Settled over 10,000 years ago by the Coast Salish First Nations peoples, British Columbia’s capital city Victoria was once known as Camosun, meaning “where the water meets and transforms.” After European cartographers and voyagers explored the area in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Hudson’s Bay Company was established in the area, which was renamed Fort Victoria in 1843 after the British queen.
The west coast gold rush in the late 1850s had a tremendous impact on the newly-named Fort Victoria, which transformed into a port and supply base for gold miners. The gold boom brought many new settlers to the area, the large majority being Chinese and American. This quickly inflated the population of the fort to that of a thriving city over the course of a short time, and Fort Victoria became an established city in 1862. In the following years, Victoria became the home of the Royal Navy and became the capital city of British Columbia when the province joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871.
Time has not eradicated Victoria’s old-world charm, and European influences are still evident in the historical architecture of the city, such as Helmcken House, Craigdarroch Castle, and the Empress Hotel. Today, Victoria continues to be a place of refined urbanity contained in a backdrop of stunning harbours and striking peninsulas.
Is Victoria BC Worth Visiting?
The short answer is a resounding “yes,” but don’t just take our word for it—come and experience all that Victoria has to offer in-person.
Victoria has a distinctly British vibe, with red double-decker buses that transport locals and visitors around the city, afternoon tea services to enjoy, and several castles that stand as a historic relic of Victoria’s history.
With the warmest climate in the country, it’s easy to see why Vancouver Island is referred to as the Hawaii of Canada. Visitors and inhabitants can enjoy the “island life” in Victoria, with gorgeous temperate weather, palm trees, and a plethora of flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else in the country.
Things to Do in Victoria BC
Whether you are planning a weekend visit or are a local looking to experience the city of Victoria in a new way, there are a number of things for you to do and see while you’re here. Here are some of the top attractions to check out when planning your visit.
Considered one of the must-see tourist destinations, the Butchart Gardens are worth adding to your travel itinerary. Built in 1904 in an old limestone quarry, the gardens are located between Victoria and Sidney in the town of Brentwood Bay—just a 30-minute drive from Victoria’s downtown. Rent a car or take a bus from Victoria’s downtown straight to Butchart Gardens. The buses run from 9 am-8 pm, with buses arriving every half-hour.
The garden operates year-round, giving visitors plenty of new things to see from season-to-season. Enjoy the new blossoms of spring or enjoy Butchart Gardens’ famous fireworks shows and lawn concerts in the summer. During autumn, visitors can enjoy the picturesque fall colours and greenhouse tours. Even the winter months have something to offer, with festive holiday displays amidst the gorgeous greenery.
Royal BC Museum
If you’re looking for an indoor activity, consider checking out the Royal BC Museum. Their interactive exhibits make you feel as if you were stepping through a time machine and experiencing history first-hand. Some exhibits have you learning about BC’s history while you pan for gold, others showcase a prehistoric Canada with real ice. If that’s not enough to convince you, the museum also has Canada’s largest IMAX screen, which is a whopping six stories tall! The films and exhibits are always changing, and you can be certain that your visit will be both educational and entertaining.
Enjoy some shopping and local restaurants in Canada's oldest Chinatown. Visitors can enter Victoria’s Chinatown via the Gate of Harmonious Interest, a strikingly-ornate archway located off of Fisgard Street. Grab some dim sum at one of the authentic eateries before heading down the Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street. Vibrant colours, specialty shops, and narrow streets immerse you in the local Chinese history culture. Get a guided tour with Chinatown Walks, or enjoy the winding streets at your own pace.
Can I Smoke Cannabis in Victoria?
Cannabis use and island life seem to go hand-in-hand, but there are some things you should be aware of before you light up. Since legalization in 2018, cannabis use is permitted in Victoria much in the same way as tobacco use. If you want to toke up in Victoria, it must be from a distance of six metres from bus stops and entryways of public buildings.
Here’s a list of places where smoking cannabis is not permitted:
- Indoor public places
- Public patios
- Playgrounds and schoolyards
- Bus shelters
- All forms of public transportation, including the ferry and ferry terminals
- Regional, municipal, and provincial parks
While these are places where you aren’t allowed to smoke cannabis, you can still legally carry an amount up to 30 grams on your person. Keep in mind that certain campsites may also not permit you to smoke. Victoria’s sweeping peninsulas and stunning panoramic views seem like the perfect accompaniment to a good smoke, but it is always a good idea to consult your local laws before consuming cannabis.
What’s the Difference Between Sativa and Indica?
Chances are you have heard this question or asked it yourself. Modern cannaisseurs of the two strains have simplified them into two different categories in terms of the resulting effects: Sativa as a more alert, energizing high, and Indica being more sedating and relaxing. Although this is an oversimplification and there is a wide spectrum of effects that you can achieve, it does help to serve as a quick indicator of what range of effects the bud will produce.
Producers of cannabis use these terms to classify weed based on the plant’s traits and terpene profiles. Indica plants are shorter, fuller, and darker in colour than their Sativa counterparts, which are tall, narrow plants that produce lighter green leaves. Sativa varieties tend to have higher THC (the chemical compound associated with getting you high) and lower CBD than Indica strains, and have longer growing cycles.
Strains are often cross-bred to produce a variety of desired effects, from giggly, cerebral highs to strains that help with insomnia or managing anxiety. If you aren’t sure what strain is perfect for you, Highgarden Dispensary has the perfect solution: Assorted Bud Combos (or ABCs). An ABC offers our customers the perfect assortment of hand-selected cannabis so you can try a variety of strains and learn what suits you and your needs best. Instead of choosing between a Sativa, Indica, or hybrid variety, sample them all and find a new favourite with our Assorted Bud Combo.