Best Attractions & Activities

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Victoria to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.


If you're interested in Native American art and culture, you'll definitely want to plan a trip up to Duncan to visit the Quw'utsun' Cultural Centre. On the premises is the Khenipsen Artisan Centre, the largest carving house in the world, where you can watch a totem being carved and even try your hand at creating your own. There are exhibits throughout the six-acre property, and guests are welcome to stroll the grounds. Be sure to visit the Riverwalk Café to sample traditional Native foods, and the gift shop. The Quw'utsun' people knit fabulously beautiful (and warm!) wool sweaters, and this is the perfect place to pick one up.

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Descend 15 feet to the lower level of this glass-enclosed observatory and you can watch over 5000 species of marine life in their natural habitat. Sharks, eels, starfish, salmon, and "Armstrong" the giant octopus are all visible as they go about their daily business. The upper level features a "petting pool" where you can touch some of the sea's more gentle creatures. The provincial marine mammal rescue program brings injured and orphaned seals here – you can watch them recuperate in areas next to the observatory.

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Hundreds of colorful butterflies and moths flutter freely through this tropical greenhouse. The Garden provides an identification chart, and then allows visitors to explore on their own. Naturalists are also available to explain butterfly biology, and a display area shows the butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. Here you can view the largest moth in the world; the Southeast Asian Giant Atlas moth may have a wingspan of nearly one foot! A restaurant and gift shop are available on-site.

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Love bugs? This museum has over 30 species of insects and arachnids including live scorpions, tarantulas, beetles and grasshoppers. The tour guides will even let you hold some of the gentler insects on display. After your tour be sure to stop in the gift shop for some honey or, for the brave at heart, edible insect snacks.

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In 1946 the exiled Georgian Prince Nicholas Abkhazi and his new wife Marjorie (Peggy) Pemberton-Carter began what would become an ever-evolving landscape masterpiece. The grounds consist of a series of "rooms," each with its own distinct personality: a Rhododendron Woodland Garden, the open space of the South Lawn, and the "Yangtze River" named for the view from Peggy's former Shanghai home. Historic buildings dot the property, and afternoon tea in the mansion (inside the Abkhazi's former parlor) is a must. The history of this garden and its original owners is fascinating; don't miss it!

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More than 400 slot machines. Numerous games, like roulette, blackjack, poker and mini baccarat. Lots of space (35,000 square feet to be precise). A restaurant, a deli and more than 350 parking spaces. What are you waiting for?

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University Of Victoria

The University of Victoria's amazing collection of rhododendrons is a must see for any amateur gardener or plant lover. There are more than 500 species and hybrids here, many started from seed. The 6-acre site is beautifully landscaped with an additional 1600 trees, bushes and plants. Prime viewing is bloom time in April and May.

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Elk Lake / Cordova Bay

A registered non-profit organization, the HCP manages acres of demonstration gardens and greenspace in addition to an accredited university, the Pacific Horticulture College. The site is comprised of about 100 acres, but only about five acres are cultivated. Themed gardens include a Children's Garden, drought tolerant plants, a rose garden, a rhododendron and hosta plot, the well-known Takata Japanese Garden, and vegetable and fruit gardens. Many of the individual gardens are cared for by students and local gardening clubs.

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Inner Harbour

If you happen to be in Victoria during one of its rainy spells, this is the ideal attraction to visit. Spend a couple of hours examining dozens of tiny exhibits depicting scenes from all over the globe. You'll visit the Great Canadian Railway, European castles, Olde London Towne of 1670, outer space, the Canadian frontier, and the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. There's also an array of intricately decorated dollhouses, and the world's smallest operational sawmill. Imagine how much space these exhibits would require if they were life-size!

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The Butchart Gardens
Photo courtesy of David Markham

When the limestone quarry on the Butchart family estate was exhausted, Mrs. Butchart decided a bit of landscaping would spruce up the area. A few years later in 1904, the magnificent Sunken Garden was opened to the public. Since then the family has added a rose garden, an Italian garden and a Japanese garden. More than 1 million plants are displayed throughout the course of a year, including 700 varieties of flowers. Hungry after a day of prowling the 50-acre gardens? Lunch, dinner and a lavish afternoon tea are served in the Dining Room Restaurant located in the Butchart's original home. More casual fare is available in the Blue Poppy Restaurant. Garden closing hours vary widely from season to season, as do admission rates; call ahead to avoid disappointment.

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