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Victoria, BC, Canada: Places to See in Only 3 Days

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

The Parliament Buildings in Victoria, BC

The Parliament Buildings in Victoria, BC

Visiting Victoria, B.C.

Our three days spent in this sparkling jewel of a city, Victoria, was a journey filled with widely varied impressions that only whet our appetite to return sometime in the future and explore some more of British Columbia in Canada. My mother, niece, and I had just come from the portion of our vacation where we had spent five days in Vancouver on the mainland of Canada.

Our journey to Victoria started with the BC ferries cruise from Vancouver to Victoria. This ferry ride was an experience in itself in driving aboard the ship with our rental car, enjoying the sea-faring transport to the Island of Vancouver, and disembarking at the Tsawwassen BC Ferries dock at Swartz Bay.

We, of course, had enjoyed viewing the water filled with playful porpoises following in the wake of the ferry, the islands, and the sunny day in general. This trip all by itself is pleasurable, as you can see from the video below.

Day One on Vancouver Island

After disembarking from the ferry, we drove the short distance from Swartz Bay to the City of Victoria, located on the very southern tip of Vancouver Island.

Butchart Gardens

Before even checking into our Royal Scot Motor Inn, we decided to stop and do some sightseeing at the famous Butchart Gardens. We had heard about these beautiful gardens for years from many other people who had visited them and couldn't wait to see them for ourselves. They do not disappoint!

My mother, niece, and I spent several hours roaming through the breathtaking vistas of different themed gardens and gorgeous plantings in what used to be a 50-acre limestone quarry. We left for a short time to check in to our reserved room at the Royal Scot and then returned to Butchart Gardens to dine in one of their restaurants and enjoy the nighttime show and fireworks.

Leaving Vancouver, soaking up the fresh sea air on the B.C. Ferry, to walking in Butchart Gardens in the daytime and at night, we were ready for a good night's sleep that first day that we spent in Victoria.

Day Two: Grayline Tour of Victoria

When we travel and are new to an area, we generally sign up for a tour to learn a bit more from local guides who know details about that locale. We secured seats on Grayline for their Tour 1 B-C, which took 2 1/2 hours. It included the Craigdarroch Castle and Grand City Drive.

We had boarded our Grayline double-decker bus in front of the impressive Empress Hotel, which sits right on the waterfront in Victoria. Before the tour, we walked through the lobby and public rooms of this landmark hotel.

High teas are available to enjoy in the afternoons for those who have the time to sit back and enjoy this kind of pampering. Our time was limited, so we did not take advantage of that but certainly enjoyed catching a glimpse of the distinctive ambiance on view there.

Tour Stop One: Craigdarroch Castle

We were dropped off at the Craigdarroch Castle and had just enough time in the 1 1/2 hours to be able to walk through the 20,000 square foot mansion with its 39 rooms adorned with 18 fireplaces. The spectacular grand staircase was hand-carved out of solid oak. Curved stained glass art nouveau windows have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Woods such as walnut, spruce, cedar, mahogany, and others panel many of the rooms, and the parquet flooring uses even more exotic woods.

The exterior materials of the castle contain Vancouver Island sandstone and brick. The roofing material is slate. The overall design of the building is Victorian. Elements of other influences such as Roman arches, a French Gothic roof-line, Elizabethan chimneys, and some Jacobean and Scottish Baronial designs are also there. The overall effect of this stunning structure, both inside and out, is gorgeous.

Craigdarroch Castle was the culmination of design and building efforts commissioned by wealthy industrialist Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant. He made his fortune primarily from Vancouver Island coal. He also had associates with whom he worked to build the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. Robert Dunsmuir was also a political figure in British Columbia. All of this helped further his various business interests.

Mr. Dunsmuir died before the Craigdarroch Castle was completed, but his wife Joan lived there for 18 years before her death in 1908.

The grounds are a little over 28 acres. They have terraced gardens, ponds, meadows, and streams, adding to this beautiful setting.

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This building and grounds of Craigdarroch Castle have existed for most of its history as a public site. It has served various purposes, including a soldier's hospital, a college, and a music conservatory. The City of Victoria owns it, and the Castle Preservation Society operates it.

Viewing Additional Sites of Interest

Our bus driver and tour guide drove us through the best of Victoria's homes and gardens, plus the historical points of interest, including the Craigdarroch Castle, described above in this narrative.

Among other things, we saw the following: Lieutenant - Governor's Mansion, The Royal Victoria Golf Club, the Oak Bay residential areas, the Rockland area, which has an English flavor, the city center, views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Mountains, and Beacon Hill Park.

One area was prettier than the next, and we were happy to have had this introduction to parts of Victoria that we might not have gotten to see if left to our own devices.

