33 Best Things To Do In Victoria BC In Winter

Are you looking for things to do in Victoria BC in winter?

I have visited Victoria many times, as my home city of Vancouver is only a ferry ride away from Vancouver Island.

Victoria is the biggest city on Vancouver Island and the capital of British Columbia. It’s an excellent place to visit during the winter because of the mild temperatures and little to no snowfall.

There are many things to do in winter in Victoria, such as whale watching, a guided history and food tour, or enjoying an afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress.

Let’s get into all the other things you can do while visiting Victoria in winter.

Things To Do In Victoria BC In Winter

Is Victoria BC worth visiting? Even in winter? Yes! Here are the many things to do in Victoria in winter. As a reminder, events and festivities are subject to change.

1. Butchart Gardens

A garden with a pool of water in a shape that looks like has spikes with blue lights lit on the edges. A golden light display in the middle. A gazebo at one of the pool point. There's a lit up frog dressed as a king in the background. Butchart Gardens is one of the most beautiful locations to see in Victoria during winter.

One of the best places to visit in Victoria is Butchart Gardens. During the winter, the garden transforms, displaying winter florals such as Crocus, Primrose, and Witch Hazel.

Take advantage of the festive Christmas displays, such as Poinsettias, that decorate the gardens during this time.

You can stroll through the various garden sections, such as the Japanese, Rose, and Italian Gardens, each embracing their unique differences. The holiday spirit comes alive with the addition of sparkling lights, decorating an ambiance over the surrounding gardens.

2. Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum is a journey through the region’s history and natural wonders. With engaging exhibits and displays, the museum brings to life the stories of British Columbia’s past, from Indigenous cultures to colonial eras.

You can explore the many galleries, showcasing everything from Indigenous Art to interactive displays about the province’s unique ecosystems and wildlife.

I have been to the Royal BC Museum many times with school and family. It’s an excellent place to learn about history.

3. Tour The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

Another place you can visit during the winter is the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, where you can gain insight into the province’s political history and governance.

Free daily guided tours offer a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the historic parliament buildings. You can learn about the legislative process and explore ornate chambers. 

Engaging guides provide narratives that highlight the evolution of democracy in British Columbia, making it an educational experience.

Arrive early for your preferred timeslot, as they do have a capacity limit for tours. Fall and winter hours are open weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM and closed on weekends and statutory holidays.

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia bulding with grey stone and many windows that are rectangular on the bottom rows and arched on the top. the roof has a deoxidize torquoise colour. There is also a large circular fountain.

4. Whale Watching Tour

Whale watching is a fun adventure to experience during the winter in Victoria. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that highlights the phenomenon of nature.

British Columbia, especially around Vancouver Island, is a migration path for whales from Alaska to the warmer waters of Hawaii, Mexico, and California during the winter.

Whale watching from Vancouver or Victoria is a popular tourist attraction where you can see whales and other wildlife year-round.

Three orca also known as killer whales in the ocean with two of them blowing water out of their spout in the ocean. Whale watching is an incredible thing to do in Victoria.

One of the best tours in Victoria is this half-day Whale-Watching Tour. While exploring the coastal waters, you can witness numerous whales from a safe distance.

Guided by experts, these tours provide an unforgettable opportunity to observe magnificent whales, such as Orcas and humpback Whales, as they navigate the nutrient-rich waters of British Columbia.

Even better, the tour goes the extra mile by providing a professional photographer on board. The photographer captures high-quality photos and sends them for free after the trip, allowing individuals to focus entirely on the whales and the experience.

Also, there are two washrooms on board of this vessel!

➡️ Check Prices & Availability for Half Day Whale Watching Tour

5. Victoria Bug Zoo

The Victoria Bug Zoo is a unique educational attraction in the heart of Downtown Victoria. You can closely examine insects and arachnids from around the world.

The interactive experience lets you observe and handle creatures like stick insects, tarantulas, and scorpions, all with the guidance of knowledgeable staff.

With a focus on education and conservation, the Bug Zoo offers an exciting and informative visit for anyone curious about the insect world.

I enjoyed exploring the Victoria Bug Zoo. Even though I dislike seeing spiders, learning more about insects on display is still fascinating. The stick bugs were fun to hold.

6. Victoria Butterfly Gardens

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens in Brentwood Bay create a year-round tropical retreat. With hundreds of butterflies from diverse regions, you can experience their life cycles alongside tropical birds, turtles, and iguanas in a simulated rainforest setting.

