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Heritage at Hand

This article was written by Robyn Roehm Cannon and was featured in our April issue of Home By Design magazine. To visit the original Home By Design article, click here.


Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, Canada, is a year-round tourist destination, with something magical to offer visitors in every season. And we aren’t the only ones who think so: it was voted the 2023 best city in the world by Condé Nast Traveler readers. Here, a few reasons why.


Although you can access Victoria by car, plane, cruise ship, or bus, the most common method for US visitors is by ferry via Seattle’s Elliott Bay or nearby Port Townsend. Underway, you’re free to walk to the aft deck. Feel the rush of wind in your hair as the high-speed boat cruises through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and past the picturesque San Juan Islands. Back inside, enjoy a glass of bubbly from the onboard menu, shop for duty-free luxury goods in the gift shop, and, if you’re lucky, spot a pod of whales racing alongside the boat.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by Victoria’s Inner Harbor; the stately British Parliament building and the massive ivy-covered Fairmont Empress hold court over your entry. Embark a couple of blocks into town on foot or by the carriage of a cheerful pedicab driver, and it’s clear you are somewhere quite special, filled with the promise of fun. Seaplanes take off and land hourly, enormous overflowing flower baskets hang from every lamppost, and the welcoming and festive streets are groomed to perfection.


Visiting for a few days? You’ll find plenty of lodging options, including intimate bed-and-breakfasts, mid-priced hotels, and luxury accommodations that circle the Inner Harbor. The architecturally elegant Inn at Laurel Point is an airy, contemporary pick with luxurious, spacious suites and private decks overlooking the water.

At the center of everything, though, is the fabled Fairmont Empress with unrivaled service. (Bonus: it’s pet friendly, too!) If you’re only visiting for the day, don’t miss their Afternoon Tea—lavishly served in the hotel’s lobby at beautifully appointed, linen-covered tables, surrounded by loveseats and comfortable wingback chairs. The experience is a spot of European polite society replete with a selection of tea by the cup and delectable treats presented on polished silver trolleys, much as it was when the hotel opened its doors in 1908. Today, they emphasize local ingredients such as lavender and honey sourced on-site.


When you’re hungry for dinner, grab a bite at one of “hundreds of restaurants, bistros, bars, breweries, cafés, produce markets, and food festivals,” per local travel experts at www.tourismvictoria.com. “Our chefs take full advantage of surrounding coastal waters and rich farming regions, which results in food and drink that’s uniquely West Coast: diverse, flavorful, locally sourced, and truly inspired.”


Ready for some engaging activities? Tour the Royal BC Museum, which highlights the region’s history, or the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. A stroll down nearby Fort Street is an antique hunter’s delight, and a tour of nearby Craigdarroch Castle offers a fascinating peek inside the 1890s life of wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. You can also tour the accurately restored home of Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most significant authors and artists. Of course, you can always hop a bus to the famous Butchart Gardens for a natural attraction—fifty-five acres of blooming flowers— that is especially magnificent in summer.

Although Victoria is steeped in tradition, it’s a highly diverse, on-trend city of today. A thriving design and fashion district offers the latest in haute couture and home decor. If you’re more interested in outdoor activities than the city scene, test the waters with whale-watching, fishing, or floatplane rides. Or, lace up your hiking shoes and explore a network of over eighty kilometers of interconnected regional trails.

Whether you choose to stay for the day, a weekend, or longer, there is plenty of international culture to experience in Victoria, British Columbia.

For inspiration, itineraries, and more, visit www.tourismvictoria.com.