Despite our regal roots and old-school reputation for being a town of the “newlywed and nearly dead,” Victoria has made huge strides on the cool-front over the past decade.

Nestled into the base of Vancouver Island, Victoria, BC, Canada, Victoria is safe, LGBTQ+/2S friendly, and cute as heck. The downtown core is filled with gorgeous and colourful 19th-century architecture; our tech scene now boasts over 900 companies, bringing a flood of fresh ideas and energy; the craft beer scene is active and extraordinary, and our cup runneth over for delicious brunch options. We’ve also got prime outdoor adventuring, award-winning restaurants and bars, serious coffee chops, mountains, ocean, forests, beaches, and gardens aplenty (our annual spring flower count  – yes, you read that right – rings in at about 3.4 billion). Not going to lie, once you arrive, you might not leave. That’s how most of us got here.

Solo adventure in victoria british columbia canada

Photo: Aly at Flytographer

The best places to eat in Victoria bc

Where do the locals go to eat in Victoria?

  • Brasserie L’École: Chic, low-key French bistro known for their phenomenal steaks and wine list. Other must-eats include the mussels and endive salad. There’s always a line-up, so come early — or late.
  • The Tapa Bar: This cozy Spanish restaurant is a favourite for family-style dining, with loads of vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options and, like their next-door sister bar Bodega (see DRINK), boasts a well-stocked bar. Everything on the menu is delicious, but no meal is complete without the grilled coconut kale – and their trio of crème brûlée!
  • Salt & Pepper Fox: These sandwiches and salads are pure magic and a great option for the whole family. With unique flavours designed to combat tourist hunger, this hearty option will definitely not disappoint. (Fun fact: Someone from the Flytographer office will probably be spotted there if you decide to go at lunch time.)
  • Paul’s Diner: A new favourite, Paul’s goes from day to night effortlessly. Enjoy its elevated diner fare made from local organic ingredients, from kimchi pancakes with pork belly to pulled-pork hot dogs, all in a cool retro atmosphere.
  • Red Fish Blue Fish: Open seasonally, this eatery in a former shipping container on the dock serves incredibly tasty seafood. Queues are long during lunch rush hours, so time your visit accordingly.

Honourable mentions: OLO, Mo:Lé, Yalla, Tacofino, Be Love 

Two people on a fishing dock in Victoria BC

Photo: Aly at Flytographer

The best places for drinks in Victoria bc

Where do the locals go for drinks in Victoria, BC?

  • Bodega: With arguably one of the best happy hours in town, Bodega offers a great selection of wine, cocktails or flights of sherry in their well-designed space where the chefs and mixologists work side-by-side right behind the well-stocked bar. 
  • The Drake: Fancy a cold one? Mix with locals and tourists alike in this cozy, unpretentious bar. Their always-rotating taps feature the best craft beers from North America and beyond — and include many fave local breweries like Phillips, Driftwood, Whistle Buoy, Ile Sauvage, Driftwood and Hoyne. Got your kiddos with you? They’re one of the few bars in town you can bring them to!
  • Hey Happy Coffee: This inspiring space just got a make-over and might just be the most hip spot in town for a cup of delicious coffee. They brew award-winning beans from all around the globe.
  • Q Bar: Newly renovated and very posh, the bar named for Queen Victoria at the Empress Hotel is always busy and always worth it. Don’t forget to try their house popcorn with special spice – it’s crazy delicious!
  • Phillips: One of Victoria’s most popular small-batch breweries, Phillips offers tours to whet your palette, and a brand-new tasting room to enjoy your favourites.

Honourable mentions: Discovery Coffee, Little Jumbo, Canoe Brewpub, Veneto

Phillips Brewery Victoria British Columbia Canada

Phillips Brewing | Photo: Aly at Flytographer

Bartender at Phillips Brewery in Victoria British Columbia Canada

Phillips Brewing | Photo: Aly at Flytographer

Phillips Brewery Grafiti wall in Victoria BC

Phillips Brewing | Photo: Megan at Flytographer

Phillips Brewery Victoria British Columbia Canada

Phillips Brewing | Photo: Megan at Flytographer

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The best places for drinks in Victoria bc

What are the top five hidden gems to see & do in Victoria?

