Victoria, British Columbia is a fantastic city to visit. This small but bustling city on Vancouver Island has preserved its historic charm and its connection with nature. By visiting the lesser-known sites in the city, travellers can get a different feel for this capital city. Here are a some things to do in Victoria to make your visit truly memorable.
Taking the ferry to Vancouver Island is a scenic highlight, but don't let it be your only experience at sea! In the summer and fall, take a leisurely day sail, a pleasant whale watching tour or a chartered fishing expedition with an experienced tour operator. For those less adventurous, try taking a water taxi tour and view the Inner Harbour from a different perspective.
The Inner Harbour is the center of the tourist district. In the high season, the streets become clogged with visitor traffic, horse-drawn carriages and street performers. As fun and beautiful as it is, there's more to Victoria than the harbourfront. Take a grand tour of the region on a double-decker city bus, one of the few cities in the world which still use them in regular operation. Many routes travel to the outlying areas, like Sooke, that meander on winding, scenic routes.
Sure, there's plenty of choices on the menu but who wouldn't enjoy the bounty of the sea when the ocean is so close? Daily catches are hauled from the north Pacific Ocean including mussels, crab, salmon and halibut. If you're not into fancy dinners, grab some tasty Fish 'n Chips from Fisherman's Wharf - they sell fresh seafood, too, if you'd rather prepare it yourself.
Don't stick to one part of Victoria. The city by the sea has many faces. Stroll along the uncrowded shores of Dallas Road and walk out on the Ogden Point breakwater, where aircraft carriers & cruise ships dock. Better yet, hop in the car and explore the southern shores of Vancouver Island including the Saanich Peninsula, the Malahat, and Highway #14 up to Port Renfrew. You'll find wonderful off-the-beaten-track eateries, spectacular scenery, friendly locals, mind-blowing ancient forests, and more.
One of the best kept secrets is only 40 minutes from downtown Victoria. East Sooke Regional Park offers expansive views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. Hike the Coast Trail and watch for a breaching whale. Stroll amongst large, rainforest trees on Pike Road and listen to a cacophony of bird songs. The park is refuge all sorts of wildlife, including eagle, bear and cougar. The network of trails is rarely crowded.
Beyond Sooke, there is also the community of Port Renfrew, home to old-growth forests like like Avatar Grove, as well as mammoth trees like the Harris Creek Spruce and the San Juan Spruce, the largest in Canada!