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Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. When you mention this city, what do you think of? If you thought flowers, great weather and friendly people, you were right! You can find all of them here – even in winter. Victoria is known for its many parks and beautiful sea views, and the mild winter weather allows for a variety of different activities to enjoy day and night.
Ask any local Victorian for recommendations on where to go and what to do, and they’ll be happy to recommend their favorite places. Here are some of our top picks.
Find out more about living in Victoria with our guide to the city’s best winter activities.
1. But chart Gardens
This famous garden is a must-see when you visit Victoria. This is a former stone quarry that has been meticulously transformed over time into a beautiful landscape with thousands of flowers and themed gardens.
It blooms year-round and the flowers change depending on the time of year. During the Christmas season, from March 1st to March 6th, Butchart Gardens is decorated with Christmas lights and is truly magical. Skate on the outdoor pond, listen to carols, enjoy a good meal or hot chocolate at the coffee shop or restaurant.
Accessible by car and bus and open from 9am to 9pm.
2. Gingerbread display at The Parkside Hotel and Spa
Every year, this fundraiser, Habitat , is open to the public from September 16 to September 5. Here’s a fun display of gingerbread masterpieces for all ages to enjoy. There are professional-grade gingerbread creations as well as casual home entries.
Best of all, visiting this attraction is free. If you’d like to vote for your favorite piece, you can make a small donation to support Habitat for Humanity’s goal of helping low-income families find affordable housing.
It is located in the lobby of the Parkside Hotel in downtown Victoria and is open from 9am to 9pm.
3. Take a carriage ride
This popular and unique event is a great way to see the streets of downtown Victoria.
Tally-Ho Carriage Rides offers a variety of different tours from the city center daily from 11am to 7pm. Choose from 30- to 90-minute rides in a carriage drawn by beautiful Clydesdale, Percheron and Belgian horses. The carriages are driven by friendly uniformed guides who detail the history of the sights you see on your journey. Bring gloves and a hat to keep warm!
4. Ice skating
Ice skating is a Canadian national sport and it’s a lot of fun and a great sport.
If you’ve never tried it, why not go to one of the few arenas around Victoria? Panorama Recreation Center , Save Food Memorial Center , Oak Bay Recreation Center and GR Pierx Recreation Center all offer public skating options during the day and night.
You can rent skates and helmets for a small fee (highly recommended for safety). Many skating rinks are decorated with beautiful lights and even Christmas trees during Christmas time, and you’ll hear Christmas music during public skating times.
If you want to get serious about learning your skating skills, there are also some private lessons with trained instructors. Try this sport, you won’t regret it!
5. Imax Films at the Royal BC Museum
When the weather isn’t warm and comfortable outside, head to the Royal BC Museum and enjoy a movie on the giant Imax movie screen.
The Imax Cinema presents state-of-the-art 25D films in 18K laser projection on a massive 3 x 4 meter screen. The 45-minute Imax films focus on a variety of topics, from nature shows about pandas to surfing in Fiji, heli-skiing, rescue dogs, drag racing and more.
There is a small concession, you can buy snacks for the movie, their popcorn is delicious!
6. Bars with live music
Victoria has numerous bars and nightclubs in the city centre. You can find a variety of music to suit your taste at bars such as The Bard and the Banker , Hermann’s Jazz Club , V Lounge Sports Bar, and Sticky Ticket . Most of them have specials on drinks and food during Happy Hour , some with dance floors.
The drinking age in Victoria is 19 and two IDs are required to enter a bar. When you’re in Victoria, listening to local bands in a pub is a great way to meet and talk to new people.
The event has become very popular in Victoria over the past few years. If you like a challenge, head to one of the 3 escape rooms Victoria offers – Quest Reality Games, Victoria Escape Games and Escape Warriors – with a group of friends for an interactive live escape game.
Together you and your team solve riddles, puzzles and challenges and move from room to room. There are a variety of theme packs to choose from, from horror, zombies, wizards and magic, murder investigations, and more. Be the fastest to complete the challenge and get your team’s name on the Wall of Fame!
8. Board Game Cafe
This is another activity that has recently taken off in Victoria, especially among young people.
There are 5 different cafes offering hundreds of board games that you can play with friends while enjoying snacks and drinks. You can go alone with other friendly players, or with your group of friends, choose any game, and stay as long as you want.
9. Firing ceramics
If you’re looking for something different and a way to express your artistic side, fired ceramics might just be your style.
This is an in-line paint and pottery studio near downtown Victoria where you can try out a variety of designs and colors and create your own masterpiece. You can choose from over 150 different pre-made clay designs to paint and color in, then take the time to decorate them into beautiful designs using their stamps, stencils, and sponges. They also have helpful staff for advice.
Once your creations are complete, you leave the pottery for a week, allowing them to be glazed and fired in the kiln. Small pieces of pottery start as low as $5, with most averaging around $25. check it out!
10. Hike in Golden Creek Park
If the outdoors is your thing, there’s no better place to walk and explore than Golden Creek Park . About 17 kilometers from central Victoria, it’s accessible by bus and car and is a popular spot for hikes through old-growth forest.
There are wide, flat trails, perfect for both experienced and inexperienced hikers, and some lovely waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might spot eagles, deer, and even bears from a distance. There is also a nature center where you can get a lot of information on local wildlife.
11. Hot chocolate and snacks at Murchies Tea and Coffee
The store is a Victorian landmark dating back 125 years. It’s located in downtown Victoria and is a popular place to stop for a snack and drink after shopping. You’ll find delicious pastries and sandwiches, as well as a wide range of teas and coffees from around the world. If you’re looking for a souvenir for family or friends back home, you can find gift baskets at Murchis too.
12. Visit the bookstore
Victoria is known for its wide variety of bookstores, and they’re a great place to visit when the weather cools down. You can pick up new or used books at places like Indigo at Mayfair Mall, Monroe’s Books and Russell Books in downtown, and Boren Books at Hillside Mall.
Each bookstore has its own flavor and personality, and some even have coffee shops where you are welcome to sit and read while enjoying drinks and snacks.