When people think of the coast of British Columbia, they usually think of Vancouver when it comes to cities. Vancouver is fabulous, but the smaller city - and also the capital of the province - is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Culturally rich, beautiful and enticing, Victoria is one of the most beautiful places in the world! It's easily accessible by a number of ways, including an international airport, ferries from both the lower mainland and Washington state, staying in Victoria allows you to explore Vancouver Island and soak in some of the island lifestyle. What are you waiting for? The city is extremely tourist accessible, there's even an iPhone app by Tourism Victoria that can be found at the Apple iTunes App Store.
It's hard to boil down all the great places to see in Victoria, but there are definitely a couple "must-sees" for a first timer. Beacon Hill park is known for it's beautiful gardens and many areas to stroll - there's ducks in the ponds, and a ton of places for picnics. The Buchart Gardens are world renowned for their beautifully designed gardens. For information on their tours and pricing, visit their website. You can't miss walking along the seawall either, and while you're there - take a peek at the Parliament buildings, they're absolutely gorgeous.
Victoria is home to the Royal British Columbia Museum, that has quite an incredible permanent collection, and the shows that go through there are absolutely phenomenal. The art collection is fabulous as well. There are also small art galleries around the city that showcase some of the great Canadian art there is available. The island is truly full of art and artists, so artisan products of all types are available in small boutiques downtown Victoria. The Royal BC Museum is also home to the IMAX theater which does incredible shows. Don't forget to also check out Craigdarroch Castle! Craigdarroch Castle historic house museum is a "must see" on your visit to Victoria, B. C. The wealthy Dunsmuir family saga and the mansion they built is a key piece of British Columbia's history. Designated as one of Canada's National Historic Sites, this Victorian Castle is a legendary tourist attraction.
Victoria offers many great restaurants but one of the most incredible things to do is have high tea at the Empress Hotel. Steeped in tradition, The Empress has been serving Victoria's grandest tradition of Afternoon Tea for over a century. The majestic lobby of this landmark hotel has played host to England's most beloved ritual - the taking of Afternoon Tea to famed celebrities, dignitaries and royalty alike. A bit pricey but an afternoon you won't soon forget. All throughout the downtown area, you'll find tons of quaint local restaurants as well as popular favourites from throughout North America.
Shopping in Victoria is fabulous! Whether you are just window shopping or on a major shopping spree, in Victoria you can browse quaint shops, local markets and major shopping malls to find your heart's desire. Victoria offers everything from antiques to the wares of local artisans and the designs of the hippest trendsetters. The city's layout encourages strolling and exploring the many side streets at an easy pace. From the Inner Harbour, wander up Government Street to find the perfect gift or souvenir. Four blocks along Government Street, turn right into Trounce Alley, one of Victoria's best-kept secrets. European fashions and gift shops await. Across the street from Trounce Alley, find Bastion Square; once the site of Victoria's Court House, Law Chambers, a brothel and several hangings, Bastion Square is now animated with shops and restaurants.
And so much more is available in Victoria. Depending on where you want to stay, a knowledgeable travel specialist can help you get to the island as well as find a perfect hotel for you, or there's also a wide variety of Victoria vacation rentals!