City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Victoria

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a popular tourist destination in large part for its marvelous Victorian architecture, such as the stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion, museums, galleries and other attractions attesting to the city's British colonial past and more. Follow this orientation walk to see some of Victoria's main tourist attractions.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Canada » Victoria (See other walking tours in Victoria)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • British Columbia Parliament Buildings
  • Royal British Columbia Museum
  • The Empress
  • Royal Theater
  • Inner Harbour
  • Wharf Street
  • Bastion Square
  • Market Square
  • Chinatown
  • Fort Street
  • Craigdarroch Castle
  • Government House
1
British Columbia Parliament Buildings

1) British Columbia Parliament Buildings (must see)

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The Speaker and the Sergeant-At-Arms are amongst those responsible for the legislative precinct, which by statute include the Parliament Buildings and grounds.

The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from The Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver. Free guided tours of the facility are offered year-round.

Why You Should Visit:
The buildings and the surrounding garden knoll is spectacular, both at night and during the day.
Mesmerizing interior with mosaic tiles, painted ceilings, and stellar stain glass windows.
You're able to take a self-walking tour or a guided tour of portions of Parliament.

Tip:
Make sure you do the indoor tour, as well as the garden tour – both are free!
You can also sign in at the security desk and visit the basement restaurant which is frequented by all the politicians.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:00pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Royal British Columbia Museum

2) Royal British Columbia Museum (must see)

Founded in 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum consists of The Province of British Columbia's natural and human history museum as well as the British Columbia Provincial Archives. The "Royal" title was approved by Queen Elizabeth II and bestowed by HRH Prince Philip in 1987, to coincide with a Royal tour of that year.

It includes three permanent galleries: natural history, modern history, and local First Nations’ history. The museum’s collections comprise approximately 7 million objects, including natural history specimens, artifacts, and archival records.

The natural history collections have 750,000 records of specimens almost exclusively from BC and neighbouring states, provinces, or territories. The collections are divided into eight disciplines: Entomology, Botany, Palaeontology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Zoology, Herpetology, Mammalogy, and Ornithology.

The museum also hosts touring exhibitions. Previous exhibitions have included artifacts related to the RMS Titanic, Leonardo da Vinci, Egyptian artifacts, the Vikings, the British Columbia gold rushes and Genghis Khan. The Royal BC Museum partners with and houses the IMAX Victoria theater, which shows educational films as well as commercial entertainment.

Why You Should Visit:
The main museum in Victoria, BC. Huge section of anthropology, nice section on natural history and geology of Vancouver Island, but the most amazing is the one dedicated to an incredible reconstruction of entire sections of the city of Victoria during different historical periods.

Tip:
Don't skip the outdoor section on the side of the main entrance. You can visit one of the original houses of the first big settlement in Victoria, totems, and a First Nation chief house, in a very nice and quiet setting. Otherwise, plan at least 3 hours to enjoy all the exhibitions (permanent and temporary).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
The Empress

3) The Empress

The Fairmont Empress is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Located on Government Street facing the Inner Harbour, the Empress has become an iconic symbol for the city itself. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its national significance.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Royal Theater

4) Royal Theater

The Royal Theater is an opera house and concert hall. Opened in 1913, the theatre has operated under many guises, including cinema (1917–1981; operated during some of that time by Famous Players), opera, and concerts.

The theatre was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1987.

Today, the theatre has a capacity of 1,416. It is a popular venue, staging concerts by Victoria Symphony and the Victoria Philharmonic Choir as well as productions of Pacific Opera Victoria, though it is also considered a receiving house, and regularly books "outside acts".

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Inner Harbour

5) Inner Harbour (must see)

Inner Harbour is the bustling, vibrant center of action in downtown Victoria. You can admire its old renovated buildings, as also the wide variety of its restaurants and shops. Along the waterfront, there are many street musicians, jugglers and artists, performing against a picturesque backdrop of yachts, the legislature buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the most beautiful waterfront walkways anywhere; very scenic and very quaint. Lots of free entertainment of breathtaking variety.

