Day 2: Victoria, British Columbia
The seaside capital of British Columbia, Victoria is located on Vancouver Island at the southern tip of Western Canada. Named after Queen Victoria, this one-time British colony has retained much of its colonial charm with decorative English gardens and castles, but also reflects its modern landscape with bohemian shops, coffee bars and international cuisines. The year-round moderate temperatures are perfect for exploring this incredible city. From hiking and golfing to dining and shopping, there’s much to discover on a Victoria cruise.
Start your day in Victoria with a walk through the enchanting Butchart Gardens and experience one of the world’s finest floral display gardens. Meander along the flower-lined paths and marvel at the brilliant composition of color in Japanese, Mediterranean, and Italian themes, plus much more.
Experience the time-honored English afternoon tea at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel. The menu includes many traditional favorites, like dainty finger sandwiches, scones, and a host of sumptuous varietal teas.
Venture 35 miles northwest to Cowichan Valley for a day hike, golfing, or winetasting. There are six regional parks with trails for mild walks around lakes or more intense climbs. This region is also increasingly becoming known for its wines as well. Take a guided wine tour on your Victoria cruise and discover the delicious wiines that are being produced at the wonderful vineyards in the valley and perhaps pick up a few bottles as mementos, too.
For a full introduction to the history and culture of Victoria and Western Canada, head to the Royal British Columbia Museum. Explore the fascinating indigenous artifacts dating as far back as 10,000 B.C. to British royalty pottery, glass and papers, plus a wonderful native plant garden. The museum also has a wonderful IMAX theater and rotating special exhibits.
The large waterfront park Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria is within walking distance of the inner harbor. With more than 200 acres, there’s a lot of ground to cover in the sprawling grounds. This unspoiled park features many walking trails through the forest, a children’s zoo with baby lambs, ducks, and piglets and an abundance of relaxing nature.
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest of its kind in Canada. Stroll the colorful streets of this National Historic district and enjoy a wonderful Chinese-style brunch (dim sum) or shop for locally made unique trinkets and souvenirs.