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Victoria is one of my favorite places in all of Canada! It has the perfect combination of city life and laid-back island vibes. As British Columbia’s capital, Victoria is packed with food, history, and outdoor adventures.
So if you want to experience that treasured island life on Canada’s West Coast, visit Victoria! We vacation here often, and every time we come, we sign up for some guided tours.
With so many things to see and do in Victoria, we love that these tours show you the best parts of the city from a local’s perspective. But with so many tours to choose from, it can be overwhelming to pick one or two! To help, we’ve narrowed down the best ones to make your trip unforgettable.
From whale watching and seaplane flights to food and history, we’ve got you covered. So keep reading to learn about the best tours in Victoria that you don’t want to miss!
- 1. Classic whale watching
- 2. Zodiac whale watching tour
- 3. Butchart Gardens and Victoria city tour
- 4. Luxury city tour
- 5. Wine and food tasting in the Cowichan Valley
- 6. Bicycle tour
- 7. Seaplane flight
- 8. Malahat Skywalk
- 9. Brewery tour
- 10. Horse-drawn carriage tour
- 11. Food and history tour
- Ocean Island Backpackers – $
- Helm’s Inn – $
- The Embassy Inn – $$
- Fairmont Empress Hotel – $$$
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort – $$$
The BEST Tours in Victoria, BC
1. Classic whale watching
A whale watching tour will truly be a highlight of your trip to Victoria! What’s great is that on these tours, you’ll often see much more than whales. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of sea lions, elephant seals, or different types of whales like the orca, humpback, and minke.
Whale watching tours by boat are the best way to spot these animals! This half-day whale-watching adventure has you sailing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca as you look for orcas and humpback whales. The boat is “semi-covered,” so you have the option to get out on the open sun decks or stay warm and dry in the heated indoor cabin.
The marine naturalists on board are excellent at explaining what you’re seeing and keeping you entertained while searching for whales. Plus, if you don’t see any whales, you can come back on another tour for free.
One of our favorite parts of this tour is the complimentary photo package that is included in the $166 CAD tour cost. They’ll capture photos of whatever whales you spot along with pictures of you and your family. Such a nice keepsake!
This tour is great for families and we saw many children when we went. It’s also nice for couples, especially if you’re planning a honeymoon near Vancouver. The boat typically leaves from the wharf around 12 pm and returns at 5 pm, making it a fun activity to fit into your day while exploring Victoria.
The tour is available from late March to early November. So if you’re heading to Victoria during this period, book your whale-watching experience online here!
2. Zodiac whale watching tour
There are a few whale watching tours in the area, but this Zodiac Whale-Watching Tour is the most adventurous! If you’re a fellow adrenaline junkie or just want to get closer to marine life, this boat experience will knock your socks off!
But all jokes aside, the water is quite chilly, even in the summer. Be sure to dress warmly (and possibly wear another pair of socks).
This is a smaller speedboat that only holds 12 passengers and your guide. Keep in mind that because the boat is smaller, it’ll be a much more exhilarating experience. When we did this tour, we realized it’s an open-air boat … so be prepared to get wet! Luckily the tour offers an “all-weather flotation suit” that while not very fashionable, definitely helps keep you dry.
You can grab your spot on the Zodiac boat for $194 CAD. Because this tour is a more intense option, it’s not recommended for small children, pregnant women, or those with health conditions.
This 3-hour tour picks up on the wharf and there are several departures throughout the day. It’s available from February through October. So if it sounds exciting, book this once-in-a-lifetime experience here!
3. Butchart Gardens and Victoria city tour
Victoria is home to one of the best attractions in BC – the incredible Butchart Gardens. You shouldn’t come all the way to Victoria without taking a tour of the Butchart Gardens, believe me!
If you want to explore Victoria in style, try this private half-day Butchart Gardens and city tour.
You’ll feel like a VIP with a private tour guide and driver to show you around this beautiful city. It’s the perfect tour if you want a comfy ride through all of the top sights in Victoria. It’s also great if you’re on a time crunch, but want to see as much as possible.