Tip:
If you're into it, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, or take a mini-boat tour (fee).
6
Wharf Street

6) Wharf Street

The Wharf Street floats are located north of the seaplane terminal. This marina offers year-round transient moorage, monthly moorage, and low season moorage from October to May.Wharf street is also a desirable route for bike tourism and recreational rides in addition to a direct, comfortable and convenient corridor to service the downtown destinations
7
Bastion Square

7) Bastion Square

Bastion Square is located in the heart of Old Town Victoria, B.C. The ceremonial entry arch (1994), located at View and Government Streets, welcomes visitors to a historic pedestrian sanctuary featuring on three sides the first major public buildings erected in BC after union with Canada and opening on the Wharf Street side to a grand staircase with a spectacular view of the Inner Harbour.
Today the area thrives, showcasing the Maritime Museum of BC, historic pubs and fantastic restaurants. From April to October Bastion Square hosts one of the oldest and most prestigious open air markets featuring local artisans, musicians and farmers.
8
Market Square

8) Market Square

Market Square is a very famous location, very popular with the locals too. Here you will find more then 45 fascinating and unique specialty shops. Fashion, exotic teas, garden décor, camping goods, souvenirs and many other commodities can be found here. The area also has a vegetarian restaurant, a nightclub and is host to live festivals too.
9
Chinatown

9) Chinatown (must see)

This Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and second in age only to San Francisco's in North America, with its beginnings in the mass influx of miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858. Its history goes back to the mid-19th century. It remains an active place for Chinese-Canadians, Victoria residents and tourists. Victoria's Chinatown is now surrounded by cultural, entertainment venues as well as being a venue itself. Chinatown is now conveniently just minutes away from other sites of interests such as the Save On Foods Memorial Centre, Bay Centre, Empress Hotel, Market Square, Victoria, and others.

The modern Chinatown continues to be a key component of Downtown Victoria with many tourist attractions, hotels, bars, restaurants, theatres, services, and shopping areas nearby.

Some of the tourist attractions of Chinatown are Fan Tan Alley (originally a private walkway, now home to offices and retail shops), and its ornate gate, The Gate of Harmonious Interest, which was built in Suzhou, one of Victoria's sister cities.

Why You Should Visit:
The atmosphere is a Chinatown but most shops in alleys are boutiques that are predominantly individualistic and carry items such as cork vegan purses that you won’t find many places. Other shops range from produce, metaphysical, Saltspring Soap, to chocolate and bakeries. The alleys are cute with a lot of atmosphere, exposed brick, clean and colorful.

Tip:
Not all restaurants are great, so make sure you read some reviews before choosing where to eat.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Fort Street

10) Fort Street

Fort Street is a very beautiful walking area also known as Antique Row, full of restored old houses. Also, between Blanshard and Linden Avenue you will find a lot of wonderful antique shops, art galleries and specialty homes.
11
Craigdarroch Castle

11) Craigdarroch Castle (must see)

Craigdarroch Castle is a historic, Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion that was designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its landmark status in Victoria.

Craigdarroch Castle has 39 rooms and over 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). It was constructed in the 1890s as a family residence for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. Robert died in April 1889, more than a year before construction on the castle was completed. The initial architect of the castle, Warren Heywood Williams, also died before completion of the castle.

Craigdarroch Castle is believed to have cost as much as $500,000 when it was built. When originally constructed Craigdarroch stood in grounds comprising 27 acres (110,000 m2) of formal gardens in Victoria's Rockland neighbourhood. Upon the death of Robert Dunsmuir's widow, Joan, the Craigdarroch estate was sold to land speculator Griffith Hughes for $38,000 who subdivided the estate into buildings lots.

The Castle is currently owned by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society, which is a private non-profit society and is open to the public. The castle is a tourist attraction and receives 150,000 visitors a year.

