Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada. It is located near the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It is a medium sized (approx. 350,000 in Greater Victoria) and beautiful city. Nicknamed the Garden City for Butchart Gardens and much green space.
The main way to get to Vancouver Island and Victoria is by ferry.
• BC Ferries operates a ferry from Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Swartz Bay, a half hour drive from Victoria, on the odd hours between 7am and 9pm during the winter (with extra sailings at busier times) and every hour during the summer. The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes long. It costs about $35CAD for a car and $10CAD per person (more in peak season, less in low season) each way for the ferry. Payment can be made by cash, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express (no debit cards yet). Reservations are never required, but recommended for vehicles during peak travel times. There is a $15 charge for reservations if made 7 days in advance; $17.50 if less than 7 days. You can buy tickets for a coach bus into Victoria on the ferry (www.pacificcoach.com; Cost from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria is approx.$35 one-way), or you can take public transit from the ferry terminal to downtown (this takes a little over an hour). Transit often uses a Double Decker bus on this route. However, the transit route takes quite a while and is often very full.
• From Seattle, the Victoria Clipper, a modern ultra-fast catamaran ferry, runs to Victoria and back again on a daily basis. This ferry runs once a day in the winter and up to 3 times a day in the summer. The sailing time is 2.5 hours. Fares $US66-80 less for seniors, half price for children.
• Victoria Express passenger-only ferry. From Port Angeles, Washington, about 20 miles south of Victoria on the Olympic Peninsula, from spring to fall. Traveling time is approximately one hour and costs $US 13.00 per passenger.
• MV Coho passenger vehicle ferry - From Port Angeles, Washington. Runs all year except for an annual refit, generally while the Express is in service. In the winter, this ferry runs 2 sailings a day and in the summer up to 4 sailings a day are scheduled. Crossing time is 95 minutes, and fares are $US40.00 for car and driver and $10.50 per passenger ($5.25 for children under 11).
• From Anacortes, Washington State Ferries operates a passenger vehicle ferry that docks in Sidney (about half an hour from Victoria).
Victoria International Airport is located 30 minutes north of Victoria (off the Pat Bay Highway, on the way to the ferry terminal). Multiple flights per hour to and from Vancouver. Also from Seattle (unknown frequency), and with lesser frequency direct from Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto. Public transit from Victoria International to the city isn't that great but there IS a shuttle bus that picks you up from the airport and takes you many downtown hotels: Akal Shuttle Bus 250-386-2525. One way is 45 minutes and $13.
You can also get into Victoria quickly and easily from Vancouver by either helicopter or float plane. Helicopters into the city operate from Vancouver Harbour or Vancouver Airport by Helijet with prices from $119 each way, this will take you into the center of Victoria. Float Planes are operated by West Coast Air , and Harbour Air and literally land you in the harbour meters from the Empress Hotel and Parliament buildings, prices at $99 each way.
Walking is an easy, cheap, and fun way to explore the entire downtown area. Make your way from hotel to museum to shops; stop for coffee; stroll along the harborside; grab a pint and some fish-n-chips - take it in!
Buses run by BC Transit form the mainstay of Victoria's public transit network. A `fare zone boundary' divides the service area into two zones: Victoria's core urban area in one zone, and the outlying, more suburban areas in the other. Passengers crossing the boundary must pay a two-zone fare. Regular fares are $2.00 for one zone or $2.75 for two zones; those younger than 18 or older than 65 pay $1.25 or $2.00 for one or two zones, respectively. Bus tickets can be purchased in books of ten, and give a slight discount. Day passes are also available; they cost $6.00 regularly or $4.00 for youth or seniors. They are good for all zones. The Victoria section of the BC Transit website carries further fare and schedule information. Victoria is only one of two cities in North America which use Double Decker buses in their city transit systems. [The other city is Kelowna, BC].
Biking Victoria is the most bike-friendly city in Canada. That may have something to do with the very mild winters. There are many places to hire bikes. One place is CycleBCRentals located at 747 Douglas St. behind the Empress Hotel & in the summer at 950 Wharf St. Bike rentals start at $6 and the also hire scooters and motorbikes here. 1-866-380-2453
• Inner Harbour In the summertime the inner harbour is full of artists, buskers and other entertainers. The music performers are not permitted to stay in one place for very long, so the entertainment is constantly changing. It still may seem too long with some of the Bagpipers. Many find it fascinating to watch the float planes taking off and landing also. In the springtime, the inner harbour is filled up with many beautiful flowers. The Undersea Gardens () and the Royal London Wax Museum are located here too ().
