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Travel Canada: Our Top Things to Do in Victoria, BC

From snowy peaks to turning leaves and fragrant flowers, Canada will never leave you wanting for new experiences. Victoria, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, brings sunny skies and vibrant streets by the water into the mix!

Stop by British Columbia’s capital and Western Canada’s southernmost major city for some of the warmest weather in the country! With a modest population and perfect location on the water, Victoria is the best of many worlds. This surprisingly busy city is surrounded by nature and has a nice laid back vibe, making it an ideal location for any type of trip.

Spring, summer, or fall, there are a lot of things to do in Victoria — ready to plan your trip?

Best time to go to Victoria

Find out what's going on in victoria tonight

With warm springs, hot summers and mild falls, you’ll find things to do in Victoria whenever you go!

From March to May, the winter rains wash away to warm weather and spring sun. The peak season travellers aren’t in yet, so spring is a good choice if you want to beat the crowds.

June to August is summertime in Victoria, where the sun shines and the beaches come alive! Victoria is beautiful any time of the year, but you need to see it in the summer at least once. Open air markets, bustling crowds, local artisans, and all the festivities you could ask for. After all, summer is peak season for a reason.

Victoria still has much to offer travellers between September and November, when the summer heat slowly starts to give way to the winter rains. Whale watching season runs until October, making Victoria a great last stop to cap off a season of summer travels.

Things to do in Victoria

With a warm climate and just the right amount of rain, Victoria is a veritable garden for most of the year, so much so that it’s also known as the Garden City.

Spring

The Butchart gardens is in the list of top things to do in Victoria bc

There are plenty of things to do in Victoria in the spring as the winter weather fades away. Visit the Butchart Gardens in late spring for best-of-the-best blooms. Over 100 years in the making, the Butchart Gardens boast over 900 varieties of plants. The garden has five main seasons in which you can experience different activities. During the spring and summer months, enjoy the blooms and live performances. If you’re visiting during the winter holidays, be prepared to be amazed by a garden of lights!

Whale watching the best thing to do in Victoria BC

The beginning of spring also means the start of whale watching season. This is one of our favourite things to do in Victoria with kids. Orca, humpback, and grey whales populate the clear Pacific waters around Vancouver Island from the spring to the fall. Taking a tour with one of the many whale watching companies in the spring means being able to see the majestic beasts without the summer rush. Whales are a Victoria must-see!

After a day outdoors, try some of Victoria’s most inviting pubs. The Irish Times Pub, considered one of the best Irish pubs in North America by Irish Pubs Global, serves up Irish charm and local cheer to locals and tourists alike. Their vibrant environment and live music has awarded them Best Entertainment in North America in 2018.

Local tip: You can stop by any night of the week and catch live music, but try to catch a seat at the bar on Friday and Saturday afternoons — that’s when they have authentic traditional Celtic music bands on stage.

Summer

Seeing the Purple Prisms on LoJo St is one of the unusual things to do in victoria bc
“Victoria, BC” by Joe Mabel is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Summer is one of the most fun seasons to visit and enjoy the variety of things to do in Victoria.

Some of the most trendy areas in Victoria, BC, during the summer are the shops and sidewalks. Victoria’s hipster locals and trendy tourists make their way to the open air public markets. A few are open year-round but all the open-air markets kick off their peak seasons in May. All the markets feature delicious local produce and handmade goods, but head to the Ship Point Night Market for live entertainment as well! The Oaklands Sunset Market is another top choice for a performance with your produce.

Local tip: If you love shopping locally, check out Johnson Street in downtown Victoria. Known as LoJo to locals, the beautiful old street features several boutiques and also some of Victoria’s most unique architectural features — the purple sidewalk prisms! Look under your feet for glass along the sidewalk; they once functioned as basement lights for Victoria’s businesses. Have fun hunting for this historic Victoria sight.

As a city on the water, you have your pick of spots to splash in. We recommend a day at Willows Park; the children’s play area makes this a great addition to your list of things to do in Victoria with kids. In true Victoria fashion, there’s even a tea room near the beach! Leave Fido at your rental when you go — dogs aren’t allowed on the beach during the summer. (You can bring your dog on the grassy areas with a leash, though).

Visit the Hatley Castle Gardens Victoria Bc

At the top of our list of things to see in Victoria, BC, is Hatley Castle, a national historic site open in the summer. Completed in 1908, the castle was once used a military college dorm and now belongs to the Royal Roads University. The castle is gorgeous inside and out — take a tour if you need a break from the summer sun.

