Victoria sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and it’s a city that basks in old-world charm, natural beauty and the fragrance of countless flower gardens. On a cruise to the capital of British Columbia, you can look forward to sipping tea on the waterfront, exploring the vibrant Inner Harbor and discovering historic architecture. Along the way, you’ll find wonderful opportunities for souvenir shopping in Victoria, so leave plenty of space in your suitcase!
Afternoon tea originated in the Victorian era, thanks to the city’s royal namesake, who introduced the famous British ritual to the public. It’s no surprise, therefore, that one of the best things to do in Victoria is to have afternoon tea on a backdrop of splendid gardens and sparkling water. As well as British history, the city is home to the second oldest Chinatown in North America, bringing the Eastern tradition of drinking tea with it. For the perfect reminder of your cruise to Victoria, you’ll find teapots galore in gift and souvenir shops, from classic cast iron pots to fine china tea sets.
2. Maple Leaf Souvenirs
10 varieties of the maple tree are native to Canada and the maple leaf is the chosen emblem of the nation. When you’re considering what to buy in Victoria, you’ll find an abundance of gifts proudly displaying the symbol. Look for items such as spoon sets, coffee mugs, jewelry, bags, hats, shirts and wooden carvings.
3. First Nations Art
As a cultural gift to yourself or a friend, First Nations art pieces offer insight into aboriginal life in Canada. Symbolic designs on masks, paintings, sculptures, clothes, and crafts depict stories and offer wisdom. For example, the Bear symbolizes family and strength, the Frog represents cleansing, rebirth, and peace, while the Kingfisher promises prosperity and love. One of the most recognizable artifacts of the Northwest Coast First Nations is the totem pole, with carved figures representing the ancestry of families. You’ll find small, wooden carvings of totem poles to take home with you.
For a gift with meaning, buy Inukshuk-themed souvenirs from Victoria. The Inukshuk originated from the Inuit people, who were the first to inhabit areas of Alaska, Greenland, and Arctic Canada. They stacked rocks to create human forms that look like standing men, as guideposts offering direction and a way of communicating with others across the vast landscape. Because of this, the Inukshuk became a symbol of hope, safety, and friendship. You can buy small Inukshuk figurines made of granite or jade, wooden carvings, pendants and many more products displaying the symbol.
5. Dream Catchers
While you’re shopping in Victoria, you’ll notice many beautiful, handmade dream catchers, made from feathers, beads and colorful threads. They make perfect gifts, with traditional meaning and a flat shape that easily fits in your suitcase! Dream catchers have a long history among First Nations people and it’s said they were created to catch bad dreams and filter them out into the Universe while keeping the good dreams in.
Most of the world’s jade is sourced from British Columbia, making Victoria a fantastic spot to buy the semi-precious, green stone. You’ll find gift and jewelry stores offering a wide range of Canadian nephrite jade, which is so strong it can only be carved with diamond-tipped tools. Choose from earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings, pendants, carvings and figurines to add to your collections back at home.
7. Canadian Maple Syrup
No cruise to Victoria would be complete without sampling and taking home, delicious Canadian maple syrup. It’s loved throughout the world for its pure, natural origins and can be used as a healthy alternative to sugar, as well as everyone’s favorite pancake topping! Don’t forget to try the classic Canadian bacon pancakes smothered in maple syrup, while you’re there.
8. B.C. Wines and Craft Brews
What’s a great way to celebrate your cruise vacation? Popping open a bottle of British Columbia wine or sipping on a local craft brew. Vancouver Island, in itself, is home to 32 wineries, with a moderate climate that’s conducive to grape growing. B.C. wines include fruity Riesling, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, and full-flavored blends. Victoria is also a craft beer capital, with innovative microbreweries and tap houses offering local brews for beer lovers.
9. Smoked Salmon
While you’re shopping, you’ll probably be thinking about what to eat in Victoria. Look no further than smoked salmon, which is the traditional food of First Nations people and a prized delicacy of foodies across the globe. You can buy it in gift boxes from souvenir shops and in a variety of forms, such as pate, maple or wine glazed.
10. English Sweets
English sweets are a part of Victoria’s British history so do your taste buds a favor and buy some to take back home. The most popular British treats include liquorice, caramel logs, bonbons, toffee, fudge and sherbet which you can find in chocolate shops and gift stores.
One of the most delightful things about shopping in Victoria is simply strolling through the picturesque streets. With a relaxed ambience, lush greenery and water surrounding the charming city, it’s a cruise destination that lets you experience old-world elegance, within nature’s most spectacular scenery.