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park

Tour Stop Two: Cattle Point

The second stop on the tour where we disembarked the bus and got to walk around was at Cattle Point. As a sign explains, cattle used to be driven off of transport ships and swim to shore in this area of Vancouver Island. Cowboys would then round them up.

Many of us on the bus walked the rocky shoreline enjoying the view.

Cattle Point, Oak Bay, Victoria, British Columbia

Cattle Point, Oak Bay, Victoria, British Columbia

After the Tour

What we saw of Beacon Hill Park made us want to go back for another more leisurely look. In short, it is a spectacular and naturally beautiful park that is a joy to explore. We strolled through Beacon Hill Park for several hours after our tour enjoying the gardens, lakes, ducks, etc.

After all of this walking in Beacon Hill Park, my mother decided to rest in our room at the Royal Scot while my niece and I walked over to the Royal London Wax Museum and took in the sights.

The Royal London Wax Museum sits on a strip of land in the center of Victoria's picturesque Inner Harbour. The Parliament Buildings, which house the seat of government, form a magnificent backdrop. The Empress Hotel and other buildings help create the most spectacular views surrounding the Inner Harbour.

When my niece and I had finished wandering through the wax museum and were walking back to our lodging to rejoin my mother, it was approaching dusk. The lighting on the Parliament buildings at night is a sight to behold! The reflections in the water add to the sparkling view.

(Update: The wax museum closed in 2010).

Day Three in Victoria

The Royal British Columbia Museum

Our first stop was at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The three of us spent several hours of the morning in this immense museum on Victoria's Inner Harbour and returned to spend additional time in the afternoon. It is without a doubt the best natural history museum this author has ever seen.

When we were in the part of the museum showing the Forests of the Coast with the native flora and fauna, we felt as though we were in a forest! There were sounds of birds, and it was dark as it would be if one were wandering through a tall stand of trees in a forest. This diorama included black-tailed deer, a cougar, Roosevelt Elk, and a grizzly bear to give you an example of animals found in this area.

The First Peoples area is located on two floors of the museum and concerns the native Indian people of this part of British Columbia. How they interacted with the environment was stressed. We saw full-sized examples of a pithouse, a Kwakiutl Indian Bighouse, a great area filled with totem poles, and others displaying basketry and weaving done by the Indians.

The Exploration SEA is an area in the Royal British Columbia Museum that shows a cobblestone street scene and the H.M.S. Discovery ship. It was a 100-foot long vessel used by Captain George Vancouver when he was exploring the Pacific Northwest. There was an interior cabin scene, and the Maritime Gallery contained all sorts of items relating to maritime history.

The Modern History part of the museum brings one back in time to when the first European explorers met with the native people of British Columbia. Artifacts showing gold mining to industrialization and urbanization are included here, among other things.

Thunderbird Park on the museum's grounds showcases more totem poles. The Royal British Columbia Museum should be on everyone's list of things to see when in Victoria.


Our next focus was Chinatown. We spent several hours walking the streets, looking at several stores, and enjoying a delicious lunch in a restaurant.

The landmark "Gate of Harmonious Interest," constructed in 1981, was a part of a revitalization effort of the most historic places in Victoria. The Stone Lions were a gift from Victoria's Sister City of Suchow, China.

At one time, Victoria's Chinatown was the largest one outside of San Francisco. Many Chinese men went to Victoria to make a living by working in the coal mines, building railways, and prospecting for gold. The area has now shrunk in size to a two-block area. Most of the businesses are in that area.


Three days of sightseeing on the Island of Vancouver with our base in Victoria was not enough time. We were busy and did as much as we could. If you are reading this and wish to follow in our footsteps, I would suggest carving out more time for sightseeing and enjoying this fantastic island paradise. Hopefully, we can return someday to see more of it.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings along the Inner Harbor Causeway in Beautiful Downtown Victoria BC

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings along the Inner Harbor Causeway in Beautiful Downtown Victoria BC


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am so pleased that you enjoy learning a bit about Victoria and the surroundings on the Island of Vancouver in Canada. It is truly a lovely place. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 27, 2021:

Peggy These places sound a great destination and so much to see and learn. I like the idea of you sharing with us in detail and well-researched hubs. Travelers would need and beautiful cities indeed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 25, 2021:

Hi Allan,

The city of Victoria, as well as Vancouver Island, makes for a fantastic vacation destination. I only wish we had allowed more time to be spent while there.

Allan on March 24, 2021:

Thank you Peggy for another wonderful article. Obviously

your travels made a great impression. Victoria Island looks like a marvelous destination.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 30, 2015:

Hello Alex Phelps,

I am glad you enjoyed this article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 30, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

I hope you get to visit the beautiful city of Victoria in British Columbia someday. It and the surroundings on that island are definitely worth putting on a bucket list of desired places to see. Thanks for the share.