Uncover the hidden gems of Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia Canada. From breathtaking whale-watching excursions to discovering the magnificent Butchart Gardens, there is no dearth of adventure here. Here are the perfect 3 days in Victoria BC itinerary to make your stay in this coastal beauty an unforgettable one!
3 days in Victoria Bc itinerary: Uncovering the Charm of Victoria in 3 days
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Situated on Vancouver Island, Victoria is compact and filled with breathtaking vistas and countless adventures. In three days, you can immerse yourself in its vibrant culture and then take advantage of all the picturesque outdoor activities available.
Here is what you can do in Victoria Canada in 3 days
Things to do in Victoria BC in three days
- Day 1 of the 3 day Victoria itinerary: Arrive in Victoria BC, take a free tour of the legislature building, Royal BC Museum, enjoy afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, walk the waterfront area and take in the night lights
- Day 2 of the 3 day Victoria itinerary: Join a Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour, and then hop on a Sightseeing tour with stops at the Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill, Chinatown and finish at the Bastion Square
- Day 3 of the 3 day Victoria itinerary: Head to Butchart Gardens and then go Whale Watching in the evening
Short on time? You can always book a 2-6 hour Victoria city tour with a local guide here
Planning a trip to Victoria British Columbia
Getting to Victoria BC
Victoria is situated in the province of British Columbia in Canada. The best way to get to Victoria BC is by plane. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is about a 30-minute drive from downtown.
Once you get you to the airport, you can take a taxi (30 minutes), or you can take bus no 72 to get to the heart of the city in about an hour.
You can also book a floatplane transfer from Vancouver to Victoria (and land in the heart of Inner Harbour). It is one of the quickest ways, plus you get to take in the views of both cities from above! Check availability here
Alternatively, you can take a ferry if you’re coming from other parts of British Columbia or Canada. Ferries run from Vancouver or the nearby town of Nanaimo and take approximately 2 hours.
I flew to Victoria and later took the ferry to get to Vancouver (via Swartz Bay) to continue my trip. To take the ferry from Vancouver, you have to get to the Tsawwassen terminal, located in Delta BC. From the Tsawwassen terminal, it takes 1.65 hours to get to Swartz Bay (in Victoria).
BC Ferries and Clipper Vacations both offer passenger-only ferry services. If you’re coming from Seattle, Washington, Clipper Vacations offers a convenient one-day seaplane/ferry combo trip.
Where to stay in Victoria BC?
For a short trip to Victoria, we recommend staying in the downtown area.
- Hotel Fairmont Empress: The iconic Fairmont Empress hotel is hard to miss. It will welcome you as soon as you arrive in downtown Victoria and the waterfront area. Gorgeous suites start at $300+ CAD during peak season, and the luxury makes it all worth it! Click to view room availability here
- Hotel Grand Pacific: This gorgeous hotel is located by the waterfront and all the primary attractions in Victoria are within walking distance. There is also a nice cafeteria outside where you can hang out! Check prices here
- Strathcona Hotel: Strathcona Hotel is an affordable, low-key accommodation in downtown Victoria. Bastion Square and the Fairmont Empress will be a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and it is surrounded by restaurants and eateries nearby. Check availability here
During my visit, I didn’t rent a car, and as my hotel was in the heart of everything I walked, and took water taxis and sightseeing tours to see it all!
We will list the attractions’ entry tickets and tour options for each day below,
Day 1 of the 3 days in Victoria BC itinerary: Visit the BC legislature building, Royal BC Museum, enjoy afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, walk the waterfront area and take in the night lights
Plan to arrive in Victoria in the early morning hours, and head straight to the downtown area, where all the action and sites await you!
You can drop off your luggage at the centrally located hotel and then walk to the BC Legislature building and surrounding grounds!
British Columbia Parliament Buildings
The British Columbia Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of BC. This building is over a century old and it’s full of history, making it one of the must-sees in Victoria.
The buildings were opened in 1898 and the work was led by a young architect Francis Rattenbury. He went on to design many more buildings in Victoria BC.
You can join in a guided tour for free during the opening hours.
I was at the grounds at 08:45 am, and there was a lineup already. I was handed a token/ticket and the guide joined us at 09:00 am for an hour’s tour.
It was a wonderful experience learning about the history of Victoria, the BC Parliament buildings, and its recent changes.
