In mid-May I spent an extra long Victoria Day weekend (coincidentally) in Victoria, British Columbia. It was my first trip to Canadian west coast and I was very excited to see what all this hype about Victoria was – Nobody (and I really mean not one person I talked to) had anything bad to say about BC’s capital city. Is that even possible?
When we left on an early morning flight from Ottawa it was barely over 10 degrees outside; when we landed (a good 7 hours later) to Victoria we were welcomed with summer and a balmy 20 degree weather. The summer was so much more advanced it was almost hard to believe! Then I realized that unlike Ottawa, Victoria wasn’t still recovering from the worst winter in 30 years… But all that aside, it was time to head to the Inner Harbour and go explore!
Victoria is not a big city, which I think is one of its most attractive features. Despite the small(ish) size, there is plenty to do and see as this city does tourism very well. Especially the Inner Harbour area is a hot spot for tourists and for a reason. The beautiful Parliament Building is looking to the water, Victoria’s landmark hotel The Fairmont Empress stands there just waiting to be photographed and the inner harbour itself is full of boats and cute little water taxis.
The boardwalk along the water is where visitors can buy local crafts and watch performers do the most imaginative acts and tricks in the hopes of a few coins. Yes, this area is very touristy, but it’s pleasant to walk around, take in the feel of the city and find the best spot for photographs (trust me, there are many!). I think that based on just the downtown area, I have to declare Victoria as the prettiest city in Canada -because it really is that nice!
Another popular spot for tourists and locals is the Fisherman’s Wharf a little bit further along the coastline. Although saying that it’s popular among locals is perhaps misleading considering that they live there! An area full of the most colourful and quirky houseboats mixed in with some fish and chips shops, water related tour operators and actual fishermen (the name has to come from somewhere, right?) – Who would not love this! Ok, it does smell a little fishy at times but other than that it’s a really cool place to see. Apparently there are also some seals around often, although they had chosen to hang out somewhere else when I was there.
British Columbia’s capital city is well known as the Garden City because of its many gardens, parks and green areas. One of the most famous one is Butchart Gardens which I skipped (or more like left for next time) because I found that there was lots to explore within walking distance. The Beacon Hill Park is a whopping 75 hectares and I could clearly visualize myself doing my morning runs there. This time I left the running for dogs and, well, runners and admired the park at a slower pace. It is the perfect place for a picnic or just a leisurely stroll in peace and quiet!
These are places anyone visiting Victoria can easily see even with limited amount of time -Although there is much more to explore! My secondary focus on this visit was to explore the vegan culinary aspect of the city – I had been told several times Victoria would be vegans’ dream destination, but I will save that for another post!
And all those people who said nothing bad about Victoria…They were wrong. The biggest downside to Victoria is that it is so very far from Ottawa!