Have you been to Victoria? If so, tell us about your trip in the comments below!
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Have you been feeling overworked and stressed lately? It may be your brain telling you that it’s time for a weekend getaway! Even with the current pandemic, there are still many ways to explore and things to do safely, and a quick holiday might be just the thing you need to reset your routine.
If you don’t want to cash in all your vacation days at once, a weekend trip can be a great way to relax and disconnect from work or school. One of our top recommendations for a quick stress-free weekend trip is a visit to the city of Victoria in British Columbia.
A Weekend Trip During COVID-19?
With British Columbia moving in to its Vaccination Plan, smart and safe travel for leisure related purposes is being permitted across the province. With numerous hotels, restaurants, museums and tourist attractions resuming service, you do not have to wait to explore locally. Victoria, in particular, has re-opened many of its dine-in restaurants and beloved tourist attractions with new safety guidelines and precautions in place, making it the perfect travel destination.
Read on to learn more about how to visit and explore this charming city safely!
A little bit about Victoria, British Columbia
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. With amazing weather that makes for a great growing climate, Victoria is internationally known as the ‘garden city,’ because of its beautiful flowers and green spaces. In fact, one of Victoria’s best attractions is The Butchart Gardens which are in full bloom during the summer months. The gardens are also currently open to the public which means you can still see hundreds of flower varieties as long as you follow their recommended safety precautions.
Apart from its scenic beauty, Victoria also has a rich history which you can get a taste of by visiting BC’s Parliament Buildings as well as the Royal BC Museum. Some other un-missable attractions include its bustling harbor, Craigdarroch Castle, Miniature World (a specialty museum displaying miniature craftsmanship) and whale watching. This Canadian city has more than enough to make it worth a visit while still being intimate enough to cover during a short weekend trip.
Getting to Victoria, British Columbia
The journey to Victoria is almost as exciting as the destination itself.
Since Victoria is situated on an island, the city can be reached by ferry or by air. Go the ferry route for a scenic and relaxing experience with the unique chance of spotting an orca or two. Alternatively, hop on a seaplane, soar above the beautiful Gulf Islands and take in the breathtaking views of Victoria’s twisting coastline.
If you choose to take the ferry, BC Ferries continues to offer daily one and a half hour ferry trips from the Tsawwassen Terminal in Vancouver to the Swartz Bay Terminal in Victoria. To help ensure safe travel in these times, BC Ferries is enforcing strict screening guidelines and adhering to provincial and federal guidelines as well as physical distancing.
If air travel is more your style, you’ll be happy to know that Harbour Air, North America’s first fully carbon neutral airline, has resumed its scenic air tours. The airline has introduced a reduced seaplane flight schedule, stringent sanitation measures and on board distancing to ensure passenger safety.
Our Weekend Trip Recommendations:
Whether you choose to take the ferry or travel via seaplane, Discovery Canada Tours has an amazing Victoria Getaway Package that lets you choose either option. The package includes a round trip ferry ticket with BC Ferries or a round trip flight with Harbour Air as well as a night at the Fairmont Empress, Oak Bay Beach Hotel or the Chateau Victoria.
This is Pilot’s top pick as Discovery Canada Tours is a reliable provider that has numerous safety precautions in place including daily wellness checks and reduced tour sizes. We particularly recommend the transport and accommodation package deal if you don’t love set guided tours and prefer to explore new locations more spontaneously. This package has the best of both worlds as it gives you the freedom to explore Victoria at your own pace while still providing you with an adventurous journey and a gorgeous hotel to come back to after your day out on the town.
Plus, the package ends up saving you a lot of money when compared with paying for transportation and weekend accommodation separately.
Sightseeing in Victoria, British Columbia
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably interested in finding out more about what this beautiful and lively city has to offer. Apart from its English charm and coastal views, there are a number of attractions that make Victoria well worth a visit. Some notable places to visit include the Victoria’s Inner Harbor, Government Street, Chinatown, Butchart Gardens, The Royal BC Museum and Victoria’s Parliament Buildings.
Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbor is lined with street vendors, buskers, local restaurants and colorful floating homes. There is always something interesting going on in the Inner Harbor area, and it comes alive with music and lights every night. Government Street, on the other hand, is home to the parliament buildings and other heritage buildings that form British Columbia’s economic and political hub. The Parliament Buildings are a definite must-see for their beautiful neo-baroque architectural style, as well as for their historical significance.
Speaking about history and education, the Royal BC Museum is another great place to learn about British Columbia’s history, indigenous peoples and natural ecosystems and wildlife. Lastly, no visit to Victoria is complete without a trip to Butchart Gardens; one of Canada’s National Historic Sites. Butchart Gardens is currently welcoming visitors and offering you the chance to stroll through their famous Rose, Japanese and sunken gardens (which are usually in full bloom every summer).
Our Weekend Trip Recommendations:
If you want to cover all of Victoria’s main attractions in a day, we’d recommend a sightseeing tour. Not only will you be able to get to see a lot of its touristy landmarks, but you will also have a knowledgable guide close at hand to help you learn more about the history behind every location.