I love this tour as it takes you past all the must-see parts of Victoria. You’ll start with a drive to Fisherman’s Wharf, go past the Legislative Buildings, see the iconic Empress Hotel along with Craigdarroch Castle, and more. What I like is that you have some time to get out and take photos along the trip and you’ll hear a bit of the history behind each place when you stop.
By far the best part is when you make the scenic trip through the Vancouver Island countryside to Butchart Gardens. This place is like something right out of a fairytale! You’ll have two hours to explore this family-owned garden estate with about 900 flower and 120 tree varieties. To get a sneak peek at what to expect here, you can check out our complete guide to visiting the Butchart Gardens. But trust me, if you love flowers, you won’t want to miss this!
These 4-hour tours can be booked every hour between 8 am and 2 pm throughout the year so you can see the gardens shine in whatever season you might be visiting!
While this tour definitely has a luxury feel to it, if you’re traveling as a family or with a group of friends, the cost can easily be split. The tour is a flat rate of $550 CAD and can accommodate up to 7 people since you’ll have the entire vehicle to yourself.
Your guide and private transport are all covered in the price. However, you’ll be responsible for any admission fees, meals, and your driver’s tip. You should also bring your camera since there will be many opportunities to snap photos.
If this luxury driving tour around Victoria sounds appealing, check availability and book it online here!
Related Read: The Butchart Gardens aren’t the only nature-filled location on Vancouver Island. To explore majestic giant trees, read all about visiting Cathedral Grove.
4. Luxury city tour
This is one of my favorite private and luxurious city tours in Victoria. Short and sweet, this 2-hour tour takes you through some of the city’s top sights. It’s the perfect option if you don’t have much time or want to squeeze two tours in one day!
Our guide on this tour, Darwin, was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. He went into great detail about the history and significance of every sight we visited. You’ll stop in Chinatown to explore Fan Tan Alley and marvel at Craigdarroch Castle. You’ll also walk through the beautiful gardens at Government House and see the peacocks at Beacon Hill Park.
While this is a driving tour, we got out of the vehicle many times to explore areas on foot. And although the trip is shorter, I never felt rushed and really enjoyed the mix of looking at all the sights and walking around. There are some great photo spots so I highly recommend bringing a camera.
The tour costs $280 CAD per group (up to 7 people) and departs every hour between 8 am to 2 pm daily. You’ll be in a comfortable full-sized SUV meaning there is room for strollers and other small gear. There’s no need to worry about weather either! Umbrellas are provided if it’s a rainy day.
Since this is a private tour, it does sell out. So check availability and book your spot online here!
5. Wine and food tasting in the Cowichan Valley
I love eating and drinking my way through the places I visit. If you can relate, this Cowichan Valley wine and food-tasting tour is the best way to do just that! This half-day tour lasts about 6 hours (starting at 10 am) and includes visits to 3 different wineries and a picnic lunch.
The Cowichan Valley is known as Vancouver Island’s wine country. It includes the area around Lake Cowichan and is lined with many stunning vineyards serving up delicious wines. This tour provides a leisurely way to explore the region’s vineyards and take in the beautiful views.
On this tour, we started with mimosas and baked goods at the first vineyard. Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch served farm-to-table style. The food was light, fresh, and tasty (and they can accommodate dietary restrictions if you give them at least 24-hour notice!). During lunch, we were also offered cider flights from local cideries, which were quite tasty!
To top it off, the last winery had delicious desserts and even better wines. It was the perfect, well-rounded culinary experience.
Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable, making the experience much more enjoyable. More than just food and drinks, you can expect the tour to pass through stunning old-growth forests. You will also have time to explore and shop through the Cowichan Valley. Be sure to bring some extra cash along so you can stock up on wine and goodies along the way!
