My childhood friend, Florence, came over to visit and was dying to go to Victoria, so off on a day trip we went!!! I had always assumed that it was just an ordinary city, but we had a truly amazing time enjoying Victoria! I particularly enjoyed the architecture. It was interesting to learn that it is a popular tourism destination with a huge emphasis on technology. It benefits from a high quality of life. The location was scattered with students and boaters enjoying its picturesque shorelines and beaches and buildings. It definitely has a laidback vibe to it, with tourists and retirees strolling around and enjoying the sunshine.
Budget: $60/pax for a day-trip ($33 for return-trip ferry, $5 day pass, $20 for food)
Here is a 1-day itinerary in case you are thinking of visiting some of the picturesque buildings in Victoria!
Meet at ferry terminal at 8:30 AM (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay), Take 9:00 AM Ferry
Reach Victoria at 11:00 AM
Inner Harbour: Take Bus 70 or 72 from Swartz Bay (1 hour)
- Empress Hotel (Highlight)
- BC Parliament Building
- Ogden Point Terminal (Highlight)
- Blue Fox Cafe (Lunch)
- Craigdarroch Castle
- Government House & Gardens (Highlight)
STOP #1: EMPRESS HOTEL
The Empress is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria! Located on Government Street overlooking the Inner Harbour, the Empress has become an iconic symbol for the city itself. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
I was quite impressed with the interior as it looked very posh, albeit in a minimalistic and elegant way.
The hotel has 477 rooms, with most either overlooking the Inner Harbour or the hotel's rear courtyard gardens. There were also many tourists luxuriating about and enjoying Victoria Afternoon Tea at The Empress.
STOP #2: VICTORIA INNER HARBOUR
I thought Victoria Inner Harbour had its own quirky charm with cute little kiosks, especially with the Plasterman statue. It's kind of the epicentre of Victoria and you can observe other buildings overlooking it.
It has had a long history, beginning with its use by First Nations. During the summer months, the harbour is the epicentre of festivals, shows and music.
STOP #3: PARLIAMENT BUILDING
The Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and are designed in the neo-baroque architectural style. I enjoyed looking at the various provincial crests.
On the way to Ogden Point Terminal, we passed by several really quaint buildings.
STOP #4: OGDEN POINT TERMINAL & BREAKWATER (HIGHLIGHT!)
This was by far my favourite location!!! Interestingly enough, it is a deep water port facility AND an important depot for undersea fibre optic cable repair.
This is a 15 minute walk from the inner harbour, but the walk out on the breakwater is really breathtaking and you get to revel in a long windy walk breathing in the salty air alongside the ocean. This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views. The long pier also leads to a lighthouse.
STOP #5: BLUE FOX CAFE
Rated as #6 of #912 on Victoria, this was a complete gem! I loved the quirky, vibrant, brightly-colored hipster-style interior. As per the website, it is characterized by "heritage brick walls, huge plate glass windows and high ceilings hung with Big Bubble lamps".
Perennial favorites include their amazing Eggs Bennys, and dishes consist of fresh and locally sourced products, incorporating organic and free run ingredients.
I enjoyed the Portobello Benny, consisting of roasted giant portobello mushrooms, cilantro pumpkin seed pesto, tomato, arugula, feta and aioli. I was super stuffed and could not finish it! My total bill came up to $17.
STOP #6: CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE
I thought the castle exterior was quite pretty, but didn't go inside because I'm cheap haha. My friend seemed to enjoy it and you can find out more information here including the adult admission rate which is $14.25 (not including tax).
STOP #7: GOVERNMENT HOUSE & GARDENS
It was pretty late by the time we reached the government house, so we basically explored the gardens. I thought the spacious gardens offered some diversity as seen from the photos. They had hydrangeas too, which are one of my favorite flowers! Overall, I hear that they are a smaller version of Butchart Gardens, and best of all, visiting them is free!
STOP #8: TSAWWASSEN FERRY TERMINAL
Whew, after a long, relaxing day of adventures, we headed back to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for a 1.5 voyage back. The return ferry costs $33.40. On the way back, I managed to sit on the observation deck and capture a shot of this amazing sunset which was the perfect end to a nice little day trip!
Feel free to ask away or share your experiences in Victoria! Ciao for now!