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24 Hours in Victoria, British Columbia

We only had 24 hours to spend in Victoria so we wanted to make the most of our time in British Columbia’s capital city.  Situated on the southern end of Vancouver island where you will find both ocean or mountain (or both) views around every corner.  This beautiful historic city has so much to offer and you could spend weeks here and not cover everything so here is our guide to the top things to do in Victoria if you only have 24 hours.

Take the Ferry

BC Ferries Vancouver to Victoria

For most people taking the ferry is how you start your adventure to Victoria.  A quick hour and a half crossing from Vancouver to Swartz Bay terminal just outside of Victoria.  The BC Ferries are luxurious compared to any other ferry we have ever taken – from being promptly on time for all their sailing, retail gift shop and several food options along with lots of seating options throughout the ferry.  The crossing is the perfect way to see Vancouver Island from the water as you weave through the Gulf Islands and then into Swartz Bay.

Visit Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens Butchart Gardens

On your way from the ferry to Victoria is about a 20-30 minute drive.  Along this drive you pass the exit to get off at the world famous Butchart Gardens.  With over a million visitors a year to this 55 acre garden it is understandable why this is a must visit spot during your trip to Victoria.  Filled with beautiful glowers and plants that reflect the season the paths that twist and turn during the various themed gardens will take you into a whimsical world.

Explore Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park Victoria Beacon Hill Park Victoria

Located a quick walk from downtown Victoria Beacon Hill Park should be on everyones list of places to visit while in town.  Beacon Hill Park is huge (200 acres) so you could spend an entire day in here and not see everything.  Home to a petting zoo, the world’s fourth-largest totem pole (was the worlds largest when it was built in 1956!), plenty of hikes that wind you though fields and hills, Beacon Hill that is both culturally significant as it was once a burial site for the First Nations Coast Salish people as well as provides incredible views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains of Washington.

Cross the Goldstream Trestle

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

The Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge is a hidden gem located just outside of Victoria, British Columbia.  Tucked just off the Island Highway this is not a hike for someone looking for an easy walk.  The trestle bridge is the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway that has not been used since 2015.  The view from the middle of the trestle bridge is not one to miss!

Visit the Parliament Buildings

Victoria Parliament Buildings

Whether you want to walk the grounds of Parliament or take one of their free building tours or a self guided tour a visit to the Parliament Buildings is worth the stop.  This elaborate building filled with so much history which can be see in the detail that has gone into both the inside and outside of it.

Walk along the Inner Harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour

The harbour area of Victoria is a must see for all visiting to town.  It is breathtakingly beautiful with all the boats sitting on the water, the Fairmont Empress dominating one side of the background and the Parliament buildings on the other.  Take a walk along the boardwalk and visit the Canada 150 sign that sits along the water.  The Victoria harbour is one of the few world’s natural harbours.

Explore Dallas Road

Dallas Road Victoria

Dallas Road winds along the southern end of Victoria sitting on the edge of the Straight of Juan de Fuca.  With views of the Olympic Mountains, the smells and sounds of the ocean crashing up on shore and the peacefulness that surrounds the are it is somewhere you do not want to miss on your trip to Victoria.  We accessed Dallas Road and the beach by walking through Beacon Hill Park and continued down to the waterfront.  There is also parking throughout the area if you would prefer to drive.

Explore the Buildings at Night

Victoria Parliament Buildings at NightCanada 150 Victoria

Victoria comes alive at night so make sure to take a few minutes to stoll back through the streets where you had explored during the daylight.  The Parliament Buildings are all light up and reflecting perfectly into the harbour, the Canada 150 sign is aglow, and the restuarnats are bustling welcoming people in for some great meals.

A Fall Visit to Butchart Gardens

We recently visited the Butchart Gardens in October during the fall colours on beautiful Vancouver Island.  We were not sure what to expect in regards to how many flowers there would be throughout the gardens in the fall season considering everyones personal gardens had long died and retreated for the upcoming colder seasons.  Much to our delight as we pulled into the Butchart Gardens there was tons of flowers and plants alike welcoming visitors to the gardens with their bright and cheery colours.

butchart gardens

We visited on a Saturday morning in October and although it was still busy with tourists and locals alike it was not too crowded to enjoy each of the displays.  I could image visiting on a week day during the fall would be very peaceful.

The Butchart Gardens were started just over one hundred years ago by the Butchart Family.  Mr Butchart developed a quarry and built a cement plant on Vancouver Island to satisfy the Portland cement demand from San Francisco to Victoria.  As the limestone deposits dwindled his wife made plans to turn the exhausted pit back to a natural beauty by creating a garden – the Sunken Garden to be exact.  The garden now covers 55 acres and takes 50 full time gardeners, 12 part time gardeners and 550 staff during peak season to keep the place impeccable.

Receiving over one million visitors each year to the gardens it is easy to see why with the winding cobblestone paths through 55 acres of gardens that date back to 1904.  We had the opportunity to spend several hours exploring through the gardens and had a wonderful time.  If you are coming from the Swartz Bay ferry like we were Butchart Gardens is the perfect place to stop on your way into Victoria.

Consisting of several themed gardens including the Sunken Garden, Japanese, Rose and Italian along with lawns, lakes, fountains and so much more.  The colours and flowers vary depending on the season but the fall colours were so bright and great to see.  Plan to spend at least a few hours exploring all the gardens to get both your moneys worth and make sure you do not miss anything!