• Menu
  • Menu
a view of the inner harbour, one of our top free things to do in victoria, bc.

Free Things to Do in Victoria: A Budget-Friendly Guide to the City

Looking for free things to do in Victoria? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In an era where inflation has tightened many a travel budget, finding free activities is not just a bonus; it’s essential.

So, we’ve devised the ultimate list of free things to do in Victoria, BC to make your visit as affordable as it is enjoyable.

What are the Best Free Things to do in Victoria?

Victoria is known for its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. This charming city proves that you don’t need to spend lavishly to enjoy a memorable getaway.

From breathtaking natural parks and scenic beaches to historic landmarks and lively street performances, the city is packed with opportunities for entertainment, relaxation, and exploration, all free of charge.

This guide to free things to do in Victoria is tailored for those who wish to experience the city’s charm and beauty while maintaining a budget-friendly itinerary.

⛴️ Heading in from the mainland? Check out our guide on how to get to Victoria from Vancouver.

The Best Free Things to Do in Victoria

wandering victoria's inner harbour, one of the top free things to do in victoria.

Explore the Inner Harbour

The vaunted Inner Harbour is undoubtedly Victoria’s beating heart. Here, you’ll find postcard-perfect colonial architecture, top-notch people-watching, and most of Victoria’s top attractions. And the best part? Checking out the sights and breathing in the fresh ocean air is completely free.

To embark on a free journey through the Inner Harbour, simply follow these steps:

  1. Start your exploration outside the iconic Empress Hotel.
  2. Experience the lively atmosphere at Fisherman’s Wharf.
  3. Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque David Foster Harbour Pathway.
  4. Admire the totem poles and indigenous artwork at Thunderbird Park.
  5. Marvel at the breathtaking architecture of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

Fun Fact: The Inner Harbour is also a hub for local artists, who showcase their talents through a variety of exhibits and performances.

In town for the weekend? Have a look at my Victoria 2-day itinerary.

a view of the exterior of the bc legislative assembly in victoria, bc.

Visit the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

One of my favourite free things to do in Victoria is wander the BC Legislative Assembly grounds. You can start by admiring the building’s stunning architecture, a marvellous example of the neo-baroque style. The site is a dream for photography enthusiasts.

Then, go for a stroll around the beautifully landscaped grounds, where manicured gardens and statues offer a serene backdrop for a harbourside picnic. Don’t miss the iconic view of the building illuminated at night – a truly magical sight!

Looking to go inside? The legislature is open for free guided tours and self-guided tours on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

  1. Check the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia website for opening hours and tour times.
  2. Prepare to go through security screenings upon arrival.
  3. Respect the rules and decorum while inside the assembly.

In the market for a cheap bed? Our guides to the best Victoria hostels and the top cheap hotels in Victoria are guaranteed to save you money.

beacon hill park in victoria, bc.

Take a Stroll through Beacon Hill Park

A short walk from the Inner Harbour in the neighbourhood of James Bay, you’ll find the crown jewel of Victoria’s park system, Beacon Hill Park. If you’re visiting Victoria with kids, a quick visit is essential to help them burn off some energy.

Here’s a few quick tips:

  1. Embark on a leisurely walk at the main entrance of Beacon Hill Park along Douglas Street.
  2. Marvel at the stunning floral displays and manicured gardens as you stroll along the pathways.
  3. Check out a show at the Cameron Bandshell, an outdoor performance venue offering free shows and concerts from June to September.
  4. Appreciate the 38.9 metre (128 foot) totem pole, once the largest in the world.
  5. Continue your walk towards the captivating Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.
  6. Conclude your stroll by unwinding on the grass or enjoying a picnic at one of the scenic spots.

Has our itinerary piqued your appetite? Check out our list of Victoria’s best restaurants to quell those hunger pangs.

Related: The Best Victoria Parks & Gardens

a view of the dallas road waterfront in victoria, bc.

Relax at the Dallas Road Beaches

Haven’t had enough of the Garden City’s parks and gardens? Then, walk across Dallas Road at the south end of Beacon Hill Park to check out Victoria’s waterfront.

