This article was written by guest author, VancityWild.
Victoria, BC is a seaside town located on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. It’s a charming city filled with beautiful architecture, dazzling views and diverse wildlife. Often referred to as the city of gardens, people come here for quiet walks on the beach, to experience the vibrant downtown core or to immerse themselves in nature. A weekend escape to Victoria is guaranteed to be blissful – there’s something here for everyone! We’ve got you covered with an insider’s guide to Victoria: how to experience the city like a local.
The return of safe travel is hovering on the horizon and we’ve been so thrilled to finally start planning our next vacation. With the nervousness that accompanies trip planning after over a year of staying put, Expedia is the perfect travel companion to help to eliminate anxiety. Expedia is a one stop shop to help make planning and booking easier so you can stay in control of every aspect of your trip, with no extra stress. Imagine having a travel buddy accompany you every step of the way – from booking flights, accommodations and activities all the way through to trip taking! That’s Expedia.
Read on to experience a weekend in Victoria like a local, and let Expedia help you get the most out of your trip!
Where to stay:
With a plethora of beautiful accommodations in Victoria to choose from it can be hard to pick just one, so we’ll make it real easy for you and share two of our most-loved spots! If you are worried about potential changes to plans or having to break travel commitments, Expedia helps you easily find refundable or flexible stays by using the “free cancellation” search filter or selecting “book now, pay later” rates. (One of our favourite Expedia features!) Hotels now include health and hygiene measures on their info pages, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing policies, or other considerations to keep guests safe. It’s such a reassuring way to start your travel experience.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is just outside the downtown area, perfectly situated on the water. There are so many reasons that this particular hotel draws us back. Firstly, the views of the ocean from the hotel are phenomenal. Secondly, guests who are 16+ have access to the heated seaside mineral pools on the property. These pools are absolutely spectacular and look out over the Salish Sea, with peeks of snow-capped Mount Baker in the distance! This luxury boutique resort is the perfect place to unwind, indulge in the Boathouse Spa and Baths, or go for long walks along the water.
Our second recommendation is the Hotel Grand Pacific, conveniently located in Victoria’s beautiful inner harbour. This bustling part of the city is right in the downtown core, with endless sights to see and things to do right at your doorstep. Overlooking the harbour, views are aplenty from this incredible hotel. Victoria’s iconic Parliament Buildings are right next door, and the city’s foodie hot spots are all within walking distance.
What to See & Do:
Hike up Mount Douglas:
Spend a morning exploring this beautiful park; hike up to the summit to take in an incredible 360 degree view of Victoria, (or drive up if you prefer), and explore more than 21 kms of trails. This park boasts the largest urban forest on the Saanich Peninsula and it will give you a true experience of the wildlife in the area.
Shop Lower Johnson:
Johnson Street is one of our favourite places to wander and shop, with its colourful and quirky shop fronts, unique boutiques and delicious coffee shops. Make sure to pop into Market Square, a bustling town square full of interesting shops, breweries and restaurants.
Visit our favourite local beach:
Willows Beach is located in the Oak Bay neighbourhood and is one of Victoria’s most-loved summer swimming destinations. Beautiful driftwood is strewn across the sandy beach, and you can enjoy views of Discovery Island and Mount Baker in the distance. In the summertime, bring your kiddos and go for a dip, or tour the area by paddle board. With nearby restaurants and a concession stand, this is a great spot to enjoy some lunch!
Take a day trip to Juan de Fuca Park (with a stop at Shirley Delicious):
Arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the Southern Island, this phenomenal park has spectacular hiking, (including the marine trail that covers 47 km of wild shoreline and forest) and incredible beaches. Head to China Beach, Mystic Beach or Sombrio Beach for an astounding coastal experience – surf watching, hidden waterfalls and captivating wildlife. It’s approximately 45 minutes from the downtown core by car, so you’ll want to budget at least half a day for this experience. Pro local tip: make sure to stop at Shirley Delicious to pick up coffee, breakfast or lunch, and plan for extra treats – it truly is delicious!
Beacon Hill Park and Dallas Road:
Meander through Victoria’s beloved Beacon Hill Park, located right in the heart of downtown. Explore over 200 acres of beautiful gardens, duck ponds, shoreline trails, and playgrounds. See if you can spot the peacocks that freely roam the park, the fourth-tallest totem pole in the world, and the mysterious “moss lady” sculpture. Pick up a soft serve cone from Beacon Drive-In and walk along the water down Dallas Road for stunning ocean views.
Now that we’ve covered what to see and do, here’s one of the most important parts of any trip – where to eat! Victoria has quite the foodie reputation so we’ve rounded up some local hotspots that you will NOT want to miss.
Nourish: Being inside this beautiful little heritage house turned restaurant in James Bay is like a breath of fresh air. It’s not often that you find a space that is as lovely as the food is delicious, but somehow Nourish does it all. The food here is outstanding – fresh, local and healthy with lots of dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options. We love the eggs benny with cashew hollandaise!
Bear & Joey Cafe: A gem of a spot in the Victoria community! The space is jaw-dropping – the Instaworthy interior has guests lusting after their pink and gold accents, but lucky for you, their food is also amazing. Bear & Joey’s Aussie inspired eats and coffee will blow you away. (Come here for a true flat white and Aussie brekkie sandwich!)
Sherwood: Enjoy some delicious lunch at the beautiful Sherwood Cafe in downtown Victoria. We especially love their almond milk lattes and their homemade yogurt and granola, and their salads and chicken burgers are definite stand-outs!
Willows Galley: Our favourite fish and chips in the city. Their batter is phenomenal and their chips are consistently delicious. You might even spot a line of locals waiting for their order! Take your meal down to enjoy at Willows Beach for the ultimate experience.
Pagliacci’s: This cafe is always bustling with locals all enjoying massive plates of delicious pasta, yummy sandwiches, cheesecake and Pag’s famous focaccia bread. Come hungry, leave happy!
Burger Crush: Someone once described their burgers as their “dream burger”, and it does not disappoint. Burger Crush started as a food truck, (and they’re still going strong), but they now have expanded into a secondary cafe. Hand-pressed beef burgers, vegan burgers, and kennebec fries…soooo good.
Well there you have it, the perfect, locals-only weekend guide for an enchanting visit to Victoria. We’re so thankful to Expedia for making it easy to plan and book a trip all in one place and making sure we’re supported every step of the way. Visit Expedia to book your trip today!
*Please remember to adhere to any travel restrictions/COVID-19 guidelines/social distancing if appropriate and mandated. Visit Expedia for more information prior to travelling. You can check out Expedia’s COVID-19 travel guide here as well.