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Things To Do In Victoria

With its hotchpotch architecture and downtown urban cool, Victoria has a lot to see. Admire the grand gothic architecture of the BC Parliament Buildings, marvel at Craigdarroch Castle and pop into the city’s world-class natural history museum. And when you’ve had enough of exploring on foot, hopping on a bike here is the next best option. Almost as user friendly as Europe’s two-wheeled capital – Amsterdam – Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. With this nifty means of transport, you can easily pedal your way to the beautiful Butchart Gardens, or meander over to Beacon Hill Park to spot the wild peacocks that call this park their home. 

To embrace the old-world opulence of this elegant destination, Afternoon Tea at The Empress Hotel is a must. An establishment that has hosted a number of famous faces – think Queen Elizabeth herself, Churchill and Kipling – an afternoon spent here is set to be special. And with everything from classic cucumber sandwiches and sumptuous smoked salmon pinwheels to the hotel’s special strawberries and cream on the menu, your stomach will thank you too. 

Then there’s vibrant Chinatown. Established in 1858 when the Chinese flocked here during the mid-century gold rush, this is one of Victoria’s most historical quarters. At face value, it appears like the Chinatowns that feature in cities all over the world, but with more classic Chinese architecture than any other Canadian city, this district is pretty unique. Discover the hidden labyrinth that is Chinatown’s ‘Forbidden City’ and you’ve found the area’s hidden gem. It’s most renowned street – Fan Tan Alley – is seeped in the rich history of an illegal gambling den past. They may only be 3 foot wide, but these little lanes are packed full of historical truths.

The city’s pretty working harbour is definitely it’s poster-child. Head here for the best fish in town, screensaver-worthy sunsets and a splash – literally – of seal spotting. Just around the corner from the Inner Harbour, you’ll come across Fisherman’s Wharf, a colourful marina dotted with floating homes and a plethora of boutique shops and restaurants. 

But, if the lure of the natural world is more your thing, make your way to the dense, forested trails that backdrop the city for some epic hiking, or head out to sea for fantastic whale watching opportunities. 

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Experiences and attractions in Victoria

Butchart Gardens

Pretty as a picture and packed to the brim full of humble Canadian history, the beautiful Butchart Gardens aren’t just an attraction but a work of floral art. For over 100 years these gardens have been one of Vancouver Island’s most prized gems – a trip here will not disappoint. Think five themed gardens, weekly summer firework displays, tranquil boat trips and concerts on the manicured lawns.

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Beacon Hill Park

This oceanfront, Victorian-era urban park charms locals and tourists alike with its manicured gardens, postcard-perfect lakes and interesting Native Canadian history. 

When you’re done exploring its plethora of pretty paths, visit the petting farm’s adorable animals, indulge in a horse and carriage tour and look out for the wild peacocks that roam the lawns.

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Craigdarroch Castle

A dash of rich – literally – history in the heart of Vancouver Island’s Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle tells the story of a bygone era. With its fairytale-like facade, opulent interiors and all-round restored splendour, this is one of Canada’s finest examples of a public stately home making it the perfect insight into how the mega-rich of Victoria lived in the late Victorian era.

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