Stop-and-go, gridlocks, jams and snarl-ups. These are all things city dwellers face daily. Not so in Victoria, BC! Between its walkable city core and relatively small footprint, traversing the city is a breeze, especially if you’re looking for an escape from the driver’s seat.

Seattle to Victoria, BC

Be it by motor coach, bike, ferry, kayak, carriage or your own two feet there are plenty of options to get around without a car. Bring the whole family along, with array of kid-friendly activities such as the Royal BC Museum, a bug zoo and an entire miniature world to explore, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.

1. Take a Horse Carriage Ride Around Town

If there’s one mode of transportation that drums up images of Victorian days past it’s a horse carriage ride around town. Trot along on a Tally-Ho Carriage tour and explore a variety of destinations; it’s the perfect introduction to a leisurely weekend of island living.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 3 minutes

Soak in the sights of downtown Victoria as you clop along city streets.
Soak in the sights of downtown Victoria as you clop along city streets.

2. Sip Tea Like a Local

Just steps from the Clipper terminal in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the grandiose Fairmont Empress is the very essence of the city’s European-influenced architecture. Step inside the sophisticated and airy Lobby Lounge, sink into plush couches and sip from china inspired by a visit from Queen Elizabeth herself.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 7 minutes

Sip on some of the finest loose-leaf teas paired with a slates of delicious goodies. Photo: Lucas Anderson
Sip on some of the finest loose-leaf teas paired with a slate of delicious treats. Photo: Lucas Anderson

3. Shop the Victoria Public Market

A quick jaunt uptown to Fisgard St. lands you at the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson. The core of Victoria’s community, the Market puts fresh seafood, a French bakery, handmade pies, farm-fresh groceries and a bounty of other goodies at your fingertips.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 21 minutes

Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju
Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju

4. Discover Regional Cultures and Ancient Artifacts

Brush up on your history at the Royal BC Museum, which features exciting interactive exhibits and approximately seven million authentic artifacts and specimens. Don’t forget to swing by the neighboring Thunderbird Park to stroll among soaring totem poles carved to emulate coastal Native American styles.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 7 minutes

The First Peoples Gallery brims with hand-carved masks. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju
The First Peoples Gallery brims with hand-carved masks. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju

5. Hop on a Bike for a Tour of Castles, Hoods and Legends

The most fun you’ll have on two wheels! Journey through the city on a two-hour guided tour. Cruise past historic landmarks in Chinatown and Cook Street Village, and stop to take in the scenic views along the Dallas waterfront.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 1 minute

Cruise past the stunning Craigdarroch Castle. Photo: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours
Cruise past the stunning Craigdarroch Castle. Photo: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours

6. Experience The Butchart Gardens’ Season of Bloom

Find your seat aboard a double-decker motor coach outside the Clipper terminal in Victoria and enjoy a narrated tour of the city’s sights en route to the iconic Butchart Gardens. Upon your arrival, explore 55-acres of stunning, vibrant blooms and sit down for tea and a filling lunch of delicious sandwiches and goodies.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: Leaves directly from the Clipper terminal in Victoria

Fuchsias and azaleas in a rainbow of colors burst to life in the Japanese Garden. Photo: The Butchart Gardens
Fuchsias and azaleas in a rainbow of colors burst to life in the Japanese Garden. Photo: The Butchart Gardens

7. Sip Victoria’s Craft Brews

Climb aboard the brew bus and sip your way around Victoria on a three-hour craft brewery tour. Enjoy generous amounts of craft beer at three unique breweries, and learn local brewing history as part of a fully guided, back-of-the-house tour.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: Leaves directly from the Clipper terminal in Victoria

8. See Victoria by Kayak

Pick up a paddle and hop inside your ticket to Victoria’s waterways! A city surrounded by water, there’s plenty to see while you row your way around the Inner Harbour, Oak Bay or watch the sunset over the Gorge Waterway on an evening kayak tour.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 21 minutes

See The Parliament Building light up with thousands of lights from the waters of the Inner Harbour.
See The Parliament Buildings light up with thousands of lights from the waters of the Inner Harbour.

