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A man enjoys a Telegraph Cove kayaking tour.

How to Spend One Day in Victoria BC in 2024

As a local I’m never gonna tell you to spend just one day in Victoria BC, but here I am ready to help! In my list of what to see in Victoria in one day I hope to teach you about local lore, help you explore the nature, and maybe even see once in a lifetime wildlife. Let’s get my one day Victoria itinerary underway.

What to See in Victoria BC in One Day

When thinking of things to do in Victoria in one day, I want to first break it down into a quick summary of the best things to do in Victoria. Being a local, this is how I’d construct the best one day trip of Victoria – I’ll break it down even further later on in the article.
  1. Explore the Inner Harbour
  2. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel
  3. Visit the Royal BC Museum
  4. Take a tour of the city
  5. Take a Tour of the Parliament Buildings
  6. Check out Fisherman’s Wharf
  7. Stroll Through Beacon Hill Park
  8.  Check out Butchart Gardens (optional)
  9. Have Dinner at One of Victoria’s Top Restaurants
Just make sure you know how to get from Vancouver to Victoria first!

One Day Trip in Victoria BC

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

1. Explore the Inner Harbour

This is our crown jewel and you should get this into the itinerary right away! Exploring the Inner Harbour in Victoria, BC is a delightful experience and here’s how I’d do it in one day:
  1. Begin by strolling along the picturesque waterfront to admire the boats and seaplanes.
  2. Discover the local shops and cafes to get a taste of the city’s vibrant culture.
  3. Embark on a harbor ferry tour to gain a unique perspective of the area.
Coming from Vancouver? The Vancouver to Victoria seaplane landing here is probably the best way to see it!

2. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel

The best best one day trip in Victoria always includes the Empress Hotel in Victoria: a historic, luxury hotel known for its elegant architecture, afternoon tea service, and prominent location on the Inner Harbour.
  • Make a reservation at the Fairmont Empress Hotel for a delightful afternoon tea experience.
  • Indulge in a selection of teas and delectable pastries in the elegant ambiance of the hotel.
  • Take in the picturesque views while enjoying your tea.
Famous guests at the Empress Hotel include King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their 1939 royal tour of Canada.
Instagram: @royalbcmuseum

3. Visit the Royal BC Museum

  1. Begin your tour at the Royal BC Museum by exploring the diverse exhibits on natural and human history.
  2. Discover the First Peoples Gallery, showcasing the rich culture and heritage of the indigenous people.
  3. Proceed to the Modern History Galleries to delve into the stories of British Columbia’s past.
  4. Conclude your visit by exploring the featured exhibitions, offering unique and immersive experiences.
Pro-tip: Be sure to check the museum’s website for any special events or temporary exhibitions during your visit. Looking for something a bit different? Check out my post on Victoria’s best museums.

4. Take a Tour of Victoria

My next suggestion for what to do in Victoria BC in one day is going to be about politics – so maybe it’s best to get to the action right now! Taking the best tours of Victoria is a great way to learn obscure and fun facts about the city, eat well, and maybe even see once in a lifetime wildlife.
Really, it’s a matter of picking your poison: a view of the exterior of the bc legislative assembly in victoria, bc.

4. Take a Tour of the Parliament Buildings

When visiting Victoria for one day, taking a tour of the Parliament Buildings is a must-do. Here’s how I’d walk through these important BC buildings:
  1. Begin with a guided tour (free on weekdays between 8:30 and 4:00) to gain insights into the history and architecture of the buildings.
  2. Explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.
  3. Plan your visit during a session to observe the legislature in action.
  4. Don’t miss the impressive library with its ornate woodwork and rich history.
A photo of Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf

5. Check out Fisherman’s Wharf

To explore Fisherman’s Wharf, start by strolling along the colorful floating homes and unique shops. You can enjoy fresh seafood from local vendors, and watch for seals often seen around the docks. Take a scenic harbour ferry tour for a different perspective. Visit the art galleries and souvenir shops for unique finds – I like Studio 106. If you’re visiting Victoria in summer, I would also not miss trying the famous fish and chips at Barb’s Fish and Chips (open March-October) beacon hill park in victoria, bc.

6. Stroll Through Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is one of Victoria’s best parks: a 200-acre public park known for its scenic landscaping, walking trails, and iconic totem pole. Here’s how I’d visit the park:
  1. Begin at the main entrance on Douglas Street.
  2. Take in the beautifully landscaped gardens and ponds.
  3. Stop by the petting zoo and feed the friendly animals.
  4. Unwind by the famous Mile “0” marker.
  5. Appreciate the breathtaking views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Fun Fact: Beacon Hill Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, housing over 75 different species of birds. This is one of the best free things to do in Victoria.

7. Visit Butchart Gardens (Optional)

Butchart Gardens is a group of floral display gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada, near Victoria on Vancouver Island. The gardens, which cover an area of 22 hectares, attract over a million visitors each year. They have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Start by grabbing a map at the entrance. Wander through the themed gardens, like the stunning Sunken Garden and the serene Japanese Garden – they are both stunning!

8. Have Dinner at One of Victoria’s Top Restaurants

Victoria’s culinary scene offers diverse options, from fine dining to casual eateries, reflecting the city’s vibrant gastronomy. Here’s my quick suggestions for Victoria in one day: Looking for a nightcap? I suggest going to any of Victoria’s best bars. Think you need more time? Consider my Victoria weekend itinerary which adds an extra day.

Things to Do in Victoria in One Day FAQ

What are the best things to see in Victoria in one day?

The best things to do in Victoria during a one-day trip are exploring the harbor, visiting Butchart Gardens, taking a whale-watching cruise, trying out the local cuisine, visiting the Royal BC Museum, strolling through Beacon Hill Park, shopping at the Inner Harbour.

Is it possible to take a day trip to Victoria, Canada from Seattle without a car?

Yes, the trip to Victoria is simple and does not require a car, making it a perfect spontaneous international day trip.

What unique experiences can visitors have in Victoria, Canada during a one-day trip?

Visitors can enjoy a delectable lunch at a cozy teahouse, take a guided tour of the city’s architectural structures, and explore the lush gardens of Butchart Gardens.

Still Need to Know to Spend One Day in Victoria BC?

With its charming atmosphere, beautiful sights, and delicious food, Victoria, BC is a must-visit destination. Although one day may not be enough to fully experience everything the city has to offer, this itinerary will give you a taste of the best of Victoria in just one day.

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