Victoria, British Columbia is full of life! Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada with gardens blooming year-round. The wild beauty of the Pacific coast and the adventure of the great outdoors are within the city limits and ocean and mountain vistas will follow you wherever you go.
Victoria remembers its colourful history with First Nations totem poles, heritage architecture and afternoon tea, and bustles with the energy of a university town, having the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and University Canada West within its limits. Shop windows are full of British imports, Native art and the latest trends. Restaurants and cafes serve the freshest cuisine. The harbour is alive with the romance of an era when tall ships moored alongside the wharf and evenings glitter as lights twinkle and cast their magic from atop the landmark British Columbia Legislative Buildings.
Victoria is a year-round tourism destination that offers a friendly, safe haven for all visitors. Getting here is very easy, and, once here, you will feel a million miles away. With a clean environment and charming ambience, it is no surprise that Victoria, BC is one of the world's favourite destinations.
Hatley Park National Historic Site, Home of Royal Roads University
2005 Sooke Road
Hatley Park National Historic Site offers a world of opportunities to visitors of all ages to discover heritage treasures, stroll through glorious gardens, and explore the scenic beauty of this seaside estate.
DISCOVER the 565 acre Edwardian estate containing a grand castle, formal period gardens, an old growth forest with walking trails, plus a seaside lagoon with bird watching opportunities.
EXPERIENCE the hidden secrets of stately Hatley Castle with dynamic guides.
FIND the hidden treasure of geocaching.
STROLL the property at your own speed and soak in the tranquility of nature.
ENGAGE in a truly unique quality learning and educational experience.
SEE IT, EXPERIENCE IT, AND REMEMBER.........the natural wonder and cultural treasure that is Hatley Park National Historic Site.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
1040 Moss Street
Victoria, British Columbia
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is one of Canada's supreme art museums with an everlasting collection of 15,000 objets d'art. The museum collection features art from Asia, Europe and North America with primary emphasis placed on Canada and Japan.
The Gallery is housed in a mixture of contemporary exhibition spaces and an historic 19th century mansion called Gyppeswick.
207 Government Street
The birthplace and childhood home of Emily Carr, one of Canada's most famous artists and authors, is located in historic James Bay. Built in 1863, Carr House is just minutes away from the Inner Harbour. It is restored to accurately depict the Victorian household and lifestyle of the Carr family. Emily's childhood home features a people's Gallery which alternately features works of art by local artists and original works by Emily Carr.
Centre of the Universe
5071 West Saanich Road
The Centre of the Universe is the new interpretive centre at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, BC, Canada. Treat yourself to spectacular views of Victoria and the Cosmos! Our interactive exhibits and talented staff will introduce you to the amazing world of astronomy.
Tour the awesome 1.8 metre Plaskett Telescope. Try our fascinating interactive exhibits. Travel the constellations in our Starlab Planetarium. Experience a special theatre presentation- the Falling Asteroid Blues, the Backpacker's Guide to the Universe, or another one of our entertaining multimedia shows. Take part in one of our family-friendly special events, like our Saturday Star Parties or Stargazer Sundays.
The Centre of the Universe is part of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, the scientific institute within the National Research Council of Canada which has the mandate from Parliament to "operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada."
Glendale Gardens & Woodlands
505 Quayle Road
Glendale Gardens and Woodlands includes over five acres of gardens on a 103 acre site in Saanich, just outside Victoria, BC. These lovely gardens are set in a conservation park with nature trails, wetlands and bird watching sites. Victoria's mild pacific winters allow for year round gardening. Tour the Winter Garden, Japanese style Takata Garden, Zen Garden, rhododendron garden, heather garden and trial dahlia garden. Enjoy the wonderful perennial borders, lilies, hardy fuchsias and herbs.
Glendale Gardens and Woodlands is home to the accredited Pacific Horticulture College and provides a one-year landscape horticulture program, as well as gardener workshops, community education and Master Gardener courses.
