It looks like this is going to be the year of local travel. Just before COVID had us sheltering in place for months, I had a spring staycation weekend in Victoria. I have always loved Victoria, but this trip really was so special and full of spring blossoms. We had some great food, and some really cool adventures! Read on for my Victoria travel guide!
As sometimes happens in the spring, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. When things couldn’t work out the way we wanted them to, there were luckily tons of options that we opted for to still have an amazing adventure. Now that we are able to start local travel again, you will want to check out Victoria ASAP. I think a fun weekend in Victoria is just what you need!
About Victoria, BC
Victoria, British Columbia sits on the southern end of Vancouver Island. It is one of the BEST cities in all of Canada for outdoor activities and adventures (so, it is right up my ally!) It has a ton of old school, Victorian architecture throughout the city – including the incredible Craigdarroch Castle mansion. Victoria is typically known around here as the “Garden City” since it typically has AMAZING weather with flowers blooming all year long. It also has the oldest Chinatown in all of Canada which means that it is filled with rich, awesome culture and history. Not to mention some of the best hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants. Andddd lucky for me, Victoria has been deemed as the Brunch Capital of Canada – they don’t mess around when it comes to brunch!
A weekend in Victoria is the perfect idea for a local staycation. If you live on Vancouver Island it is a quick drive away and for those on the mainland it’s only a ferry ride away.
What To Do in Victoria
Spring in Victoria is just full of colour and blossoms. Hopefully you don’t have allergies because these flowers are BLOOMING! The iconic, famous cherry blossom season is one of the most magical experiences one can have while visiting Victoria. If you are there during February or March, head yourself on down to View Street in the middle of Downtown to witness some of the most beautiful pink flowers here in North America. Make sure to plan one of your days around going to the Hatley Castle and Garden if you want once in a lifetime photos.
A weekend trip to Victoria is just enough time to explore and see the wonderful city. There is so many great places to eat and lots to do. Consider this a Victoria travel guide for any two days, even if it isn’t the weekend.
I mean, what more can you ask for than beautiful flowers and a CASTLE?! Or are you more of a classic, rose girl? Take the 20 minute walk from Downtown on over to the Government House for over 36 acres of rose gardens and alpine groves. Spring lasts a little longer here so you are in the right place to really enjoy some beautiful greenery (or in this case – pinkery?)
Checking out the flowers and natural beauty of Victoria isn’t the only outdoor activity that you can experience while spending a weekend in Victoria!
Pedaler Cycling Tours
Rent bikes at Pedaler Cycling Tours and Rentals and take a ride around the super popular Seawall. You can choose to go through the scenic routes yourself or you can opt for a guide to get you the inside scoop of it all! This bike shop is in the perfect location to start any adventure with so many fun places nearby. Head left and you will find Fisherman’s Wharf and the Beacon Hill Park or head right and ride past the Parliament building for some stunning views.
We went stand up paddleboarding with South Island SUP. When we went it was a super windy day, so we went to Thetis Lake which is just a short drive from the ocean but is well protected from the wind – just in case you catch a windy day like we did! The key to enjoying travel experiences is to be able to adjust as needed and go with the flow. When you are making your personal Victoria travel guide make sure you have a few alternatives in mind just in case you need to change some plans.
Beacon Hill Park
Explore Beacon Hill Park and see some more phenomenal cherry blooms. This park is also very bike friendly with dedicated bike lanes, if you are more into exploring somewhere via bike. After exploring the park, taking pictures of the flowers, and catching up on the rich history of it all, you can head across the street and enjoy an ocean view bike ride for a few kilometres.
Fisherman’s Wharf is where you can find some cute and colourful floating homes on the water where you can also catch 😉 a great seafood lunch or dinner. With hidden treasures all along the wharf, you can find endless fun activities when the weather is warmer.
Thanks to Kyle for the photos at Fishermans Wharf, in the blossoms and in Chinatown.
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse
Head to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse for a really cool adventure. Although we didn’t go inside, there was still a lot to do around the area. There is scuba diving, picnicing, bird-watching, and some yummy places to eat! Not to mention, you can get some AWESOME pictures with a lighthouse! Every Victoria travel guide needs to include a stop here.
