Victoria is home to some of the most popular attractions in British Columbia. The Butchart Gardens, Royal BC Museum, Beacon Hill Park, Craigdarroch Castle…there are so many places to visit it’s hard to know where to begin!
But sometimes, it’s nice to get off the beaten path and discover some of the city’s hidden gems. Here are a few places every visitor (and resident!) should check out!
Out of all of Chinatown’s many nooks and crannies, Fan Tan Alley is probably the most well known. After all, it’s the narrowest street in Canada! But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Dragon Alley, Chinatown’s other mysterious passageway.
The recently revitalized Dragon Alley connects Fisgard and Herald Streets and is home to an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, studios and residential units.
Location: Look for the red “Dragon Alley” sign on the north side of Fisgard Street.
Victoria is the most haunted place in British Columbia. The city has some amazing stories to tell—of murder, love and hangings, to name a few—and the best way to experience them is by going on a ghost tour.
Ghostly Walks was developed by John Adams, one of Victoria’s foremost historians and storytellers. The tours are conducted by John and his expert guides, and will take you to downtown Victoria’s most haunted spots.
Website: Ghost Tours
Ross Bay Cemetery
Even if you aren’t the sort of person who loves strolling around cemeteries, you won’t want to miss this one. Ross Bay Cemetery is one of the most historic places in Victoria, and is the final resting place of many famous Canadians and Americans. Emily Carr is buried here, as are Sir James Douglas (BC’s first governor), Billy Barker (discoverer of gold at Barkerville) and Robert Dunsmuir (builder of Craigdarroch Castle).
Location: 1516 Fairfield Road
Website: Ross Bay Cemetery
Christ Church Cathedral
This large, gothic cathedral is one of Canada’s largest churches. It’s open to the public and has a great self-guided tour that lets you explore the grandeur and history of this architectural gem.
Location: 930 Burdett Avenue
Website: Christ Church Cathedral
The Rithet Building, a landmark heritage building, is Victoria’s finest example of West Coast iron fronts. But what makes the building even more special is that it’s home to the original Fort Victoria water well.
When the building was being restored in the 1970s, workers uncovered the well, complete with a mechanical pump. Instead of getting rid of it, the building’s owners transformed it into a fountain feature in the lobby.
Location:1115 Wharf Street (near Bastion Square)
This is a little out of the way, but it’s a must-see if you’re heading up the Malahat to explore the rest of Vancouver Island. The falls are located in Goldstream Provincial Park, just north of Victoria, and are an easy 2-minute walk from the parking lot.
Our Niagara Falls, which at 47.5 metres is almost at high as its famous namesake, cascades down a mossy cliff into a crystal clear pool below. It’s especially spectacular in the spring, when it becomes a roaring waterfall.
Location: 16 km northwest of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island on the Trans Canada Hwy (Hwy #1)
Website: Niagara Falls
This isn’t really an attraction, per se, but it’s something to keep your eye out for while you’re exploring downtown Victoria. Thousands of people walk over these purple sidewalk prisms each day, but very few notice them.
These historic translucent glass blocks date back to the late 19th century. They were installed to allow sunlight to filter into the basements below. Many have since been destroyed or removed, but there are still a few places where you can see them.
Locations: Johnson Street; in front of the Sayward building on Douglas Street; near the Ritz Hotel on Fort Street; along Broad Street; near the Montrose apartments on Blanshard Street; the Hamley building on Broughton Street.
Summertime is market season in Victoria, when the streets are filled with everything from locally grown produce and artisan foods to handcrafted jewellery and original art. Dates and times vary from year to year, so it’s best to check this info out ahead of time.
Ship Point Night Market: Lower Causway, near the Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre.
Bastion Square Market (and Sunday market) – Bastion Square
Moss Street Market – corner of Moss St. and Fairfield Rd.
Also be sure to check out Victoria’s first and only permanent public market, located in the Hudson Building (1701 Douglas Street).
Swiftsure Yacht Race
Every year in May, sailors from all over the world descend upon Victoria for the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. It’s the Pacific Northwest’s premiere long-distance sailing race, attracting boats from as far away as California, Hawaii, New Zealand and even Russia.
Clover Point is the best place to view the start of the event. There will be hundreds of boats jockeying for the best position—it’s quite a sight to see! And if you’d like to see the finish line, head over to the breakwater at Ogden Point.
Location: Clover Point (on Dallas Road, just past Moss Street) and Ogden Point (at the beginning of Dallas Road)
This park is one of Victoria’s most extraordinary—and overlooked—features. Located right next to the Royal BC Museum, Thunderbird Park is home to an impressive display of totem poles and First Nations monuments, as well as two historic buildings: Helmcken House and St. Anne’s Schoolhouse.
Location: Corner of Belleville and Douglas St.
Website: Thunderbird Park
Tucked away in the historic Rockland neighbourhood, Government House is the ceremonial home of all British Columbians. It’s the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, but what makes it really special is its beautiful gardens. The grounds embrace 36 acres, including formal gardens and a rare Garry oak ecosystem. You can explore the gardens anytime, from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.
Location: 1401 Rockland Avenue
Website: Government House