On lush Vancouver Island you will find British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria. This urban jewel offers innovative restaurants, gorgeous parks and gardens and museums that celebrate the area’s many cultures.
Victoria has a compact and walkable city centre matched with some of the best climate in the entire country. You’d have no trouble filling a week of activities in this city, but if you are pressed for time here are some ideas on how you can get the best out of your stay in a short amount of time. So, get ready to spend 48 hours in Victoria!
If your morning coffee is as important to you as most people in the world, then you’re in luck. The locals in Victoria consider coffee culture a defining aspect of the city. You may think it might be tea because of Victoria’s British influence but coffee drinkers have their pick of hip artisanal cafes. Victoria has established itself as a hub of some of the best roasters in the country, keeping the bar high when it comes to your morning latte or pour-over. So, start your day off right in one of these local hotspots.
664 Discovery Street
Considered by many as Victoria’s best coffee shop, this café is going 13 years strong. For all you coffee enthusiasts, you’ll find everything from pour-over, AeroPress, batch brew and nitro cold brew. If you’re looking for some coffee education, they offer classes on “Cupping Protocol” to “Extraction and Refraction”. It’s safe to say, they take their coffee seriously.
560 John Street #122
Orders are brewed to perfection at this café where beans are sourced from Calgary-based roaster Phil & Sebastian as well as Portland’s Heart. You’ll feel rejuvenated by its lime green walls, large windows and pastry filled displays.
1701 Douglas Street
This shop is always buzzing with conversation turning strangers into friends. They specialize in traditional Italian style menu items as well as unique and original creations such as Graham Cracker lattes, Lumberjack lattes and drinks made with house-made hemp milk.
808 Yates Street
This is a must-visit when coming to Victoria. With two locations to choose from, this café is dedicated to locally roasted beans by Bows & Arrows. Sustainability is very important as both locations are carbon-neutral and even combined, only produce half the emissions of a regular café. Can you say environmentally friendly anyone?
Take a Flight
Now that you’ve gotten your caffeine fix, head over to the city’s Inner Harbour and take a 20-minute seaplane tour and see Victoria from a birds eye view. Flights soar over the surround coastline giving you a perfect view of the colourful 19th century buildings, elegant homes overlooking Juan de Fuca Strait and the towering Olympic Mountains to the south. For even more views, take a 35-minute extended tour and be whisked over the northern tips of the Saanich Peninsula, while sweeping over views of nearby islands and aerial views of the century old Butchart Gardens.
After your exhilarating flight over the city, it’s time to indulge in some of the city’s local delicacies. The culinary scene in Victoria is a foodie’s delight. It is wide-ranging in style and culinary traditions, showcasing regional seafood, local produce and each chef’s creativity. You’ll find everything from fish and chips to high-end fusion. Dining in Victoria reflects a commitment to fresh, local sustainable food that’s a lifestyle commitment to most people in the area. Here are a few spots to check out.
611 Courtney Street
Grab brunch as this restaurant passionate about its farm-to-table philosophy. Their seasonal tasting menus give you the best of what’s new from berries to spot prawns. Round out your meal with locally brewed beers, French press coffees and handmade gelato.
1011 Broad Street
Feeling for some Italian? In the heart of Victoria, you’ll find the perfect spot to enjoy traditional dishes. This popular spot is known for lineups so head there early to enjoy dishes like meat John Doe and the prawn broker.
1018 Blanshard Street
Get serious bang for your buck at this Tokyo-style restaurant. Relax, get comfortable and feast on bowls of steaming ramen. The tonkotsu and tori broths, plus tomato-based vegetarian broth are all must-tries. Don’t forget about their on-tap Sapporo!
1006 Wharf Street
You can’t visit Victoria without having fish and chips. But this restaurant does it with a twist. Where else can you try a fusion delight that is jerk fish poutine. Enjoy a mash up of west coast fish with Jamaican jerk sauce served over fries.
Brewery Tour by Bike
Spend the afternoon sightseeing and exercising on a brewery tour. Victoria has a growing craft beer scene and more than a dozen breweries producing a range of inventive brews including Canada’s original brewpub, Spinnakers. Discover the city’s beer history on the Pedaler’s Hoppy Hour Ride, a three-hour guided bike tour with tasting along the way. You’ll whiz across the Selkirk Trestle, a 300-metre fir and hemlock bridge crossing the Gorge Waterway and part of the 55km Galloping Goose rail trail. Bottoms up!
Rest up because you have another jam-packed day in the morning. Spend the night in one of our favourite hotels, DoubleTree Victoria.
Fuel up with a light breakfast and start your day off early by exploring the city from the water. You can rent a stand-up paddleboard, kayaks and canoes to enjoy the sights along the waterfront. If you prefer to venture out with an experienced kayaker, you can join a guided tour. Keep your eyes peeled for seals and bald eagles as you weave your way among mini ferries, seaplanes and yachts. Take in the Rattenbury design Parliament Buildings and brightly painted floating homes.
No trip to Victoria is complete without a visit to the “crown jewel”, Beacon Hill Park. Wander through the 200 acres of park land and you may even catch the daily “Running of the Goats” at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.
Whale Watching Tour
Head to the docks for fresh fish and chips, a village of floating homes, fresh ocean air and whale watching. You’ll be surrounded by an abundance of marine wildlife in the waters surround Victoria including Orca, Gray, Humpback and Minke whales. You’ll also spot sea lions, seals, porpoise and many other marine birds.
Cruise through the ocean and enjoy the brisk breeze as local certified naturalists and experts guide you through this marine adventure. Most voyages include a trip to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve which is Canada’s first Marine Protected Area and home to an abundance of rare marine life.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the cluster of food trucks that are tucked into the courtyard behind the Royal BC Museum. You can feast on perogies, West Coast salmon or chow down on fish tacos and burgers. If you’re looking for indoor options, hear to Fort and Blanshard, a foodie hub of small restaurants dishing up everything from Spanish tapas to Middle Eastern snacks.
Sightseeing outside the city
Now it’s time to hit the road. Victoria has many attractions to see within the city but there is one you should visit only 20 to 30 minutes away. If you are staying at DoubleTree Victoria, take advantage of their complimentary electric car rental! Take some time to stroll through Butchart Gardens, a collection of gardens you’ll need about two hours to fully appreciate it. Walk through its peaceful pathways across ponds, a giant fountain and floral display bursting with colour. Each garden has its own theme and will captivate you, especially the Japanese Garden.
While on the road, visit a cidery, brewery or distillery in Victoria. Enjoy a craft cider sample with a charcuterie plate at Sea Cider, a family-owned community-minded orchard and cider house. Cheers!
Cocktails and Share Plates
End your day off by digging into some local, sustainable food and creative craft cocktails. Here are a few restaurants you should check out.
506 Fort Street
If you’re looking to enjoy some creative flare, look no further than this cozy speakeasy. This urban spot is the perfect place for a late-night craft cocktail and food that will blow your taste buds away.
1019 Blanshard Street
Vegan. Gluten-free. Soy-free. Dairy-free. This restaurant is for you. This creative and elegant restaurant offers organic, plant-based foods that with energize and engage your palate.
911 Yates Street
In the mood for a mean burger? This is your spot. They offer 17 set burgers with a rotating special every month. Don’t forget the sides and condiments with a side of onion rings and array of aiolis.
509 Fisgard Street
Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, this restaurant takes farm-to-table to the next level with ingredients from all over British Columbia. Their mission is to forge connections over food, so this is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy good food and good conversation.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, your Victoria adventure awaits.