Even after being a travel agent for a couple of years there are still a ton of cities I’ve never even heard of. Victoria was one of them. I first heard of Victoria when I was reading an article on Cory Monteith (R.I.P, *tear*) and it mentioned his hometown Victoria in Canada. I did a quick google image search to see where exactly it was (and if it looked like somewhere I wanted to visit one day coz I’m a travel nerd like that). I was immediately drawn to all the beautiful buildings and the pristine gardens. So when I got to planning what date to arrive in Vancouver, I made sure to leave enough time to go see this city.
To be honest, I probably left a bit TOO much time. I loved Victoria, don’t get me wrong, but I would have seen what I really wanted to see in 3-4 days (opposed to 6). At least it gave me some time to catch up on reading and get my blog up and running!
I got to Victoria by Pacific Coach Services. They leave from the main bus depot in Vancouver (the same as the Greyhound depot). You are driven by coach down to Tsawwassen where the ferry terminal is, which is about a 45 minute drive away from Downtown Vancouver. They take you onboard the B.C Ferry, then after a 1.5 hour ferry sailing you hop back on the bus and drive from Swartz Bay to Victoria (once again about 45mins). It cost me around CAD55.00 each way. You can do this trip cheaper using public transport, but if you have luggage this is a bit of a nightmare and worth paying a little extra!
I stayed at Ocean Island Inn, which is a great hostel located about a 5 minute walk to the city center. Dorms were equipped with their own small kitchenette, and almost every dorm had their own nice private bathroom. Definitely recommend this place!
I could write a full blow-by-blow description of my time in Victoria, but that may get a bit boring (especially seeing as I spent a lot of it being sick!) so I will note a few cool things I would recommend doing/seeing!
- Visit the British Columbia Legislature Building (aka the Parliament Buildings)- Take a guided tour (Monday to Friday) or grab a self guided tour book and explore the history of the government of British Columbia. It is as equally stunning inside! It is also free to enter 🙂 Fun fact – the architect who designed this building in the late 1890s spent WAY over budget, so he didn’t even get invited to the grand opening ceremony once it was completed! He also designed the Empress hotel (pictured below).
- Jump on a water taxi across to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a great wee spot where you can grab some Fish n Chips or an ice cream and stroll along the wharf and check out all the funky floating houses people live in, or keep an eye out for the seals that often grace the waters! Perfect for a sunny day. Water Taxi costs approx $8 return and leaves from the harbour outside The Empress Hotel.
- The Royal B.C Museum is a must-do while your there, even if you’re not a big museum person. It’s incredible. Words can’t really give it justice. You can learn about both the natural and the cultural history of British Columbia and how it got where it is today. Think big, interactive, and a lot of fun.
- On a nice day, Beacon Hill Park is definitely worth a visit. The gardens are beautiful, peacocks and squirrels everywhere and there is a small beach as well! Perfect place to take a picnic , play some tennis or take the kids along to the petting zoo.
- John’s Place – absolutely amazing. I heard about this cafe before I got to Victoria, as it was listed on a few sites as a really popular brunch spot on weekends. It was just down the road from my hostel, so every morning I walked past it and it was always busy. I ate there on my last day in Victoria. That waffle with real maple syrup, banana and whipped cream was the best waffle I have had in my life. SO good. The menu was extensive as well – mostly breakfast/brunch food. A little pricey (my waffle and orange juice came to $15) but so worth it.