Butchart Gardens Ltd., The
800 Benvenuto Avenue
Brentwood Bay, BC
Enticing visitors to Vancouver Island since the early 1900s, these breathtaking gardens are now a designated National Historic Site. Starting with the Sunken Garden, once a limestone quarry, The Butchart Gardens offers 55 acres of spectacular beauty in every season. Spring features countless tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, with the glorious Rose Garden bursting into bloom in the summer. Perennial borders start their stunning show in late summer, and the Japanese maples turn to russet, gold, and red in the fall. Entertainment highlights in July and August include music under the stars, Night Illuminations, and Saturday Fireworks. Christmas is a magical wonderland, including a new outdoor ice skating rink.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
5 minutes from famed Butchart Gardens, Victoria Butterfly Gardens were designed and built specifically to host the life cycle and free flight of tropical butterflies and moths.
Unique to this part of the world Butterfly Gardens provides visitors with the opportunity to experience an entirely 'tropical' garden, complete with creatures that naturally dwell in this type of environment. Enjoy the rare, unique and up close experience of exotic butterflies, tropical ducks, stunning flamingos and other rare tropical birds, and giant Koi swimming in the stream and pond.
Warm and aromatic, the Gardens feature over 200 species of orchids, other stunning blooms and thousands of tropical plants, including foods of the world and carnivorous plant displays.
This carefully planned combination of trees, bushes, vines and creepers is a balanced jungle-like eco-system that flourishes without the use of herbicides and pesticides. Welcome to the Jungle!
National Geographic IMAX Theatre
675 Belleville Street
You won't just see it at IMAX - you'll EXPERIENCE it. Whether it's exploring the tombs of ancient pharaohs, immersed in the colour and culture of a far-off land or centuries back in time walking alongside one of the largest creatures to have ever lived, the IMAX experience takes you places that you could never truly go.
Long famous for extremely high resolution, image clarity, powerful sound and of course, the enormous screen, the magic of IMAX lies in the ability of these combined attributes to fill your peripheral vision and seemingly transport you into the exotic locations. From standing on the coast of Africa to ducking from Dinosaurs, you'll be amazed at just how involved you are.
The National Geographic IMAX Theatre is located in the Royal BC Museum. Shows play hourly throughout the day and into the evening. Check our website, call the info line at 953-IMAX (4629) or find our brochure in the hotel lobby for films and show times.
LOOK FOR THESE FILMS THIS SUMMER; Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, Wild Ocean, Whales and Dinosaurs: Giants of the Patagonia.
ENJOY DISCOUNTED ADMISSION TO THE ROYAL BC MUSEUM AND IMAX THEATRE WHEN PURCHASED TOGETHER. BUY BOTH AND SAVE!
Craigflower Manor & School House
110 Island Highway
Located along the Gorge waterway in the Capital Region, Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse are designated as National Historic Sites, important both to the local community and to Canada's heritage. Craigflower has the potential to tell a wonderful story about the settlement of this part of our great country.
Both the Manor (farm house) and the Schoolhouse were built during the 1850's and were the mainstays of a thriving farm community operated under the auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Land Conservancy intends to interpret the Craigflower Farm Community of the 1850s by significantly increasing activity on the site, opening the facility to the public on a regular basis, implementing a number of special activities and events, and working with the area schools and others to develop educational programs.
649 Humboldt Street
Tourist attraction, all ages, featuring animated miniature scenes involving stories of fact, fiction & fantasy!
Miniature World is the greatest little show on earth! Over 85 great little attractions that include the worlds smallest operational sawmill, two of the largest doll houses, and one of the longest model railways. See Circus World, Space 2201, Frontierland, Fantasyland and much more!
Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Museum
1050 Joan Crescent
Craigdarroch Castle is an 1890's mansion with exquisite stained-glass windows, woodwork and period antiques.
Built by wealthy coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir, Craigdarroch Castle is a stunning example of the finest architecture, materials and craftsmanship available in the Victorian era. See the spectacular oak staircase and climb 87 steps to the Tower for the best views in Victoria.
Self-guided tour translations available in: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French and Spanish
Victoria Bug Zoo
631 Courtney Street
Welcome to the amazing world of insects and spiders. A visit to this must see zoo offers visitors an excellent opportunity to view and experience multi-legged creatures from around the world in a safe, fun and friendly atmosphere. Get up close and personal with LIVE giant walking sticks, alien-eyed praying mantids, hairy tarantulas and glow-in-the-dark scorpions, to name a few. Discover over 40 fascinating species including Canada's largest ant farm. The knowledgeable "bug guides" will reveal the exotic secrets of this hidden kingdom and provide a safe animal handling experience for the more adventurous. Imagine holding a tickling 400 leg millipede that stretches the length of your forearm! Bring your camera. It's an unforgettable, hands-on adventure. While in Victoria be sure to crawl, fly or wriggle your way to the Bug Zoo!