• Harbour tours Small harbour ferry (6 or so passengers) provides transport around and a view of the Selkirk waterway and Inner harbour.
• Chinatown The street is decorated Chinese ornaments. There are some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese fruit and vegetable stores, bubble tea and coffee shops and Canada's smallest 'road' here (Fan Tan Alley)!
• Beacon Hill Park South end is on the waterfront, walking path with a view of the Olympic mountains across the straight
• Butchart Gardens A large garden planted in what was formerly a gravel pit. Quite remarkable. During the summer they have fireworks set to music and during winter evenings, the gardens are lit up and include displays illustrating the twelve days of Christmas. Public bus and shuttle busses can take you there.
• Galloping Goose trail A few places rent bikes and this is a great day trip.
• Legislative Buildings The provincial legislature is located on the inner harbour. At night it is lit up with 13,000 lights. Public tours are available.
• Miniature World, 649 Humboldt St. (at the back of the Empress Hotel) An extensive display of miniature landscapes, cities etc.
• Royal BC Museum, 675 Bellville St. (between the Legislature and the Empress hotel, near the inner harbour), 356-7226. Open seven days a week 9am-5pm. This is one of two museums in Canada holding the 'royal' designation, it has amazing exhibits. $11.00 adult admission, $7.30 students, youth and seniors.
• Cragdarroch Castle Historical Museum, 1050 Joan Crescent (in the Rockland area), 592-5323. This castle was built in 1890 by a wealthy and powerful Scottish family who at that time owned a quarter of Vancouver Island. Great architecture. A bit of a walk from the downtown core, or else take the public bus up Fort St.
• IMAX Theatre, 675 Bellville St. (part of the Royal BC Museum), 953-4629. A variety of shows on the IMAX screen. $9.75 adult admission, $7.50 for seniors, students and youth, $5.00 for children. You don't require admission to the museum to see a film at the IMAX.
• Whale Watching For those who are a bit more adventurous there are several Whale Watching companies which operate from the Inner Harbour. Some are located underneath the Tourist Information centre in the centre. The companies offer up to three hour trips and have a good success rate at finding one of the three resident pods of Orcas. One such company is Prince of Whales Prices from $55 per person. Another good one is Ocean Explorations 383-6722.
• Nature! The surrounding Victoria area is also an amazing place to explore if you're more inclined towards natural spots. From the inner harbour you can walk in either direction along the water to the very popular local Dallas Road walk, or else if you cross the bridge you end up on the Westsong Walkway into Esquimalt. Both have beautiful views of the inner harbour and even Port Angeles across the water. If you're more mobile check out Willows Beach, Mt.Doug Park, Thetis Lake or Goldstream Park for more out-of-the-way places and great hikes in the temperate rainforest. There's even some surfing beaches nearby too if you have a car.
Victoria is full of little shops tucked away in every nook and cranny in the centre. Souvenir shops are all around the Inner Harbour. Although people generally think Victoria is a tourist destination only, there are more than just tourist shops.
• Americans so inclined may want to take the opportunity to pick up a Cuban Cigar or two. Just don't expect to be able to bring any back with you through Customs.
• Government Street from the Inner Harbour up to Chinatown is the biggest more touristy shopping drag. Best way to go is just to wander the streets but make sure you check out some little gems like Market Square, at the bottom of Johnson St. In the summertime there's live music here.
The waterfront tourist area is home to a wide variety of restaurants and eateries, including several English-style pubs which serve traditional pub-style food. Try the fish and chips or shepherds pie for a taste of England in Canada.
• Rebar Modern Food, 50 Bastion Square, 361-9223. M-W 8:30am-9:00pm, Th-Sa 8:30am-10:00pm, Su 8:30-3:30 (brunch). An vegetarian restaurant with a diverse modern menu.
