One sunny weekend in midwinter, we took a short ferry ride to Victoria, BC because it had been almost a decade since my last visit!
Off the BC coast on Vancouver Island, Victoria is also the capital city of BC (my home province).
I’d almost forgotten how perfect this gem of a city is for slow weekend getaways. It has an ideal mix of beautiful city sights, natural beauty and charming small town vibes. From coastal vistas, museums and colonial architecture to lush gardens and a flourishing food scene, it’s not hard to have a perfect weekend in Victoria.
I wanted to experience Victoria differently from my last visit when I tried to rush through all the tourist attractions; we went to the Royal BC Museum, toured the British Columbia Parliament and went on a failed whale watching tour that yielded no whales.
In search of understated adventures this time around, we started our day leisurely with breakfast at Habit Coffee in the landmark Atrium building. Victoria in the last several years has developed a vibrant coffee scene, and at Habit, they take their coffee seriously.
Afterwards, we walked along the waterfront via the harbour pathway to Fisherman’s Wharf. Most of the stores along the pier were closed as it is the off-season, but the payoff was a quiet wharf with fewer people. Fisherman’s Wharf is a fun eclectic sight to behold; there are boats, eateries and colourful floating houses, you might even see a seal or two, there’s also a gorgeous park. A few minutes’ walk east past the Coast Guard outpost and the cruise ship harbour is the Breakwater Lighthouse at Ogden Point – a long narrow promenade reaching far out into the ocean with a lighthouse at the end.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the historic James Bay neighbourhood, and then went back to the Atrium for some delicious Italian dinner, cocktails at the fancy Q Bar and more walking at night along the majestic inner harbour mesmerized by the twinkling lights of the parliament building.
The next day we discovered prettiest café (which has sadly shuttered) in Chinatown and stayed to wander through Chinatown, Market Square and the storefronts in brightly coloured heritage buildings on Lower Johnson Street (LoJo).
Before moving on to our next adventure, we stopped for lunch at Rebar, an iconic vegetarian restaurant in Bastion Square.
The Songhees walkway is a scenic waterfront trail winding along the water from downtown Victoria to Esquimalt, we walked it for a few kilometres to met up with my friend E. for dinner. The evening continued back in the city with a stroll on Government Street and relaxing time with live music and tasty drinks at some random pub we chose (it’s on my list now!)
Our last day in Victoria started as usual with coffee at Discovery Coffee on Blanshard.
We decided on a short jaunt through Beacon Hill Park.
You could spend the whole day here in this wonder-filled park.
Nestled in the heart of the city and by the sea, Beacon Hill is a 200 acre oasis of manicured parks and woodland, several ponds and water features, a children’s farm, footpaths, waterfront trails, and plenty other features I’m yet to discover. It was such joy to walk through tranquil gardens and tall trees, and see ponds filled with waterfowl, peacocks and panoramic views of the ocean – I did not want to leave!
For our last adventure, we stopped at Mount Douglas and hiked to the summit for even more splendid city, water and mountain vistas – I just can’t get enough of the views.
Victoria is full of character and charm, with so much to explore. I created a little guide for places, restaurants and things you’d want to check out if you ever find yourself in Victoria.