Victoria, BC

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Photo of Victoria, BC

About Victoria, BC

In a postcard-perfect spot on Vancouver Island, Victoria BC has long been known as the most British city in British Columbia, with its afternoon teas, double-decker buses and fantastically English pubs. But these days Victoria’s handsome, largely 19th century, buildings are shaking off their twee image in favour of a hipper one, and now there are plenty of cool boutiques, galleries and independent coffee bars. There are some cool picks on our list of the best hotels in Victoria BC too, though there are also some really charming converted English-style mansions. And some really incredible hotel views.

Victoria BC is best explored on foot. Just below we have a breakdown of what we like about the different part of the city, as far as being the best places to stay in Victoria, and most of the places we recommend are within walking distance of many of the main sights and sites. Or within cycling distance, and Victoria has more cycle routes than any other Canadian city. Though it is quite hilly…

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, which has pavement cafes and attractive wooden houses. The James Bay neighbourhood is Victoria’s 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.

Victoria is known for its whale sighting, with orcas, humpback, minke and grey whales popping by at various times of the year. If you don’t fancy going out onto the water you can sometimes see them from Beacon Hill Park, which is also home to an array of birdlife.

Where to Stay - Which neighbourhood?

  • The part of Victoria referred to as Downtown Victoria is relatively compact and lively. It’s still got a heritage look to it, and it’s definitely the best place to stay in Victoria if you’re only here for a few days and you want to be close to all the major sites and sights. There’s also lots of choice when it comes to eating and drinking out — try Wharf Street for starters, and there are some great shops — try Bastion Square out for starters. Market Square is good for small boutiques, bars and restaurants. If you have a bit more time, or you’re travelling with kids you might want to check out Miniature Worlds, a traditional, but fun, collection of miniature dioramas, and the Victoria Bug Zoo, home to Atlas Beetles and Dragon-Headed Crickets, among others.
  • Chinatown is right next door, so another great choice if you’re not here for long. This is the oldest Chinese district in Canada and has all the usual appeals of a Chinatown, including plenty of choice when it comes to entertainment of an evening. It’s probably more popular with visitors than other Chinatowns, but probably because of its excellent selection of hotels as much as the colourful appeal of the place.
  • James Bay is on the water, on the other side of the downtown area to Chinatown, so it’s another very central pick. This is the oldest, and probably the most English feeling, part of town. With a colonial, and maritime, appeal, because of its position on the port, and incredible views out to sea and of the Olympic Mountain Range. There are some residential stretches to James Bay, and some of the beautiful, historic, Victorian houses here have been converted into guesthouses, B&Bs and elegant boutique hotels. It’s also where you’ll find the Parliament building, the Royal British Columbia Museum, and Beacon Hill Park. The pier is a great place to enjoy sundowners, and Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to grab fish and chips...you might even spot seals in the water!
  • Inner Harbour is just along the water again, and refers to the part of town around the ferry terminals. The atmosphere is still very maritime-y here, with colourful fishing boats and houseboats along the waterfront, but it has some the colonial architecture of James Bay too. This probably the best place to stay in Victoria if you’re travelling in by boat, but it’s also got some fantastic restaurants with fantastic waterfront views. And it’s still very central.
  • If you like the idea of being on the water, but you’re thinking more off centre, a bit cooler, then Oak Bay might be ideal. It’s a fairly residential neighbourhood with a beautiful waterfront of numerous bays and many parks. Oak Bay Avenue is one of the most picturesque of a picturesque collection of oak lined streets in this part of town, and it’s also lined with galleries, delis, boutiques, bars and restaurants.
  • Burnside Gorge is to the north of the downtown area, and still quite central, with some good parks and hip residential high streets. It’s the place to be if you’re looking for an affordable, independent guesthouse, or small hotel.
  • West Shore is quite a long way off centre, on a different headland entirely, but if you’re travelling with a family, or planing some outdoor expeditions, or you’re just looking for great value accommodation then this is a great, and beautiful choice. As well as having one of the best backyards of any of our recommendations, the West Shore is historic, with some wonderful colonial architecture, and the Road Hill Fort and the Fisgard Lighthouse.
  • The other part of Victoria we recommend for families is Rockland, which sits between the downtown area and Oak Bay, close to Craigdarroch Castle, atop a hill. This is a residential part of town, with some really beautiful Arts and Crafts mansions, but also some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. There are numerous gardens and parks, a great farmer’s market and the city’s observatory.