• Spinnakers Brewpub, 308 Catherine St. Within walking distance of downtown. A great place to go for a drink or a meal. Pub: 7 days a week, 11:00-23:00. Restaurant: 7:00-22:30. There is a restaurant on the main floor, and a brewpub upstairs. Great atmosphere and a nice view of the inner harbour, especially in the evening. A variety of in-house brews, as well as whatever else you want to drink.
• 1550's Pub Style Restaurant, 1550 Cedar Hill X Rd. (between Cedar Hill Rd. and Shelbourne), 472-0047.
• Ferris' Oyster Bar & Grill, 536 Yates St, 360-1824. A large menu. Even the burgers are good.
• Chandlers Seafood House, 1250 Wharf St., 385-3474. A lovely seafood restaurant located in downtown Victoria. Voted best local seafood restaurant many times. Intimate food at reasonable prices. Great selection for all courses. Reservations recommended.
• Swan's Restaurant and Hotel.
• Bent Mast Pub and Restaurant
• Il Terrazzo Ristorante, 555 Johnson St, Off Waddington Alley. Great Italian in a charming patio atmosphere.
• Blue Crab Bar & Grill, 146 Kingston St, in The Coast Harbourside Hotel & Marina. Beautiful harbor-view dining with elegant atmosphere.
• The Noodle Box, 626 Fisgard St & 818 Douglas St. Another very popular spot for locals. Serves southeast Asian food fresh and in a takeaway box.
• Pagliaccis, 1011 Broad St, 386-1662. One of the most popular Italian restaurants in town. Intimate settings and addictively scrumptious endless free bread.
• Ocean Island Backpacker's Inn, 791 Pandora Ave. (corner of Pandora & Blanshard), 385-1788, or 1-888-888-4180. Open 24/7. Dorms $20/night; Singles $25-$44/night or $150-$258/week; doubles: $29-$68/night or $168-$390/week. There are also monthly rates if you're sticking around for a while. Accommodations are comfortable and this place definitely has character. A fun place to stay, very friendly to all visitors and an excellent deal. They also have a really comprehensive online guide to Victoria, a lot of less touristy stuff included.
• Travelers' Inn, 1-888-872-8355. A Chain of nine budget hotels in the Victoria area. The one closest to the inner harbour is Travelers' Inn - Downtown at 1850 Douglas St. $50-100.
• UVic Housing, University of Victoria, 721-8395. Accommodation is available at Craigdarroch House for $60 (including cafeteria breakfast). Most suitable for those visiting the University. In the summer the University dorm rooms are available for $44-55 , or a 4 bedroom unit in the cluster housing for $160.
• The Turtle Refuge, 1608 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2L4, Phone: 250-386-4471, Fax: 250-386-4471. Open 24/7, rates run from $14 for a dorm bed a night to $35 singles. Free coffee every morning, linens are provided, free wireless internet, Laundry facilities, etc. Pretty standard, located in a very small house just outside of downtown (about a five minute walk). If you are looking for a cheap and fun place to crash, this is about as good as you can get.
• Queen Victoria Hotel, 655 Douglas. Right on the edge of Downtown Victoria and James Bay. An ideal location. $100-200.
• Victoria Harborwalk Bed & Breakfast, 427 Heather Street. 250-380-6447 A popular private character suite in James Bay just behind the Legislative Buildings and the Royal BC Museum. A terrific location. $95-135_Cdn.
• Laurel Point Inn, 680 Montreal St. (short walk from Inner Harbour past the Ferry Terminal), 386-8721. A nice hotel with a subtle oriental feel to it. All rooms have a view over the harbour area. Free taxi vouchers sufficient to get you to The Bay shopping centre are a nice touch. $250-450.
• The Empress Hotel, 721 Government St. (on the inner harbour, near the Legislature & Royal BC Museum), 384-8111. Victoria's most famous luxury hotel, designed in the same Edwardian-style as many former Canadian Pacific Hotels such as Chateau Frontac in Quebec City. $350-500.
• Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe, 45 Songhees Rd. (ideally located in the heart of the city, on the waterfront of Victoria's charming Inner Harbor.), 1-800-667-4677. A nice hotel, with charming staff and a slightly modern feel to it. Beautiful harbor views and lovely harbor-side dining. $130-$350 (CD).
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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