A Look At Victoria
Victoria's reputation for friendliness has spread far and wide, and readers of Condé Nast Traveler recently named it the world's third most friendly city, just behind Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia.
People who live here have a lot to smile about and they enjoy an exceptional quality of life and a slower pace than you find in most big cities. The moderate weather, active lifestyle, superb amenities, comfortable size and welcoming atmosphere make Victoria one of Canada's favourite places to live and retire.
Introduce yourself to one of three resident pods of Orca whales. Stretch your legs out cycling. Dive deep at one of the very best scuba sites, right at the city’s front door. Tee off at Vancouver Island's first Jack Nicklaus-designed course. Unwind your clock at an urban spa. Wind up your taste buds with a fine dining experience. Victorians love to eat, and the region is home to the most restaurants per capita of any city in Canada.
Greater Victoria's scenic beauty and charm never go out of season – and, with a temperate, sub-Mediterranean climate, the mildest in Canada, there's a longer season here for just about everything. This region receives an average of over 2,180 hours of sunlight annually and about 600 millimetres (24 inches) of rain, the least rainfall of any place on Canada’s west coast.
The gentle climate nurtures life, and gardens bloom all year. Victoria has the highest number of annual snow-free days of any major city in Canada; it hardly ever freezes, and when it does, the thaw usually comes quickly. Summers are cooled by refreshing ocean breezes, so the temperature rarely climbs above 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit).
Victoria is an excellent place to lace up your shoes and go for a walk, and there’s plenty to explore around the Inner Harbour, the heart of the compact and accessible downtown. This is where the city puts out the welcome mat for the more than 3.5 million people who visit each year. You can walk from the wild and pounding waves of the oceanfront past the Parliament Buildings (where free daily tours are offered) and then through the low-rise heritage commercial centre to the oldest Chinatown in Canada in less than an hour.
The Victoria Visitor Information Centre, an art déco Moderne styled building that was once a service station, perches on the northern flank of the Inner Harbour. The centre's friendly and helpful staff provide information on places to see and stay, maps, tours and a whole lot more.
Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Dallas Road, fronting the Strait of Juan de Fuca, offer up a delightful mix of walkers, horse-drawn buggies, cyclists, tour buses and cars. The 800-metre-long (2,500-foot) Ogden Point Breakwater, created in 1916 with more than one million tons of rocks and 10 thousand granite blocks, is a popular and scenic place for a stroll. If your feet get tired, hop aboard a double-decker tour bus, or hire a horse-drawn carriage for a unique way to see the sights.
Just south of downtown, 74-hectare (183-acre) Beacon Hill Park is a garden of flowering plants, wide-canopied Garry oak and arbutus trees, a petting zoo for the kids, and the world's tallest totem pole, at 38.8 metres (127 feet). The totem, created by renowned Kwakwaka'wakw artist, Mungo Martin, in 1956, was restored in 2001 and repainted in 2011.
Once all the activity and fresh air sharpens the appetite, choices for food are plentiful. Enjoy your food as fast or as slow as you like it, and go local with mouth-watering selections from a dozen community markets which sell vegetables, meat and fruit fresh from farm to fork. Hundreds of farms on the Saanich Peninsula, just a 20- to 30-minute drive from downtown, stoke the passion and creativity of local chefs.
The culinary influences and ingredients from the world over can be found in places like the food shops of Chinatown, which offer a wide variety of choices from exotic fruits and vegetables, noodles, curried beef buns and sauces. We’re renowned for Canada’s best tea, coffee and brew pub culture, and Victoria has a great assortment of locally run coffee houses. The city’s baristas regularly win national competitions for their craft.
Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel has been steeped in tradition since 1908, and every year the hotel serves some 750,000 cups. Victoria’s fantastic brew pubs put quality ahead of quantity, brewing up a renaissance of the glorious tradition of fine beer.
Take your palate on an adventure with winery tours on the Saanich Peninsula, which is home to 1,000 locally-owned farms. The wineries on the South Island are small and family owned, and they are dedicated to creating exceptional wines, many sold on location and available at select restaurants. Most wineries invite visitors for wine tastings and tours, and some serve food, too.
Long renowned for tranquility and easy pace of life, Victoria knows a thing or two about renewing spirits and soothing souls. A spa treatment is the perfect end to a day spent soaking up the sights and outdoor activities, and many visitors make a spa getaway the primary reason for their visit. Several hotels and resorts now offer spa packages designed to help their guests rejuvenate, calm and invigorate.
With such a welcoming atmosphere, enticing array of activities and adventures, and comfortable surroundings, it’s no wonder Victoria is one of the world's favourite destinations. “One of the Top 10 Places to Visit in 2012,” according to Coastal Living magazine. We couldn't agree more, and hope you will enjoy some of our famous friendliness and fun. Feel free to pass it along!