Educational programs and guided tours offer insights, while the commitment to conservation and indoor accessibility make the Butterfly Gardens an excellent destination throughout the year.

Six butterflies eating slices of mixed circular fruits on a wooden block. A grapefruit is in the middle with a lime  on top surrounded with apples and bananas in between the apples to make a pattern. there is a bigger buttler fly eating a banana with an eye look on it's wing. a green and black one and two yellowish brown ones and two small black ones in the background.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability for Victoria Butterfly Gardens

7. High Tea Or Afternoon Tea

Victoria’s high or afternoon tea is an elegant tradition. High Tea and Afternoon Tea differ mainly in their food offerings.

High tea presents heartier dishes like meat pies and quiches, resembling a substantial evening meal.

In contrast, afternoon tea features dainty finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, and delicate pastries, offering a lighter and more elegant selection of bite-sized treats.

Some of the city’s renowned venues for high or afternoon tea include:

The Fairmont Empress Hotel – Tea at The Empress

The iconic Tea at The Empress is a highly rated destination offering a grand setting for high tea. Guests are served in a luxurious atmosphere overlooking the Inner Harbour.

Butchart Gardens – The Dining Room at Butchart Gardens

The Dining Room within Butchart Gardens offers a beautiful setting for indulging in high tea. You can enjoy the view of the gardens while enjoying a selection of teas and a variety of sweet and savoury treats.

White Heather Tea Room

A charming and cozy spot, the White Heather Tea Room specializes in traditional British high tea. The establishment has been serving this delightful experience for over 23 years, offering a warm and inviting ambiance.

The Tea House at Abkhazi Garden

Set in the enchanting Abkhazi Garden, the Tea House provides an elegant backdrop for high tea. The tea house focuses on using seasonal ingredients and menus. You can enjoy a menu with various delicious options surrounded by the garden’s beauty.

Pendry Inn and Tea House

This Victorian-era inn and tea house offers an intimate and nostalgic setting for high tea. Guests can relish a variety of teas and treats while immersed in the charm of this historic establishment.

A three tier tray with the top plate having two scones, the second plate has two croissants and slices of cheesecake, and the bottom has sliced cucumbers and other savoury snakcs. It's on a rund table decorated to look vintage. there are vintage candle holders with a two sage green candles and a wooden one with an orange candle. Vintage floral tea cups and plates and a vase with white flowers.

8. Victoria Guided Food & History Tour

The Victoria History and Food Guide Tour is a fantastic way of exploring the city’s history and culinary scene. With exceptional guides, participants enjoy delicious and ample food offerings, all while gaining insights into the city’s history and culture.

Reviews highlight the tour’s standout experience, noting that it offers hidden delights and a way to discover Victoria’s food scene.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability for Victoria Guided Food & History Tour

9. Miniature World

Miniature World is a world of tiny wonders. With intricate and detailed displays spanning various themes and eras, this indoor attraction takes you on a journey through the storytelling of miniature landscapes, historical scenes, and fictional realms.

10. Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is a peaceful urban sanctuary featuring ponds, gardens, and the world’s tallest totem pole. With its resident peacocks and Beacon Hill’s Children’s Farm, it remains a popular destination year-round.

11. Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is a historic mansion museum that looks into the Dunsmuir family’s opulent lifestyle in the late 1800s. Its intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and period furnishings are well-preserved representations of the era’s aesthetic.

You can explore the castle’s opulent interiors across four floors, each room reflecting the wealth and culture of the time. The castle’s tower also provides panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, making it a fascinating National Historic Site.

A mansion looking stone castle with a front wrap around deck with colums. The windows are curved and the architecture is catered to the 1800s. The roof also has red bricks.

12. Cowichan Valley Wine Tour

Explore the Cowichan Valley Wine Tour and discover Vancouver Island’s evolving wine scene. In the charming Cowichan Valley, you’ll find vineyards and wineries that emphasize sustainability and small-scale production.

13. Abkhazi Garden

Abkhazi Garden is an oasis with a rich history, created by Prince and Princess Abkhazi in 1946. It features colourful flowerbeds, winding paths, and shaded spots. 

You can explore the thoughtfully designed and well-maintained landscapes, showcasing a mix of local and international plants. From rhododendrons to irises and daylilies, each area reveals the couple’s vision.

14. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located in the heart of Victoria. It has over 20,000 artworks, making it the most significant public art collection in British Columbia.