The guide/narrator did a wonderful job in connecting the dots from the advent of colonial rule to the present while holding on to the contributions of the Indigenous Peoples of the land.
The canoe on the ground floor of the Parliament Building is gorgeous and an acknowledgment of the past.
During the tour, you will meet a lady dressed in period costumes showcasing the history of migration, women, and their stories.
Highly recommend joining this free tour for an interesting glimpse into British Columbian politics.
Once the tour is done, take a walk around the complex – the buildings are gorgeous for photos, and there is a pretty rose garden behind the main building.
The statues, fountains, and lush green complex is perfect to soak in the sun and enjoy everything that Victoria has to offer!
- Address: 501 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8V 2L8
- Tickets: Free to visit the grounds, free guided tour
Royal BC Museum
Merely a 3-minute walk from the Legislature buildings is the impressive Royal BC Museum. I spent about 3+ hours browsing through the various exhibits and had a great time.
I am a history buff (also a History graduate) and LOVED the maritime history section, and how the province was founded and amalgamated.
During my visit, there was a temporary exhibition of resident whales and orcas, which was amazing as I had a tour set up for later! YAY!
Overall, the Royal BC Museum is a great choice if you’re looking to learn more about British Columbia’s history and culture.
This museum has permanent galleries, special exhibitions, and interactive displays that provide visitors with an immersive experience.
The Natural History Gallery will take you on a journey through BC’s natural history, while the First Peoples Gallery will give you a glimpse into BC’s indigenous cultures.
The museum also has an IMAX theatre and planetarium to explore.
There is an entry ticket to visit the museum.
- Address: 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8W 9W2
- Tickets: Starts at $5 CAD for an adult
Enjoy afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress
After checking off 2 important sites in Victoria, head to the gorgeous Fairmont Empress for a lovely afternoon tea. We recommend reserving a table prior to your visit.
If you are traveling with luggage or a large backpack you can request the Concierge/Guest services to hold it in the Storage room for you.
The hours for afternoon tea tend to change often, so we recommend checking the website and reserving a spot for yourself and your travel team.
I traveled solo for my afternoon tea session and was treated very well. I sat down by the window with views of the waterfront. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and the gentleman serving me tea was wonderful – he shared so many insider tips about Victoria and checked me on often!
There is a dress code to get into the Lobby Lounge where the afternoon tea is served – avoid flip-flops, beachwear, or any clothing with offensive graphics/words.
Tea at the Empress has been a tradition since 1908. I was served (unlimited cups of) tea in royal china, paired with in-house scones, jam, macarons, sandwiches, and shortbread.
The tea menu is pretty long, and I got my usual Earl gray. All the teas are ethically sourced from the top tea producers in the world.
This is an experience you won’t regret – the staff were very friendly and went above and beyond!
- Address: 721 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5
- Prices: Afternoon Tea starts at $89 CAD per person. You can order Champagne Tea + a glass of Veuve Clicquot at $128 CAD, or a glass of Laurent Perrier at $135 CAD
Walk the waterfront area and take in the night lights
Victoria’s waterfront area is a perfect place for an evening stroll. Hang out and enjoy the ambiance of this gorgeous city during sunset.
There are lots of places to eat in and around the waterfront area. At Douglas Street, you can choose from popular joints like The Old Spaghetti Factory and Browns Social House for drinks and a nice meal!
After dinner, take in the night lights of the Legislative Building and its reflection across the harbor, or meander along the pathways lined with blooming flowers.
This was the highlight of my first night in Victoria – the BC Parliament Buildings were all illuminated and very gorgeous!
I was out until 09:30 pm, and felt safe walking the waterfront area at night. As always, exercise caution when navigating unknown lanes in the dark.
Day 2 of the 3 days in Victoria BC itinerary: Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour, Sightseeing tour with stops at the Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill, Chinatown and finish at the Bastion Square
Kickstart your second day in Victoria BC with a casual breakfast at the Courtyard Cafe.
There are many places where you can get breakfast including food joints like Freshii, or cool brunch spots like Bard & Banker and Aura Waterfront Restaurant & Patio.
After breakfast, walk to the harborfront to join the Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour.
This is one of the mesmerizing experiences from Vancouver Island and something that is hard to beat! You get to fly over the scenic city of Victoria BC and explore its beautiful surroundings on a seaplane.
