Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast, Victoria is known as a "Garden City". It is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Vancouver, about one hour and half by ferry. Victoria is consistently ranked among the top world cities for quality of life.
As a part of Victoria's Inner Harbour and an active marina, Fisherman's Wharf is lined with colourful and unique houseboats, floating shops, restaurants and food kiosks that offer a wide variety of seafood fresh off the boat. On a lucky day, visitors will spot seals and other marine animals playing in the harbour. It is served by the Victoria Harbour Ferry at various pickup spots.
Completed in 1897, the Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The Neo-baroque buildings face the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from the Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver. During the 1994 Commonwealth Games, free music concerts were held on the front lawns of the buildings, attracting as many as 40,000 people.
Built between 1904 and 1908, the Fairmont Empress (most commonly known as the Empress) is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria. The Empress has become an iconic symbol for the city itself and it has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its national significance. The Empress played hostess to kings, queens, movie stars and many famous people. The hotel is also well known for its classic Victorian afternoon tea service. During the summer months, the hotel serves tea along with tea sandwiches, scones, preserves and clotted cream known as Empress cream.
Founded in 1886, the Royal BC Museum consists of the Province of BC's Natural and Human History Museum and the British Columbia Provincial Archives. The museum includes three permanent galleries: natural history, modern history, and local First Nations’ history. The museum’s collections comprise approximately 7 million objects, including natural history specimens, artifacts, and archival records. One of the most prized displays is the 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom Limousine once owned by John Lennon.
Beacon Hill Park is a 200 acre urban park that is popular both with tourists and locals, and contains a number of amenities including woodland and shoreline trails, playgrounds, a waterpark, playing fields, a petting zoo, tennis courts, many ponds, and landscaped gardens. The name is derived from a small hill overlooking the Strait, upon which once stood navigational beacons. The hill is culturally significant, having been a burial site for the First Nations Coast Salish people, who are the original inhabitants of the Greater Victoria region. It provides scenic vistas of the Strait and the Olympic Mountains of Washington.
Brentwood Bay, Victoria
The Butchart Gardens is a group of floral display gardens that receive close to a million visitors each year. The origin of the gardens dates back to the 1910s and it belongs to the Butcharts. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The gardens contain many features including a Japanese Garden and an Italian Garden. In the early days, weekly symphony concerts were hosted by the Butcharts. Today, the gardens provide a wide range of local entertainment from Jazz to classical music all year round.
Downtown Victoria is a commercial and entertainment hub that is extremely popular for tourists and local Victorians. It offers many movie theatres, stage theatres, hotels, restaurants, pubs, night clubs, and shops. Many attractions are located in and around the area including Bastion Square, heart of the 19th-century city's professional district. Centennial Square is used for small venue events such as the Electronic Music Festival. Market Square is used for small venue concerts and festivals, containing shopping establishments and eateries and is part of the city's "Old Town". The cultural and historic Chinatown provides a colourful insight into the past of the Chinese community from the early days of Victoria.
The Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Diocese of British Columbia of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Cathedral's first site begun in 1856 and was initiated by the Hudson's Bay Company. Another wooden structure was added in the 1870s. In 1891, a new structure was commissioned to design a larger and more enduring edifice, which was produced in a 13th century gothic style, inspired by Durham Cathedral in England, with transepts and a great central lantern tower, of concrete and stone with brick vaulting. The Queen attended service at the cathedral again in 2002, when in Victoria as part of her Golden Jubilee royal tour of Canada.
Craigdarroch Castle is a historic, Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its landmark status in Victoria. The castle was constructed in the late 1800s as a family residence for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife. It is believed to have cost a fortune when it was built, and included granite from British Columbia, tile from San Francisco, and an oak staircase prefabricated in Chicago. The four-story Craigdarroch Castle still has lavish furnishings from the 1890s and is known for its stained-glass and intricate woodwork.
Originally built in 1860, the Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as well as that in Victoria of the Canadian monarch. It is where members of the Canadian Royal Family and visiting foreign dignitaries are greeted and often stay while in Victoria. It also hosts numerous royal and viceroyal events. The present Government House is a T-shaped, four level building of steel frame construction clad in a Modern Tudor revival envelope. The mansion also holds numerous art pieces in the Crown collection, including works by BC First Nations artists especially commissioned by the lieutenant governor.
Located in Oak Bay, Willows Beach is a very actively used beach and park. On summer days the public areas are usually packed with people enjoying the coastline and back gardens of Oak Bay. Various clubs and organizations often hold gatherings in Willows Park. Notably, this was the site of the ancient Salish Sea seaport of Sitchanalth. Archaeological digs have identified a Coast Salish permanent encampment of several thousand people for generations.