You can explore the Gallery Shop, which features local artisans’ creations, such as pottery, jewelry, and scarves. The Art Rental & Sales program allows individuals and businesses to buy or rent art at an affordable monthly rate.

The gallery’s commitment to diverse exhibitions shines through its Canadian, historical, and world-class Asian showcases. Remarkably, it’s home to one of Canada’s most important Asian art collections, second only to the Royal Ontario Museum.

15. Sample Chocolates

Over a century ago, Rogers’ Chocolates shares timeless treats that have delighted generations.

Founded in 1885 by Charles “Candy” Rogers in Victoria, Rogers’ Chocolates invented its own chocolate, the Victoria Cream. This became a local favourite and sold out faster than Rogers could produce it.

Purdys Chocolatier offers a creative twist on classics, reflecting chocolate’s evolving craftsmanship.

Richard Carmon Purdy founded Purdys Chocolatier in 1907 in Vancouver. He started by selling his homemade chocolates in Downtown Vancouver. The family-owned company has many shops in Vancouver and Victoria, BC.

Canadian-made chocolate would be an excellent Canadian souvenir as a Christmas present, to a potluck, or to eat at home.

Blue chocolate box with assorted shapes of chcolates inside. Some are circles, rectangles, and squares. There are some outside of the box for decorative purposes.

16. Ogden Point

Ogden Point is a popular coastal destination known for its scenic waterfront spot, which offers stunning Pacific Ocean views.

The Ogden Point Breakwater is a long stone pathway that extends into the ocean. It allows you to enjoy the ocean breeze and beautiful views while spotting marine life and distant ships, including cruise and cargo ships.

17. The Regional Assembly of Text

The Regional Assembly of Text is a hidden gem shop celebrating writing, design, and stationery. This creative space offers a collection of handmade and curated goods, including stationery, books, and crafts.

Beyond its products, the Assembly of Text brings people together by hosting workshops like letter-writing clubs, button-making, and even trying out a vintage typewriter.

18. Government Street Shopping

Government Street is one of the most famous streets in Downtown Victoria. It’s a lively street that reflects the city’s history and charm. The street combines Victorian architecture with modern storefronts.

Government Street is a hub for locals and tourists, offering a variety of shopping and dining options. Walking along the street, you can find everything from souvenir shops and boutiques to restaurants and cafes.

19. Victoria Public Market

The Victoria Public Market, located downtown in the historic Hudson building, is a bustling hub that hosts local vendors, artisans, and food producers.

This marketplace offers a variety of locally produced cheese, local meats, farm-fresh produce, handmade pies, and more. It’s an excellent place to hide from the cold nights of winter and enjoy local entertainment and fresh local meals.

20. Live Music At Local Pubs

Experience live music at local pubs. From soulful jazz to energetic rock bands, these venues offer dynamic performances that light up the city’s nightlife.

Whether enjoying a drink or hitting the dance floor, many of Victoria’s pubs provide an intimate and lively setting for listening to live music.

21. Visit A Bookstore – Russell Books

Russell Books is a cherished third-generation family-owned business that has become a cornerstone of the city’s literary scene. This iconic bookstore offers an extensive collection of new, used, and rare books across various genres.

22. Board With Friends Cafe

My friend introduced me to this local place, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now, when I have extra time in Victoria, I’ll make a pitstop to play board games.

Board with Friends Cafe is a friendly gathering spot for tabletop gaming enthusiasts. This board game cafe, owned by two passionate individuals, offers a variety of games for all ages.

One of the owners is a board game expert who can explain any game on the spot. The other is a culinary expert, leading to a menu featuring delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes you can enjoy while playing.

23. Watch A Junior Hockey Game

The Victoria Royals are Victoria’s major junior hockey team. As active Western Hockey League (WHL) participants, the Royals are a stepping stone for promising young players who may eventually join the National Hockey League (NHL).

The team’s games offer an electric experience, uniting passionate hockey fans who eagerly support their local players while enjoying the fast-paced intensity of the sport.

You can also take a ferry trip to Vancouver, as one of the best things to do in Vancouver in winter is watch the Vancouver Canucks professional hockey team.

24. Explore Victoria Christmas Markets

Victoria’s Christmas markets bring holiday warmth and festive spirit to the city. These lively markets feature local artisans, vendors, and seasonal treats, offering a shopping experience for gifts and crafts.

