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craigdarroch castle in victoria, bc.

Craigdarroch Castle Victoria: What to See + Visit Tips

Craigdarroch Castle, located in Victoria, British Columbia, is a stunning Victorian-era mansion that has become a popular tourist destination.

Built in the late 1800s, this National Historic Site of Canada stands as a symbol of the wealth and power of the industrial elite during that time period.

Today, it offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the wealthy and a chance to explore its rich history and magnificent architecture.

History of Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant and coal baron.

The castle was named after Dunsmuir’s ancestral home in Scotland and was meant to showcase his family’s wealth and social status.

Unfortunately, Robert Dunsmuir passed away before the castle was completed, and his wife Joan continued to live there until her death in 1908.

After that, the castle changed hands several times and was eventually turned into a military hospital during World War I.

Today, it’s one of Victoria’s best museums.

sofa with vintage newspaper at craigdarroch castle in victoria bc

Architecture of Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture, with its turrets, towers, and intricate detailing.

It was designed by renowned architect Warren Heywood Williams in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was popular in North America during the late 19th century.

The castle features four floors, 39 rooms, and over 20,000 square feet of living space. Its interior is lavishly decorated with imported materials such as Italian marble, oak, and rosewood.

It’s found on the highest hill in Victoria, and was the biggest mansion in western Canada for some time.

Visiting Craigdarroch Castle

Today, Craigdarroch Castle is open to the public for tours, making it one of the best things to do in Victoria.

The castle is open year-round, with extended hours if you’re visiting Victoria in summer.

Admission fees are required for entry, and visitors can explore the castle’s opulent interiors, including the grand staircase, drawing room, and billiards room.

Many of Victoria’s best tours, including a ghost tour and a behind-the-scenes tour, are also available for visitors to enjoy.

Outside of tours, visits are self-guided and take around an hour – there are staff on site to help with any questions.

As much as it would be cool to see their dining room opened, there is no food on site – I’d opt for one of Victoria’s best food tours instead.

Keep in mind it’s also a stop on the legendary Castles, Hoods and Legends bike tour:



It’s also a stop on the Victoria Hop on Hop Off Bus:



Craigdarroch Castle Prices

I’m happy to slot this in to a typical weekend Victoria itinerary, as the prices are fairly reasonable given this is such a historic site.

  • Adults (18-64) – $20.60
  • Seniors (65+) – $19.60
  • Students (18 + with ID) – $18.50
  • Teens (13-17) – $14.80
  • Kids (6-12) – $10.00

The revenue generated from Craigdarroch Castle is allocated towards the continuous restoration.

The ticket price also covers access to their private parking area.

It’s important to note that Craigdarroch Castle is a historic house museum and does not have ramps or elevators, making it inaccessible for wheelchairs.

General admission tickets can be bought on the official Craigdarroch Castle website.

Craigdarroch Castle Hours

  • Wednesday (10:00 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Closed Monday and Tuesday
  • Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day

Visiting Victoria in winter? You may see a cut back of these hours.

How to Get to Craigdarroch Castle

You can get to Craigdarroch Castle by car or by Victoria public transportation.

If driving, you can take Highway 1 and exit at Johnson Street, then turn right onto Fort Street and left onto Joan Crescent.

If using public transportation, you can take bus routes 27, 28, or 30 to the Jubilee Hospital stop, then walk five minutes to the Castle.

Visiting from Vancouver? Check out my guide on how to get to Victoria from Vancouver.

stairwell in craigdarroch castle victoria bc

The Legacy of Craigdarroch Castle

Aside from its stunning architecture and rich history, Craigdarroch Castle also holds a special place in the community.

In the 1970s, it narrowly escaped demolition and was instead preserved and restored by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society.

Today, the castle serves as a popular tourist attraction, drawing in thousands of visitors each year. Its legacy continues to live on as a symbol of the opulence and grandeur of the Victorian era and the enduring beauty of its architecture and design.

One final thing to add:

Personally, I don’t consider it one of the best things to visit in Victoria with kids, so I’d look elsewhere if you’ve got little ones.

Craigdarroch Castle FAQ

Why Was Craigdarroch Castle Built?

The primary intention behind the construction of Craigdarroch Castle was to serve as the lavish residence of the wealthy coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir, in the late 1800s. The castle was designed to display Dunsmuir’s wealth and social standing, while also providing a luxurious and opulent living space for his family.

What Style of Architecture is Craigdarroch Castle?

The architectural style of Craigdarroch Castle is Victorian, featuring a unique combination of Romanesque Revival and Second Empire styles. These styles are characterized by decorative elements, asymmetrical design, and mansard roofs.

What Materials Were Used to Build Craigdarroch Castle?

Craigdarroch Castle was constructed using mainly granite and imported materials, including stained glass windows from France, tiles from England, and oak and mahogany woodwork. The exterior walls were made from granite quarried at Partridge Hill.

What is the Layout of Craigdarroch Castle?

The layout of Craigdarroch Castle features a grand entrance hall, oak-paneled rooms, a ballroom, and a three-story tower. The rooms are adorned with intricate woodwork, stained glass, and period furnishings, showcasing the opulence of the Victorian era.

What to Do at Craigdarroch Castle?

Visitors to Craigdarroch Castle can admire the stunning architecture and interiors, including the grand staircase, stained glass windows, and period furnishings. The beautiful surrounding also gardens offer a tranquil escape, and the gift shop presents a chance to purchase unique souvenirs.

Are There Any Special Events or Tours at Craigdarroch Castle?

Yes, Craigdarroch Castle offers a variety of special events and tours throughout the year. These include themed events like Victorian Christmas celebrations, Easter egg hunts, and guided tours that focus on specific aspects of the castle’s history and architecture.

How Has Craigdarroch Castle Been Preserved and Maintained?

Craigdarroch Castle is kept in excellent condition through regular inspections, cleaning, and repairs to maintain its structural integrity. Preservation initiatives involve specialized techniques to conserve the castle’s original materials, such as wood and stone.

How can I support the ongoing restoration and preservation of Craigdarroch Castle?

You can support the restoration and preservation of Craigdarroch Castle by making a donation to the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society or by becoming a member of the Society. The Society also has a monthly giving program and a membership structure for personal or business involvement in conserving the Castle.

Ready to Visit Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria BC?

I’ve broken down what to see at Craigdarroch Castle, but maybe that’s not enough?

If you’ve got any questions on how to visit please drop me a comment below!

Enjoy Craigdarroch Castle 🙂

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