You will be flying for 20-30 minutes, but I recommend getting to the Victoria Harbour Airport at least 30 minutes prior and checking in. I booked a ticket online here via GetYourGuide and showed up early.
Inside the small downtown airport, there is a nice cafe, washrooms, rest areas, and charging stations.
With this Panoramic Seaplane Tour of Victoria, you will get to soak the majestic vistas of the Olympic Mountains, a panorama along Victoria’s waterfront, and the serene beauty of James and Sydney Islands’ white sand beaches, from above.
- Address: Victoria Harbour Airport. 950 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W 1T3
- Tickets: Book here
Hop on a Sightseeing tour and see more of Victoria BC
On day 2 of the Victoria BC itinerary see more of this beautiful city – check off the Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill Park, Chinatown, and finish at Bastion Square!
There are two ways to visit all the attractions, one is to take a hop on and hop off sightseeing tour such as this one and it takes off right in front of the Fairmont Empress hotel.
If the tour is unable during your trip, then consider taking a water taxi to Fisherman’s Wharf.
It is super easy to catch a water taxi (right in front of the Empress Hotel and in the Inner Harbour area).
Victoria Harbour Ferries will take you past some of the most beautiful parts of Victoria’s waterfront, including the Seaplane Terminal, and many iconic buildings, and sites.
Along the way, you can soak up the picturesque views of downtown Victoria and admire the boats, houseboats, and yachts that line the waterfront.
When you arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf, the colorful floating houses will welcome you and the sounds and aromas will engulf you!
Once at the Fisherman’s Wharf, take a stroll around and try some of the freshly caught seafood.
There are picnic benches where you enjoy a nice lunch with drinks. You can also shop for handmade Canada souvenirs to take back home (they are pricey though)!
After spending time here, take the water taxi back to the Inner Harbour.
There are three attractions to explore on day 2 in Victoria. They are super easy to get to with the Hop on and hop off tour, but without that, you can either walk or take a cab to arrive at the next spot.
Chinatown and Fan Tan Alley (a 5-minute drive from Inner Harbour, or a 15-minute walk)
Visiting Chinatown is a must on your 3-day Victoria BC itinerary.
Did you know that Victoria is home to one of North America’s oldest Chinatowns? In fact, it is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest after San Francisco in the USA.
I arrived at the neighborhood using the hop-on and hop-off bus, and then continued exploring Chinatown on my own. It was nice, wandering the narrow alleyways lined with colorful lanterns and small shops selling everything from Chinese herbs to souvenirs.
I also stopped at a restaurant to try some steamed dim sum and iced tea – they were delicious!
Located in Chinatown is also the narrowest street in Canada aka – the historic Fan Tan Alley. This is where you can find all sorts of interesting things in the local restaurants and market stalls. It is a quick/short walk-through!
The 1990’s movie Bird on a Wire (starring Mel Gibson) was shot at Fan Tan Alley.
Chinatown is full of unique sights and sounds, so don’t forget to explore it during your trip! You won’t regret it!
Beacon Hill Park (a 7-minute drive from Chinatown, or a 30-minute walk)
After wandering through Chinatown, head over to Beacon Hill Park. Now this park is huge, so I recommend spending an hour or so (depending on the time you have after leaving Chinatown), and then proceeding back to downtown/Bastion Square.
Boasting an impressive 740,000 square metres of lush greenery and breathtaking landscapes, Beacon Hill Park is a true natural wonder that Victoria locals have the privilege of calling home.
The park offers everything for a nice time outdoors from hikes and walks to picnicking areas.
I liked to walk along the trails and take in views of vibrant flower beds and of course the standing totem pole (known to be one of the tallest in the world, at one point).
Bastion Square (6-minute drive from Beacon Hill Park, or 24-minute walk)
From Beacon Hill Park, make your way to Bastion Square. I got here just before sunset and enjoyed the market square and other pop-up stores nearby.
Soon, it was time for dinner, and I stopped at the Tapas Bar (620 Trounce Alley, Victoria, BC V8W 1K3) for a meal and drinks.
Before wrapping up for the day, do grab an ice cream from Chocolats Favoris (on Government Street).
Their ice cream was divine and loaded, to say the least, but it was lovely relishing it on the streets of Victoria, before calling it a night!
