British Columbias Capital is probably the most British in all of Canada. Victorian-style homes, gardens, pubs, and traditional shops selling original Irish sheep’s wool sweaters can be found downtown and throughout the city. With Chinatown there is also a piece of the Far East on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
I’ll write it in advance: I haven’t seen everything worth seeing in Victoria by far. I was there in December and after two and a half months in South America I felt the need to take it a little slower. So here are just my five highlights:
1. Lower Johnson Street
The colorful heritage buildings in this area are very well preserved. Many retailers have settled here, selling clothes, soaps, etc. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can continue shopping in the surrounding streets.
2. Chinatown and the narrow Fan Tan Alley (cover photo)
Canada’s oldest Chinatown and the second oldest in North America (only the one in San Francisco is older) started in the mid-19th century. If you like homemade dumplings or other typical Chinese food, this is the place to go. A walk through Fan Tan Alley should definitely be on the To See list. The very narrow alley with small shops, galleries and restaurants is also a great photo spot.
3. Fisherman’s Wharf
Don’t think of San Francisco here. In Victoria there‘s not one tourist restaurant after another like in the California city, but one houseboat next another. Painted in bright colors and one prettier than the other, they swim on the water. Sweet! There wasn‘t much going on here in. The few shops located there (including a pottery) and takeaways were closed. In the main summer season, things are probably different.
4. Butchard Gardens
Butchard Gardens is located a good 20 kilometers north of Victoria. In summer, the private, 22-hectare garden is a sea of flowers – at least that’s what the photos on the website show. In December in early January, it is particularly crowded in the late afternoon and evening. Then the employees turn on thousands of colorful lights that illuminate plants, winding paths and trees. The 2019 theme: “Twelve Days Of Christmas”, a Christmas carol that was probably originally from France. I had never heard it before, but it’s really funny. So here‘s a link to Youtube. In any case, all twelve themes were set up in the garden – and since the song is very well known in Canada, visitors could be heard singing the corresponding lines at each station. So beautiful.
5. Mile 0
The Trans-Canada Highway is 8,000 kilometers long. It leads from Victoria in the west of the country to St. John’s in the far east through all ten Canadian provinces. A white maple leaf on a green background marks the highway. Mile 0 is located in southern Victoria almost on the waterfront and close to Beacon Hill Park. Both are nice for a walk – even in winter. A few flowers are blooming on the west coast despite the colder temperatures.
Not done, but seen in passing that it must be good and noted for the next visit:
- Guided walking tours through downtown (I heard there is a food tour, too).
- Museum visit – especially the Royal B.C. Museum has regularly changing permanent exhibitions.
- Eat more freshly made dumplings.
I haven’t recommended many restaurants so far. I don’t want to withhold this from you:
In the “Nourish Kitchen & Café” (225 Quebec Street) we got an excellent breakfast. There are also very special coffee, cocoa and other beverage creations. Everything with a vegan option. Delicious.