Goldstream Provincial Park
Drive to Goldstream Provincial Park and go to the Niagara Waterfall. Although it isn’t the one on the other side of Canada, it still is just as magical and worth seeing. This park has so many great spots for photos, picnics, and just straight up appreciating nature. It is also great if you want to explore the outdoors with being just 20 minutes outside Victoria.
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
Head to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and hike to Jocelyn Hill. It is a quick 30 minute hike perfect for a weekend in Victoria. To get there you turn off the highway in Colwood and then head on Millstream Road. Continue to the end of the road to find parking. If you want to take a longer hike, you can head to Caleb Pike Pass which will extend the hike and make it 5 km in total. Trail is so much fun and won’t even feel like a hike!
Thanks to Graham for the photos at Gollwand Tod and Goldstream Provincial Parks.
Where to Eat in Victoria
Jam Cafe for breakfast or brunch is a top-notch choice if you are looking for some gluten free classics for your breakfast. Their gigantic omelettes and STACKS of pancakes are absolutely heavenly. If you are looking to not have to eat for the rest of the day, you may want to try out Jam Cafe to fill you up for the day (and maybe even the day after, too!)
Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden
The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden will make you feel like real royalty as you join in for high tea, biscuits, and yummy, homemade gluten free options. The ambience is actually so beautiful, I didn’t want to go and wish I took more pictures. From the intricately designed teapots and cups to being surrounded by a lush garden outdoors, this place brings a sense of calm in a chaotic world. Tranquil and intimate, you will love it just as much as I do!
Virtuous Pie is the go-to spot to grab some tasty gluten free vegan pizza in Victoria. They have some awesome combos that are filled with farm fresh veggies or even keeping it simple on your pie is still going to be some of the best you ever tasted. Also, to live out all of your childhood fantasies by having a restaurant dedicated to only pizza and ice cream. Why couldn’t this have been a thing when I was a kid?!
Have Tapa Bar
Have Tapa Bar is a great dinner option for any tapa lover. They have lots of gluten free and vegan options. The food is super tasty and a little spicy so get ready for a party for your palate!
Just ask your server for the gluten free menu and they will happily bring you a separate menu for all the options you can have. This is a very popular spot in Victoria so you are going to want to call ahead of time and get a reservation just to be safe.
West Coast Waffles
West Coast Waffles is the best way to start your mornings. I loved the gluten free vegan waffle and you can add tons of fresh and flavorful toppings to any waffle you pick! They even have some amazing classic cocktails that will put all the others to shame.
Tacofino is always a good idea when you find yourself wandering about Victoria. This taco bar is really all you need in life, because it has so many incredible options from vegan, meat lovers, and honestly all the toppings one can dream of! (And I dream of tacos a lot.)
Origins Gluten-Free Bakery
Origins Gluten-Free Bakery has killer sweet treats that can satisfy even those without much of a sweet tooth. Their options range from the prettiest cupcakes that you ever did see to incredible bread that you would have no idea was even gluten-free! SO YUMMY!
Where to Stay in Victoria
Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites
We stayed at the Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites. This hotel is right in the middle of downtown and is the perfect location to explore and not have to drive a lot. It is very chic, but not too fancy where you feel uncomfortable. Their elegant rooms and cozy atmosphere made for a wonderful time to decompress the day’s adventures.
The hotel is very local focused, so if you ever need recommendations or advice on anything going on in Victoria, you can ask any staff member, and they would be more than happy to help you enjoy their town! They are like your personal on-site Victoria travel guide.
The personalized connection the staff took to get to know us and to better our stay was something you won’t usually find in just any hotel. They really go above and beyond to take care of their guests.
With all of this social distancing and being advised to not travel, if you know me, you know I am doing my best to not be stir crazy right about now! I am really glad that I got in a weekend in Victoria right before we went on a total lockdown.
Maybe I will have a Victoria in the Fall blog post later this year? You’ll have to stay tuned! Hope you enjoyed this summary of my weekend in Victoria and felt like you were right there exploring with me! What else should I include in my next Victoria travel guide?
This blog post is brought you in collaboration with Tourism Victoria. Thank you for supporting the brands and destinations that support me.