Port Guide: Getting to Know Victoria, British Columbia

Just over 60 miles from Seattle as the crow flies, Victoria is one of the most popular cruise ports along the west coast of North America. The charming town of about 80,000 is home to two universities, which mix with the city’s classic architecture to create a special blend of new and old.

Most of what the city has to offer is around its Inner Harbor area — a location that’s marked with reminders of the city’s British heritage. The architecture and gardens are especially stunning in the summer months when the city is in bloom.

The cruise ships dock on the southwest side of the city, about a 5-10 minute cab ride to Inner Harbor. Once there, you can stroll along the waterfront taking in the sights, including the magnificent British Columbia Legislature Building (Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia).

Cruise passengers might otherwise be interested in the Royal BC Museum, the top-rated attraction that tells the story of the area and its past and also includes an IMAX theater. There are also whale-watching tours and garden tours for those who wish to take in the natural beauty of the area.

Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens

If you are looking for eats, Victoria boasts more than 1,000 restaurants, with many of the best located in the downtown area. Food ranges any taste you can imagine, from Italian to seafood to French cuisine to American.

Things to do in Victoria

Stroll and sightsee along the Inner Harbor
Experience the natural beauty of the city combined with British-style architecture.
Cost: Free

Visit The Butchart Gardens
A stunning and sprawling botanical garden that’s a National Historic Site of Canada.
Cost: $29-32 per person | http://www.butchartgardens.com/

Go whale watching
See orcas in their natural habitat, along with seals and sea lions.
Cost: $75-125 per person | www.eaglewingtours.com | http://princeofwhales.com/

Places to eat in Victoria

Blue Fox Cafe
Casual restaurant that’s highly rated for breakfast/brunch.
Cost: $15 per person | www.thebluefoxcafe.com/

Il Terrazo
Quaint and cozy Italian restaurant with wood-fired ovens near Inner Harbor.
Cost: $20 per person | http://www.ilterrazzo.com/index.php

Red Fish Blue Fish
Sustainable fish and chips (along with fish tacos) served out of a cargo container on the waterfront.
Cost: $10 per person | http://www.redfish-bluefish.com/

Note: While some vendors may accept U.S. dollars, most transactions take place in Canadian dollars. Using your credit card is perfectly acceptable (in fact, you usually get the best exchange rates this way). Keep in mind that many credit cards add on 3% to foreign transactions.