9. Window Shop on Johnson Street

If you’re looking for the perfect place to window shop, Victoria’s best spots are located up and down historic Johnson Street. Brimming with everything from antiques to modern streetwear, traditional restaurants to Belgian waffle stands, this retail hub has got it all.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 21 minutes

10. Stroll the Ogden Point Breakwater

The most scenic spot in all of Victoria is right in town! Serving as an essential seawall to break incoming waves and safeguard the harbor, the Breakwater extends 800 glorious meters into the Salish Sea, offering 360-degree views and the one of the best sunsets in all of Victoria.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 30 minutes

Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Danny Owens
Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Danny Owens

11. Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Open your mobile GPS and you’ll see a swath of green to the south of Victoria’s core. This 75-hectare nature reserve is Beacon Hill Park, home to forest, open fields and beach access, perfect for a waterfront sunset followed by star gazing. Children can get up close and personal with pigs, donkeys, chickens and peacocks at the Children’s Farm, as well as catch a furry, bleating stampede during the “running of the goats” every morning at 10 a.m.!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 12 minutes

Head down to the waterfront near Beacon Hill Park to take a look at the tide pools. Photo: Danny Owens
Head down to the waterfront near Beacon Hill Park to take a look at the tide pools. Photo: Danny Owens

12. Tour the Waterways Aboard a Harbour Ferry

Jump in a spry Harbour Ferry and tour the Victoria’s lively Inner Harbour by boat! Watch the comings and goings of the harbor, and enjoy excellent views of downtown sights such as the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Empress.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 9 minutes

Watch boats sail in and out of the Inner Harbour from aboard a cheerful Harbour Ferry! Photo: Tourism Victoria
Watch boats sail in and out of the Inner Harbour from aboard a cheerful Harbour Ferry! Photo: Tourism Victoria

13. Explore Victoria’s Chinatown District

A piece of advice: when you have the opportunity to explore North America’s second-oldest Chinatown district, take it. Filled with hidden courtyards and back alleys, Victoria’s Chinatown offers plenty to see, including the impressive Gate of Harmonious Interest. Modeled after the entrance gateway to the famous Dunhuang Caves in northwestern China, the gate reflects the need to strive for harmonious relations between all people.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 18 minutes

Explore everything from Gate of Harmonious Interest to historical buildings in Victoria's Chinatown. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju
Explore everything from the Gate of Harmonious Interest to historical buildings in Victoria’s Chinatown. Photo: Kusum Basavaraju

14. Give in to Your Sweet Tooth

Embrace your inner kid with sweet treats at Roger’s Chocolates, located front and center on Government St. as you make your way downtown from the Clipper terminal. If it’s frozen treats you’re after, there’s no shortage of them here. A trip down Fan Tan Alley will land you at Kid Sister, which offers the best darn small batch ice cream and popsicles on the island.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 10 minutes

15. Duck Down Fan Tan Alley

One of the town’s quirkier highlights, Fan Tan Alley is North America’s narrowest street, at only 35 inches wide at its narrowest point! Scurry between brick-faced buildings pocked with pint-sized shops as you navigate this whimsical and oh-so Victorian attraction.

 Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 18 minutes

You’d be remiss to visit Victoria without taking a walk through Fan Tan Alley and popping into some of the unique shops and restaurants lining the walls. Photo: Danny Owens
You’d be remiss to visit Victoria without taking a walk through Fan Tan Alley and popping into some of the unique shops and restaurants lining the walls. Photo: Danny Owens

16. Wander the Docks at Fisherman’s Wharf

Wander around the corner of the Inner Harbour to discover Fisherman’s Wharf, one of Victoria’s hidden seaside gems. Gaze at the colorful floating homes near the opening to the harbor and keep your eye out for seals playing in the water nearby. If you’re feeling especially generous, pick up a couple fish to throw their way for a fun game of catch. You might even make a new friend or two!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 10 minutes

Be sure to bring snacks for the local harbor seals along Victoria's docks. Photo: Tourism Victoria
Be sure to bring snacks for the local harbor seals along Victoria’s docks. Photo: Tourism Victoria

17. Walk to a Nearby Coffee Shop

If your energy is getting low, perk yourself up with a delicious, caffeinated brew from one of the numerous quality cafes scattered around downtown. Discovery Coffee roasts a deliciously deep brew, while centrally-located Habit and Hey Happy will keep any wandering feet fueled all day.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 17 minutes