This city is at its busiest during the peak summer months of July and August, so if you're planning to visit at this time, book well ahead to guarantee your room in one of the best places to stay in Victoria.

The Best Places to Stay in Victoria BC

For a city break

  • The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a traditional-feeling hotel hotel in a fantastic, central location, just a few minutes from the Inner Harbour. There are 64 rooms and suites, with dark wood furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows, some with fantastic views too. There’s also a luxurious organic spa, a great cocktail bar, and the hotel will rent you a bike too.
  • Overlooking the Inner Harbour, the Fairmont Empress has incredible water views, especially from the roof terrace bar and restaurant, and its elegance has a very romantic feel, but it’s so central that we had to include it as a city break hotel. It’s an elegant, romantic one, with 464 rooms and suites, a luxurious spa and a very well regarded restaurant. It’s good for families too, wth lots of space and lots of treats for your kids.

Victoria’s Best Waterfront Hotels

  • The Inn at Laurel Point is a large, light, contemporary hotel with 200 rooms, the best with private balconies and views over Victoria Harbour. As well as the views, this is a great choice of hotel if you’re looking for somewhere romantic and city-break-y. There’s a great restaurant with a view too, and an indoor pool. And the location is super central.
  • The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is on the coast, at Oak Bay, right next to the Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve, with fantastic, unfettered, views of the water. There are 100 spacious rooms and suites, decorated in neutral tones, plus a theatre, as well as the usual facilities.

For Romance

  • Abigail's Hotel is a sophisticated, 23 room hotel, in a beautiful residential neighbourhood. Built in 1930, there’s a lot of charm to the architecture and the decor, with antiques and original features everywhere. Expect plenty of red velvet and a gourmet breakfast. Oh, and no kids.

For great value

  • Fairholme Manor is an elegant, white, clapboard mansion in Rockland, converted into a very smart, six room B&B. Several rooms have huge bay-windows and matching generous proportions, plus wooden floors and pale decorations. Some have balconies too. And the breakfasts are called ‘gourmet’.
  • Also in Rockland, The Villa Marco Polo Inn is an elegant, almost regal looking mansion turned B&B. There are just five bedrooms, all very plush, with Persian rugs over hardwood flooring, well chosen artworks, and hot tub baths big enough for two. The breakfast is excellent too. It’s also romantic, and if it wasn’t so reasonably priced we would have put it in that category.
  • If you want to be more central try the stylish Oswego Hotel, in James Bay, just minutes from the waterfront. This hotel has a collection of 80 rooms and apartments, the later with slick kitchens and dining areas, and all with chic contemporary decor. The best in both categories have private balconies with a view too. And there’s a smart restaurant, which hosts its own weekly jazz night.

Out of Town

  • Sooke Harbour House is quite a long way outside Victoria BC, but it’s a great spot, overlooking the Juan de Fuca Straits, so we thought it might be a useful addition as an add on for a couple of days. It has 28 rooms and suites, all elegantly decorated with fireplaces, fourposter beds, antiques, hot tubs and balconies. There’s a lovely garden surrounding the hotel, which is where some of the food served in the charming restaurant is grown.
  • Also quite long way out of town, but mentionable for the same reasons, the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is the place to book if you're looking for a luxurious seaside stay with great facilities and delicious food and wine. Large, contemporary rooms overlook the water from private balconies and sitting rooms, and the sunset views from the dining room are soul-warming. There’s a popular pub with a firepit onsite too.

Prefer an apartment?

  • If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.

Travel Information

  • If you’re flying into Victoria you have a few choices: Victoria International Airport, which is about 25kms north of Victoria, Nanaimo Airport, which is billed as being the ‘gateway to Vancouver Island’, and is about an hour and a half away by road, and Vancouver International Airport, which is an airport in Richmond, on Sea Island, close to Vancouver, which is just a ferry hop from Victoria. The best one to fly into depends on where you’re coming from, but the transfers from all of them are relatively straight forward.
  • If you’re thinking about hiring a car we recommend checking what our online partners, Rentalcars have to offer.
  • Victoria has the most sunshine and warmth between June and September, so this is the most popular time to visit. It’s not hot, more pleasant, with maximum daily averages in the mid 20s°C. The winters here are milder than in other parts of Canada, but it regularly goes below zero, with the likelihood of snow. Spring and autumn are milder, and good choices if you’re looking for good value.

