Oak Bay: Quaint and Charming, with Something for Everyone
Nowhere is Victoria’s British charm more evident than in Oak Bay. This seaside community has earned a reputation as an upscale, refined neighbourhood. It is home to some of Victoria’s most expensive and desirable properties. Beneath the guise of charm and refinement, you may be surprised to find that there’s a little something for everyone here. We will walk you through the perfect day in Oak Bay.
Morning: Craigdarroch Castle
If Downton Abbey were set in Victoria, it would probably take place in Craigdarroch Castle. A visit to this landmark castle is like having a window into the lives of British Columbia’s richest citizens in the late Victorian and Early Modern eras. The castle consists of 39 separate rooms, all exquisitely furnished in the 1890s and 1900s fashion. This castle is also located in one of Victoria’s prime spots. Climb the 87 steps to the top of the tower and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of downtown Victoria, Oak Bay, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Mountains.
The castle is open seven days a week. Please check the Craigdarroch website for opening hours and prices.
You have several options for transport from downtown Victoria to Oak Bay. If you want to experience Oak Bay in its full British charm, take an open-air double-decker bus with Gray Line Sightseeing. Hop on in front of the Empress Hotel, and stop at multiple destinations throughout the city including Craigdarroch Castle, Oak Bay Village, Chinatown, and Beacon Hill Park.
To arrive by vehicle from downtown, drive east on Fort Street (away from the inner harbour) until you reach Joan Crescent. Turn right on Joan Crescent and you will find free parking either at the castle or on one of the surrounding streets.
Mid-Day: Oak Bay Village
Down the road from Craigdarroch Castle, in Oak Bay Village, you’ll find old-world charm in modern-day form. Walking along Oak Bay Avenue, you’ll pass by several art galleries, artisan vendors, boutique stores, coffee shops, bakeries, delis, and other retail shops. Many of them housed in historic Victorian-era buildings which adds a lot of character!
The avenue is a great place to stop for a bite to eat. For a great cup of coffee, try Ottavio at 2272 Oak Bay Avenue. In addition to their fresh brews, they also boast Victoria’s largest selection of local and artisan cheeses. Or, for a bigger meal, head over to the Penny Farthing at 2228 Oak Bay Avenue. This British-style neighbourhood pub offers a mix of English and West Coast menu options alongside a wide selection of local and imported brews.
If you’re opting for the Gray Line Sightseeing tour, simply hop back on the bus, and it will take you straight to Oak Bay Village.
Alternately, CVS’s coach tour will pick you up in front of the castle and take you around the University of Victoria or up to the summit of Mount Tolmie for spectacular views before dropping you off in Oak Bay Village.
If you’re walking or driving, head east down Fort Street. Take a slight right turn onto Oak Bay Avenue. After you cross Foul Bay Road, you’ll reach the heart of Oak Bay Village. This will be approximately a five-minute drive or a half-hour walk.
Afternoon: Oak Bay Marina
Keep strolling down Oak Bay Avenue, and soon you’ll end up at the waterfront. Just around the corner from Oak Bay Village is Oak Bay Marina. This marina is home to a variety of private boats, as well as a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a gift shop, plus a family of harbour seals. From here, you’ll also have a chance to stop for a drink or a meal and take in some great views of the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Walking to Oak Bay is also a great option, especially since you will be passing through Antique Row on the way. As you walk up Fort Street, peer through the windows of the numerous antique shops that line the road, or stop in to find some rare items. The walk from downtown along the driving route should take half an hour or more, depending on how many places you stop in.
Craigdarroch Castle is home to various events, check their event calendar for more details! They are also hosting weddings and other events. Think about them when you’re planning your fantastic occasion.