From November through March, this tour is offered Friday – Sunday. From April through October, tours operate Wednesday – Sunday. The tour requires a minimum of 4-6 guests per booking and costs $159 CAD per person, including guided transportation, wine-tasting fees, and lunch. However, guests must be 19 or older, and this tour is not accessible for those with wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers as there is no storage space in the vehicles.
Overall, this is a great way to spend an afternoon with your friends and taste the local food and wine! To book your trip, pick a date and pay online here.
Related Read: Another fantastic place for wine is near Penticton. The wine tours in the stunning Naramata Bench region near Penticton shouldn’t be missed!
6. Bicycle tour
One of my favorite ways to see a city is to jump on a bike and slowly pedal through the downtown streets. Bike tours are a great way to immerse yourself and get comfortable in a new area. Also, I love that you get more time to enjoy the sights and beauty of Victoria,
This 2-hour bicycle tour through downtown Victoria starts and ends near the harbor at the Huntingdon Manor Hotel. You’ll pass by many must-see sights, including castles and Chinatown, as well as small neighborhood streets. I loved visiting the totem poles and having our guide give us some key information about the area’s history. Overall, the tour gave me a great feel of what life in Victoria is really like.
I was initially apprehensive about biking through a city. However, our friendly, knowledgeable guide made us feel super relaxed while riding down the streets.
We booked this bicycle tour for our first day in Victoria, and I am so glad we did! The tour gave me a good rundown of what to expect from this city and helped us plan where we wanted to spend the rest of our time here.
Tours are offered at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm daily and cost $65 CAD per person (with a minimum of 2 adults per booking). The tour includes a bicycle rental and a guide only. This tour operates in all weather conditions so be sure to dress appropriately and bring a backpack with water and snacks if you need them.
These tours cap at 15 people, so it’s best to book your trip in advance online.
Related Read: If you love these tour ideas, check out the best tours in Vancouver!
7. Seaplane flight
One of the best ways to see Victoria is undoubtedly from the sky! You have the opportunity to witness panoramic views of the city and its coastline, all from the comfort of a small seaplane.
This Victoria Seaplane Tour lasts around 20 minutes and prices start at $143 CAD. The meeting point is conveniently located at the Victoria Harbour Airport, where you’ll meet your pilot. Before you take off, you’ll be briefed on all the areas you’ll see during your trip. Taking off and landing on the water was definitely a highlight for us – you never get used to landing on the water!
We also LOVED our Vancouver seaplane flight which gave us a new perspective on that city. And if you’re traveling between locations, you can take this one-way seaplane flight as one of the ways to travel from Vancouver to Victoria. You get a great view and transportation all in one! It’s the perfect way to bid farewell to Vancouver and say hello to Victoria with fantastic scenery including Stanley Park, the Gulf Islands, and BC’s parliament buildings. This flight is around $267 CAD and leaves hourly between 7:30 am to 6:30 pm.
If you have a slightly larger budget, the Butchart Gardens Experience is definitely worth it! Start your day with an incredible seaplane flight from Victoria to the stunning Butchart Gardens. You’ll enjoy afternoon tea and snacks at the garden’s restaurant. Afterward, you’ll have 90 minutes to stroll around the gardens before a private car takes you back to the harbor at 3 pm. Prices for this experience start at $327 CAD, but it is the perfect romantic day in Victoria.
All flights are weather-dependent and if you can’t fly, you’ll be offered a new date or a full refund. So if you’ve never been on a seaplane before, this is the perfect opportunity to try it!
Related Read: A seaplane ride is also part of a lot of the best tours from Vancouver to Victoria!
8. Malahat Skywalk
The Malahat Skywalk is one of my top-rated activities on Vancouver Island. This 10-story spiral tower is surrounded by fir trees and breathtaking views. Here, you’ll walk through the forest and ascend the spiraled ramp to reach the ultimate viewpoint. At the top, you’ll get a 360° view of the area’s islands, mountains, and fjords.
Although you can visit the skywalk on your own, this Malahat Skywalk tour makes the experience more convenient and affordable. It doesn’t include a guide through the park but does include transportation and entry ticket fees, so I’d still consider it a tour.
