By Jessica Elliott
There are two sides to Victoria that appeal to tourists. The first is the city’s connection to its British beginnings — Victoria is the most British city in Canada. The other side is the city’s tourist appeal. Recently named one of the world’s ten best cities to visit by a leading U.S. travel magazine, Victoria is overloaded with tourist attractions, including the Royal London Wax Museum, the Pacific Undersea Gardens, Miniature World, English Village, and Anne Hathaway’s Thatched Cottage. The most popular district of Victoria is the Inner Harbor, home of the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Empress Hotel. Victoria is also the home of some of Canada’s finest beaches. The best in the city is Willows Beach, but there are others in the suburbs that are nicer and less crowded.
While the Undersea Gardens and the Royal London Wax Museum are very tourist-oriented attractions, they do have their appeal. Keep in mind, though, that entry fees are typically high. The Inner Harbor and Chinatown are appealing and worth visiting for their cultural appeal. The streets of the Inner Harbor are packed with artists and musicians selling their work and filling the streets with music. Chinatown is a great place for market shopping and for dining on traditional Chinese cuisine. The Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay make for a great day trip. They were built over what used to be a limestone quarry and now have fireworks during summer nights and Christmas lights during the winter months.
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventures, you may want to check out some of Victoria’s beaches. Many offer surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling opportunities. Another great experience is taking a Harbor tour on a ferry where tourists can watch the buildings of the Inner Harbor while they float past in the water. The Galloping Goose Trail is a great place for hiking or biking, and many places rent bicycles for unprepared tourists. Finally, visitors can go whale watching through one of the vendor companies that operate at the Inner Harbor.
There are several places that are great for shopping in Victoria. Inner Harbor is a great spot for buying hand-crafted goods, Government Street is the largest and most commercial stretch of shopping venues, Market Square is a less commercial open-air market with many unique souvenirs, and Fort Street is the best place for antique shopping. Most of Victoria’s eating and drinking establishments are located within walking distance of each other downtown. Restaurants serve everything from traditional North American cuisine to British cuisine to Asian cuisine and vary in price from snack shops to luxury dining venues. Victoria also has a few great bars and nightclubs, some offering live music, some offering a quaint atmosphere, and some offering DJ-controlled dance music.
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