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Victoria’s Best Bars: A Newbie’s Guide

Looking for a definitive list of Victoria’s best bars? Well, get ready to embark on a journey through the bustling nightlife of the Garden City to uncover the hidden gems of its bar scene.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll introduce you to the best bars in town, perfect for newbies looking to explore the city’s vibrant watering holes, hops-infused taprooms, and chic cocktail lounges.

So grab your friends, and let’s dive in!

The Best Bars in Victoria

Victoria has traditionally been viewed as a laid-back, quiet community. But the nightlife of this university town with a burgeoning craft beer scene is on the rise. So, we’ve unlocked a few hidden gems and put them alongside some old stand-bys to concoct a list of Victoria’s best bars.

These establishments are more than just watering holes; they are gathering places to experience the local culture, meet new people, and enjoy live music.

For young travellers and Lower Mainlanders looking for an exciting yet laid-back nightlife experience, Victoria’s best bars offer a delightful surprise. It’s a scene ripe for discovery, promising memorable nights filled with great drinks, great company, and an authentic taste of what Victoria has to offer.

Victoria’s Best Pubs | The Top Brewpubs in Victoria | Victoria’s Best Cocktail Bars


The Best Pubs in Victoria

Victoria is home to some fantastic pubs that offer great food, drinks, and a welcoming atmosphere. Being the colonial city that it is, there is no shortage of unique British-style pubs on offer to help you drink the night away. Here’s a list of some of our favourites:

the entrance to victoria's famous sticky wicket pub

The Sticky Wicket Pub & Restaurant

Category: Sports Bar | Location: 919 Douglas St.| Website

Located in the Strathcona Hotel, The Sticky Wicket is simply a local institution. This popular sports pub offers multiple big-screen TVs and an impressive selection of craft beers on tap. Enjoy their tasty pub fare, catch a game, or play a round of pool or darts in this upbeat and lively establishment.

And if you don’t feel like sitting in a dark pub, you’re also covered. Walk upstairs to their massive rooftop patio – the largest of its kind in British Columbia. Relax in the summer sun, cool off with a cold drink, or sign up to play a game on the in-house beach volleyball court! It’s entirely up to you!

a bird's eye view of bard and baker pub  in victoria

Bard & Banker

Category: Pub| Location: 1022 Government St.| Website

This British-themed pub is housed in a beautiful historic building, complete with high ceilings and elegant chandeliers. They claim to have the most beautiful room in Victoria, and quite frankly, they might be right. But with a wide selection of beers, whiskies, and delicious pub fare, Bard & Banker is more than just a pretty face.

This Government Street hotspot is the perfect spot to enjoy a cold brew and good company along with a hearty meal. And they proudly feature some of Victoria’s best musical talents on a nightly basis. So, the atmosphere more than stands up to their award-winning food and wine list.

the patio at darcy's pub in the summertime

Darcy’s Pub

Category: Bar| Location: 1127 Wharf St. | Website

If you’re looking for a fun and lively spot to hang out in Victoria, you’ll definitely want to check out Darcy’s Pub. This popular Wharf Street establishment has a little something for everyone, making it a fantastic choice for a night out with friends or a casual date. Not to mention, it’s a short walk from the Inner Harbour and many of Victoria’s top things to do.

The atmosphere at Darcy’s Pub is warm, welcoming, and vibrant. With its rustic-chic décor, large patio overlooking the water, and regular live music performances, this pub offers a lively and enjoyable experience for all. And if you’d like to kick it up a notch, simply head up to the Upstairs Cabaret to dance the night away.


Victoria’s Best Brewpubs

Victoria is known as the ‘craft beer capital of Canada.’ You’ll be spoiled for choice with over 20 independent breweries and many exciting brewpubs. Whether you choose to sample the local suds on your own or as part of a Victoria Craft Beer Tour, you surely won’t be disappointed.

Looking to hit up some breweries? Check out our Victoria Craft Beer guide for tips and recommendations.

the patio at craft beer market, victoria.

CRAFT Beer Market

Category: Taproom | Location: 450 Swift St. | Website

Situated in a beautifully restored historic building, CRAFT Beer Market combines delicious craft beer with a mouth-watering menu. A spacious patio overlooking the Inner Harbour makes it a fantastic spot to enjoy Victoria’s scenic beauty while sipping on a cold pint. This makes it a great relaxing option after a day exploring nearby Chinatown or Oldtown.

