7 Amazing Things to See, Do and Eat in Victoria
Looking for a hip and healthy getaway? Our gold-star recommendation is BC’s capital. Long known as Canada’s sleepy retirement hub, this little gem is poised to shake, rattle and roll its way into the hearts of travellers.
The ultimate Victoria travel guide
If necessity is the mother of invention, then who’s the mother of reinvention? My money is on Victoria, BC, where the original British invaders have been usurped by a shiny new sector: the millennials.
Thanks to a burgeoning tech community and more-affordable real estate (compared to big sis Vancouver), younger Canadians are pouring into this pretty waterfront city that hugs the shores of Victoria Harbour on the southeast side of Vancouver Island.
What does all that mean for visitors? Well, for starters, a plethora of food, fun and fitness opportunities! Get started on your adventure with our guide to the new (and improved) Victoria.
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa has earned its stripes. At this award-winning boutique hotel, the rooms are charming, and the staff, even more so. As soon as you walk through the door, you get the sense that you matter. From remembering your name to helping you find your way around the city, this fleet is on fleek. The fact that you’re only a block away from Victoria venues like its picturesque harbour, main shopping district and chic eateries is a bonus. But it’s the Curated Trails program for either walkers or bikers that we loved most.
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Spring has definitely sprung here on the West Coast (sorry Toronto) and Victoria is bursting with beautiful blooms. The @magnoliahotel's Bikes Beans & Blooms package pairs a nights stay in the peaceful surrounds of the city's best boutique hotel plus a trail map of the hotel team's favourite gardens and cafes. #spring #traveltuesday. Image courtesy of @tourismvictoriabc
The Bikes, Beans & Blooms Package is perfect if you’re looking for a healthy way to sightsee. This bike tour (bikes available from the concierge) will have you pedalling over to Antique Row and stopping for gourmet doughnuts and coffee before heading to Abkhazi Garden and Beacon Hill Park. Instagram-worthy all the way – and a gentle workout, too.
Finish the day with a massage from the full-service on-site spa. Rooms start at $199.
A trip to this city would be incomplete without some leisure time on the ocean. There are dozens of tour and fishing boat operators to choose from, but the one that really takes the Victorian out of Victoria is West Coast Best Coast by the London Chef. The six-hour event starts with mimosas and brunch on board. Nuff said, right? But wait, there’s more: The dynamic host, chef Dan Hayes, both entertains and informs on this fishing charter-cum-water party. Not only will you learn about the area’s sustainable seafood options but you’ll also get a chance to drop crab traps and savour fresh sashimi prepped by Hayes as you sip your bubbly.
He makes it look so easy, you’ll be inspired to improve your own culinary skills, which, coincidentally, you get a chance to do once you dock. A quick walk to the chef’s cooking school and you’ll wash up and get set to cook (and eat) what you caught that morning. It makes for an unforgettable day!
Packages start at $235. Offered May to September or by special request.
If cooking on holiday isn’t your idea of, well, a holiday, don’t worry: A recent explosion of eateries means you won’t have to lift a finger, except to call a cab. But given that Victoria is such a walkable city, you probably won’t even have to do that.
Get your health fix at Be Love, a family business flourishing under the watchful eye of brother and sister Heather and Joe Cunliffe and their father, Ayrie. Here, you’ll find dishes that are rich in flavour but free of wheat, dairy, gluten and processed sugar. Even the wine list is organic and natural. Cheers!
For Dinner or Drinks
Sometimes the best way to fully enjoy the present is to step back in time, which is exactly what you’ll experience when you walk into Little Jumbo. It has the air of an old-time speakeasy – a Prohibition-style bar that is set back from the street – and offers creative cocktails and savoury share platters. The cocktail menu changes frequently, but don’t worry: There’s always something innovative on the list, with names to match: Holy Shiz or Big As Your Head. See what we mean? Check out the current menu at littlejumbo.ca.
Tapas & more
Anytime small plates are big business, and your options are plenty: Start with the Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar, which offers a good mix of Spanish and Italian cuisine (“cicchetti” is Venetian tapas), or head over to Perro Negro, which offers up a seemingly endless menu of tapas and wine from Spain (and BC, too). Not to be missed are the croquetas (the flavours change daily) and warm bacon-wrapped dates. Sweet and savoury, nailed.