Finally, if you’re looking for some more fun things to do in Victoria with kids — or just on your own — check out Adrena LINE for zip line tours across some of Southern Vancouver Island’s most breathtaking sights.

Fall

Visiting the parliament buildings is one of the most popular things to do downtown victoria

In the fall, Victoria’s weather starts to cool off, but unlike much of Canada, stays fairly warm during this season. If the skies do start to drizzle a little, check out the Royal BC Museum. The exhibits and events change regularly so locals and tourists alike will find new things every time they visit.

Local tip: the Royal BC Museum’s crown gems are the Indigenous Collections and Thunderbird Park, first opened in 1941. The Royal BC Museum has long dedicated itself to preserving some of the local indigenous art (Thunderbird Park’s original reason for existing) and has recently begun working with local tribes to repatriate and contextualize Native Canadian cultural treasures.

Find the dragon alley in Chinatown Victoria BC

If the Royal BC Museum has you craving more history, Victoria’s Chinatown is the second oldest in North America. Only San Francisco beats it in age! The district has been reinvigorated over the years, resulting in a vibrant mixture of historic buildings, newer shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Victoria, try to find Dragon Alley. It’s a street so narrow that its address is 532 and a half!

No trip to Victoria is complete without a tour of Victoria’s iconic parliament buildings. In the fall, the buildings are open Monday to Friday, offering regular free tours in English (or, if you call ahead, Mandarin or French). If you miss a tour, you’re welcome to explore on your own. Be sure to check out the harbour outside for the iconic shot of Victoria and the parliament buildings.

One of our favourite unusual things to do in Victoria is dining in the Parliamentary Dining Room. The restaurant is open to the public (with a reservation), and is one of the top choices for places to eat in Victoria.

How to get to Victoria

Wondering how to get to victoria bc?

By Sea

You can’t drive to Victoria, as the water between Vancouver Island and the mainland can’t support a bridge, but you can take a boat! Multiple ferry companies serve Victoria. For travellers with a car, you can board most of the ferries on wheels and then enoy the views on the deck.

The most well-known ferry to Victoria is the BC Ferry, which runs multiple times a day, either hourly or alternating hourly. Plan ahead because the wait times during peak periods can get long. You don’t need a reservation, but it’s a smart idea to make one if you’re travelling with a car, or for busy long weekends and peak summer months.

For a ferry to Victoria from the United States, the Black Ball or the Washington State ferries are your best bet. Both depart from Washington State and run two to four times a day depending on the season. Black Ball ferries require reservations and are strongly recommended on the Washington State routes. Call the harbour for same-day reservations.

By Air

With non-stop service from cities like Toronto and Calgary, flying right to Victoria and bypassing the ferry is a good idea for anyone not travelling by car.

For travellers from Western Canada, the smaller Nanaimo Airport offers flights from Vancouver and Calgary daily throughout the year and other cities seasonally. From Nanaimo to Victoria is an hour and a half drive, so rent a car and drive south if you land here.

Local tip: Want an experience to write about? There are numerous float plane flights between downtown Vancouver and Victoria. If you’ve never landed on the water before, take a float plane tour and see the Victoria sights from the air!

Where to stay in Victoria

With all the things to do in Victoria, you need a place to crash at the end of the day that feels like home. A condo in the heart of downtown Victoria is a great choice for couples and friends on shorter trips, while a cottage on the edge of the city has all the space you need for families and longer trips.

With a wide selection of properties in Victoria, CanadaStays has the right rental for any trip — why not stay at one of our top vacation rentals in the area:

Stay in a vintage home in Victoria to celebrate the hipster vibe of the city
Visiting the Butchart Gardens is one of the best things to do in Victoria
Rent a vacation rental in Victoria and get ready to explore downtown Victoria
Rent a vacation rental in Victoria and get ready to explore downtown Victoria
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Travel Canada: Best things to do in PEI

With its rolling green fields, gorgeous beaches and world-class seafood, there is never a shortage of things to do in PEI, Canada’s smallest province. A Prince Edward Island vacation is bound to relax and refresh you!

Named for Prince Edward — rather romantically known as the Father of the Canadian Crown — this quaint paradise by the sea has cultivated a unique, laid-back culture. Islanders enjoy their picturesque lighthouses, open beaches, and delicious local cuisine — and so do visitors!