Day 3 of the 3-day Victoria itinerary: Butchart Gardens and whale watching in the evening
Finish off your Victoria vacation with a visit to the world famous Butchart Gardens. With over 55 acres of lush gardens and stunning floral displays, you can easily fill up an entire day exploring the gardens’ various trails and attractions.
For the purposes of this itinerary, we will spend half a day (about 3-5 hours).
After taking in the sights, return to Government Street for some shopping or take a leisurely stroll down the scenic Inner Harbour.
The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada, with over 118 years of history. It is located in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island and is best explored from Victoria.
The gardens are a delight every season, but during the festive winter months, there are special light displays and excursions from Victoria.
The Butchart Gardens boasts over 55 acres of floral displays and more than 900 varieties of plants to take your breath away.
During your visit, you must explore the Sunken Garden and take in the beautiful Italian Garden.
You must admire the Sunken Garden from above and then walk on the paths to enjoy the waters and fountains sprinkled along.
Stop by the Ross Fountain (which was built on the 60th anniversary of the Gardens) and then take in the flowers and displays at the Rose Garden.
The Japanese and the Meditteranean Gardens are beautiful. My personal favorite was the Star Pond and the Hanging Gardens – they were just so pretty!
Spend time at the gardens, take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, and stop by a cafe for a drink or ice cream to rest your legs.
There are restaurants including a Dining Room for afternoon tea, and a gift and an info centre on-site.
Getting to the Butchart Gardens: You can book a bus ride from Victoria to the Gardens and back.
Here is the ride I booked. This purchase also included my entry ticket to the Gardens.
You can also drive to the Gardens, there are ample parking spots in the complex. The driving time is 25 minutes.
Public transportation will take 1.25+ hours one way from Victoria to the Butchart Gardens.
- Address: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1J8
- Tickets: Starts at $21.80 CAD for an adult. E-tickets can be bought online
Pendray Tea House – Victoria’s Inner Harbour
Plan to head back to the Inner Harbour by the afternoon for lunch, and later enjoy a sunset tour from here.
If interested you can also immerse yourself in a truly English Tea experience at the Pendray Tea House.
Situated on the breathtaking Inner Harbour of Victoria, this historic venue was once Gatsby Mansion but is now fondly known as The Pendray Inn and Tea House.
Santiago’s Cafe for lunch/break
Another option is to break for a light Mexican snack and a drink at Santiago’s Cafe, located just near the waterfront.
It is a nice place to sit and enjoy a meal before embarking on the whale-watching tour.
Sunset whale watching tour
Whale-watching is one of Victoria’s most popular activities and a great way to get up close and personal with some of BC’s majestic marine creatures.
From May to October, there are high chances of whale-watching success in Victoria.
Most of the tour operators will undertake multiple excursions during the day. During the peak season, the possibility of sighting resident orcas, humpbacks, and transient orcas is 95%!
For an unforgettable experience, go whale watching in the evening. And this is what I did.
I hopped on a Zodiac boat leaving from the Seafront terminal with a small group. The tour lasted 3+ hours, and the guide was amazing – his knowledge of the area and the whales was impressive!
Before departing we were provided with a life suit/vest and given a safety demonstration.
The ride was a beautiful experience, together with the golden sunset hues it was breathtaking. We went as far as Washington (PNW) to see the whales and it didn’t disappoint.
We saw majestic orcas, and humpbacks playing, and the live commentary of the expert guide was very helpful to understand the environment and the partnerships that the two countries share with regard to the resident whales and the waters.
The waters surrounding Vancouver Island are home to a number of cetaceans and marine life, making it a great spot for whale watching.
I highly recommend booking a whale watching tour, and seeing some of nature’s most majestic creatures.
My tour ended at 08:30 pm, but you can book an excursion during the day as well. Such as this one – 3 hour whale watching tour in a covered boat
Afterward, head to the waterfront and take in the stunning views of downtown Victoria from any number of bars or restaurants in the area.
With its beautiful scenery, vibrant atmosphere, and delicious food, bid adieu to your 3 days in Victoria.
Other things to do in Victoria British Columbia
Here are some of the other things to do in Victoria BC. Feel free to swap them from any of the activities above,
Step back in time to the reign of Queen Victoria and be astounded by Craigdarroch Castle, constructed by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir.
This National Historic Site has been beautifully restored so that visitors can experience a glimpse into the luxurious lives of those living in the 1890s.