25. Celebrate the Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year celebrations in Victoria’s historic Chinatown are a lively cultural event. This annual festivity embraces the traditions of different Asian countries’ New Year, featuring a parade, performances, and delicious food.

From dragon dances to traditional music, these celebrations highlight the heritage of Chinatown, inviting everyone to join in the festive atmosphere and ring in the Lunar New Year.

A traditional Chinese lion costume used for Lunar New Year. They usually have shiny bas colours of usually red, gold, or green. They have two people to perform at the head and the tail. This one is yellow with red details. The performers also wear matching pants. The head details are intricate.

26. Thetis Lake Provincial Park

Thetis Lake Provincial Park is stunning, particularly during the winter. The park’s waters and scenery offer a peaceful winter walk and hike setting.

With quiet trails and a calm lake, you can fully embrace the season’s stillness, making it an ideal destination to connect with the beauty of nature during the winter months.

27. Spa Day

During the winter, a spa treatment offers a revitalizing escape from the cold. Various spas across the city offer cozy settings that contrast the chilly weather.

From massages to facials, these treatments focus on relaxation and wellness, allowing you to relax and embrace a peaceful atmosphere. 

Some notable spa locations:

  • The Spa Magnolia Victoria
  • Sapphire Day Spa
  • Float House Victoria

28. Mystic Beach

Mystic Beach, near Victoria, is a hidden coastal treasure reached by a scenic forest hike. The journey reveals stunning ocean views, one of the best Vancouver Island waterfalls cascading onto the sandy shore, and rugged cliffs.

Part of the Juan de Fuca Trail and between Port Renfrew and China Beach, Mystic Beach offers an adventure for nature lovers and photographers to enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific coastline.

Large cliff face with a spray of water falling onto the ocean during sunset.
Image from iStock By Dave Hutchison

29. Sheringham Point Lighthouse

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, located near Victoria in Shirley, British Columbia, is a National Heritage Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse overlooks the rugged coastline and has guided ships and sailors for over a century.

The lighthouse’s design and panoramic ocean views make it a popular destination for you to connect with the area’s history and breathtaking scenery.

30. Malahat Skywalk

The Malahat Skywalk near Victoria offers a unique nature experience. This elevated walkway, towering 2.2 kilometres (1.4 miles), allows you to become one with the coastal rainforest while enjoying panoramic views.

The attraction also has a 275-foot (84 metres) Adventure Net and a thrilling 65-foot (20 metres) tall and 165-foot (50 metres) long spiral slide, adding extra excitement for all seasons, weather permitting.

A convenient shuttle service from Downtown Victoria is available for those without a vehicle.

31. Goldstream Provincial Park

During the winter, Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria becomes a peaceful retreat into nature. The park’s calm forests and waterfalls take on a quiet charm, inviting winter walks and hikes along its trails.

Another of Vancouver Island’s waterfalls is Niagara Falls, Goldstream Park, not to be confused with the famous Niagara Falls in Ontario. There’s a trailhead for Niagara Falls past the campsite area.

A small fast flowing waterfall off the rocks into a pool of water. Goldstream Provincial Park is something to do in Victoria during the winter.

32. Hot Springs Cove

While it is a further destination from Victoria, if you plan a Vancouver Island road trip, you can access the hot springs from Tofino.

Hot Springs Cove in BC is a must-visit hot spring accessible only by boat or seaplane from Tofino. The journey itself offers impressive views before arriving at this remarkable destination.

You’ll reach the hot springs after a walk through Maquinna Provincial Park’s old-growth forest. With different pools offering varying temperatures, cooler as you get closer to the ocean, they provide a cozy retreat on a rainy West Coast winter day.

A dark rocky beach with the ocean on the left to the beach on the right. And the forest in the background.

33. Jam Cafe

Jam Cafe in Victoria, BC, is a popular eatery that serves all-day breakfast from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM or 3:00 PM, depending on the day. Be prepared for a wait, as it is consistently busy, but the experience is well worth it.

The cafe serves up two crowd-pleasers: Eggs Benedict and Fried Chicken and Waffles. There are a handful of options for their Eggs Benedict features, such as Pork Belly Benny and Avocado Benny.

Their Fried Chicken and Waffles are delicious. Their house Belgian-style waffles are topped with buttermilk boneless fried chicken, hot honey sauce, jalapeno sour cream, pickled cabbage, green onions, cilantro, and, of course, maple BBQ bourbon glaze.