  • Start your visit with a leisurely walk along the picturesque Dallas Road Waterfront Trail, taking in the stunning views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains.
  • Find a cozy spot to sit and relax at Clover Point, Spiral Beach, or Finlayson Point. Breathe in the fresh sea air and listen to the soothing sound of the waves.
  • Check out the mile zero monument that signifies the end of the Trans Canada Highway.
  • Unwind and enjoy a peaceful picnic on the sandy shores, savouring the tranquil ambiance and beautiful natural surroundings.

Looking to embrace the area’s peaceful tranquillity? Check out our guide to the best day trips from Victoria to take full advantage of Vancouver Island’s natural beauty.

exterior shot of Craigdarroch Castle in victoria bc

Tour the Craigdarroch Castle

If you’re still looking for free things to do in Victoria, a quick stop at Craigdarroch Castle offers a delightful experience. While the interior tour requires a ticket, admiring the castle’s impressive Victorian architecture from the outside is free and equally captivating.

  1. Begin your visit by exploring the exterior of the Craigdarroch Castle, admiring its stunning Victorian architecture and beautiful gardens.
  2. Purchase tickets to enter the castle and embark on a guided tour through its opulent rooms, learning about its fascinating history.
  3. Take your time to appreciate the intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and the breathtaking view from the tower.
  4. Interact with knowledgeable staff and volunteers who can provide insights into the castle’s past and the lives of its former inhabitants.
  5. Before leaving, make sure to stop by the gift shop to find unique souvenirs and gifts to remember your tour of the Craigdarroch Castle.

Quick tip: If you don’t feel like going in, the nearby Art Gallery of Greater Victoria offers free admission for people under 25.

Related: The Best Museums & Galleries in Victoria, BC

the totem poles at thunderbird park with the empress hotel in the background for an article on the top free things to do in victoria.

Check out the Totem Poles at Thunderbird Park

No visit to Victoria is complete without paying a nod to the area’s indigenous culture. After all, the city stands on the unceded territory of the Lkwungen, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. For my money, one of the best free things to do in Victoria is to check out the totem poles at Thunderbird Park, outside the Royal BC Museum.

  1. Stand in awe at the thunderbird mural on Mungo Martin House, a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw big house.
  2. Snap a few pics of the mystical totem poles carved in the Gitxsan, Haida, and Kwakwaka’wakw traditions.
  3. Walk across the street and check out the Royal BC Museum, which includes several additional galleries and exhibits that highlight the region’s indigenous traditions. Admission is $29.95 for adults; children are free.

Check out our guide to Victoria’s best parks and gardens if you still feel like touching some grass.

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

Explore the Chinatown District

If you’re looking to sneak in a little more culture, how about a visit to Victoria’s Chinatown? Located on the northern edge of downtown, the neighbourhood is the second oldest Chinatown in North America.

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage and vibrant atmosphere, and don’t miss the opportunity to capture stunning photographs along the way.

  • Begin your exploration of the Chinatown District by visiting the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest.
  • Take a leisurely stroll down Fisgard Street, lined with traditional Chinese shops and beautiful architecture.
  • Discover Fan Tan Alley, one of the narrowest streets in Canada, filled with quirky shops and vibrant street art.
  • Indulge in authentic Chinese cuisine at one of the many restaurants offering delectable dishes.

The area is also ground zero for the Victoria craft beer scene. Go the self-guided route, or visit as part of a Victoria brewery tour. The choice is up to you!

a couple hike the trails at mount douglas park, one of the best free things to do in Victoria.

Take a Hike at Mount Douglas Park

Mount Douglas Park is a serene oasis a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria in Saanich. The park is an ideal destination for budget travellers seeking a quick escape into nature.

The park offers a network of trails suitable for all levels, winding through lush forests and leading to breathtaking 360-degree views of Victoria, Mt. Baker, the Gulf Islands, and the Olympic Mountains.

