Downtown Victoria is small enough that most of it can be seen in a day just by walking through the city. It's the beautiful capital city of BC, located across the Georgia Strait on Vancouver Island. Summer time is a wonderful time to spend a day exploring the nooks and alleys of Victoria. (Check out my guide to Victoria in the winter!)
How to Get to Victoria
By far the most popular way to get to Vancouver Island is by ferry. BC Ferries run between the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and Swartz Bay almost every hour on the hour. The gorgeous crossing between the gulf islands takes about 1.5 hours, and tickets can be bought online in advance. Tickets are $17.20 each way for a foot passenger, with the cost of bringing a car setting you back $57.60 each way. If you aren't planning to go outside Victoria, leave the car at home! From the ferry terminal, take Bus 7o into downtown Victoria, about a 25 minute drive.
Seaplanes also frequent the route between Vancouver and Vancouver Island; check out Harbour Air for details.
Things to Do in Victoria
Beacon Hill Park
Hop off the bus downtown Victoria and start your morning with a walk through Beacon Hill Park, just south of Parliament near the coast. Complete with walking trails, a lighthouse, a number of gardens, fountains and a children's petting zoo, this park is a wonderful oasis in the heart of town.
BC Parliament Buildings
As the capital of British Columbia, Victoria is home to the Parliament Buildings where the Legislative Assembly meets. Situated overlooking the Victoria Inner Harbour, the majestic neo-baroque building is surrounded by large green spaces and holds a central position in downtown Victoria. The building is open to the public year-round for free guided tours or simply to view at your own pace and it is a great chance to see how and where our government is run. I highly suggest the free tour as the guides are very knowledgeable and provide insight into the inner workings of government.
After your tour, head to the Empress Hotel for high tea, one of the best in the city!
After tea, stop in at Bastion Square where there is always likely to be a summer artisan market happening. The Inner Harbour usually also is full of musicians and arts and crafts booths, plus the guarantee of a stunning view. Grab a pick-me-up ice cream at the delicious Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a Canadian company with its first location opened in Whistler Village in 1988.
Further down the main road past Bastion Square is the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and second only to San Francisco in North America! There is an abundance of shops featuring traditional foods, gifts, stationary and knick-knacks through the various alleys.
Royal BC Museum
Spend the afternoon catching the latest exhibit at the Royal BC Museum, a fabulous museum next door to Parliament. Then, on the street between the museum and Parliament, catch Bus 7o back to the ferry terminal just in time to catch a pinky orange summer sunset over the water!