Welcome to Victoria!
We are so excited you are coming to our beloved hometown for a visit! The team at HQ has compiled a list of our favourite things to eat, see and do to help you enjoy this beautiful westcoast city as much we do. And do not forget to make time to stop into our office in Market Square - we always have a glass of chilled Prosecco waiting for you.
1. Bodega. One of our favourite spots for food and drinks in town. Enjoy Spanish tapas in a well-designed space where the chefs and mixologists work side-by-side right behind the well-stocked bar.
2. Tacofino. When we do team taco lunches, we get the good stuff from here.
3. The Salt & Pepper Fox. Right across the street from our office, this tiny little take-away offers fresh gourmet sandwiches, salads, and the best homemade cookies around.
4. Yalla. Come for the authentic falafels, shawarma, halloumi and oh-so-tasty frozen mint lemonade. In summer, take your order to go and find a seat in the hidden courtyard of Fort Common behind the restaurant. (Look for the courtyard entrance between Starbucks and Be Love, just a door or two down from Yalla.)
5. Fol Epi. Find delicious pastries and the best baguettes in town at Fol Epi. Adjoining resto Agrius serves up innovative cocktails and a celebrated locally-sourced menu.
6. La Tana. The whole office is addicted to master baker Claudio's authentic Italian breads, pastries and made-to-order panini.
7. Mo:Lé. There's always a queue to get in, but having brunch at Mo:Lé means it's going to be a good day.
8. Foo Ramen Bar. If you're feeling like noodles, this is the place to go.
9. Kid Sister Ice Cream. Located in historic Fan Tan Alley, this ice cream shop serves up organic frozen treats.
10. Nourish. On the other side of the Inner Harbour towards James Bay, this modern restaurant in a heritage house is the perfect place for a quick coffee or a leisurely meal.
11. Relish. Delicious homey food in a welcoming café.
12. Brasserie L'École. Simple yet delicious French country food in a chic bistro atmosphere. No reservations taken, so come early.
13. 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.
14. Zambri's. Beloved by locals for almost 20 years, Zambri's brings the crowds for its hand-made fresh pastas and other authentic Italian dishes served in a cool modern space.
15. Part & Parcel. A little bit outside the downtown core, but worth the trip for fresh sandwiches and salads.
1. Habit. We frequent the Chinatown shop for its chill Victoria vibe.
2. Hey Happy. Directly underneath our office, we each of us haunt this joint daily.
3. Discovery Coffee. They roast a mean bean and have several popular locations around the city.
4. Murchie's. Get off the hipster train in favour of the OG of Victoria coffee (and tea) shops.
5. Bean Around the World. Good coffee, good vibes at this long-standing Chinatown café.
6. Hide + Seek. If you find yourself in charming Oak Bay, stop in at this trendy nook (and especially on Sundays when they serve up gourmet waffles).
1. The Drake. We can see the Drake's inviting patio from our office windows across the square, and its excellent selection of beers on tap lures us over for frequent after-work drinks.
2. Q Bar. Newly renovated and very posh, the bar named for Queen Victoria at the Empress Hotel is always busy and always worth it.
3. Little Jumbo. One of the first bars on the city's craft-cocktail scene, this hip bistro brings home all the style.
4. Swans. Both a brewpub and hotel, come for the house beer and excellent gallery of First Nations' artwork on the walls.
5. Veneto. Good food, tasty drinks, beautiful interior. Done, done and done.
6. Clive's Classic Lounge. One of the top cocktail lounges in the city, Clive's is famous for its innovative creations.
7. Bard and Banker. A traditional English-style pub, this is the place to come for live music, solid drinks, and an energetic crowd.
8. Phillips. One of Victoria's most popular small-batch breweries, Phillips offers tours and tastings to whet your palette.
9. The Churchill. Like a tiny, secret oasis in the midst of the tourist track, this bar serves up an extensive selection of whiskies, cocktails and local draught beer.
10. The Local. If you're looking for a sunny patio with a water view filled with tourists and locals alike, this buzzy bar will fit the bill.
1. LoJo. Our office is on Lower Johnson Street, affectionately dubbed LoJo, and we are spoilt for shopping right at our feet. This short block between Wharf St and Government St is jam-packed full of great shops like Little Gold, Regional Assembly of Text, Citizen, Still Life, Baggins, Oxford, Rook & Rose, Camera Traders, and recently-opened Fluevog Shoes.
2. Roger's Chocolates. Yes, every tourist will be packing home some of these famous chocolates, but a trip to the original shop on Government Street is a sweet-tooth's fantasy.
3. Munro's. Hands-down the best bookshop anywhere for its Neo-classical architecture, beautiful interior, intelligent and helpful staff, and well-displayed rows of books. Prepare to spend hours here.
4. 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.
5. The Milkman's Daughter. Quirky silk-screened fashion with fun gifts and artful accessories in a chic heritage building. You're guaranteed to come out with something you adore.
6. Emporium Dragon Alley. Find naturally-inspired home goods and accessories in this tiny shop tucked away in historic Dragon Alley.
7. Chintz & Co. In a pretty ivy-covered brick building, this homewares store is a visual feast spread over two floors.
8. Nicholas Randall. A well-curated selection of giftware, clothing, cards, and baby goods, this Oak Bay shop is on the shopping circuit for many of us.
9. Pigeonhole Home Store. A pretty little outlet on the way to Oak Bay filled with vintage furniture and housewares.
10. Hold General Store. On the outskirts of the city in Vic West, this shop specializes in the simple and elegant.
1. 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.
2. Upper Fort. Once known as "Antique Row" due to its overabundance of antiques 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.
3. Royal BC Museum. It's on every tourist's itinerary, but it's also a favourite thing to do for locals - it's that good! RBCM is a world-class museum well worth at least a half-day exploring its treasure trove of BC history and art.
4. Beacon Hill Park. This beautiful urban park is full of flowers, trees, expansive ocean views and best of all, baby goats!
5. 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.
1. Ride the pickle boats. Get around different points of the city via the Harbour Ferry, aka the "pickle boats," with a variety of stops where you can hop on/hop off. If you're at the harbour at the right time, you can watch all the captains start their day by synching up their boats in a fun "water ballet."
2. Walk the 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 cement jetty.
3. Clover Point to Ogden Point. Another favourite walk starts at the roundabout at Clover Point and follows the seaside path along the Dallas Road waterfront to the breakwater at Ogden Point.
4. Robert Bateman Centre. Housed in the city's elegant former railway station, Robert Bateman's gallery features his work as Canada's preeminent wildlife artist.
5. Ghostly Walks. Victoria is well-known for being a haunted city, and this tour company gives you all the dirt behind some of our most-famous (and infamous) ghosts.
Want more ideas? Check out HelloBC's page on Victoria.