Our trip from Vancouver to Victoria
Shortly, we arrived in Victoria by bus after taking the ferry from downtown Vancouver to the island. Before we researched this trip I was a bit confused and kept calling it Victoria Island but that’s wrong. Basically, this is Vancouver Island and the main town is Victoria. In fact, Victoria Island is somewhere else entirely. So, with that clear in my mind, I set about looking at things to do in Victoria BC and the surroundings on Vancouver Island. Here, I’m going to share the details of our trip and thus give you some tips on what to do in Victoria BC and things to do on Vancouver Island.
Firstly, we dropped our bags at our hotel, then we went out for a walk around the inner Harbour. If you stay in the city of Victoria itself then you are only a few minutes walk from the main tourist areas as it’s not a big place. We walked around the harbour and afterwards walked up into the town where we found several British style pubs. These are always appealing when you’ve been away from home for a while although we ended up in a tapas bar. Mainly because Tapas is a particular favourite of ours. One of the things to do in Victoria BC is to explore the fabulous restaurants because you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Of course, probably the most famous attraction in Victoria is Butchart Gardens. It’s located outside the downtown area but no need for an expensive taxi. In fact, we took the number 75 bus to Butchart Gardens and it was very easy even on a Sunday. It is 40 minutes north of Downtown Victoria but the bus only costs $2.50 each way. In fact, we got day passes for $5 each in case we wanted to go somewhere else afterwards so it was very good value.
The gardens are especially beautiful and as we visited in Spring, the tulips were out in force. Unfortunately, it poured with rain all morning which did put a bit of a dampener on things but we walked around regardless. There are several small garden areas to explore and the sunken garden is particularly lovely.
Butchart Sunken Garden
Even in the rain, the sunken garden at Butchart is a particularly impressive sight. You first get sight of it from above which allows you a great panoramic view before you descend into the garden.
Once, down in the sunken garden, you can get a close-up view of the flowers and other features. Then, at the far end is this pretty pond, surrounded by gorgeous shrubs and flowers.
Japanese Garden at Butchart
Afterwards, step through the giant Torri gate into the Japanese garden. We saw a lot of Torri gates on our trip through Japan so this was the perfect entrance to this part of the gardens. There is something so very peaceful and lovely about a Japanese garden so we really enjoyed exploring here.
The roses are their best later in the season so you’ll see them in all their glory if you visit in summer. Above you can see the arches which lead into the Rose Garden which is still a lovely place to wander even out of the main rose season.
This ornamental pond sits on the site of the Butchart family’s tennis court. The formal gardens which surround it make this an especially attractive part of the gardens. If the weather is good then you can also buy Italian gelato ice cream here.
Butchart Gardens Practical Information
Opening hours vary throughout the year so it’s best to check on their official website to plan your visit. These opening hours are to give you a guide.
(April/ May) 9 am to 5 pm
(June/ July/ August) 9 am to 10 pm
(October/ March) 9 am to 4 pm
(November/ January/ February) 9 am to 3.30 pm
(December / September) 9 am to 9 pm
Admission fees also vary throughout the year. Check on the Butchart Gardens website for exact prices. Prices range from CAD$19.95 in winter to $34.80 in summer. If you’re on a tight budget then a visit in winter offers a considerable saving and there is still plenty to see.
Harbour and Fisherman’s Wharf
Later, we took a walk along the harbour front and walked around Fisherman’s Wharf which is a small houseboat development along the harbour with brightly coloured houseboats.
Some of them are also shops and restaurants and it’s a great place to spend time in the evening. You can walk down the boardwalk to see the painted houseboats up close. It’s an especially pretty area.
We saw sea lions swimming in the shallow water here. He stayed around for ages, just playing in the water so we got a really good look at him. So wonderful to see these animals in their natural environment like this.
Unfortunately, it poured with rain during our second day in Victoria and we were absolutely soaked walking around town. So we were delighted to come across the Maritime Museum which is right in the town centre. This is a really interesting museum about British Columbia’s maritime history and they have lots of cool models of ships.
Above you can see the ship Tilikum which Captain John C. Voss sailed around the world in 1904. Quite an extraordinary achievement in such a small ship especially when you consider that it was originally a dugout whaling canoe which they converted.
Another small boat with a big history is Trekka, shown above. Trekka was built in Victoria by John Guzzwell and was also sailed around the world.
The Maritime Museum is located in an old courthouse building and it’s a really fascinating place. Firstly, it has a really old – and working – lift. Although we didn’t go up in it you can do if you want to. We did enjoy sitting in the old courthouse though. Here you can see me sitting in the judge’s seat.
Of course, Paul was in the dock. As can be seen in the photos, the room is kept in great condition and it’s a real piece of history.
Victoria Maritime Museum: Practical Information
Summer (Victoria Day to Labour Day)
Tues-Sat 10 am to 5 pm
The Museum is closed on Sunday and Monday
Winter (Labour Day to Victoria Day)
Thursday and Friday 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
The Museum is closed from Sunday to Wednesday
Children (12-17) $5
Children under 12 are free
Royal BC Museum
Wherever we visit, I like to find local museums which tell you something about the local people, their history and culture. So a visit to the Royal BC Museum was a must during our stay in Victoria. They have the largest IMAX in British Columbia here but unfortunately, it was closed when we visited. That’s a shame as I love a good IMAX film so definitely don’t miss it if you get the chance.
Although the IMAX was closed, there were plenty of other exhibits to explore. They have an interesting display on the indigenous people and their fight for land recognition and a walk-through early twentieth-century street. On the floor below they have the natural history section which has lots of different sections showing the wildlife and eco-systems of BC.
Royal BC Museum: Practical Information
10 am to 5 pm although they do vary throughout the year so check on the official website
Children (6-18) $11
Children under 5 are free
This article on Things to do in Victoria BC is part of a series which relate our trip around the world without flying. Read any of the related posts by clicking on one of the image links below.