Bucket List Worthy
Victoria, British Columbia has a scenic downtown filled with charming 19th century architecture, an array of excellent restaurants and cute cafes, the mildest climate in Canada and plenty of great things to see and do. It also has a prime location on the bottom tip of Vancouver Island, surrounded by gorgeous beaches, lush old growth rainforests and scenic hiking trails.
Venture outside of Victoria and you can spend the day swimming in a lake surrounded by forest, sipping local wine in a vineyard, buying homemade goat cheese at a market and much more. Let’s take a look at some of the best day trips from Victoria BC, organised according to your interests:
Take the 2.5 hour drive up to Cathedral Grove, the rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas Fir ecosystem. The trees in this forest are up to 800 years old and they measure 9m in circumference – giving visitors a sense of reverence and awe similar to the sensation of standing within a grand cathedral.
Another great day trip for nature lovers in Victoria is Witty’s Lagoon, only a 30 minute drive from downtown Victoria. Stroll along the network of boardwalks and trails that will take you through a Douglas fir forest, leading down to the large sandy beach. The trails total approximately 5km and you should plan at least two hours to walk them and enjoy the beach and lagoon. Over 160 bird species have been spotted here and if you look closely you might also see seals playing in the water.
Victoria is surrounded by many farms and local producers, so why not go on a road trip dictated by your taste buds to sample their delicious treats? Check out Babe’s Honey Farm, located just a short drive from downtown on Blenkinsop Road. They have around 170 bee colonies and they produce several lip-smacking varieties of sweet and sticky honey.
Head to Michell Bros Farm, located on Island View Road in nearby Saanichton, where you will find an abundance of juicy and delicious berries including raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, loganberries, tayberries and strawberries. They also grow over 40 different vegetables including carrots, beets and kale. Pick up your favourites and prepare yourself a fresh, crispy farm-fresh salad.
Want to spend a day looking back into the past and learning about the history of Vancouver Island? Start with a visit to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, located at the western entrance to Esquimalt Harbour only 10km by road from downtown Victoria. Fort Rodd Hill has artillery gun batteries from the 1890s as well as barracks and other buildings. Fisgard Lighthouse, constructed in 1860, is the oldest lighthouse on the west coast of Canada.
Then, head to Hatley Park which is only a 25 minute drive west from downtown Victoria. This 565 acre site is home to Hatley Castle, which was built in 1906 by B.C. Lieutenant Governor James Dunsmuir. It was designed to resemble the Scottish baronial style and this gorgeous building is surrounded by formal gardens, farmlands and forests.
It’s a hot and sunny summer day and you want to spend the afternoon lounging and working on your tan. There are so many great beaches around Victoria BC that offer soft sand to stretch out on and cool refreshing water to splash in.
Head to Thetis Lake, a beautiful clear blue lake only a 20 minute drive from downtown Victoria, yet within the middle of a green and secluded forest. This lake is a very popular swimming spot in the summer, so if you want to enjoy more peace and quiet and avoid the crowds you should skip the main beach and walk around the lake trail to the far side of the water. There are a few secluded spots around the lake where you can sunbathe in peace, try cliff jumping or have a picnic.
Cadboro Bay Beach is also a popular sunny spot in the summer, located only five minutes from the University of Victoria campus. Pick up some snacks from the local market nearby and spread out your blanket on the sand under the watchful eye of the Cadborosaurus, a giant concrete sculpture of a legendary sea serpent said to frequent these waters.
Vancouver Island enjoys the mildest climate in Canada, which creates great growing conditions for juicy grapes. The mild temperatures and the fertile land produces medium bodied-reds and fruity whites, perfect for pairing with locally caught seafood or Salt Spring Island cheese.
There are several excellent wineries within a short drive from Victoria, most of them around the Saanich Peninsula or the Cowichan Valley. Take a day to explore these peaceful vineyards, surrounded by rolling green countryside and dramatic ocean views. There are guided wine tours of the region available, so that you don’t have to be a designated driver and you can sip to your heart’s content.
Visit the Church and State winery in Brentwood Bay to taste their award-winning Pinot Gris while sitting on their wrap-around deck with vineyard views. Starling Lane Winery near Elk Lake also offers tastings in the original barn on their historic property. Another great winery is Averil Creek Vineyard, where tastings take place on the patio of their attractive modern building.
No matter what your interests are, Victoria offers many opportunities for exciting and inspiring day trips – so why not hit the road and start exploring?