In fact, we really enjoyed going at our own pace through the skywalk and were happy not to have a guide for this part. There is a cafe and gift shop on-site, as well as lots of places to sit and enjoy the stunning views of the area.
You are allotted 2 hours to explore the skywalk which was plenty of time to not feel rushed and get the most from the experience.
When we were here, we strolled through the forest before slowly climbing the spiral ramp that eventually leads 250 meters (820 feet) above sea level. Here, we had the best coastal and forest views. If you’re brave enough, you might even like stepping out on the suspended adventure net. I’m a fan of adrenaline, but even this was a bit scary for me!
To return, you can slide down the 20-meter (65-foot) spiral slide which, trust me, is not just for kids – I had a blast!
This tour is offered Friday – Sunday from May to the beginning of September and costs $108 CAD per person. We were happy to opt for the tour since roundtrip transportation is included, and the skywalk is about 30 minutes from Victoria. Plus, our driver John was incredibly friendly and gave us a ton of information about the area.
It’s a great deal overall! So if you want to visit the Malahat Skywalk, book your tour ahead of time.
Related Read: The Malahat Skywalk is also one of our favorite stops on the drive from Nanaimo to Victoria!
9. Brewery tour
Vancouver Island has a vibrant brewing community – and if you love beer, this is the perfect way to check it out! On this Victoria brewery tour, you’ll travel in a comfortable van, stopping for craft beer tastings at three of the best breweries in Victoria.
The lineup of breweries changes from time to time. When we went, we started at Category 12 where we got a behind-the-scenes peek into how they make their beer. From there, we visited Vancouver Island Brewing and Swans Brewery, and enjoyed a full pint’s worth (16 oz) of beer tasters at each place.
Swans Brewery was my favorite because they had beautiful First Nations artwork on the walls and their food was super tasty. So if you plan to eat, I’d wait for this stop!
The 3-hour brewery tour costs $120 CAD per person and can accommodate groups of 4-14 people. It’s offered at 4 pm, but available dates change throughout the year so take a look at their online schedule. The tour covers transport to and from the meeting point across the street from the Fairmont Empress Hotel and all the beer tastings, but be sure to bring spending money with you. If you’re anything like me, you may end up buying quite a few cans to take home!
We found this tour to be a really good value for what you get. Not only did our guide provide fun commentary, but we didn’t have to worry about driving or logistics.
So if you want to sit back and enjoy beer tastings at Victoria’s finest breweries, book your tour online!
10. Horse-drawn carriage tour
A horse-drawn carriage tour is a unique and relaxing way to explore Victoria. However, it’s always important to use an ethical company that takes good care of its animals. Luckily, we did the research to find just the right one!
We went with Tally Ho Tours, Victoria’s longest-running horse-drawn carriage company, which is widely recognized for its excellent animal care. Tally Ho offers a variety of tour options, from a quick 15-minute spin around the Parliament Buildings to a 90-minute bespoke tour of the city, which can be tailored to your interests.
With a range of tour options, you can pick what best suits your budget, with the 15-minute ride coming in at $65 CAD up to 90-minute tours for $315 CAD – the price covers the carriage and isn’t per person. Tours are offered year-round (excluding November). But hours fluctuate so it’s best to check their schedule and book ahead.
Whichever tour you choose, it’s a great way to see some of the top attractions in Victoria while enjoying a bit of old-fashioned charm!
11. Food and history tour
Last, but certainly not least, on our list is this Victoria guided food and history tour. This is hands-down one of the best walking tours in Victoria! I love learning about the places we visit and I love eating so you know this entire experience was for me! We heard so many great reviews about this tour, and I’m pleased to say it did not disappoint.
This is a walking tour which helped us build up that appetite. But be sure to dress appropriately as you’ll be guided on foot to the top sights.
Along the way, you’ll pass by the Parlament Buildings, Chinatown, Old Town, and the famous Inner Harbour. You’ll stop for tastings of delicious craft beer, teas, chocolates, charcuterie board eats, tapas, and more. The food was from places I would have never found on my own and was absolutely delicious.
