Within Walking Distance
Start exploring from your Victoria cruise on the pedestrian path along the Inner Harbour that passes street vendors and moored ships, historic buildings and colorful plantings.
The stately Parliament Buildings dominate the harbor. Begin your visit here with a walk among the gardens, fountains, and totem poles that adorn the extensive grounds. Then tour the classical buildings for a look at the exquisite interior of marble, mosaics, and stained glass. Just past the legislative buildings is the Royal BC Museum, one of the province’s finest history museums. Step inside a re-creation of a First Nations’ big house and a Chinatown shop in between examining the displays of everything from carved masks to Ice Age fossils.
See a canoe that sailed more than halfway around the world in the Maritime Museum of British Columbia on a Victoria cruise. After viewing the Tilikum, the onetime canoe-turned-sailboat, take the exquisite birdcage elevator to the third floor, to see the intact courtroom of the city’s first Supreme Court. The museum is just north of Beacon Hill Park, where peacocks strut across the green lawns. The park leads downhill to the ocean, front by pathways that follow the beaches back to Inner Harbor.
Beyond the Port Area
Craigdarroch Castle, with its turrets and stained glass, is a fantastical mansion from the 1880s built to look like a Scottish Highland castle. After exploring the 39 rooms filled with late 1800s furniture, ascend the 87 stairs to the tower for wide-open views of the city and nearby mountains.
The famed Butchart Gardens are an easy excursion during your cruise to Victoria. No matter the season, a rainbow of flora thrives here: yellow daffodils and orange tulips in spring; blue poppies and red roses in summer; spectacular maple foliage in autumn; and green indoor garden in winter.
Shopping In Victoria
For your fill of kitschy Victoriana, browse the antique shops of Fort Street, full of collectible items with a strong British slant. Market Square is a well-groomed area of local shops not far from the Inner Harbour. Check out Canada’s signature department store, Hudson’s Bay Company, at the Bay Centre mall on your Victoria cruise. The quirky shops of Victoria’s tiny Chinatown, the oldest in North America, are tucked into hidden shops along very narrow Fan Tan Alley.
Dining In Victoria
The quintessential dining experience in Victoria, British Columbia, is afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the unmistakable landmark hotel coated in creeping ivy on the Inner Harbour. Book in advance to enter a refined world of bone china, sterling silver, and stuffed leather armchairs. Your tea tray will overflow with fresh-baked scones and clotted cream, sandwiches, and pastries and, of course, your choice of custom-blended teas.