Downtown Victoria: Rediscover Your Own Backyard
Downtown Victoria, a very vibrant neighbourhood with historic sites and modern shops. Whether you want to enjoy a cup of coffee in a quiet place, to enjoy a bike ride along the Inner Harbour, or to take a picture in front of the Legislature Building, Downtown Victoria has something for everyone! You might have been to Downtown Victoria hundreds of times, but check out this day guide and rediscover this capital city, who knows you may find something new to like about Victoria.
Breakfast: Union Pacific Coffee
Union Pacific Coffee, Victoria’s heritage coffee shop is located in the Chinatown area on Herald Street. Normally, you can enjoy their signature drinks and breakfast in a cozy atmosphere; however, they are currently only open for take-out. Union Pacific Coffee is open from Monday-Saturday, 8am-3pm. Go get your favourite coffee/tea before starting your lovely day in Downtown Victoria!
Morning Stop 1: Chinatown
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and the second oldest one in North America, just after San Francisco’s. Just a minute walk from Union Pacific Coffee through Dragon Alley, you will arrive at Fisgard Street where you will find the Gate of Harmonious Interest which is the entrance to Chinatown. You may notice the buildings in Chinatown are full of the colour red and gold, that’s because those colours mean lucky in the Chinese culture.
You will also see Chinese words all around Chinatown including the street name signs (Fisgard, Herald, Pandora). And of course, you can find various Chinese restaurants and grocery stores in Chinatown. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada with shops on both sides!
Morning Stop 2: Market Square
Market Square is right next door to Chinatown and you can get there from Pandora Street. Market Square takes up to half a city block with stores facing onto Johnson Street, Store Street, and Pandora Street. There are around 40 shops like apparel, home, electronics, and restaurants in heritage buildings that surround an open-air courtyard. It is a wonderful spot to do some shopping or window shopping as there are local boutique shops where you can find cute accessories and fun gifts.
Market Square is open from Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday and holidays 11am-5pm. However, individual store hours may vary at this time, so make sure you check with the retailer directly.
Lunch: Victoria Public Market
A 7-minute walk from Market Square and you will arrive at Victoria Public Market on Douglas Street. It is located in the historic Hudson building with food, art, and entertainment all in 1 hub. Victoria Public Market is the perfect spot for lunch as you can find different kinds of vendors there such as Roast with fresh meat and sandwiches, The Very Good Butcher with organic healthy food, and La Pasta with fresh pasta. If you are looking for desserts afterwards, check out Victoria Pie Co for some homemade pies, or The Chocolate Project for some bean-to-bar chocolates from around the world.
Victoria Public Market is open from Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm.
Afternoon Stop 1: Miniature World
Miniature World is a 12-minute walk away from Victoria Public Market. All you have to do is to follow Douglas Street towards South then turn right onto Humboldt Street. Miniature World puts up the greatest little show on Earth since 1971. There are 85 miniature displays of different themes like the World of Dollhouses, the Great Canadian Railway and the Circus World. You can live your childhood dreams and experience the world of fantasy in the Miniature World.
Miniature World is open from Wednesday-Sunday 10am-5pm.
Admission fees for adult: $17, youth: $10, and child:$8. They are currently only accepting debit/credit sales (No cash).
Masks are required at all times and gloves are also required and will be provided upon entry. Last entry is at 4:15pm so make sure you’re there in time for the visit.
Afternoon Stop 2: The Pedaler
Victoria is the most bike-friendly city in Canada, so there is no reason you shouldn’t experience Victoria by bike. Just a 10-minute walk from the Miniature World, you will see The Pedaler on Belleville Street just beside The Pendray Tea House. You can either rent a bike or take a guided bike tour to explore the city. The Pedaler offers a variety of bikes like city cruisers, hybrid, tandems, and kids bikes.
The Pedaler is open from Thursday-Sunday 9:30am-5pm.
After you rent a bike, you can start your journey by biking to the Fisherman’s Wharf and check out the colourful floating houses. If you’re lucky enough, you might see some seals just popping out of the water. Fisherman’s Wharf is also a great destination for those of you who are seeking fresh fish and seafood. Over there, You will also find Canada’s first carbon-neutral whale watching company, Eagle Wing Tours (you can always book a tour for another day)!
After strolling around Fisherman’s Wharf, get on your bike and ride along Dallas Road and you will reach The Breakwater District where you can find the Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal. Park your bike and walk along the breakwater while enjoying the ocean view till you meet the lighthouse, admire the First Nations mural on both sides of the breakwater, and also enjoy the sea breeze gently touching your face. The walk is about 30 minutes roundtrip.
At this point depending on your mood, you can either bike back to The Pedaler and return your bikes or you can continue bike along the newly created bike lanes along Dallas Road from Ogden Point to Clover Point.
Afternoon Stop 3: IMAX Victoria
After a bit of some exercise, you might just want to sit and relax. Follow Belleville Street and walk 7-minute and you will be at the IMAX theatre. IMAX Victoria has the largest screen in BC (6 stories high and 81 feet wide) with crystal clear images in IMAX 4K Laser and wraparound digital surround sound. Let’s end your day with a great movie and an amazing cinematic experience.
There is a FREE pop-up exhibit until December 31, 2020, in Fan Tan Alley titled “Peering into the Past: Celebrating Canada’s Oldest Chinatown.” which is a walk-through showcase of Chinatown’s history. It is established by the Royal BC Museum, Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and the Salient Group. If you’re interested in Chinese Canadian history, make sure you check out this exhibit. If you would like to learn more, you can follow this self-guided heritage map for Mysterious Chinatown.
When you’re walking along the breakwater, you will see a metal gate with stairs where you can walk down to the large cement rocks to have a better view of the mural. Make sure to be extra careful when walking on the rocks because they can be wet and slippery. Alternatively, you can also finish the route in the safest way without walking down the stairs.