Victoria Tourist Activities
Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is located approximately 22km from the city of Victoria, and is an airport on Vancouver Island. Victoria is part of the Canadian province of British Columbia, and is found on the Saanich Peninsula. The airport receives local and international visitors who are coming to enjoy the wide range of attractions in the nearby vicinity. Many people head for the city of Victoria, but there are many other lovely areas to explore as well. Victoria attractions include harbour and whale-watching cruises, the nearby beaches, the Victoria Bug Zoo, the Craigdarroch Castle and the Royal British Columbia Museum. Passengers of Victoria International Airport can easily travel into the city by the airport buses or taxis.
Although Vancouver is a very large city of British Columbia, Victoria is the province’s capital city, and one of the leading tourist hotspots. It receives around four million visitors every year. Perhaps it is so popular for its mild and pleasant climate, and its beautiful landscape which is surrounded by water on three sides. The city covers an area of approximately eight square miles, or twenty square kilometres, and has a population of over 85,000 people. The residents of Victoria speak mainly Canadian English or Canadian French. In January, the city has an average daily temperature of five degrees Celsius, and in July, temperatures are around twenty-two degrees Celsius. Victoria’s main attraction is without a doubt the whale watching opportunities, which have been a major draw card for tourists for many years. Visitors can take a leisurely whale-watching cruise from the harbour, and enjoy sights of Killer Whales (also referred to as Orcas), Humpbacks and Minkes, as well as few other varieties. Victoria’s busy harbour can also be enjoyed by taking one of the frequent harbour cruises available.
The whale-watching cruises offered in Victoria usually last for around three hours, and most passengers have reported sights of whales. It is said that 97% of the cruise passengers get to see a whale of some sort, and passengers who don’t may be offered a free tour to try and spot the ocean giants once again. During the months of May, June, July and August (sometimes even September), the whales are migrating, and are heading to the feeding grounds around Alaska. These are particular good months to spot Grey Whales, Humpbacks and Minkes. Killer Whales could be hard to miss on a whale-watching cruise, as the larger males can grow up to eight metres (26 feet) in length, and will then weigh more than six tonnes. They are known to be one of the fastest of all marine mammals and are the largest members of the oceanic dolphin family.
Victoria attractions that are also very popular are the wineries and wine tasting tours. Package guided tours of the three most popular wineries offer visitors the chance to sample and purchase Canadian wine. The tours last for about three hours. Just outside of the city of Victoria there is a very scenic stretch of beach which is popular with locals and tourists. The beaches are approximately five kilometres from downtown Victoria, along the western shore. Beacon Hill Park is especially popular, and has a lovely pebbly beach and good waters for swimming. To the east is Oak Bay, where Willows Beach is often the preferred area. For a nice sandy area visitors could head for Island View Beach, or the beaches along Dallas Road.
Miniature World is a wonderful family Victoria attraction, found at 649 Humboldt Street. It is right next to the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which is considered as an important landmark of the city. The hotel is large, with 477 rooms and a couple of restaurants, and is best-known for its Edwardian-style afternoon teas. It is also around 100 years old, as it was built in 1908. Attractions at Miniature World include a number of local sights, fairy tale scenes, a scale train model and scenes from the world of Charles Dickens. There are over one hundred different settings to enjoy, and which are loved by all ages. Children love the Victoria Bug Zoo as well, which is home to some incredible insects. It has hairy spiders and giant beetles one would only imagine in the movies! The Victoria Bug Zoo has the largest collection of tropical insects in North America. Tours of the zoo can be arranged, which will allow you to get up close and personal with some of the more friendly spiders and cockroaches.
Further ‘water’ Victoria attractions include the Russian Submarine and the Pacific Undersea Gardens. The Russian Submarine is docked outside of the Harbour Canoe Club, and allows its visitors to learn about the life of the former submarine crew members. The submarine is over 80 metres in length, and dates back to the seventies. Within the inner harbour the Pacific Undersea Gardens is one of the city’s leading family attractions. The large floating vessel is equipped with underwater windows that allow its visitors to see the native sea life in the harbour waters and a number of aquariums with over five thousand species of water creatures from the British Columbia area. There are also starfish and crabs which can be handled, a tidal pond and an entertaining diver in the Undersea Theatre.
Popular Victoria landmarks and monuments include the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Emily Carr House, the Inner Harbour, the Parliament/Legislative Buildings, Bastion Square, Government House and the Craigdarroch Castle. Bastion Square is where Fort Victoria once stood, but today is a popular social area, and the Emily Carr House is the former residence of Emily Carr, a famous Canadian artist and author. The Craigdarroch Castle is hard to miss with its four storeys that are filled with some priceless antiques. The mansion resembles a castle fortress, and was built in the 1880’s by Robert Dunsmuir, a wealthy coal millionaire. The castle is open to the public on most days of the year.
A number of Victoria museums are also popular attractions, and they include the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Victoria Police Department Station Museum and the Royal London Wax Museum, also known as the World of Wax. Areas worth a visit nearby Victoria are Duncan and the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Sidney, while ferries can be taken to see Salt Spring Island and cities on the mainland, such as Vancouver and Whistler.
Tourist information regarding the popular Victoria attractions can be obtained from Victoria International Airport, as there are information desks that are manned by the friendly Red Coat Airport Ambassadors.