Our guide, Andy, was very knowledgeable about the different locations and made the experience incredibly enjoyable. He also recommended many great pubs and restaurants that we later visited during our trip.
The tour is offered Tuesday – Saturday and costs $85 CAD per person (children under 3 are free). You have two departure times (11 am and 2 pm) so you can turn it into lunch or an afternoon snack. The tour lasts 2 hours starting from the Victoria Public Market and ending at the Greater Destination Visitor Centre.
This tour offers excellent value and it’s worth it for the food alone! It does sell out, so secure your spot online in advance.
Related Read: Just a quick boat ride from Victoria, Salt Spring Island is also full of tasty, local food. For more info, read this complete guide to visiting Salt Spring Island which includes many fun things to do there as well.
Where to Stay in Victoria, BC
With so much to do in Victoria, you’ll want to spend some time here. While you could easily stay a week, even just a few days or a weekend will leave you enough time to try a few of these tours we mentioned!
Victoria is most popular during the warm, summery months (think May to August), so if you’re planning on coming then, make sure to book a hotel well in advance.
Some great hotels and hostels in Victoria that we love are:
Ocean Island Backpackers – $
Ocean Island Backpackers Inn is a budget hostel located in downtown Victoria, close to lots of bars and restaurants and within walking distance of the harbor. The best part is that breakfast, dinner, and one free drink every night at the pub downstairs are included in your stay!
It’s perfect if you’re backpacking across BC on a budget – a bunk here is around $44 CAD. Private rooms are also available (more around $130 CAD) if sharing isn’t your thing. Book a stay on HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.
Helm’s Inn – $
For a budget-friendly hotel with space to spare, Helm’s Inn has you covered. This all-suite hotel means you have plenty of space with kitchenettes so you can cook up a quick meal before heading out to explore.
Some of the best sights are SO close with Beacon Hill Park across the street and the Legislature and Royal BC Museum only a stone’s throw away. Rooms start at $110 CAD and can be booked online here.
The Embassy Inn – $$
Stay in the heart of Victoria’s harbor at The Embassy Inn. If you’re taking the ferry here, this hotel is so convenient with its location right near the docks. You can easily walk around to see the sights nearby and grab the included breakfast before heading out every morning. Rooms here are around $170 CAD, and you can check availability and book online here.
Fairmont Empress Hotel – $$$
This Fairmont Empress Hotel is so beautiful, staying here is an experience all in itself! It’s one of those grand railway hotels built across Canada that looks more like a castle than a hotel.
The rooms here are elegant and luxurious – you’ll see why this is where royalty stays when visiting Victoria. Grab afternoon tea, book a spa treatment, or just wander around the gardens. Rooms here start around $350-400 CAD per night and you can check availability online here.
Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort – $$$
As soon as you see “resort” in the name, you know you’re in for a treat with this one! Enjoy a bit of luxury at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort located near the harbor. The view is spectacular looking out onto the water during the day or seeing the lights of the parliament buildings at night.
Once you’re done touring Victoria, come back to the hotel for a dip in the indoor pool or head out on the tennis courts. Rooms here are around the $300 CAD range. Check out all the different rooms available and book your stay here.
For even more options, click here to browse all hotels in Victoria!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
Victoria is one of my favorite places in British Columbia, and it’s no surprise it gets about 4 million visitors a year. Booking a tour is a great way to see all the sights and find some unique and beautiful places you might not have discovered on your own. After trying many guided tours in the city, we’re confident that these are the best tours in Victoria!
We hope you enjoy one or more of these options on your trip to Victoria! If you found this article useful, check out my other blogs about Canada. If you’re sticking to Vancouver Island, the articles below might also come in handy. We hope you have a wonderful trip, and thanks for reading!
18 BEST Stops on the Drive from Victoria to Tofino
15 BEST Things to do in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island
31 BEST Things to do in Parksville, BC