Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and located at the tip of Vancouver Island. If you have no idea what that means just Google Maps it haha. It is accessible from Vancouver via a bus and then a boat and then a bus (sounds like an ordeal but it really isn’t). It takes a few hours but is definitely worth the trek as it feels like you are stepping into a different country. Victoria has a very European vibe to it and at times I felt like I was home. It is a completely different experience to any of the other cities I’ve mentioned and one you should look into if you’re heading to BC.
To get over there we went with BC Ferries. The whole experience was super easy and not a hassle at all (something to look up though is the time of the ferries as just missing one and then waiting for an hour or two is pretty rubbish). The ferry itself was spacious and featured seating areas (both indoors and outdoors), work stations, free wifi internet, cafes, game rooms etc. Although the trip itself is just over an hour, you can be content on there for three or four haha. If it’s a nice day definitely hang out outside as the views are really gorgeous, especially as you get closer to Vancouver Island.
In terms of the city itself it is very small and very walkable. The main downtown area focuses around the marina which has little market stalls and places to eat/drink. The two most impressive buildings are the Legislature Building and The Empress Hotel. The former is pictured below and really reminded me of Belgium or France. At night they completely light it up and it feels like Christmas. From there you can walk to different shops or grab some nice food further up the water by the wharfs. If you walk east you can go to Craigdarroch Castle or some nice public gardens. Victoria is a very easy place to freely wander and see what takes your fancy.
A cool area to check out is Fisherman’s Wharf and it is just a few minutes from downtown. What we liked the most about it is the mix of residential and commercial. There are some nice restaurants, shops and ice-cream places but also floating houses (what the what). People actually live in these homes that are all unique to one another and literally floating on the water. You can walk between them and peer in and see the kitchens and cutlery and pretty much everything! It completely baffled me and is probably the highlight of my time in Victoria haha. It seems like such a tight-knit, friendly community and one I’d love to join someday.
If you keep following the water round you’ll hit Ogden Point and a lighthouse. To get to the very end you have to walk down a long path through the water and round the marina. Fortunately there are railings as apparently prior to them people did fall in (eek). We went as the sun was setting and it was really lovely. You can see the silhouettes of mountains in the distance and the sky and sea were divided by this angelic yellow/orange haze. It’s the perfect night time walk with a hot drink or ice cream.
It’s a very different feel to Vancouver or Whistler so if you’re trying to get a diverse overview of BC or just want something less metropolitan definitely consider Victoria! It’s probably the most European feeling city I’ve been to in North America for a while.