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About Victoria, BC
Vancouver Island’s largest city, Victoria, is picture-postcard pretty with a delightful waterfront setting and handsome 19th-century buildings that have been shaking off their twee, English image to become trendy shops, coffee bars and galleries. It’s also a great base for whale-watching trips. The city’s museums, harbour and neighbourhoods are best explored on foot - though be aware there are hills! Alternatively, hire a bike; Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. The best places to stay in Victoria can often arrange cycle hire for you.
To get a feel of the city, take a stroll around the harbour, the small Chinatown district and then explore further afield such as funky Fernwood - with its colourful boutiques, galleries and eateries - or Cook Street Village with pavement cafes and attractive wooden houses. The James Bay neighbourhood is the oldest residential neighbourhood with wonderful examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, and arts and crafts architecture. While you’re around the Inner Harbour, take a stroll - or short ferry-hop - to Fisherman’s Wharf, a series of floating boardwalks lined with houseboats, shops and eateries.
Craigdarroch Castle, one of Canada's finest stately homes, showcases how rich Victorians lived, while the Royal BV Museum - considered the state’s best - covers everything from woolly mammoths to a reconstructed colonial street complete with Chinatown and storefronts. Two fun museums are Miniature Worlds, a resolutely traditional set of miniature dioramas - from train stations to Olde England - and the Victoria Bug Zoo, where you will surprise yourself at how exhilarating it can be to watch the antics of insects from atlas beetles to dragon-headed crickets. And make time to call in at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to admire the evocative nature paintings of Emily Carr, BC’s best-known painter.
One absolute must is a whale-watching trip where you are almost guaranteed to spot orcas, humpback, minke and grey whales. Back on dry land, the waterfront Beacon Hill Park is a great place for ocean views as well as for strolling amongst exotic trees and birdlife. There’s also a Victorian cricket pitch and children’s farm. For more active walking, head to Goldstream Provincial park, 20 minutes from the city, with its thick forests, hiking trails and wildlife-viewing (especially birdlife) opportunities. As it’s not a huge city, the best places to stay in Victoria are never far from the best the city can offer.
Best places to stay in Victoria
For a smart B&B
- The white, clapboard, Italian-style mansion of Fairholme Manor makes for a very smart B&B with huge bay-windowed rooms with wooden floors and pale colours - some with balconies. In-room spa treatments and gourmet breakfasts, too.
For the waterfront
- The stylish Oswego Hotel close to the waterfront, offers slick, modern apartments with kitchens and dining areas - some with private balconies - as well as a smart restaurant with live jazz.
- Also close to the waterfront, the Magnolia Hotel & Spa offers classic-contemporary rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a luxurious spa and a great cocktail bar - plus bicycles to hire.
For harbour views
- As its name suggests, the Inn at Laurel Point, offers breath-taking Victoria Harbour views. Light and contemporary rooms make the most of the watery scenes, as does the restaurant, plus there’s an indoor pool and gym.
- For an adults only stay, Abigail's Hotel offers sophisticated accommodation with four poster beds, open fireplaces, and luxurious marble bathrooms with deep tubs. Perfect for some couple-time!
- Just out of town the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is the place to book if you're looking for a luxurious and pampering seaside stay. Large rooms offer private balconies and the sunset views fromm the dining room are simply divine. A spoiling stay.
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Best Hotels in Victoria, BC
Fairholme Manor 6 rooms from $103Victoria, BC (British Columbia)
1885 Italian-style mansion with high-ceilings, fireplace and garden views, the plushest hideaway B&B in the area. Oversized rooms with bay windows, spa baths and king size beds. The temptation of homemade jams & freshly baked breads will certainly kick start your day. A fantastic find!Great walks - Take a stroll around Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings. Rest and recuperate with high tea at the Empress Hotel.Fishing - Fishermans Wharf is a beautiful part of town.OpulentFull of characterRecommended by - Fodors
Oswego Hotel 80 rooms from $98Victoria, BC
An upscale hotel and spa just minutes from the Inner Harbour waterfront of Victoria. Stylish studios come with a range of extras such as kitchens, private rooftop balconies, dining rooms and in room spa services. The hip restaurant hosts weekly jazz nights. City chic.Great walks - Come enjoy 22 hecters of breathtaking gardens year around at the world famous Butchart Gardens.Lively area - In the thick of the action.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.
Inn at Laurel Point 200 rooms from $122Victoria, BC (British Columbia)
Contemporary, airy rooms with marble bathrooms and private balconies offer a fantastic base. Romance-seekers will love the Victoria Harbour views and local explorers will appreciate the proximity to almost everything. The indoor pool and Aura Waterfront restaurant complete the picture.Romantic Break - With in-room massages and stunning water views, this is a perfect setting for a city romance weekend.Special Offer - If you are an organised soul and are planning in advance, this could mean a discount in your favour.Back to Nature - The gardens of Victoria are stunning and gardening enthusiasts will have a fantastic time here.Great walks - With kilometres of walking paths and countless flowers, Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful place to relax.
Abigail's Hotel 23 rooms from $130Victoria, BC (British Columbia)
Adult only 1930 boutique in a quiet residential area of Victoria, offering access to the historical past and garden city. Antiques decorate the cozy rooms, Italian marble makes up the bathrooms and a gourmet breakfast is worth getting out of bed for. A relaxing stay for romantic weekend city breaks.Romantic Break - This adults only hotel oozes romance, with plush red velvet drapes, deep soaking tubs and champagne and strawberry room service.Special Offer - If you are intending to stay in Victoria more than three days then a deal could work in your favour at Abigail's Hotel.Sights nearby - Explore the Royal BC Museum, just down the road and packed with fascinating exhibitions.Great walks - Along the river or canal makes a great leisurely place to stroll and explore the city.
Magnolia Hotel & Spa 64 rooms from $167Victoria, BC
A grand hotel just minutes walk from downtown Victoria's Inner Harbour. The sophisticated suites feature traditional dark wood furnishings, bold carpets and floor to ceiling windows. The spa provides pampering luxury organic treatments. Ideal location for exploring the city by foot, bike or kayak.Kayaking - Victoria Kayak, a naturalist guide will introduce you to the rich historical background of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.Great walks - Discover Victoria’s rich historical past on guided walking tours, stories compiled by local historian, John Adams.Lively - Hip and happening.Lively area - In the thick of the action.Recommended by - Tablet
Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa 33 rooms from $189Victoria, BC (British Columbia)
Perfect for the luxury traveller seeking a seaside getaway with spa facilities & delicious food and wine. Large, modern rooms overlook the water from private balconies and sitting rooms. Catch a fabulous sunset from the dining room, or admire the view, sitting by the firepit at the popular pub.Private Hot TubSights nearby - Craigdarroch Castle was built in the 1890s and through restoration is back to its former glory.Great walks - Take a leisurely stroll around the 55 acres of The Butchart Gardens.Lively - Hip and happening.