PEI’s festivals, events, beaches, and laid back atmosphere are calling. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together our top things to do in PEI!

Getting to Prince Edward Island

 Visit PEI over the bridge or on the ferry

Prince Edward Island is a 450 000 km2 island in Canada’s Atlantic and while it’s not completely isolated, when you see PEI on a map, you might find yourself asking how do you get to Prince Edward Island?

By Ground

If you’re on a road trip with the family, detour to New Brunswick to find the Confederation Bridge. Spanning 13 km — the longest bridge over icy waters in the world — Confederation Bridge is the only way you can drive to PEI. While the drive is just a short 10 minutes, nervous drivers can have a bridge employee drive for them with the Apprehensive Driver Service.

By Sea

If you’re not in the mood to drive, between May and late December you can visit PEI by ferry. In the summer, live music and food make the 75-minute passage into a fun primer for the rest of your PEI sightseeing!

By Air

The Charlottetown Airport, north of PEI’s capital, ferries in visitors from further away. Two of Canada’s biggest airlines make frequent stops between Charlottetown and Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, or Toronto.

Feeling like even more beach fun after seeing our favourite beaches near Toronto? Flying from Toronto is only about two and a half hours.

The Best Time to Visit PEI

 Visit PEI during peak seasons for the best things to do in PEI

Prince Edward Island is beautiful any time of the year — but it really shines in the summer and fall.

Visit PEI between June to August for prime tourism time! Warm weather and just the right amount of breeze make for endless summer beach days. With the ferry active and the sun shining, visitors from all over Canada make their way to PEI in the summer.

Don’t like crowds? You can tour Prince Edward Island in just a few hours. Enjoy all the summer sun and fun away from the crowds on PEI’s more secluded beaches (more on that later!).

During the fall there are plenty of things to do in PEI. Locals and tourists move off the beaches and onto the golf courses to hit the links. If you thought Prince Edward Island was like a picturesque painting in the summer, you’ll love it even more in the fall. Beyond lush golf courses, turning leaves make for beautiful hikes.

Fall is also festival season in PEI — foodies should visit the island come autumn.

Things to do in PEI

 Looking for what to see in PEI? We have some ideas!

Beach Days

Prince Edward Island boasts 23 beautiful beaches. With PEI’s size, it’s possible to visit every single one on your trip!

Hitting the sandy shores is one of the most popular things to do in PEI, however, not all of the beaches are supervised; if you’re travelling with young children, be sure to check that your chosen beach has a lifeguard on duty.

Check out the supervised Greenwich Beach in Prince Edward Island National Park to see the largest sand dunes in PEI. An extensive trail system and a floating boardwalk gives you a choice between relaxing on the beach or getting out on a hike.

Local tip: Craving a quieter beach day than the ultra-popular Cavendish Beach? Take a trip to Thunder Cove Beach, one of PEI’s hidden gems. Visit in the morning to see the fragile natural sandstone structures in the best light.

For an unforgettable experience on one of the best beaches in PEI, head to Singing Sands Beach in Basin Head Provincial Park and hear the sands sing as you stroll across them. Or visit North Rustico for a day of deep sea fishing with a local outfit.

You can’t talk about PEI’s shoreline without mentioning its many lighthouses. Thirty-five are still active out of a total of 63 structures. If you are driving around the island, make your road trip a fun and cultural drive by stopping at each one of them! PEI’s lighthouse society offers a map with all the lighthouses location as well as the story behind each structure.

Local tip: The Souris East Lighthouse allows visitors on the balcony during tours.

See and Shop

Visiting Anne of Green Gables land is one of the best things to do in PEI

Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island’s most famous fictional character, has a permanent home at PEI’s Green Gables Heritage Place. As an open-air Anne of Green Gables Museum, Green Gables Heritage Place features a replica of Anne’s home, a Sunday picnic, and more.

If you can’t get enough Anne, there is also Avonlea Village, one of our favourite places to see in PEI. Built to resemble the fictional village from Anne’s adventures, Avonlea village features shops, restaurants, and historical sights. You can see the historic schoolhouse and church, as well as replicas of homes and shops from Victorian-era PEI.

Local tip: Avonlea features a Cows Creamery, a local PEI creamery that makes award-winning milk and cheese. Stop in for a bite of some of Prince Edward Island’s most popular frozen treat!

Near Avonlea in Cavendish, take the kids to Shining Waters Family Fun Park,PEI’s favourite water park. Waterslides, splash pools, tasty treats, and a surf coaster will entertain visitors all day. Head here as a family or if you’re looking for PEI date ideas.