  • Chinatown: One of Victoria’s most lively and historic neighbourhoods, Chinatown has trendy shops tucked in beside long-standing Chinese restaurants and groceries, bohemian artist lofts, and tacky tourist stores. Although becoming increasingly gentrified, Chinatown still retains its charm and mystery; it’s a great place to explore with your camera. Don’t miss walking down Fan Tan Alley, Canada’s narrowest street at 3-6 feet wide.
  • Mount Douglas: Twenty minutes’ drive from the city centre, Mount Doug boasts over 21km of walking trails. Stroll through the trails or hike from the bottom to the top in about 30 minutes, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas. During daylight hours, you can also reach the top by car.
  • Breakwater: In James Bay by the cruise ship terminal is the Ogden Point breakwater, a popular place for locals to take a stroll along the concrete jetty. From there, grab a coffee at the café and stroll along the water all the way up to Clover Point, breathing in the calming salty sea air.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf: On the James Bay side of the Inner Harbour, tiny Fisherman’s Wharf thrives with its docks of colourful float homes, fish-and-chips kiosks, and working fishers bringing in the day’s catch. A fun way to get here from the Inner Harbour is aboard one of the Harbour Ferries, as known locally as a “Pickle Boat.”
  • The Galloping Goose: A beautiful way to travel around the city is by renting bicycles! If you are looking for an active adventure, the pedestrian-and-bicycle-only trail called the Galloping Goose is a great option. The stretch of the trail close to town will take you across two bridges and through a scenic “tunnel” around the city.

Honourable mentions: Beacon Hill Park, Royal BC Museum 

Solo adventure at Fisherman's Warf in victoria british columbia canada

The Breakwater | Photo: Aly at Flytographer

Solo adventure at Fisherman's Warf in victoria british columbia canada

Fisherman's Wharf | Photo: Aly at Flytographer

Harbour Ferries | Photo: Megan at Flytographer

The best places for drinks in Victoria bc

Where do the locals go to shop in Victoria?

LoJo: Affectionately dubbed LoJo (for Lower Johnson St), this short block between Wharf and Government Streets is jam-packed full of great boutiques like Little Gold, Regional Assembly of Text, Citizen, Still Life, Baggins, Oxford, Rook & Rose, Camera Traders, Fluevog Shoes and historic Market Square. (p.s. Flytographer’s HQ lives here too – stop by if you are in the neighbourhood!)

Upper Fort: Once known as “Antique Row” due to its overabundance of antique shops and auction houses, Fort Street (from Douglas St to Cook St) has recently become a trendy strip for innovative food vendors, fashionable boutiques and start-ups. It still has the odd antique along the way, but most people now hit it for its diversity of great shopping and restaurants. For a place where the local’s unwind and rest, head over to the Fort Common – a beautiful, outdoor patio for the community to take a break in the summer months. 

Munro’sHands-down one of the best bookshops anywhere for its Neo-classical architecture, beautiful interior, intelligent and helpful staff, and well-displayed rows of books. It was started over 50 years ago by famous Canadian author Alice Munro and her then-husband Jim. Prepare to spend hours here.

Silk Road: Custom teas, apothecary, and beautiful mugs are the hallmarks of this favourite Chinatown shop. If you have time, a spa treatment in their basement studio is a sensory treat.

The Milkman’s Daughter: Quirky silk-screened fashion from local designers Smoking Lily with fun gifts and artful accessories in a chic heritage building. You’re guaranteed to come out with something you adore.

Honourable mentions: Russell Books, Roger’s ChocolatesOak Bay Village 

Munro's Books | Photo: Megan at Flytographer

Munro's Books | Photo: Megan at Flytographer

Are you excited to make the most of your trip to Victoria, British Columbia? We have enjoyed creating this local guide to the vibrant, Canadian island destination that is so close to our hearts and are looking forward to capturing your beautiful memories in Victoria soon!

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