  1. Pack essential hiking gear, including proper footwear, water, snacks, and a map.
  2. Check the weather forecast to prepare for the hike and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
  3. Begin the hike at the designated trailhead, following the marked paths to navigate Mount Douglas Park.
  4. Observe and appreciate the natural surroundings, wildlife, and scenic viewpoints along the trail.


a traditional dragon dance during a lunar new year celebration in victoria's chinatown

Victoria’s Free Events and Festivals

Victoria, BC, is known for its vibrant cultural scene, hosting numerous free events, concerts, and festivals throughout the year. Here are some of the best Victoria free events to attend:

  • Symphony Splash: Held in August, this event features the Victoria Symphony playing on a floating stage in the Inner Harbour. It’s a unique and popular outdoor concert experience.
  • Canada Day Celebrations: On July 1st, Victoria hosts a variety of free events, including live music, cultural performances, and fireworks at the Inner Harbour.
  • TD Art Gallery Paint-In: A community-based art festival held in July, where local artists display their work along Moss Street, from the Art Gallery to the ocean.
  • Victoria Dragon Boat Festival: Held in August, this festival features dragon boat races, cultural performances, and live music at the Inner Harbour.
  • Victoria Pride Week: Celebrated in July, the Pride Parade and Festival offer a range of free events, including live performances and a vibrant parade.
  • Victoria Chinese New Year Celebration: Held in the city’s historic Chinatown, the event features a traditional lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, cultural performances, and a parade.

These additional events further highlight the diverse and vibrant cultural scene in Victoria, offering a range of free experiences for residents and visitors alike.

Free Things to Do in Victoria Honourable Mentions

It is often said that the best things in life are free, and this holds true in Victoria as well! So, before we go, I’ll leave you with a quick list of free Victoria activities to add to your itinerary.

  • Visit the Ogden Point Breakwater: Walk along the breakwater near the Victoria Cruise Terminal and enjoy ocean views.
  • Visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: Victoria’s largest art gallery offers free admission for guests under 25.
  • Relax at Thetis Lake Regional Park: Enjoy swimming, hiking, and picnicking by the lake.
  • Check out a Free Concert in Centennial Square: Eventide features a free, outdoor, all-ages music series every Wednesday in July and August.
  • Window shop in Antique Row: Browse through unique and vintage items in quaint shops along Fort Street.
  • Walk the Galloping Goose Regional Trail: Explore this extensive trail system on foot or by bike.
  • Explore the Hatley Park National Historic Site: Wander around the gardens and enjoy the historic architecture.

Free Things to Do in Victoria FAQs

What are some free things to do in Victoria, BC?

There are plenty of free things to do in Victoria, BC, for budget travellers, from scenic gardens and public art to popular attractions and hidden insider spots. The most popular free activity is wandering the streets of areas like the Inner Harbour or Chinatown.

The city also has a multitude of parks, gardens, trails, and beaches that can be enjoyed without dipping into your wallet. If you’re visiting during the summer, you’ll have your pick of free events, festivals, and concerts.

What historic buildings can I visit for free in Victoria?

The renowned Parliament Buildings, with its iconic blue-green domed architecture, offers free, guided tours. Visitors can also watch debates from the Public Galleries and explore the exterior with hidden gems like the Premier’s Rose Garden. The Hatley Park National Historic Site is also free if you want to make the trip to Colwood.

What free things to do in Victoria Chinatown?

Free activities in Victoria’s Chinatown include exploring hidden courtyards, alleys, restaurants, and shops on foot. You can also see landmarks like the Gate of Harmonious Interest, Fan Tan Alley, and the Tam Kung Temple.

What free outdoor activities are available in Victoria, BC?

You can enjoy hiking, exploring local parks and trails, visiting the seaside community of James Bay with its surrounding water views, and spending a day at the beach. Popular options include Beacon Hill Park, the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail, Thunderbird Park, the Galloping Goose Trail, and Mount Douglas Park.

Are there any Victoria free events and festivals in Victoria?

There are many Victoria free events and festivals, particularly if you’re visiting during the summer. The most popular include BC’s largest Canada Day celebration, Symphony Splash, the Victoria International Jazz Fest, and the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival.

Still looking for free things to do in Victoria?

As we wrap up our journey through our list of free activities in Victoria, BC, it’s clear that this city offers abundant experiences that don’t have to break the bank.

From scenic nature walks to historical landmarks, Victoria’s offerings prove that the best things in life truly are free.

We hope this guide to the best free things to do in Victoria inspires you to explore the Garden City, making your visit both memorable and budget-friendly.

Safe travels ✈️

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights