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6 BEST Walking Tours in Victoria, BC for Tourists in 2024

6 BEST Walking Tours in Victoria, BC for Tourists in 2024

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Victoria is a gorgeous coastal city and one of the best places to visit in British Columbia. There’s so much to see and do here, from whale watching and eating in amazing restaurants to visiting all the trendy neighborhoods. It can all feel a bit overwhelming, which is why we’d recommend taking a walking tour! You can head outside, get some exercise, and see all the top sights around Victoria.

Having lived in nearby Vancouver, we loved escaping the city to try new tours in Victoria. We discovered walking tours in particular are a great way to get to know the area. In our opinion, the best ones take you to see must-see locations as well as hidden gems (the kind only locals know about). Luckily, most of these tours were super well-organized and had very knowledgeable guides.

However, not all walking tours are created equal. After sampling many, we found our favorites and compiled this list of the best walking tours in Victoria. Whether you’re into craft beer, ghosts, or history, there’s a tour for you! And if you simply want to sample as much local food as possible, we’ve got you covered.  

So if you’re heading to Victoria and interested in walking tours, keep reading. We’ll break down the highlights of each tour so you can find the best one for you.

Why book a walking tour in Victoria, BC?

The Empress Building and the water in Victoria, BC
Explore the city the easy way!

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is located on the stunning Vancouver Island. But what truly makes it so special is all the history, culture, and of course, food! When you first arrive, it can be hard to know where to start. Walking tours are a great way to get your bearings, especially on your first day in Victoria.

Plus, the guides of these tours are local experts, so you can discover the inner workings of the city. You’ll see some of the must-see spots as well as more hidden local favorites.

It’s an easy way to tick off many of your Victoria bucket list items in one go. And because they tend to be shorter tours, they also make a great option for people who have limited time in the city (like those stopping here on a cruise).  

We like to do a walking tour on our first day in a new city since it allows us to get a feel for the area and learn lots of cool facts! It’s also a great way to stretch your legs after a day of traveling.

Plus, if we’re on a food tour (which we try often!), we can fill up on tasty treats without worrying about where to eat. And as we’re walking around, we make lots of mental notes of where we’ll want to return later.  

So if you don’t know Victoria well (or want to get to know it better!), we’d highly recommend a walking tour. And below, we’ve outlined are 6 favorite options. Hopefully, you can get a feel for each and figure out which is the best for you!

Our TOP Victoria Walking Tour

Flowers and Victoria harbor on Vancouver Island, BC
The beautiful Victoria Harbour

Whoever came up with the idea of combining a history tour with a foodie experience is a genius! This 2-hour guided food and history tour of Victoria explores some real hidden gems in the city, and the guides are full to the brim with fun facts and intriguing stories about the local area.

Tickets for this tour cost $90 CAD per person and can be booked online here. This experience also includes all food samples and admission fees, so it’s great value too!

Best Walking Tours in Victoria

1. Victoria Guided Food and History Tour

The-parliamentary-building-in-Victoria-BC-1
The history and architecture are rich in Victoria!
Fish on a food tour in Victoria, BC
So delicious, and there are tons of options depending on dietary requirements!

If you enjoyed Vancouver’s food tours, then you’ll definitely want to do the same in Victoria! This guided walking tour is perfect for both history buffs and foodies. The guides are super knowledgeable about Victoria’s rich history and do an excellent job of weaving that into the local cuisine – which you get to eat, of course!

When we took this tour, we loved learning about all of the different cultures within Victoria’s core. But we didn’t just listen to a history lesson – we got to sample the various cultures’ cuisines at the same time! From tacos to tapas, you’re bound to enjoy all the tasty treats on this tour.  

This tour hits all of the top spots, including Fan Tan Alley, Goverment Street, and the Gate of Harmonious Interest. However, my personal favorite was Trounce Alley. This small street is a complete hidden gem and is easy to miss if you don’t know about it.

In this alley, we stopped at The Tapa Bar which is a huge hit with locals. It offers classic Spanish fare including seafood and sangria – both were excellent!

Sidenote: At the entrance to the alley, you might also notice Bodega, a Spanish wine bar. Bodega isn’t usually part of the tour, but be sure to put it on your list of places to stop. We suggest coming here for a glass of vino in the evening when the alley is beautifully lit up with string lights. So, we definitely suggest you return on your own after dark!

This 2-hour tour begins at the Victoria Public Market, where you’ll jump right into some fun facts and food. Tours are offered Tuesday – Saturday, and you can choose from an 11 am or 2 pm start, but make sure to bring your appetite! Be prepared to enjoy cheese, chocolate, tea, tapas, and craft beer (for those over 19).

Samples, admission fees, and your guide are all included in the $90 CAD price, but plan to spend money on tips and any extras. Tours will end at the Visitor Center which is about a 12-minute walk from the starting point.

Exploring the different alleys and squares in Victoria really makes this tour special. So if you want an insider’s scoop into the history and food scene, don’t hesitate to book this awesome tour here!  

Related Read: If you’re also traveling to Vancouver, read about the best Granville Island tours here. This island is also full of yummy food, markets, and sightseeing!

2. Historical Victoria Walking Tour  

Bailey walks down Fantan Alley in China Town in Victoria BC
Exploring Fan Tan Alley in our free time!
Daniel on Government Street in Victoria BC

This very affordable walking tour is led by a local historian. When we went, we were so impressed with all his knowledge! As we strolled through the quant neighborhoods of the city, he shared fascinating facts about each one, including some scandals.

This tour is about 1.5 hours, which felt like the perfect amount of time. The guides are really passionate about their city and always have interesting anecdotes that you won’t find in guidebooks. Trust me, there has been a fair bit of drama throughout the years so you won’t get bored!   

Another great thing about historical walking tours in particular is that you can meet other like-minded travelers. So if you’re a history fan, you can geek out on all the cool stories – and maybe even grab a coffee after. And while walking around, you can scope out cute cafes and cocktail bars. After our tour, we grabbed drinks with the other people we met, and we’re still in touch with them to this day! 

Tours are offered every Saturday rain or shine. They meet on Wharf Street at 2 pm and end in Chinatown. Headsets are provided to make sure you can hear all the fascinating details. You just need to turn up and make sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Priced at only $21 CAD, it’s hard not to join this tour. So if you want an educational (and fun!) walking tour, grab this awesome deal here!

Related Read: If you’re based in Vancouver, but hoping to see Victoria, you’ve got options. Check out these tours from Vancouver to Victoria here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

3. Downtown Victoria Food and City Tour

Bailey walks in front of the Legislative Building in Victoria BC
The architecture is so beautiful in Victoria!

We recommend this 2-hour Food & City Tour for anyone who wants to get a real taste of Victoria! It takes you to some amazing local haunts to try a diverse selection of goodies, including tea, tacos, pastries, and other street foods. The guides have a great rapport with the shopkeepers, so you really feel like you’re getting the inside scoop on Victoria’s food and culture.

There are several tours in Victoria that explore the downtown area, but this one really hones in on the local culinary scene. You’ll walk down Fort and Blanchard Streets which are super trendy and full of cute boutiques, art, and of course, food! On our walk, we enjoyed Korean hot dogs, local wines and cheeses, colorful macaroons, and much more.

We also loved stopping at Russell Books, a huge bookstore that is wildly popular in Victoria. It’s one of those family-run establishments that is well-known for carrying rare titles.

Across the street, you’ll find Crust Bakery. Just check out the tour’s featured photo to get an idea of how mouthwatering their pastries are! We still dream about the vanilla créme brulee tart and the rosewater and pistachio pastry. We even met someone on our last visit who once braved a snowstorm to get Crust pastries (now that’s a diehard fan!).

But don’t worry – if you’re not a baked goods person, there are still a ton of really yummy options! The tour includes stops at 7 locales with over 15 samples in total. It’s also suitable for vegetarians – just let them know at least a day in advance.

Aside from the tastings, the guides are happy to share all their recommendations of where to go on your own. You’ll also pass by the Royal Theatre and St. Andrew’s Cathedral for more typical sightseeing – so this tour has a bit of everything.

Tours run at 2:30 pm every day except Sunday. The $80 CAD cost includes all the tastings and lunch – which is a great deal considering how much you consume!

Seriously though, this tour has a special touch, feeling both personal and authentic. So to really experience Victoria’s culinary treasures, book this tour online here!

Related Read: If you have some extra time on Vancouver Island, we highly recommend visiting the Malahat Skywalk! This awesome walkway takes you high above the treetops for an incredible view.

4. Ghostly Walking Tour in Victoria  

Victoria BC waterfront at night
Victoria, BC waterfront at night

If you enjoy a bit of dark tourism, you have to try this Ghostly Walking Tour! While a few of Victoria’s neighborhoods have a spooky history, the downtown area has a strong reputation for being haunted. The tour guides know so many cool and creepy stories throughout Victoria’s haunted downtown. They also have a dramatic flair, adding a special delivery to the already spooky anecdotes.

We learned many stories of Victoria’s residents sticking around after they passed. It’s said that out-of-town ghosts are also naturally attracted to the city. Because of cracks in the Earth’s surface deep beneath Victoria, they tend to gravitate to this area.  

Our favorite stop on this tour was Bastion Square, which has a very nefarious history. We also liked Market Square, which housed brothels and opium dens during the gold rush in the 1800s. The stories from this area are especially wild, which makes for a truly haunting experience. But we won’t give away too many spoilers – you have to try this tour to learn more!  

What’s awesome is this tour is super convenient and inexpensive! It’s just one hour and starts at 7:30 or 9 pm daily, making it super easy to fit into your schedule.

For just $21 CAD, you won’t want to let this unique opportunity pass you by. To secure your spot, check availability and reserve your tour online here!

5. Eat, Drink, Explore Chinatown  

Signs for Fantan Alley in China Town
Dim Dum in Chinatown in Victoria, BC
Yum!

Chinatown is one of our favorite places in Victoria, and it’s actually the largest Chinatown in Canada. This place is packed with history, culture, shopping, and many eateries. While you can easily spend hours wandering around, the best way to find all the amazing spots is with a local guide!   

This Eat, Drink, and Explore Chinatown Tour is just like it sounds … you’ll be doing all three in one of the most scenic neighborhoods in Victoria. When we joined this tour, it truly felt like a deep dive into the area. We saw top tourist sights like the Chinese Language School and the Gate of Harmonious Interest while learning all about their cultural significance.

Then, we headed to Victoria Public Market to begin the food portion! It’s a huge space with a ton of permanent vendor stalls with delicious food, coffee, and local goods. We ate a variety of modern cuisines like Italian arancini and one of Victoria Pie Co.’s famous pies.  

A tour of Chinatown is never complete without a visit to Fan Tan Alley. This bustling alley was notorious for gambling and opium dens back in the day but is now a heritage site and also the narrowest road in Canada. Don’t worry, your tour guide will make sure you capture that iconic alley photo as a souvenir!

Bonus points because this walking tour also includes craft beer at Whistle Bouy, a little brewery that we love. On a sunny day, the Whistle Bouy patio is one of the places to be in downtown Victoria.

When we were there last, they had an amazing blue beer – like, ocean blue! Their menu changes since their beers are so fresh, but definitely try it if you can. During the warmer months, they also have someone shucking oysters on the patio. These oysters are the epitome of fresh and are some of the best we’ve ever had!  

This 2-hour tour runs every day but Monday, meeting at 11 am. You’ll end at Whistle Buoy Brewing which is perfect if you want to stay for another pint. The $80 CAD price covers your guide and all the tastings. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid gluten on this tour, so it might not be the best if you’re gluten-intolerant.

If you’ve heard awesome things about Victoria’s Chinatown, you won’t want to miss this tour! So check availability and book your ticket here!

Related Read: If you’re also visiting Vancouver on your trip, make sure to check out the best Vancouver city tours too!

6. 3-Hour Street Art and Craft Beer Tour of Victoria 

Daniel drinks his beer at Phillips Brewery in Victoria, BC
So good!
A beer from Phillips Brewery
Phillips is one of the best breweries in Victoria!

Put craft beer on a walking tour and we are likely to be there! This 3-hour tour combines street art and craft beer, two of our favorite things. But aside from the delicious tastings, we also enjoyed this tour because you really pick up on Victoria’s local vibe.