While the vibe definitely leans more toward a corporate taproom environment, it’s still a great option to sample a few choice picks from local brewers. And with dozens of local, national, and international faves on tap, there is bound to be something for everyone.

the patio at spinakkers gastropub overlooking victoria's inner harbour

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Category: Gastropub | Location: 308 Catherine St.| Website

Looking for less of a corporate vibe? Then why not pay a visit to Victoria’s original brewpub that helped start the local beer craze way back in 1984? Located across the Johnson Street bridge in West Victoria, this historic establishment offers a top-notch brewpub experience, combined with elevated pub grub and tremendous views of the city’s Inner Harbour.

They offer a large selection of our specialty craft beers, ciders, and spirits, all made in-house. You’ll find everything from Peach Hefeweizen to Braeburn Apple Cider and Chocolate Gin. Then, toss a delectable menu featuring fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, and the trip to West Vic becomes a no-brainer.

Swans Pub

Category: Brewpub| Location: 1601 Store St. | Website

Suppose you’re looking for something closer to the action. In that case, Swans Pub is a true gem in the city’s lively downtown core. The pub offers a memorable experience that combines great food, fantastic drinks, and a unique atmosphere. In fact, they even offer nightly live music, which is becoming more and more of a rarity.

This Oldtown pub has been cranking out experimental brews since back in 1989, long before craft beer became the new buzzword. You’ll find 16 beers made in-house in their downstairs lagering room. A wide selection of local rotators and cocktails balances their drink program nicely.


The Top Victoria Cocktail Bars

In spite of its reputation, Victoria isn’t just about suds and sours. The city currently has three cocktail bars that received honours at the 17th annual Spirited Awards – and several more waiting in the wings. So, despite its relatively small size, Victoria is still home to some of the best cocktail bars in North America

a pisco sour at the award-winning victoria cocktail bar clive's classic lounge

Clives Classic Lounge

Category: Lounge| Location: 740 Burdett Ave. | Website

It’s safe to say that Clive’s Classic Lounge is the most vaunted location on our list. In fact, the bar has received five top 10 nominations for the “Best International Hotel Bar” award, in addition to being named World Whiskey Hotel Bar of the Year in 2023. So you’re free to pick your poison at this pillar of the local cocktail community.

This upscale cocktail bar and lounge is located in the Chateau Victoria Hotel in the heart of downtown. Known for its sophisticated ambiance, Clive’s attracts locals and tourists alike who are seeking an intimate and refined setting to enjoy a night out. Looking for something special? My favourite is the 31-month-old Boulevardier, aged in-house in cabernet sauvignon, riesling and American oak barrels.

a cocktail from wind cries mary restaurant and cocktail bar in victoria's bastion square

Wind Cries Mary

Category: Restaurant| Location: 45 Bastion Sq. | Website

Including a restaurant on this list sounds strange, but hear me out. At Wind Cries Mary, you can expect a creative and ever-changing menu showcasing the best seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. And this attitude also extends to their cocktail program. Their drink menu even features a map of Vancouver Island that illustrates the source of their base ingredients.

The bartenders are always happy to help you find the perfect pairing for your meal or to whip up something special. But when I’m looking for a local take on a classic, I opt for the WCM Old Fashioned. The drink features Campbell River Shelter Point Single Malt, Sherry Gomme and house-made bitters.

a cocktail at citrus and cane in victoria

Citrus & Cane

Category: Cocktail Bar | Location: 1900 Douglas St.| Website

If you find yourself in Victoria craving refreshing rum-based cocktails in a lively, retro atmosphere, you’ll want to swing by this self-proclaimed “tropical cocktail bar.” It’s the perfect place to catch up with friends, unwind after a long day, or kick off a memorable night out.

Citrus and Cane is known for its innovative and delicious summery cocktails that feature fresh, locally sourced ingredients – think Pina Coladas, Punches and Mai Tais. Their talented mixologists have a knack for combining unique flavours with a touch of flair, ensuring that every drink is a work of art. Just don’t forget your Hawaiian shirt!


Ready to unwind at one of Victoria’s Best Bars?

As you can see, Victoria has a wealth of incredible bars just waiting to be discovered. From laid-back pubs and cozy tap rooms to world-class cocktail bars and everything in between. There’s truly something for everyone in this charming city harbour city.

So, whether you’re a local or just visiting, take the time to explore Victoria’s best bars and the rest of the city’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Bottoms up,

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