The capital of PEI, Charlottetown City, also has two picturesque shopping spots you should put on your itinerary: Peakes Wharf and Victoria Row. On the Peakes Wharf boardwalk, browse local shops and stop in at cafes on the water. At Victoria Row, a preserved Victorian-era street mall, you can browse the wares of local artisans.

Autumn Outdoors

There is no lack of things to do in PEI during autumn!

Fall — particularly early fall — is peak golf season for PEI’s beautiful golf courses. Golfing enthusiasts will want to play Links at Crowbush Cove, designed by famous Canadian architect Tom McBroom. Golf right by the water surrounded by beautiful green and blue views.

Local tip: Confident golfers looking for a challenge should play Dundarave at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort.

While you’re outdoors, take a hike to see the beautiful changing leaves. Every fall, PEI’s lush greens change to rich reds and golds as the weather cools off. Locals recommend Robinsons Island, with its easy-going hiking trail making a ring around some of the best tree viewing spots on the island.

You can also hop on a bike and spend a day on the Confederation Trail. Built after the Prince Edward Island’s railway was abandoned in 1989, the trail stretches across the island and runs through a number of quaint island villages.

Food and Festivals

After you’ve explored all the things to do in PEI, you’ll be hungry. Luckily, the island is known for delicious coastal tastes — especially lobster!

During the fall in PEI, festivals celebrate local fishing roots. Between the end of August to early October, Islanders host the annual Fall Flavours Festival. Local chefs and celebrity guests serve up gourmet dishes and local favourites for festival goers.

Local tip: Chef Michael Smith — a famous Food Network chef — lives in PEI and has been known to make an appearance! You can also visit FireWorks, his wood fire-only restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune.

At the end of September, the Prince Edward Island Beer Festival takes place as part of Fall Flavours. Visit PEI’s beer celebration to see demonstrations on the craft of brewing beer, listen to live entertainment and taste samples of local beer.

Local tip: Love the art of brewing, but going to miss the Beer Festival? There are a number of charming wineries and distilleries on the island. Many of the family-run producers offer tours and tastings — call ahead and you might be able to get a private tour.

Mid to end of September is Shellfish Festival time in PEI. Live music entertains seafood lovers as local catches of lobster and oysters are served up fresh. In addition to delicious dishes, there are competitions throughout the festival! Visitors and festival goers compete to shuck the most oyster and more.

Where to Stay in Prince Edward Island

 Find a vacation rental after you explore all the things to do in PEI
Long River, PEI – Property #p640214

With so many things to do in PEI all over the island, you might be wondering where is the best area to stay? Luckily, the small size of the island means renting a cottage on one end of PEI still gives you access to everywhere else!

Charming Charlottetown has a number of cottages and condos for staying in PEI’s busiest metropolis. We recommend finding your favourite vacation rental downtown Charlottetown if you’re travelling to PEI with friends.  

The Cavendish region, while still popular, is a little more laid back than Charlottetown. A vacation rental along the coast in New Glasgow or North Rustico puts the cherry on top of a memorable family vacation to Prince Edward Island.

The Best Time to Book a Vacation Rental, and Save!

When it comes to your vacations, you want it all — and with these tips on the best time to book a vacation rental, you can have it.

Did you know that you should book your vacation rental at least 3 months in advance for the best selection? Or that the smartest destination for rental and travel deals change by the season?  Travelling to Vancouver Island in April could save you an average of 20% on your vacation rental in comparison to other Spring months.  Popular seasonal destinations like Vancouver Island book up even earlier, so give yourself a longer booking window for best selection. Being smart with your travel budget and thinking ahead means you’ll be free to head east in the fall, when Muskoka’s beautiful autumn colours pop. While you’re there, be sure to take a trip around the lakes and visit local sights like the best places to view the changing leaves or the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve — more info in our guide.

We took a close look at our booking data across the country to compile a list of travel tips so you can book smartly, every single time. Experience the whole country without breaking the bank with smart seasonal travel:

Follow our tips for the best time to book a vacation rental!

Ready to plan your next trip? Check out our 2019 Canadian travel bucket list for inspiration on where to go next and follow these tips for the best time to book a holiday and save on your next vacation rental.

Feeling inspired? Visit CanadaStays and find a condo in Toronto for a summer weekend, a cabin in Big White for a winter ski trip, and more!