What to do in Victoria BC?

Maybe the question should be “What not to do in Victoria BC”: there’s so much to see and do. Our guests often comment that they wish they were staying longer; they’d planned to visit the Butchart Gardens and a few other “sights” but soon realise that there are so many Victoria attractions and places to visit on Vancouver Island. We hope this guide will help you plan a memorable visit.

Let’s start with “the Gardens”, then take a look at the Saanich Peninsula (where the Butchart Gardens and Bayridge Victoria B&B are located), and then pay a visit to the Victoria attractions nearby.

The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens - Sunken GardenSome people spend the full day at The Butchart Gardens enjoying stunning floral displays created by over 50 gardeners on 55 acres since 1904. You won’t forget the Sunken Garden, the 70′ high ever-changing Ross Fountain, the summer scented Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden descending to a cove (which we never tire of after many visits). In the summer enjoy free evening concerts on the lawn and then stroll through the illuminated gardens. July and August Saturday evenings feature fireworks too. A winter visit offers The Magic of Christmas; magical indeed. You can dine in the elegant dining room or in the Blue Poppy restaurant or there are hampers or gelatos and a coffee shop. Butchart Gardens afternoon teas are excellent and reasonably priced.

The Saanich Peninsula

The Saanich Peninsula is 30 km (20 miles) from Sidney in the north to Victoria in the south. Bayridge Victoria Bed and Breakfast is midway, on the east coast.

You’ll pass Butterfly Gardens before you reach the Butchart Gardens. Do visit this tropical jungle for an hour where 3,000 butterflies and moths, and 60 birds fly free among tropical plants and 2,000 orchids. Illuminated on summer evenings.

The area’s coastal beaches and interior hills and lakes offer many places to hike in the conserved parks. Gowlland Tod Provincial Park has easy to arduous trails. Drive or walk up Mount Douglas Park for 360 degree views of the Saanich Peninsula and the Gulf Islands (we recommend you do this soon after you arrive to see the area in its context).

Beaches – where better to start than Cordova Bay, two blocks from the B&B?

Matticks Farm at Cordova Bay is also a short walk from here: boutique shops, a farm market, a tea garden and a mini-golf course.

A quieter garden to visit is The Gardens at HCP where over 10,000 varieties are displayed thematically on nine acres. We particularly admire the Takata Japanese garden and are fascinated by the new Bonsai garden.

In recent years the Saanich Peninsula vineyards and wineries have expanded greatly so, if you have a car (recommended), you’ll love touring around the pastoral countryside to sip our wines and ciders, even visit a distillery. You’ll pass fruit stands with plump local produce.

There are so many recreational opportunities on the Saanich Peninsula:

  • Play golf year-round on over a dozen courses including our neighbouring 18 hole championship Cordova Bay Golf Course, next to Mattick’s Farm. Vancouver Island whale-watching
  • Climbing at the world-class Boulders Climbing Gym on 13,000 sq ft of walls.
  • There are two recreation centres on the peninsula – Panorama, or Saanich Commonwealth Place with its pools, wave pool, water slide, sauna and steam rooms, and gym (we’re handy for accommodation for swim meets).
  • Whale-watching is an experience you will not forget.
  • Kayaking in Brentwood Bay or at Sidney.
  • Bayridge B&B is close to the Lochside Trail which connects to the 55km (34 miles) Galloping Goose Trail going west to beyond Sooke, ideal for walking or cycling.
  • Horseback riding.
  • Even sky diving.

Then there’s Sidney-by-the-Sea. Near the airport is nestled this small town, largely a retirement community. It is best known for its many bookshops and the bustling Thursday evening summer street market. Wander down Beacon Avenue to the seafront walk and jetties where you can take the 15 minute ferry trip to Sidney Spit, a small uninhabited island.
Children will enjoy visiting the Ocean Discovery Centre Aquarium of the Salish Sea with its hands-on displays, and also Mineral World and Scratch Patch where they can hunt for semi-precious gems and sea shells.

Victoria BC attractions

So … “What to do in Victoria BC” is answered by a vast array of ideas above and we haven’t even looked at the downtown options. This is dominated by the Inner Harbour What to do in Victoria BCwhere the Victoria BC attractions are in walking distance of each other:

  • Strolling along the causeway of the Inner Harbour beside moored boats, past entertainers, is a pleasure at any time of day. Here you’ll find the main Tourist Information centre.
  • Criss-crossing the water are the little harbour ferries and taxis; hop on board, maybe to Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • You really should spend half a day or more at the Royal BC Museum, one of the best in North America. It superbly presents the history of our area from the Ice Age to today. Here you can also watch IMAX films on the BIG screen.
  • Narrated bus or horse-drawn carriage tours set off from the Harbour – a good introduction to Victoria.
  • You can also tour the majestic Parliament Buildings.
  • Wander through the shopping streets with restaurants and coffee shops on almost every corner, focussing on Government Street as far north as Canada’s oldest Chinatown.
  • Also in walking distance (south) is pretty Beacon Hill Park, perhaps Victoria’s best kept secret.
  • A little further east is baronial Craigdarroch Castle with its magnificent Victorian interior (a long walk so best reached by bus or a tour.


Inner Harbour Victoria BC Fisgard Lighthouse - Fort Rodd Hill East Sooke Park


Places to visit on Vancouver Island

Just west of downtown Victoria there are interesting places to visit on Vancouver Island on driving tours. You could start at Hatley Castle and Gardens and walk around Fort Rodd Hill and discover the past life of Fisgard Lighthouse. Then drive further west towards Sooke passing an enthralling zip-lining centre. You’re amongst the natural beauty of southern Vancouver Island – look out for East Sooke Provincial Park and Sooke Potholes.

Alternatively, drive up the east coast of the island. Walk by the forested stream at Goldstream Park, then drive on to discover the murals at Chemainus, en route seeing the totem poles at Duncan, wineries, coastal communities and the Cowichan Valley.

We hope this guide to Victoria attractions inspires and assists you as you plan what to do in Victoria BC. We can also help to organize your whale watching trips, fishing charters, eco-tours, golf programs and cycling tours

We stayed at Bayridge 2 years ago, for one month, and again this year for 3 weeks, when we visited our son in Brentwood Bay. Francois and Wynn are great hosts, very friendly. The house is between Victoria and Brentwood Bay (Butchart Gardens). Spotless, in a lovely setting. We saw deer a number of times in their garden. The breakfasts are great and a chance to meet visitors.