The castle offers guided tours (usually from Thursday through Sunday) during which visitors can peek into the beautiful rooms, including the grand drawing room, billiard room, and dining room.
This is a great opportunity to learn about the castle’s history and discover artifacts from the Dunsmuir family. The castle gardens are also wonderful for a stroll inside.
- Address: 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5
- Tickets: $20.60+ CAD for adults
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites are two of the most iconic landmarks in the city of Victoria. These two sites are located just minutes from the downtown core and both offer stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
You will find the oldest lighthouse located on the west coast of Canada here.
During your visit, you can also pass through gun batteries, officers’ quarters, soldiers’ barracks, and other historical buildings.
- Address: 603 Fort Rodd Hill Rd, Victoria, BC V9C 2W8
- Tickets: $8.50 CAD+ for adults
Ogden Point Breakwater
You are not too far away from coastal views when in Victoria. The Ogden Point Breakwater is a lovely walk, just minutes away from downtown Victoria.
The walk (1.1 miles out and back) extends out to the Juan de Fuca Strait, concluding at a cute lighthouse.
As you wander along this scenic path, take in views of the bustling harbor traffic—cruise ships and ferries sailing around while float planes and helicopters hover overhead.
Wildlife enthusiasts can be seen diving nearby. You might also see seagulls and fishermen fishing off its edges!
It’s a lovely spot to hang out, and soak in the sun!
- Address: 211 Dallas Road, Victoria, BC V8V 1A1
- Tickets: Free
Victoria’s food scene – from craft beer, and international cuisines to coffee shops
Victoria has an awesome culinary and food scene.
We have already highlighted the afternoon tea options, and then there are amazing coffee shops, and international cuisines from fresh Mexican tacos at the Red Fish Blue Fish or Santiago Cafe to craft beer houses in and around Market Square.
Yup! Lots of choices! If interested you can also book a walking food tour in the heart of Victoria.
Sightseeing Map: One to 3 days in Victoria itinerary
Victoria Travel Tips: Planning a trip to Victoria BC
When planning a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, it is important to take into consideration the time of year you plan on visiting.
Summer months are most popular due to the warm weather and an abundance of outdoor activities; however, winter can be equally as enjoyable with its own unique attractions.
Winters in Victoria are not as brutal as it is in other parts of Canada.
No matter when you choose to visit, make sure you plan ahead and reserve accommodations to ensure a stress-free vacation. Hotels in the downtown area can be very pricey – about $150+ CAD per night.
Victoria is an expensive city to explore especially when it comes to food and accommodation. You can save money on sightseeing, and transportation (by walking or using ferries to get there).
Flights to and from Victoria BC can be expensive too, but it is possible to find good deals within Canada or the Pacific Northwest, USA.
Vancouver YVR Airport is always a great option to fly into (internationally or domestically) and then take a ferry and a bus ride to Victoria.
Finally, after exploring Victoria make your way to explore more of British Columbia. Here are some ideas,
- Southern Vancouver Island: Enjoy a road trip on Vancouver Island from Victoria to Port Renfrew and Bamfield on the west coast and to Nanaimo on the east side.
- Greater Victoria: Without going too far from Victoria you can still spend another day or two exploring places like Saanich, Sidney, Juan de Fuca EA, etc.
- Vancouver: Vancouver is one of our favorite cities in Canada, and you can explore it easily when in Victoria. Many people visit Victoria on a quick day trip from Vancouver. Here is a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria BC.
If you are on a short trip to BC, whether it is a Vancouver Island road trip or one that explores Victoria, Vancouver, and Whistler, you can shorten the sightseeing time in the capital city.
We are leaving you with the must-see attraction and a one day itinerary for Victoria.
- British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the free guided tour
- Visit the Royal BC Museum nearby
- Enjoy an afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress hotel
- Shop and lunch at the Bastion Square
- Enjoy a sunset whale-watching tour
Short on time? You can always book a 2-6 hour Victoria city tour with a local guide here
We hope you found our post on planning your trip and exploring Victoria BC useful!
Read more Canada travel guides here:
- Canada: Canada winter packing guide | Best places to visit Canada in winter
- Banff: Banff itinerary 5 days | Banff in winter | 7-day Canadian Rockies itinerary
- Other Canada itineraries: Toronto itinerary 7 days | One day in Montreal | Day trip to Niagara Falls