Sitting pretty along the craggy southern coast of Vancouver is Victoria, which easily makes the shortlist for Canada’s most charming cities. The beautiful Pacific Northwest coastline sets the stage for the town’s gleaming waterfront area, filled with Victorian-era architecture, double-decker busses, bobbing yachts and lively pubs. The compact and walkable downtown area seamlessly blends in with the rugged natural beauty of British Columbia, encouraging both all-season outdoor adventure and a healthy dose of Canadian culture. It’s here where old-fashioned sophistication and modern-day comfort sit side-by-side, allowing you to explore a wonderful melting pot that ranges from First Nations history to British colonial traditions. When you consider the sensational landmarks, cuisine, festivals and atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Victoria remains one of North America’s most enchanting holiday destinations.
Where to Stay
Overlooking the picturesque Inner Harbour, the dazzling Fairmont Empress is hard to miss. The illustrious hotel is housed within one of Victoria’s defining buildings and it’s recognized as one of the world’s most iconic hotels. On the heels of a $60+ million renovation, the Fairmont Empress 2.0 continues to retain all of the old-world glamour and elegance accumulated over the past century, along with every possible amenity and modern luxury you could ask for.
The 464 gorgeous rooms and suites celebrate the hotel’s storied past, decorated in warm tones with pops of color, plush robes and marble bathrooms. Located right on the waterfront, staggering views of the city and harbour aren’t exactly hard to come by, and outside your window you’ll be able to view seaplanes landing from Vancouver and little water taxis shuttling along. You’re guaranteed be blown away by the light-flooded lobby, which is lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and the sumptuous Willow Stream Spa.
Our Victoria Destination Guide also includes a Luxury Hotel Guide so you can find the perfect option for your stay.
Where to Dine
OLO really epitomizes what dining in British Columbia is all about. The award-winning restaurant takes farm-to-table cuisine to the next level, bringing together the very best seasonal ingredients from across Vancouver Island, such as locally-raised beef, fish plucked straight from nearby waters and produce grown from well-known farmers. While the menu is constantly changing based on the time of year, you can take great pride in knowing that the refined menu was created with sustainable farming practices, and you can even ask about the stories of the individual growers themselves. At heart, OLO strives to create a community that comes together over the comfort of a great meal. Meanwhile, the high-arching windows, bare brick walls and cozy touches make for an atmosphere that feels personal, inviting and wholesome.
Our Victoria Destination Guide also includes a comprehensive Restaurant Guide with the town’s top culinary experiences.
What to Do
Whether it’s your first or fifteenth time in Victoria, splurging on a royal afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress is a local tradition that isn’t to be missed. Having served everybody from A-list celebrities to famed royalty, the century-old ritual is held within the hotel’s sophisticated Lobby Lounge alongside scones and finger sandwiches. Round out the charm with a horse and carriage ride through the streets of the old city. Elsewhere, the Butchart Gardens is another quintessential Victoria experience. Just outside of the city lies the 55-acre park filled with colorful and aromatic flowers, landscaped gardens and lily ponds that have been in full bloom for more than 100 years. Victoria’s outstanding location makes it a great base for outdoor activities and enjoying the outdoor beauty of Victoria Island and the Pacific Northwest, most notably whale-watching trips in the surrounding waters. On top of that, you can get your dose of culture at the world-class Royal BC Museum, which showcases more than 550 million years of natural history and 9,000 years of human history in British Columbia.
What to Pack
Victoria has the mildest climate in all of Canada, where the summers are sunny and clear instead of muggy and humid, and the temperatures stay above freezing in the winter. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities within striking distance of Victoria, so it’s also great to be prepared for rain, which can only put a damper on your stay if you’re not prepared for it. This Columbia Norwester II Jacket is a great all-purpose jacket to tackle Vancouver weather. Not only does it boast wonderful waterproof and thermal properties that will keep you dry during the day and warm by night, but it provides the very best in urban style. This Maison Margiela Wool Ribbed Beanie is a plush addition hat will keep your top warm and cozy. For the ladies, this Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket offers similar weather-ready protection in a lightweight and versatile frame. The adjustable hood and zip hand pockets are subtle features that work just as well on a hike overlooking the Pacific Ocean as they do strolling through the Victorian-era architecture.