This sightseeing tour is our pick as it follows the province’s COVID-19 protocols, takes care of transport and gives you ample flexibility in customizing your experience. The tour starts off with a ferry ride from Vancouver (Canada Place) to Victoria and a scenic coastal drive through the charming communities of James Bay. Afterwards, an experienced tour guide will take you on a tour on of Victoria’s Inner Harbor, Government Street, Chinatown, and the city’s Parliament Buildings.
While this package has some structure in that you get a taste of Victoria’s main localities, you also have plenty of time to explore Victoria on your own in the afternoon too. You have the freedom to choose a few additional activities and excursions during this time (both free and paid options available), to get the most out of your trip.
Some add-ons include visiting the Butchart Gardens, the Royal BC Museum, whale watching and a cycling tour. We’d recommend visiting the Butchart Gardens to everyone, whale watching for families, the Royal BC Museum for history buffs and the cycling tour for outdoor enthusiasts.
Staying in Victoria, British Columbia
While we’ve covered getting to and exploring Victoria, it is equally important to have a comfortable bed to collapse into after a long day of sightseeing. Although it might only be a weekend trip, you still deserve to experience Victoria’s warm hospitality!
Our first recommendation would be to stay in the four-star Fairmont Empress Hotel or Chateau Victoria for a luxurious but still locally inspired experience in the heart of downtown. The Fairmont Empress in particular is recognized as one of Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the world by National Geographic Traveler magazine and one of Canada’s top 10 city hotels by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
The hotel also underwent a major renovation in 2017 which transformed it and added to its elegant splendour. Whether or not you end up staying here, you may still want to pop in for Tea at the Empress café for the quintessential Victoria experience. People from all over the world have been visiting this café since 1908 for its freshly baked pastries and its finest tea blends. You’ll be feeling like a duke or duchess yourself after you indulge in the café’s luxurious and sophisticated afternoon tea.
While the Empress Hotel exudes luxury, Chateau Victoria offers guests a more local feel, as well as an environmentally conscious experience. The Chateau is locally owned and operated, serves local cuisines and delicacies and offers you Victoria’s only rooftop dining experience with unbeatable views.
While Victoria’s main hotels continue to welcome travelers, the best hotels can create a dent in your wallet. Luckily, there are always other options for those on a budget or for those who want to extend their weekend trip while still being cost effective. Airbnb can be an amazing resource to find great local stays. While being more wallet friendly, learning all about Victoria’s culture from a local will also enrich your stay. Keep reading for our top Airbnb recommendations!
Our Weekend Trip Recommendations:
As mentioned before, the best way to get yourself a cost-effective hotel is to make a booking through the Discovery Canada Victoria Getaway Tour, which includes a roundtrip ferry ride or seaplane ticket along with a night of accommodation at either of the Empress Fairmont or Chateau Victoria hotels. This deal saves you the headache of organizing the transport to Victoria separately. Plus, picking a hotel option through the package saves you a lot of money when compared with making reservations through the hotels’ websites.
As for other options, Airbnb stays are budget friendly even when staying in Victoria’s prime areas and are extremely convenient as well. If you are traveling or taking a couples trip check out this Waterfront Loft in the heart of downtown. This highly-rated space is perfectly cozy for a short stay and the you’ll only have to walk a couple of minutes to get to busses, ferries, tours, and the tons of great restaurants on the Victoria Harbor. The loft also comes with access to a gym and rooftop terrace with a barbecue. Oh, and did we mention that you can book this beautiful loft for only US $53 per night?
Another great option with a little more space is this gorgeous Heritage Loft. This place has an AMAZING central location and you will definitely be able to see all of Victoria’s main attractions and restaurants on foot. The loft is actually a modern conversion of the historic Oriental Hotel built in 1883 and is one of the biggest spaces in the middle of the city centre that is available for short-term rent. Due to its prime location and ‘Super Host’ status this place books up pretty fast so don’t wait too long to snag this deal.
If you are looking for something more modern then consider checking out this apartment. The place can accommodate up to 4 guests and is steps away from the Inner Harbour, downtown shopping and cultural events. It’s perfect if you are planning to travel with more than a few friends because the hosts have 2 more identical apartments available for rent right beside this one that can house your whole travel group.
Likewise, if the place is fully booked on the dates you want, just inquire about the other two apartments. At US $81 per night you can’t go wrong with this pick! Also, if you love this place but are traveling alone and just need one bed, this downtown apartment is similarly modern and stylish but rents for just US $51 per night!
Plan Your Trip to Victoria, British Columbia!
After our in-depth guide on planning a trip to Victoria, doesn't this seem like a great weekend trip to take with your friends and family?
Speaking of taking and planning trips with your friends and family, have you heard of Pilot? It’s a social travel planner that lets you plan trips and make meaningful experiences together with friends, family, and even work colleagues.
If you're feeling uninspired or overwhelmed on where you should travel, why not try out our travel-based newsletter, FlightDeck? It's a place where we share crazy new places to travel, cool travel news to know, and even our crazy travel stories. If you're stuck as to where to go, FlightDeck will definitely inspire you to crazy and amazing places to travel!