Victoria Weekend Getaway Guide: Steep Yourself in BC’s Storied Past

Get your fill of history and high tea in BC's capital city

Credit: Curt Woodhall

Victoria’s Parliament Buildings provide a regal frame for the historical city

With a perfect blend of modern culture, old-world charm and outdoor activities, Victoria is sure to please just about anyone looking for a well-balanced weekend getaway

While its British history is evident throughout Victoria’s quaint streets and impeccably maintained historical buildings, you’ll find just as many trendy boutiques and exceptional eateries competing for a share of the urban vibe.  Not to mention spectacular views at every turn.

Activities – What to Do in Victoria

One of the best ways to explore Victoria’s many neighbourhoods, districts and historical sites is by taking a walking tour. Discover the Past offers a spooky selection of ghost tours through Victoria’s narrow alleys, historic courtyards and hallowed haunts where infamous hangings and murders took place.

For a tasty cultural adventure, book a Hidden Dragon Tour of Canada’s oldest Chinatown. You’ll discover Victoria’s present-day Chinatown while learning about its storied past and secret passageways, opium factories, gambling dens and brothels. This fascinating three-hour exploration ends with an eight-course feast at one of the district’s popular restaurants.

To truly step back in time, spend an afternoon at the world-class Royal BC Museum. In addition to special exhibits, the museum is home to three permanent galleries: First Peoples, Modern History and Natural History. It also includes a snow-covered tundra, fur trading post, turn-of-the-century streetscape and Captain George Vancouver’s ship HMS Discovery.

Another must-do while in Victoria is afternoon tea at the majestic Empress Hotel – a landmark edifice built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in 1908.

You’re sure to feel like royalty when presented with the delicious assortment of finger sandwiches, teas and delectable desserts, including freshly baked raisin scones with heavy cream and strawberry preserves. Afternoon tea is one of Victoria’s oldest traditions and has been served in this classic venue for almost a century.

Restaurants – Victoria’s Foodie Favourites

On the culinary front, Victoria boasts many local cafes, stylish pubs and chic urban restaurants.

For an authentic Vancouver Island experience visit Spinnakers, Canada’s oldest licensed brewpub. Known for serving 100% regional cuisine, this gastro brewpub’s ever-changing menu features organic local produce and dairy, grain-fed Highland beef, free range eggs and wild local seafood.

Other foodie favourites include the regionally inspired comfort cuisine at Cafe Brio, homestyle brunch at Mo:Le on Pandora Avenue and the casual French bistro Brasserie L’école, which has received numerous awards and accolades.

Accommodations – Where to Stay in Victoria

From boutique hotels to luxury accommodations and everything in between, Victoria has a wide range of options for your stay.  Selecting a hotel close to the inner harbour is ideal, as many of the popular attractions are located within walking distance, including the Parliament Buildings and Royal BC Museum.

Popular harbour-front choices include the Empress Hotel, Inn at Laurel Point and Hotel Grand Pacific, which feature fabulous restaurants and soothing spa services.  

And if you need a bit of a nudge to book your weekend away, consider Tourism Victoria’s Fall for Victoria promotion, which covers your return passage home aboard BC Ferries.

See more photos of Victoria in our Weekend Getaway Guide photo gallery.

Mhairri Cuthbert is a travel writer at Arrivals. Visit their blog for additional links, information and photos on this destination.