Greater Victoria Area Communities:
The Greater Victoria area is made up of 11 municipalities surrounding the City of Victoria. Each community has its own unique charm and interesting aspects and offers an abundance of activities, shopping and historical character.
Considered Victoria's most British-looking neighbourhood, Oak Bay retains its British personality with Tudor-style homes, impeccable landscaping, parks, beaches and a shopping sector full of exquisite shops and tea rooms. Children of all ages delight in seeing harbour seals in their natural habitat at the Oak Bay Marina. The whole family can enjoy sandy Willows Beach and its adjoining playground. From Cattle Point, view majestic Mount Baker or watch as sailboats race by. See the former home (now the Glenlyon Norfolk School) of architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury who designed Victoria's Legislative Buildings and The Fairmont Empress Hotel, or drive through the Uplands and marvel at the mansions that line the streets.
Just a short drive or walk from downtown, over the Johnson Street Bridge, is Esquimalt, home of Canada's navy on the west coast. Esquimalt boasts a naval museum, several historic military sites, parks overlooking the water, a number of scenic walking paths and a replica of Anne Hathaway's Cottage at the Olde England Inn. First established as a British naval base in 1865, modern Esquimalt now has the second-largest Canadian Forces Base in the country, after Halifax, Nova Scotia. Whistles sound through the neighbourhood as trains still travel the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E & N) Railway from Victoria to Courtenay.
North of downtown, the District of Saanich offers all the charms of country life in its rural expanses and all the conveniences of urban life in its residential neighbourhoods. Saanich means "place of fertile soil" in the language of the local aboriginal people and the area abounds with lush green parks including Swan Lake, Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and Mt. Douglas Park. Hike or drive to the top of Mt. Douglas for a panoramic 360-degree view of Greater Victoria. Pathways await explorers in search of ocean beaches, waterfront strolls, neighbourhood walks, scenic vistas and country rambles on horseback. Many countryside farms and cottages offer vegetables, fruit and flowers for sale on the honour system from roadside stands. While in Saanich, visit local attractions including The Horticulture Centre of The Pacific, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the Centre of the Universe, Saanich Commonwealth Place and Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park (a mecca for swimming, rowing, windsurfing, fishing, walking and horseback riding).
Attractions in Saanich:
Saanich Historical Artifacts Society
7321 Lochside Drive
The Society, situated on 29 acres of beautiful park land, is dedicated to collecting, restoring, housing and demonstrating Artifacts from out rural past. We have a magnificent collection of Household, agricultural and industrial artifacts dating from before 1900 to the presents. There is a Museum of over 9000 sq. ft. and many other buildings and displays.
We host the public 364 days a year. We have two special events for which there is a gate charge, otherwise admission is by donation. Our Old Time Summer Fair is held annually on Father's Day Weekend and The Steam Threshing Show is held on the 3rd weekend in September annually. There are miles of beautiful nature trails to explore. Picnic tables are in several scenic locations. There are full washroom facilities including access for the handicapped. Ample parking is available. We also have a lovely country Chapel on our grounds. This nondenominational chapel in beautiful surroundings is available for weddings or private services.
Saanichton Christmas Tree & Ostrich Farm
8231 East Saanich Road
Informative and educational tours last approximately one hour. They will leave a long lasting impression of farming on the Saanich Peninsula, a 20 minute drive from downtown Victoria.
Ostrich meat: While supplying many restaurants and hotels with Ostrich meat, we also have Ostrich steaks, roasts, breakfast sausages, Italian smokies, burger patties, ground pate and pepperoni available in our gift shop. We also grow many flowers, fruit and vegetables. Organic practices.
Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula
Sidney is located at the tip of the Saanich Peninsula, five minutes from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and Victoria International Airport and 25 minutes north of downtown. This pretty little town is known for its museums, marinas, oceanside walkways and unique shops, including several bookstores. The outlying area contains country roads that criss-cross rolling farmland, parks, forests and the tiny communities of the Saanich Peninsula. Roads lead to a number of delightful attractions, including the world-famous Butchart Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, the BC Aviation Museum, Saanich Historical Artifacts Society, Island View Beach, Sidney Spit Marine Park and the village of Brentwood Bay.
Attractions in Sidney:
Marine Ecology Station
9835 Seaport Place
A hands-on aquarium dedicated to marine awareness, education and stewardship 45 minutes North of Victoria.
Explore British Columbias rich marine biodiversity. Discover the lifestyles of a wealth of live animals, many in natural settings under user friendly microscopes. Also, enjoy truly hands-on biology in our touch tanks, and guide our remotely operated underwater submarine. Group, school and summer programs are our specialty.
West Shore Communities
View Royal, Colwood, Langford, the Highlands and Metchosin, collectively named the West Shore Communities, together with Sooke, offer many diverse outdoor adventure opportunities as well as charming bed and breakfasts and country inns. This semi-rural area is known for picturesque marinas, breathtaking coastal scenery, artisan studios and galleries. Favourite attractions include Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic sites and Hatley Castle and Park at Royal Roads University.
West of Victoria, the Island Highway (Hwy #14), the West Coast Road and the Galloping Goose Trail wind through the West Shore Communities to Sooke. Tracing the coastline, the West Coast Road leads to lush rainforests, rocky cliffs, hiking trails and some of the most scenic beaches on Vancouver Island. En route, stop at East Sooke Regional Park, where trails range from casual strolls to full-day treks. Birdwatchers will enjoy Whiffin Spit, a natural breakwater between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Sooke Harbour. Visit the Sooke Region Museum and be sure to see the natural wonder of the Sooke Potholes. West of Sooke, the highway leads to some of the Island's most beautiful scenery at French Beach, China Beach, Botanical Beach (famous for its tide pools) and the southern terminal of the West Coast Trail.
Fully Narrated Whale Watching Tours
Whale Watching Expeditions in Victoria, British Columbia! Orcas, or Killer Whales are very well known in our Pacific Ocean waters. Whale and Marine Wildlife watching expeditions have become one of Victoria's most popular activities and have been rated the #1 choice for a return activity by those who have visited our city. Orcas (or Killer Whales) are residents in our local Pacific Ocean Waters around Victoria and Vancouver Island. Whale sightings are particularly spectacular in May, June, July, August and September. We often encounter other large whales as well such as Minke, Humpback and Grey Whales. These enormous mammals make their lengthy migration to the fertile feeding grounds of Alaska.
Whale Watching Tours
Three hours in length, April through October, are the ideal months to view our Southern Resident Orcas in all their glory. The Jaun de Fuca and Haro Straits are home to three Resident Orca (killer whale) pods, referred to as J, K, and L pods. Nearly 100 whales belong to these three pods, providing you ample opportunity to have your own close encounter of the deep. During the peak viewing months, our success rate for sighting orcas is often 100%. Other marine wildlife you may encounter includes Dalls porpoise, Harbour porpoise, Harbour and Elephant seals, Otters and many marine birds such as Cormorants and Bald eagles. There is also a chance of sighting Humpback, Minke and Gray whales.
Choice of Vessels:
Choose from either the large, stable covered vessels with their luxurious indoor seating, liquor license, and with onboard washrooms or choose our state of the art open zodiac vessels also with onboard washrooms - perfect for the adventurous at heart.
Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel - 146 Kingston Street in downtown Victoria
Summer: 9am, 1pm, 5pm
Spring/Fall: 9am, 1pm
Additional departure times available upon request if booked in advance. To best accomodate large bookings, we have flexible departure times which can be arranged on an invidiual basis.
Whale Watching Tour Rates:
$89.00 for Zodiac tours
$95.00 for Covered Vessel tours
Child (12 and under)
*all rates subject to 5% GST
A few points to remember:
Guests can enjoy a whale-watching or marine wildlife tour aboard either a Zodiac or the covered Orca Spirit vessels.
Infants up to age 35 months are free. Children up to age 6 are allowed only on the covered vessels.
Zodiac tours are not recommended for expectant mothers, persons with back and neck problems, or persons in frail health.