Victoria is a beautiful city with plenty of things to do to keep visitors occupied for days. It is a very popular weekend getaway in BC but if you only have one day in Victoria you are going to have to be choosy about what you do.
Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia. It is known for its beautiful gardens, picturesque waterfront, and rich history. The city is home to several historic landmarks, including the iconic Empress Hotel and the stunning Parliament Buildings. Victoria is also a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and whale watching. With its laid-back vibe, friendly locals, and natural beauty, Victoria is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Canada’s west coast.
Here is the best way to spend your one day in Victoria.
How to Spend 24 Hours in Victoria
One day in Victoria is not a lot of time. But if you are just here for a little while you can make the most of your time and see a lot! Victoria is a popular cruise stop and is used to day visitors which makes tours and activities easy to book.
Getting to Victoria from Vancouver:
If you are coming from Vancouver, try and get as early a ferry as you can manage.
Victoria is located on Vancouver Island, a one hour and thirty five minute ferry ride from Tsawassen Ferry Terminal (about 30 minutes south of Vancouver). The ferry docks on Vancouver Island at Swartz Bay. It is about 30 minutes drive into the city.
Due to the current travel climate, I would highly recommend making a reservation on BC Ferries before you travel.
There are also flights to Victoria that can save a lot of time. You can take a seaplane from downtown Vancouver with HarbourAir.
If you do not have a car, there is express bus service from Vancouver to the terminal and then on the other side into the city. There are also city busses that service both ferry terminals. Check out the bus schedule options here.
One Day in Victoria
Now that you have arranged how to get to Victoria you are going to want to plan what you want to do. Here are a few suggestions.
- Enjoy afternoon tea in Victoria at the Empress or one of the other tea houses in the city.
- Take a whale watching tour
- See the city by bike tour
- Visit Butchart Gardens
- See Thunderbird Park
- View the Parliament Buildings
- Wander Chinatown
- Visit one of Vancouver Island’s farmer’s markets
Take a Bike Tour
Visit Craigdarroch Castle, a historic mansion that offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the wealthy elite in the late 19th century on a local castle bike tour! You will also see local neighborhoods including the Inner Harbour, Cook Street Village, and Chinatown. Enjoy fine views over the Dallas Road waterfront, Moss Rock Park and Beacon Hill Park, and Fernwood. If you only have one day in Victoria, this is a great way to see the city.
Book Online: here
Butchart Gardens is one of Victoria’s top attractions and one of Canada’s National Historic Sites. The gardens are world-renowned and many people come to Victoria for the day just to see them. If you do not have a car, it is easiest to book a tour to get there and back.
Location: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay
Outside of the Royal BC Museum, you’ll find Thunderbird Park and its impressive totems.
Location: 675 Belleville St, Victoria
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest one in Canada! Victoria’s Chinatown had its beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century in the mass influx of miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858. The neighborhood features brilliant red and gold colors, unique architecture, and an ornate archway marking the entrance. Here, you’ll also find Fan Tan Alley, known as the narrowest street in Canada.
Location: 500 Fisgard St, Victoria BC
No visit to Victoria is complete without at least one photo of the Parliament Buildings. They are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and were constructed in 1893. There are self-guided or public tours of the Parliament Buildings if you’re interested. On the top of the central dome of the Parliament Buildings, you’ll spot Captain George Vancouver. Both Vancouver and Vancouver Island take their name from this British Royal Navy officer.
Dinner in Victoria
You are in for a delight on your one day in Victoria. However, it will be hard to choose where to eat. If you want dinner with a water view I suggest you take a look at Victoria’s top harbourview restaurants.
Go Whale Watching
Between April and October, getting out on the water on a whale watching tour is a must for your one day in Victoria. This is a truly unique way to learn about whales and marine life in one of the best places on the planet! There are two types of vessels, comfortable covered vessels with amenities, washrooms and indoor spaces or zodiacs where survival suits are required. Depending on how you plan your day, you can take a morning or a sunset whale-watching tour while you are in Victoria.
Where to Stay in Victora
I am hoping you have an overnight option for Victoria, and if you do, here are the best places to stay in the city.
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!