Victoria, BC is a lovely island slightly north of Seattle. You can travel there easily via air, or ferry. My first impressions were, “clean, friendly and easy to navigate”. The people were genuine and helpful, without appearing to patronize travelers. Victoria is a distinct tourist town. There are cruisers, snow birds and young international tourists milling around the small city. The city has so many statues, fountains and totem poles, it is surprising this isn't a well noted fact in the tourism paraphernalia that is distributed about the city sights. Victoria respects it's Native history and that is one of the beautiul points I noticed in the city no matter where we traveled.
|sightseeing tour bus|
|University of Victoria|
We stayed at the Marriott, right on the waterfront for the first couple of nights, enjoying the sights and easily walkable route to downtown and all the restaurants and bars centrally located. A brisk 10 minute walk over the bridge into downtown afforded us plenty of time to peruse the shops and experience a variety of eating opportunities. There is outdoor dining available, including rooftop bars, and seafood patios. We moved to the Capital City Center hotel for a couple days to get a better idea of a different part of the city and take in other artistic options closer to Chinatown. The entire experience gave us a full view of what Victoria has to offer; A beautiful city with many options for locals and tourists alike.
Local breweries and fine restaurants were as unique as the festivals and daily events which seemed abundant (CityVibe). We caught a farmers market which had an art and music aspect which seemed universal but had many nuances common to Canada. There were so many galleries and museums, we couldn’t visit them all. We did visit the Robert Bateman museum which is a small dedication to the local artist himself. We received a complimentary ticket to that gallery with our ticket purchase for the Big Bus. We also found renting bikes, scooters and cycles were easy and affordable and quite convenient. We rode from downtown Victoria to the University and all around the island, including a detour to Craigdarroch Castle.
You can get around easily with the help of the locals, maps, and accessible bike lanes. A fantastic and enjoyable option more cities should utilize. Maps were available everywhere we went, and appreciated.
We also purchased a two day pass on the Big Bus of Victoria which toured us all over the island and allowed us to hop on/ hop off at various designated stops. This allowed us to hear a colorful history of Victoria and some of the interesting stories we may have missed on our own. We also saw much more real estate, and all of the shore line.
|Fisherman's Wharf Residences|
Once we were at the Capital City Center Hotel, closer to Chinatown, it was easier to walk the Olde Town area and stumble upon smaller festivals in the Centennialand Bastion Square areas. There is the same dedication to community art, totem and statues in these squares as there is in the downtown, wharf area.
We were excited to stumble upon a Flamenco Festival at the Centennial Square during our visit and not only see fun dancing, but listen to local music and nosh on food from local food trucks which were servicing the festival.
The Parliament area is also the center of all touristy things to do and directly across the street from the Empress Hotel which is a popular hi-end hotel directly across the street from Inner Harbour.
We found the entire island walk-able, bike-able and so accessible I would say it was one of the easiest destinations to get around I have ever visited. Canada is fantastic and although my tourism had been limited to Niagara Falls in the past, Victoria is the cherry on top.