Still not sure?

Weather

Monthly Weather in Victoria, BC

Best Hotels in Victoria, BC

  • Fairholme Manor Victoria, BC (British Columbia) 6 rooms from £84

    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.
    Opulent
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Fodors

    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! See More

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  • Villa Marco Polo Inn Victoria, BC 5 rooms from £95

    Romantic Break  -  With plush bedrooms, sumptuous sheets, hot tub baths big enough for two and a charming garden ideal for a stroll
    Sights nearby  -  Take a stroll down to the Inner Harbour and observe the sights and sounds of the town
    Restrictions on children  -  14 years or older
    Full of character

    An elegant and almost regal B&B in the picturesque Rockland district of Victoria. The rooms feature Persian rugs, hardwood floors, Egyptian linen, individual artworks and fabulous bathrooms. The breakfast is phenomenal, all locally sourced ingredients crafted into delightful French treats. Charming. See More

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  • Oswego Hotel Victoria, BC 80 rooms from £76

    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.

    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. See More

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  • Inn at Laurel Point Victoria, BC (British Columbia) 200 rooms from £100

    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.

    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. See More

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  • Abigail's Hotel Victoria, BC (British Columbia) 23 rooms from £106

    Romantic Break  -  This adults only hotel oozes romance, with plush red velvet drapes, deep soaking tubs and champagne and strawberry room service.
    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.
    Restrictions on children  -  Adult only

    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. See More

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  • Magnolia Hotel & Spa Victoria, BC 64 rooms from £136

    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

    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. See More

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  • Oak Bay Beach Hotel Victoria, BC 100 rooms from £151

    Beach Life  -  The hotel sits right on the coast with fantastic views and beachfront trails for the whole family to enjoy
    Theatre  -  The hotel's theatre holds screenings of movies and cult shows as well as live performances and music
    Wildlife Area  -  The hotel sits right on the migratory path of local Orca whales, a magnificent spectacle to behold
    Other Activities  -  The Boathouse Spa offers great treatments using local seaweed and their eucalyptus steam room
    Recommended by  -  Kiwi Collection

    A recently refurbished seaside manor house with all the bells and whistles of a modern hotel, on the edge of the Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve. Spacious and comfortable rooms with neutral tones, fireplaces and ocean views. A charming spot for the whole family to enjoy. See More

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  • Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa Victoria, BC (British Columbia) 33 rooms from £154

    Private Hot Tub
    Sights 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.

    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. See More

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  • Sooke Harbour House Victoria, BC 28 rooms from £126

    Fishing  -  Sooke Salmon Charters is a long established and successful charter fishing company located on Southern Vancouver Island.
    Great walks  -  There are many wonderful beaches and hiking trails in the Sooke area, just ask at the front desk for details.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery.
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, Kiwi Collection

    A charming hotel overlooking the Juan de Fuca Straits. Individually decorated suites offer a range of elegantly draped fourposters, fireplaces and balconies commanding mesmerising views of the bay. An onsite garden provides seasonal best for the fine dining restaurant. Beach chic! See More

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  • Fairmont Empress Victoria, BC 464 rooms from £155

    Local exploring  -  With the harbour, attractions and stylish restaurants and bars steps away, book this hotel as a base for your local exploring
    Hotel Entertainment  -  Kid's will love the hotel's child-friendly activities, from scavenger hunts to marmot and honey bee watching
    City Style  -  With opulent interiors and an unbeatable location, book this hotel for chic city style in Victoria, BC
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.

    This luxury hotel overlooks the glittering Inner Habour in Victoria, British Columbia. Elegant guestrooms are dressed in hues of regal purple and blue with gilded accents and sea views. Check into the hotel's Willow Stream Spa for a rejuvenating treatment after dinner at Veranda restaurant. See More

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