Make a pit stop at the local cafe to fuel your afternoon of exploring. Photo: Danny Owens
Make a pit stop at the local cafe to fuel your afternoon of exploring. Photo: Danny Owens

18. Visit Victoria’s Creepy Crawly Bug Zoo

Discover a microcosm of wonder at Victoria’s Bug Zoo, home to about 50 species of insects, arachnids and millipedes as well as Canada’s largest ant farm! Get up close and personal (and shatter any phobias) with a safe handling experience with tarantulas and glow-in-the-dark scorpions.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 11 minutes

Get up close and personal with critters of the eight-legged kind. Photo: Tjflex2
Get up close and personal with critters of the eight-legged kind. Photo: Tjflex2

19. Walk Across the Water to Victoria West

Just a short walk across Johnson St. Bridge and you’ll find yourself in Victoria West, a quiet but dense neighborhood just across the Inner Harbour. Walk along the scenic waterfront through Lime Bay Park, and be sure to stop in for a beer or two at a local favorite, Spinnakers Brewpub.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 30 minutes

Sip up on a lineup of frothy local brews. Photo: Tourism Victoria
Sip up on a lineup of frothy local brews. Photo: Tourism Victoria

20. Quaint and Quirky: Miniature World

Kitty-corner to the renowned Fairmont Empress, Miniature World offers visitors a bite-size glimpse of Victoria’s past, present and future. Experience the Great Canadian Railway, wander the Enchanted Valley of Castles and pay a visit to Olde London Towne circa 1670.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 10 minutes

21. Discover Historic Victoria

Being chock-full of historical sites, you can practically head out in any direction in Victoria and get a free walking tour of the city’s fascinating history. Helmcken House is located on the same block as the Royal BC Museum and from there, Ann’s Academy is just a hop, skip and jump away. Afterward, venture 10 minutes south to the original residence of artist and writer Emily Carr.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 15 minutes

Visit Emily Carr House for a look at how one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and authors lived. Photo: Tourism Victoria
Visit Emily Carr House for a look at how one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and authors lived. Photo: Tourism Victoria

22. Wander the Galloping Goose Trail

Set out on foot or hop on a bike and follow the Galloping Goose Trail starting at the Johnson Street Bridge. Explore the city of Esquimalt or follow the trail further along to the Selkirk Trestle and up past Thetis Lake and on to Colwood, where the road peters out in Leechtown.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 6 minutes

Follow quiet, tree-lined paths along the Galloping Goose Trail. Photo: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours
Follow quiet, tree-lined paths along the Galloping Goose Trail. Photo: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours

23. ADMIRE ART WITHOUT THE TRIP TO EUROPE

An eclectic island community isn’t complete without an extensive art collection, right? Just east of downtown, The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria houses an impressive collection of over 15,000 objects d’art from all over the world. The first Tuesday of every month is pay-what-you-can.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 29 minutes

24. Soak Up Scenic Views Along Dallas Road

Winding along the southern end of Victoria and along the edge of the Strait of Juan De Fuca, the a marvelously scenic Dallas Road provides stunning, wraparound waterfront views. Stroll all the way from Holland Point to Clover Point and keep your eyes out for kite surfers, as this is their go-to spot!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 27 minutes

The smooth Dallas Road is the perfect Place to catch a sunset. Photo: Tourism Victoria
The smooth Dallas Road is the perfect place to catch a sunset. Photo: Tourism Victoria

25. Round Out the Day with Cocktails All Around

Finish off the day with a night cap at Clive’s on the south end of downtown Victoria. If you’re by the water, Little Jumbo is a can’t-miss for superb hand-crafted cocktails. And on Douglas St, centrally-located Veneto rounds out the best of Victoria’s nightlife with tasty small plates and tapas.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 13 minutes

Kick back and relax with a tasty cocktail. Photo: Thomas Hawk
Kick back and relax with a tasty cocktail. Photo: Thomas Hawk

There’s nothing like a refreshing jaunt up to Vancouver Island to get you out of the car and most importantly, break in those fancy new walking shoes. Whether you’re looking to get outdoors, taste new cuisines or discover island culture and communities, Victoria is the perfect place to journey wherever your feet may take you.

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Feature Photo: Lucas Anderson

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