Why You Should Visit:
Very unique place for western Canada. There is a self-guided tour, but the young volunteers stationed around the various rooms are also very helpful.
If you enjoy anything exquisitely Victorian-era or are a fan of wooden craftsmanship then this is a must.

Tip:
To fully appreciate the castle, you will need to be fit enough to walk up the staircases (no elevator) to the different sections from the restored bedrooms to the upstairs ballroom.
Make sure you go to the top turret and admire the views!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-4:30pm; Jun 15 - Sep 6: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Government House

12) Government House (must see)

Government House of British Columbia is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as well as that in Victoria of the Canadian monarch, and has casually been described as "the Ceremonial Home of all British Columbians." It stands in the provincial capital on a 14.6 hectares (36 acres) estate at 1401 Rockland Avenue; while the equivalent building in many countries has a prominent, central place in the capital, the site of British Columbia's Government House is relatively unobtrusive within Victoria, giving it more the character of a private home.

Government House's 14.6 hectares (36 acres) property is a publicly accessible area tended by volunteers in the Friends of Government House Gardens Society, and are used frequently by the surrounding community, save for when security otherwise necessitates. The site is divided into numerous different zones according to plant life and/or garden style; for instance, the British Columbia native plant garden contains species unique to the province, and the Cottage Garden is arranged in an informal style with a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. There are also gardens to supply cut flowers, herbs, and an orchard with apple, plum, and quince trees; a rock garden tended by the Heather Society of Victoria; iris, lily, rhododendron, and rose gardens (including a formal Victorian rose garden based on the plan of that at Warwick Castle in England); and water features such as the fountain pond and the duck pond. There is also a unique 8.9 hectares (22 acres) Garry Oak ecosystem.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful place to stop on a walk through the lovely and historic neighborhood of Rockland.
There is a modest tea rom open in the summer months. Deer roam freely on the property.
On a clear day, from numerous vantage points, you can see the Olympic Mountains.

Tip:
The house tours are 2 hours long so be ready for that. The gardens are one of Victoria's favorite visitor spots because you can walk from Craidarroch to the gardens to the Ross Bay Cemetery and it only takes an hour or so, depending on how much time you spend in each spot.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Victoria, British Columbia

Create Your Own Walk in Victoria

Create Your Own Walk in Victoria

Creating your own self-guided walk in Victoria is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Victoria Daily Life Walking Tour

Victoria Daily Life Walking Tour

Victoria is a major tourist destination located in British Columbia and is known to contain some of the finest British style architecture in Canada. The tour below will take you through some of the day to day routine of the locals, so enjoy!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Best Museums and Art Galleries of Victoria

Best Museums and Art Galleries of Victoria

Victoria has some of the most interesting and fascinating museums dedicated to history, nature and arts. It is also a city with the most amazing and interesting art galleries, featuring art work from different times and places. Take the walking tour below to see some of the most famous art galleries in Victoria.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Beautiful Architecture Walking Tour

Beautiful Architecture Walking Tour

Victoria is among the most British of cities in North America. It is famous for its green areas and beautiful gardens and parks. There are some outstanding architectural structures that you can visit too. In the tour that follows, take a look at some of the most visited architectural sites in Victoria.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Downtown Nightlife

Downtown Nightlife

Victoria's nightlife is diverse and bursting with vitality. We propose that you take a walk through some of the most interesting nightclubs in Victoria and choose the one that suits your taste the best.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Best Known Religious Sights of Victoria

Best Known Religious Sights of Victoria

Victoria located in British Columbia has a rich history and interesting people to tell it. It also has some outstanding religious sights. We offer, below, a tour that will take you through some of the most interesting religious places in Victoria.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Victoria Kids Entertainment Tour

Victoria Kids Entertainment Tour

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and a major tourist destination. There is a range of fascinating attractions for your children. Just take the tour below and visit some of these attractions that will entertain your children for sure.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles