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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.

Hiking to 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!  Here is our guide to hiking to Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge!

Where to Park

Lets start with where to park! There are several different options – you can park in the main parking lot located on the east side of the Island Highway at the entrance to the provincial park.  There are two areas for parking but make sure you come early to get a spot as it quickly fills up!  We were in an RV and the main parking lot was already full, but don’t fret as just up the Island Highway heading north not even an minute away there is another large dirt area that looks like an extension of the highways shoulder is a popular area for large vehicles and overflow parking.

Starting Your Hike to Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

Once you have parked if you are coming from the main parking lot in the day use area heading north towards the Nature House and follow the trail into the forest.  You will come to a junction and turn left which will take you up a gravol path to a bridge where you will see a large tunnel that heads under the highway.  This is how you will cross to the otherside of the provincial park to start your hike.

If you are located in the overflow parking just up the Island Highway you have two options – you can either follow the shoulder of the highway up a ways and on the other side you will see an opening that goes up a hill onto the hiking trail.  You do need to cross the highway median and the highway is often very busy so be careful if this is the route you choose! The other option is to head north down a gravel path into the forest you will quickly come to the bridge on the right and the concrete tunnel that will take you under the highway.  *Note – we found it just as easy to take this path under the highway and less risky than crossing the highway*

Once you are at the concrete tunnel walk through it and you will enter a dried up creek bed and you can go several ways at this point.  You can continue to head up the creek bed and visit Niagara Falls or begin the climb up to the trestle bridge.  If you have just come out of the concrete tunnel the unmarked worn trail that heads up a steep hill will be the route you will want to take to get to the bridge.  This is a very steep hill that you will likely need to use your hands to get up.  If it has recently rained it can be increidbly slipperly on the entire trail so make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear.  Once at the top of the hill you will continue to follow the trail as it winds up in a series of twists and turns.  You will come to a chain link fence make sure to stop and look at Niagara Falls as it falls 47.5m down.  You will then cross the falls on the wooden bridge.

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

From here you will follow the series of wooden steps – make sure to hold on to the wire that runs along the side as the wood and mud are very slippery.  There are several sets of stairs you will climb – at this point you are over halfway there!

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

The trail comes to a junction where the sign points left to continue on the Gold Mine Trail – don’t be like us and head that way! We realized about 5 minutes down the trail we had gone the wrong way.  From this exact point if you look to your right you should be able to see the Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge hiding amongst the trees.  From the sign post take a right and head up the last steep hill to the top of the trestle bridge!

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

The Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge

We reached the top of the Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge probably after about 30-45 minutes of constantly pushing up the mud covered hills.  The trestle bridge is still technically apart of a working railroad but has not been used since 2015.  It is considered trespassing to cross the bridge but many people still cross the bridge.  If you choose to go out on the trestle bridge make sure you watch your step as there are gaps in between each of the boards and you could hurt yourself if you are not careful.  The view from the middle of the bridge is quite spectacular and you can see for miles both ways of beautiful lush green forest.

Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge


We spent about 2 hours total hiking and then spending about 45 minutes at the top.  Make sure to bring water and be ready for the conditions to be wet on the trails.  This was one of our favourite hikes on our time on Vancouver Island and if you have two hours to spare we highly recommend you check it out!  Make sure to check out Niagara Falls either before or after your hike up to 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!  Here is our guide to hiking to Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge!

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!

Riding with BC Ferries Vancouver to Victoria

We took the ferry from Vancouver (Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) with BC Ferries and it was quite the pleasant experience.  From boarding on time, easy parking of our RV to the several surprises that awaited us when we boarded the ferry including several food options, an arcade for all ages and plenty of seating all with great views!  Our ferry ride to Victoria was probably the best ferry ride we have ever gone on! This one and a half hour ride offers breathtaking sights only seen from the water, a good chance of spotting marine wildlife and much more.

Here is our experience riding with BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria!

Riding with BC Ferries is one of the several ways to get from mainland British Columbia to Vancouver Island.  As you cruise through the Strait of Georgia the breathtaking scenery offered from both indoor areas as well as outdoors on the top deck either way it will be an experience you will not soon forget.  With a change of seeing marine wildlife including whales, seals and much more make sure to keep your eyes on the look out and cameras at the ready.

Your cruise begins at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which is located thirty minutes south of Vancouver and lands at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Sidney, located thirty minutes north of Victoria.  Reservations are not required but recommended especially if you are brining a vehicle or RV aboard the ferry to guarantee yourself a spot especially on weekends and busy tourist season.  If you are travelling without a vehicle you can either park your car at the terminals or there are buses that service the terminals.

There is plenty of things to do aboard the ferry on your one hour thirty minute ride including an arcade area for kids and adults alike, plenty of seating to read, relax or just watch the scenery pass by.  There is the Passages Gift Shop where you can by west coast jewellery, books, magazines, snacks, clothing and souvenirs.  If you are hungry then make sure to stop by one of the several food options including the Pacific Buffet that has a wide variety of options from sandwiches to a hot meal or the coffee shop.

About 45 minutes into the crossing the ferry begins to wind through the gulf islands.  This is one of the most picturesque parts of the crossing and we highly recommend going onto the top deck for the best view!