Many people mistake Vancouver to be the political and economic centre of the British Columbia region. This misconception partly stems from the capital's faraway location and its quieter vibe when compared to the more vibrant cities in Canada. Found in the southerneast tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the first Canadian city one will encounter when crossing the border from Seattle through a ferry.
As one of the oldest cities in Canada, Victoria has a range of famous historical sites displaying its British heritage. One will also find here the second eldest Chinatown with various people from the First Nations. Tourists will also find the city's coastlines relaxing due to their understated beauty.
What to see & do
Travellers interested in history and architecture will find a trip to Victoria. One of the grandest landmarks is the Parliament Buildings, which were built by famous architect Francis Rattenbury. Free guided tours are available to view the hallowed halls where laws were once debated on by the statesmen at the time. The green lawns of the Parliament also let one have a nice stroll. This can be followed by afternoon tea at the Empress, one of the oldest and most distinctive hotels in the region.
The Craigdarroch Castle, another fascinating structure with a natural stone facade and turret-like chimneys, is worth a visit. This former manor house of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir is even more breathtaking inside due to the Scotch granite columns, stained glass, and oak staircases. Other historic houses include Hatley Park with 40 stately rooms and Carr House, the residence of Emily Carr, a celebrated artist.
From neighbourhood tours, one can then visit the Royal British Columbia Museum to trace the history of the region. It has extensive collections on the natural and human history, as well as interactive displays which can amaze one with the realistic feel. The Old Town structures and cobbled streets can be seen here with displays on Viking artefacts.
The signs of the region's diverse cultural environment can also be found here. The Thunderbird Park's totem poles and some shops along Government Street show artistic works from the aboriginal people. Chinatown also features a range of souvenirs, other than tasty delicacies and meals that one can enjoy after a day of touring. The warm soups and the inviting smells can also make one bring home authentic treats for others to enjoy.
How to get around within Victoria
There are various modes of transport that one can take when in Victoria. There are buses ready to take passengers to different parts of the city and the surrounding areas. Shuttles and taxicabs are also available for those who are after convenience when moving from one landmark to another. Those who want to drive can rent a car from various agencies in the city. Chauffeur services are also present for those travelling alone or in a group.
Travellers considering options other than usual modes of transport will find them in Victoria. Horse-drawn carriages, for instance, can relive a childhood or romantic fancy. Ferries and boats at the pier also offer sightseeing tours that will show a beautiful side of the city from the water. Those who want to commute on two wheels can also go touring in the city with a motorcycle or bicycle.
How to get there
Travellers going to Victoria can board a plane and land on Victoria International Airport. Airlines serving here are: Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Alaska Airlines, Air Transat, Island Express Air, Orca Airways, Pacific Coastal Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, United Express, WestJet, and WestJet Encore.