malahat Skywalk

The Malahat Skywalk, located just 30 minutes north of town, is a breathtaking new Victoria attraction that offers an extraordinary way to experience the natural splendour of Vancouver Island. This architectural wonder features a 600-meter accessible treetop walkway leading to a stunning 10-story spiral tower.

As you ascend the gently sloping path, the journey culminates at the tower’s summit, where a 360-degree panoramic view awaits. Gaze over the Saanich Peninsula, Mount Baker, and the Gulf Islands. The quick trip up the Malahat is well worth it, and it has quickly become one of the best things to do in Victoria for all ages. Shuttles are also available from downtown.



Feeling ambitious? Try pairing your visit with a Cowichan Bay whale-watching tour.

Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the heart of Victoria – it’s a must-see spot if you’re visiting Victoria in summer.

The park features stunning gardens, lakes, and walking trails, as well as a petting zoo and playground for children. You can spend a leisurely afternoon picnicking or reading a book in the park.

This large 200-acre park is also directly across from the mile-zero marker of the 8,000 km Trans Canada Highway. Nearby Clover Point Park also offers some of Victoria’s most beautiful views, beaches and sunsets.

Looking to explore in a flash? Consider the Victoria Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour

the gate of harmonious interest at the entrance to chinatown, victoria, bc

Enjoy a Cultural Journey to Chinatown & Old Town

Victoria’s Chinatown, the oldest in Canada, is a vibrant and historic area filled with colourful architecture, intriguing alleys, and an array of shops and eateries. A walk through the narrow Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, leads to a variety of unique shops selling everything from silk garments to artisan teas.

Adjacent to Chinatown is Victoria’s Old Town, a district rich in history and charm. Here, you can explore heritage buildings that have been transformed into modern boutiques, art galleries, and some of Victoria’s best restaurants. The area’s cobblestone streets and old-world architecture provide a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll.




Tour the Historic BC Parliament Buildings

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings have dominated the Inner Harbour’s landscape since the 1890s. This beautiful neo-Baroque complex is one of the most famous examples of Victorian architecture in town, and why not? The city is Queen Victoria’s namesake, after all!

It still serves as the home of the province’s legislature. Most folks usually catch a glimpse of the buildings from the outside. But guess what? You can actually explore the interior as well! If you’re there on a weekday, you can take a self-guided or guided tour. Otherwise, a picnic on the legislature’s lawn is one of the best things to do in Victoria during the summer for those on a budget.

⛴️ Coming from Vancouver? Check out the best Vancouver to Victoria Tours

Bring the Kids to Miniature World

For those who love miniatures and models, Miniature World is a must-see attraction in Victoria. The museum features over 85 miniature dioramas depicting historical events, fairy tales, and fantasy worlds. You can spend hours exploring the intricate details of the miniature worlds.

Known as the “greatest little show on earth,” the attraction houses one of the world’s longest model railways and a host of exhibits that make it one of the best things to do in Victoria with children.

a pair of ladybugs at the victoria bug zoo.

The Victoria Bug Zoo is a unique and fascinating attraction for visitors of all ages. The zoo features live insects and arachnids from around the world, including tarantulas, scorpions, and stick insects. You can learn about these fascinating creatures and even hold some of them if you’re feeling brave!

So, if you’re looking for another family-friendly activity in the heart of the Inner Harbour, the Bug Zoo is calling your name. Not to mention, it’s a great way to kill an hour on a rainy day.

Planning two days in Victoria? Check out my Victoria weekend itinerary.


Get an eagle-eye view of the Harbour with a Victoria Seaplane Tour

The Inner Harbour is home to Victoria Harbour Airport, which is the local seaplane terminal. However, many people are unaware that the terminal functions as much more than a simple transportation hub.

Here, you can hop on board a seaplane for an exhilarating 20-minute ride over downtown Victoria and the surrounding area. You’ll get to soar through the air and witness breathtaking views of the harbour, coastline, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the majestic Olympic Mountains in the distance.

Coming in from Vancouver? The Vancouver to Victoria seaplane can have you wandering the famed Inner Harbour in less than 30 minutes!



A Culinary Adventure with a Victoria Food Tour

Our little island city is a haven for foodies, and taking a Victoria food tour is one of the best ways to explore the area’s culinary scene. These guided tours take you through various neighbourhoods, each offering its unique flavours and dishes.

From sampling artisan chocolates and cheeses to savouring freshly caught seafood or sampling from the bustling Victoria craft beer scene, these tours provide a taste of the local cuisine. Stops at popular eateries and hidden gems allow you to experience the diversity of Victoria’s food scene. Along the way, knowledgeable guides share stories about the city’s history and culinary culture.



Related: Victoria Brewery Tours: A Beer Lover’s Dream


Go for a Cruise on a Victoria Harbour Ferry

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the Inner Harbour, taking a ride on a Victoria Harbour Ferry is a must-do activity. The ferries offer narrated tours of the harbour, allowing you to see the city from a different perspective.

You can also hop on and off at various stops around the harbour, including Fisherman’s Wharf and the Empress Hotel. Affectionately known as “pickle boats,” these small commuter ferries are one of the Inner Harbour’s most iconic symbols

Looking to take a cruise further afield? Check out our list of the best day trips from Victoria.

⛴️ Coming from Vancouver? Check out how to get from Vancouver to Victoria by ferry.

the fairmont empress hotel, one of the best hotels in victoria

No trip to Victoria’s Inner Harbour is complete without a visit to the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel. The hotel is a stunning example of Edwardian architecture and has been a beloved landmark in Victoria for over 100 years.

You can enjoy afternoon tea in the hotel’s elegant lobby, dine in one of its many restaurants, or simply take in the stunning views of the Inner Harbour from its grounds. Either way, the hotel is one of the city’s most photographed attractions for a reason.

a pair of butterflies feed with a flamingo in the background at victoria butterfly gardens

Travel to the Tropics at Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers an immersive experience in a tropical paradise filled with exotic butterflies, birds, and plants. Located just a short drive from downtown Victoria, this indoor facility is home to thousands of free-flying butterflies of various species alongside tropical birds, tortoises, and even flamingos.

The gardens are carefully designed to mimic a tropical rainforest environment, complete with waterfalls and streams. As you walk through, you’ll be surrounded by lush vegetation and vibrant flowers, creating a perfect habitat for the butterflies and a great reprieve from the West Coast rain for you!



Explore Beyond the City with a Day Trip from Victoria

Paradoxically, one of the best things to do in Victoria is to get out of the city! Why, you ask? Well, Victoria’s location on Vancouver Island makes it an ideal base to further explore this eco-tourism paradise.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, wildlife viewing, or cultural experiences, there’s a day trip for you. One popular destination is the Cowichan Valley, known for its wineries, beautiful landscapes, and nearby Malahat Skywalk. Wildlife enthusiasts should consider a trip to Sooke, Tofino, or the nearby Gulf Islands for a chance to spot orcas, seals, and other marine life. 

Related: The Best Day Trips from Victoria, BC


Things to Do in Victoria FAQs

What are the top things to do in Victoria?

The top things to do in Victoria include exploring the historic Inner Harbour, visiting the Butchart Gardens, experiencing the cultural vibrancy of Chinatown and Old Town, and embarking on outdoor adventures like whale watching and kayaking. Don’t miss the Royal BC Museum for a dive into local history and the Malahat Skywalk for breathtaking views.

Are there any good things to do in Victoria with kids?

Victoria is family-friendly and has many activities for kids. The Butterfly Gardens and Beacon Hill Park are great for younger children, offering interactive and educational experiences. Miniature World and Victoria Bug Zoo are also popular. For a day of learning and fun, the Royal BC Museum has exhibits that appeal to all ages.

What are the most popular Victoria attractions?

The most popular Victoria attractions include the Butchart Gardens, known for its stunning floral displays, and the Royal BC Museum, offering insights into the region’s natural and cultural history. The Inner Harbour is a hub of activity, and a visit to the historic Craigdarroch Castle is a journey back in time. For a unique experience, the Malahat Skywalk offers spectacular views of the island.

Can you recommend any outdoor activities in Victoria?

Victoria is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaking along the coastline, hiking in the regional and provincial parks, and cycling on Dallas Road are popular activities. Whale watching tours offer a chance to see majestic marine life up close. For a more relaxed outdoor experience, the numerous gardens, like Butchart and Beacon Hill Park, are perfect for leisurely walks.

What are the best free things to do in Victoria?

Victoria offers a variety of free activities that allow visitors to enjoy its beauty and culture without spending a dime. Walking around the picturesque Inner Harbour and exploring the historic streets of Chinatown and Old Town are great ways to soak in the city’s atmosphere. Beacon Hill Park is a lovely spot for a leisurely stroll, picnics, and enjoying nature. The park also often hosts free events and concerts, especially in the summer.

Found a list of things to do in Victoria?

There you have it – our list of the top 15 things to do in Victoria, BC, from a visitor’s point of view.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a fun day out, there’s something for everyone in this quaint harbourside city.

So why not start planning your trip today and experience as many of our top things to do in Victoria as possible?

Enjoy the Garden City 🙂

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