Three plates of food. There is one with a stack of pancakes with icing sugar and some sort of sauce and a goji berry on top. The second plate has two English muffins with protein and poached eggs on top with a side of fruits and hasbrowns with a tomato on top. The third plate has smoked salmon on an English muffin with poaches eggs and green onions and capers on top with a side of fruit and hasbrowns.

How Many Days Do You Need In Victoria?

The ideal duration of your visit to Victoria will depend on what activities you’ll be doing. A two to three-day or weekend trip will be enough for a quick getaway to see all the main tourist locations.

In addition, a week or two will be perfect if you want to explore outside Victoria.

How To Get To Victoria BC

As it’s on Vancouver Island, getting to Victoria typically involves a combination of transportation methods. Here are the options.

Ferry

If you’re coming from mainland Vancouver, the most common way to reach Victoria is by taking BC Ferries. There are two primary routes: Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay (Nanaimo).

The most common and preferred way to Victoria is by ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. The ferry ride takes an hour and 35 minutes and offers beautiful ocean views.

The Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay option is more inconvenient to travel to Victoria as you’ll have to drive or bus for a few hours afterwards, but it’s available. The ride will be an hour and 40 minutes.

Ferry reservations are recommended, especially during peak travel times, to ensure you have a vehicle spot on the sailing you prefer. 

If you don’t have a car, you can always buy tickets for a walk-on. However, you’ll need to arrange transportation afterwards or take the local bus to Downtown Victoria.

Seaplane

If you’re in Vancouver, you can take a Seaplane from Downtown Vancouver (Coal Harbour) to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It will be the quickest way of getting to Victoria with a 35-minute ride.

A Harbour Air float plane docked in Inner Harbour ready for seaplane flights or a tour.

Where To Stay In Victoria BC

These are a few hotels where you can stay while visiting Victoria.

💎 Best Luxury Hotel — Magnolia Hotel & Spa

✅ Excellent Location
✅ Exceptional Staff

The Magnolia Hotel and Spa in Victoria, BC, is a boutique hotel known for its blend of luxury and comfort. Located in an excellent spot in the city, it offers well-appointed rooms and a tranquil atmosphere.

⚖️ Best Mid-Range Hotel — Hotel Grand Pacific

✅ Indoor Pool
✅ Clean & Comfortable

The Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, BC, is a waterfront hotel offering comfortable rooms and dining options. Its central location (adjacent to the Legislative Assembly Building) provides easy access to downtown attractions.

🎯 Best Budget-Friendly Hotel — Hotel Zed Victoria

✅ Free Parking
✅ Ping Pong Room

Hotel Zed in Victoria is a budget-friendly option for travellers, offering retro-themed rooms and a fun atmosphere. While it provides affordable accommodations, it is worth noting that the hotel is about a 15-minute bus ride from Downtown Victoria. So, if you’re okay with a short commute, it can be an excellent choice for those seeking a budget-friendly stay.

Things To Do In Victoria In Winter – FAQs

These are some frequently asked questions on things to do in Victoria BC in winter.

What is Victoria BC Like in winter?

Victoria, British Columbia, experiences a relatively mild winter compared to many other parts of Canada. The temperature also doesn’t usually fall below freezing.

Hotels tend to be cheaper because it’s a slower tourist season, and popular tourist locations are less crowded.

Does Victoria BC Get A Lot Of Snow?

Victoria, BC, rarely gets a lot of snow. If it does snow, it is at most 10 inches (26 centimetres) annually. It also only sticks around for a short period if there’s snow.

What Should I Wear In Victoria BC During Winter?

Here is a quick list of what to wear in Victoria during winter

A Waterproof Raincoat
Warm Layers: Sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, etc.
Rainboots
Carry An Umbrella: Some hotels may have some available for guests; you can always buy a small portable one.
Toque: Canadian word for beanie
Gloves/Mittens/Scarf: Optional

Is January A Good Time To Visit Victoria BC?

January in Victoria, BC, offers fewer crowds and lower prices, making it an excellent option for budget-conscious travellers. However, January does get the most rainy weather out of all the months in winter.

Is Victoria A Walkable City?

Victoria is a walkable city, particularly in its compact downtown area. The scenic waterfront, parks, shopping, and dining options are easily accessible on foot.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many things to do in Victoria BC in winter. From exploring its indoor attractions like The Victoria Public Market to savouring local cuisine on a guided history and food tour to celebrating the festive atmosphere, Victoria has something for everyone to discover during the winter.

Have a good day 🙂