Victoria is a very beautiful city with wonderful architecture. Many of the historic buildings from the 1800’s have been re-purposed into trendy boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants. There are historic squares, a large Chinatown and even a Victoria Ale Trail for beer lovers. After a fun day exploring the city, my top recommendations include:
Agrius: This is a fun, casual restaurant. It is a brunch and dinner spot featuring organic ingredients and breads from a wood-fired oven. I enjoyed a great salad as I had to save room for my afternoon tea goodies at the Fairmont!!! 732 Yates St.
Agrius also has a lovely bakery in front, Fol Epi Patisserie, featuring wonderful bread and pastries. 732 Yates.
Mark Loria Gallery (formerly the Alcheringa Gallery): This is a gallery at 621 Fort St. known for its contemporary indigenous fine art from the Northwest Coast of Canada as well as the aboriginal artists from the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.
Dutch Bakery & Coffee Shop: This a casual cafe and bakery that was celebrating its 62nd birthday on the day I was there. This is a fun spot in a diner setting for dutch pastries, cakes, cookies and chocolates. They are open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. I highly recommend it and loved the atmosphere. A latte and a yummy cherry tart were perfect after my morning flight to Victoria to tide me over until lunch. 718 Fort St.
Victoria Public Market at the Hudson: Located in the historic Hudson building in downtown Victoria at 1701 Douglas Street, this market opened in 2013, preserving this well-known department store building. It is more of a food hall than market as it has a number of restaurant concepts from tacos, sandwiches, coffee and baked goods to pies, waffles, sushi and noodle bowls.
Chinatown: Victoria’s Chinatown is Canada’s oldest Chinatown and is a National Historic Site. The 19th-century gold rushes and the Canadian Pacific Railway construction drew thousands of Chinese immigrants to Victoria. They settled above Johnson Street. Today, this historic area is a vibrant community of narrow streets, alleyways, shops and restaurants. Make sure to see the Gate of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard St.
Fan Tan Alley: This is a tiny street in Chinatown. There are a number of stores and galleries along with a tea shop, Italian bakery and ice cream store. It is located between Government St. and Wharf Street and Fisgard St. and Pandora Ave.
Union Pacific Coffee Co.: When you are in Chinatown, stop in for coffee at this cafe. They have food items as well plus a nice outdoor patio. 537 Herald St.
Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress: My favorite part of my trip was enjoying a traditional afternoon tea at the grand Fairmont Empress Hotel. Set in their formal salon, the tea includes their house-made signature scones, pastries, clotted creams and strawberry preserves with fresh lavender from the rooftop herb garden. There are 21 loose leafs teas available to choose from. This is a must when you are in town. The hotel is really lovely as it recently underwent a two-year $40 million renovation.
Royal BC Museum: Founded in 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum consists of The Province of British Columbia’s natural and human history museum as well as the British Columbia Provincial Archives. Well-worth the visit, it is a large museum located near the Inner Harbour at 675 Belleville St., where you can learn about the natural history of the area as well the First Nations of BC. My favorite part was the Totem Hall with it stunning carvings, masks and totem poles by the people of the First Nations.
Parliament Buildings: Near the Royal BC Museum are the British Columbia Parliament Buildings which were completed on the site in 1897. Designed in the Renaissance and Romanesque style, they were totally restored at a cost of $80 million in 1972. I recommend taking one of the free tours where you can see the Lower Rotunda with beautiful Italian mosaics, the Hall of Honor, the beautiful stained glass windows, the upstairs Memorial Rotunda and the Legislative Chamber.
Canoe: At 550 Swift St., this is a local brewpub on the water with great views of the Upper Harbour. They brew their own beer including ales, lagers, IPAs. I really enjoy tasting their light, fresh whitbier or Belgian-style wheat beer. They also feature a menu of salads, burgers, mains, flatbreads and shared plates.
Nearby is the Fishhook Restaurant at Mermaid Wharf for great views from their patio along the water at 406 Swift St.
Rogers Chocolates: The popular Rogers Chocolates has been at this 913 Government St. location since 1891. It has a wonderful old-world atmosphere and great chocolates! There are other locations in Victoria, Vancouver and Whistler.
Bastion Square: The historic heart of Victoria’s walkable downtown is Bastion Square, where the city was born as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in 1843. Now lined with pubs, restaurants and cafes and home to a popular Sunday farmers market, the square’s oldest buildings date to the 1860’s.