Visiting Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and Vancouver Island’s biggest city, is like taking a step back in time. Named for England’s reigning queen, this charming city boasts mild weather, gorgeous views of the Pacific coast and harbor, historic buildings and stunning gardens.
You can travel to Victoria via plane (they have a beautiful small airport), ferry from Vancouver and other cities, or take the quick easy Harbour Air small plan for great views and a short 45 minute flight from the docks near the Fairmont Waterfront hotel in Vancouver.
A perfect place to begin a stay is at the regal elegant Fairmont Empress.
The Edwardian-style resort islocated across from Victoria’s inner harbor and is adjacent to the Royal BC Museum, parliament buildings, and the convention center, and is home to world famous afternoon tea. Opened in 1908, the property has been restored to its original grandeur.
Guests can take in the royal atmosphere by stepping into the regal lobby and viewing the large crystal chandelier made from more than 250,000 crystals. A smaller replica can be found halfway up the lobby stairs.
Guestrooms were designed by Hirsch Bedner to honor the hotel’s heritage and infuse a modern design. The resort houses 431 rooms and suites, older rooms house smaller bathrooms but offer stunning harbor views.
The Lobby Lounge offers the Empress’ signature afternoon tea as well as a champagne bar in the evening with live music. The 88-seat Q at the Empress restaurant has a contemporary design with lots of natural light highlighting the cherry wood ceilings and detailed molding. The menu focuses on local seasonal ingredients and utilizes the resort’s own vegetable and herb garden.
The resort’s Willow Stream Spa offers a wide variety of treatments and houses one of the biggest indoor pools in Canada. Reservations at https://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/](https://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/.
Red Fish Blue Fish
1006 Wharf Street, on the pier
Enjoy beautiful views of the Victoria marina and inner harbor while enjoying fish and chips, seafood chowder, grilled and tempura fish sandwiches and tacos. There’s also delicious jerk fish poutine and deep fried pickles with great tartar srira and spot prawn mayo sauces. For warmer days, choose to sit at one of the covered benches in the back area.
The Courtney Room
619 Courtney Street
This modern dining space is great for dinner, breakfast or brunch. If you choose to start your day here, you can enjoy crab and cheddar omelettes, tomato and truffle frittatas, shakshuka or smoked salmon benedict. There’s also a great TCR Caesar breakfast cocktail as well as smoothies. Guests can sit at cozy booths, tables, or along the bar area.
The Tapa Bar Restaurant
620 Trounce Alley
Tucked in the quaint Trounce Alley, this intimate restaurant serves a variety of vegetarian, pork, seafood, chicken and steak tapas as well as pasta and salads. Choose the Tapa platter for two with a selection of wings, vegetables, grilled meats and mussels.
Finn’s Harbour Front Restaurant
1208 Wharf Street
Enjoy stunning views of the inner harbor and Parliament Buildings on Finn’s pretty patio, or opt to dine inside if it’s windy in a table or booth amidst a fireplace and red brick interior. The heritage building housing Finn’s was built in 1882. Standout menu items include house smoked rockfish croquettes, mussels, oysters, seafood chowder, Ahi tuna, rockfish, huge lobster, crab, fish and chips, New York steak, a variety of burgers and pizzas.
501 Belleville Street
Book a group tour or self-guided tour to learn all about British Columbia’s history and see the Legislative Chamber with its beautiful painted domed ceiling, walk the Hall of Honour, and admire the beautiful classical renaissance design housing stained glass windows, detailed millwork and gorgeous interior design.
800 Benvenuto Avenue
In addition to the Empress, Victoria is known for beautiful gardens with the most famous being the Butchart Gardens which is a short half hour drive from the Empress.
Created in 1904 in Brentwood Bay, Butchart Gardents houses over 55 acres of majestic gardens. During the summer, guests can enjoy concerts, fireworks, and a night illumination display into the evening as visiting hours are extended until 10 p.m.
In addition to thousands of varieties of plants and flowers, the gardens also have several dining options on the property. In 1947, the Benvenuto Garden Teahouse opened, serving spring and summer afternoon tea and fall and winter high tea. Today, executive chef Travis Hansen utilizes local ingredients to create a seasonally inspired tea menu including a berry trifle; house-made sausage roll; roasted onion and asparagus quiche; sandwiches that include egg salad, smoked salmon, maple glazed ham, chicken curry, and English cucumber and cream cheese; and desserts like a chocolate brandy napoleon, an orange poppy seed loaf, French meringue, and a chocolate truffle. Candied ginger scones with strawberry jam and Devon-style whipping cream are also served.
Ghostly Walking Tour
812 Wharf Street
Visitors interested in Victoria’s darker side can indulge in a Ghostly Walking Tour combining Victoria’s ghosts and the stories behind them with walks through alleyways and hidden streets. Most walks start at 7:30, last about 90 minutes and cost a mere $21.
Beacon Hill Park
A short walk from the Fairmont Empress is the stunning Beacon Hill Park with over 740,000 metres of parkland. Stroll through the lush grounds to view peacocks, deer and other animals as well as blossoming flowers and fauna. Footpaths offer long stroll options amidst manicured areas. There is also a putting green, playgrounds, tennis and pickleball courts, lawn bowling and a rose garden.
Summer is the perfect time to visit Victoria and indulge in seafood, spectacular views and miles of gardens. Head to [https://www.tourismvictoria.com](https://www.tourismvictoria.com) for more information.