You’ll stop at three different breweries, exploring murals along the way. When we went, our guide told us all about the artist, history, and meaning behind each piece of art. It left us with a deeper appreciation for the artwork and how it connects to the city itself – a cool window into the culture!

But now let’s discuss the beer! While Vancouver’s brewery scene is well-known, Victoria also had some incredible spots that really impressed us!

The tour begins at Vancouver Island Brewing which has such a classic west coast vibe. It has light wood-paneled walls, high and airy ceilings, and that classic brewery smell. This modern brewery has a bit of everything. Whether you prefer your beer light, sour, hoppy, or dark – you’ll find one you like here!

But we were even more excited to see Ile Sauvage on the list. This place really is a hidden gem! And if you love sour beers, you’re going to be in heaven here. Out of the ones we tried, the cranberry and hibiscus was my favorite, but the sea salt and spirulina was also tasty and unique! 

Finally, the tour ends at Moon Under Water, another spot that tourists usually don’t hear about. It’s a hip, local vibe with a solid menu. If you aren’t soured-out from Ile Sauvage, they have a great raspberry sour called Moon Juice. Another great option is The Shaft stout, named after Victoria’s iconic cocktail/shot, the shaft. Rumor has it that this cocktail was created by bar and restaurant staff at after-hours parties. It’s made with espresso to help them stay up and party all night! 

When the tour ended, we stayed to enjoy some burgers at Moon Under Water. Turns out, walking, drinking beer, and learning about murals can build up quite the appetite! Plus, it was the perfect time for dinner.

Tours are offered every Tuesday and Thursday, starting at 5 pm. You need to be at least 19 years old to drink in Canada, so this tour is better for groups of friends or couples enjoying a romantic getaway in the Vancouver area. The $88 CAD price covers all the tastings and your guide, but definitely plan on buying dinner after!

The art and craft beer on this tour are incredible – which is why it’s so popular! Because it sells out fast, we recommend booking it well in advance!

Other Things to do While You’re in Victoria

Stairs leading up to a viewpoint at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
The Butchart Gardens
Bailey sits out the front of Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria BC
Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC

Victoria is full of incredible outdoor and indoor activities. Here are just a few of our favorite things to do in this impressive city:

  • Visit the historic castles – Victoria is home to two unique castles, Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Castle. Both offer a unique glimpse into the city’s intriguing past. While you can’t actually enter Hatley Castle, you can explore the surrounding grounds which are absolutely beautiful. You can buy an entry ticket for Craigdarroch Castle for around $20 CAD or visit by bicycle as part of this highly-rated guided tour, which also includes stops at other top attractions around the city for only $68 CAD!
  • See the Steamship Water Ballet Performance – Yes, you read that right! At 10:45 am Sunday mornings, the captains of the steamships perform a choreographed dance routine at Victoria Harbour. This spectacular show runs from April – October (with more frequent shows during summer), and it’s completely free! It sounds strange, and maybe it is a little, but trust us – such a fun time!
  • Fly in a seaplane – Nothing quite beats the view from a plane window. From Victoria Harbor Airport, you’ll take off from the water (and land in it too!) on a truly jaw-dropping experience. Flights last around 20 minutes and prices start at $161 CAD. Seaplane flights are extremely popular (for good reason), so be sure to book your flight in advance to avoid missing out. If you don’t have a car, it’s also a unique way to get from Vancouver to Victoria!

Where to Stay in Victoria

Outside of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria BC
Outside of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria

If you’re taking a walking tour in Victoria, you should definitely stay overnight! You’ll probably want to rest your feet before heading back out to explore the rest of the city.

Victoria is a popular place to stay, especially in the summer months. So we suggest booking a hotel in Victoria well in advance to secure your favorite spot! If you’re not sure where to book, check out our full guide on where to stay in Victoria or our top picks below!

Fairmont Empress Hotel – $$$

This Fairmont Empress Hotel is a gorgeous location and a stay here is truly an experience in and of itself! One of the famously grand railway hotels built across Canada, it looks more like a castle than a hotel. With elegance and luxury found around every corner, it’s easy to see why royalty chooses to stay here when visiting Victoria. Immerse yourself in a soothing spa treatment, enjoy a tasty afternoon tea, or simply wander around the gardens. Rooms at the Fairmont Empress start at around $350-400 CAD per night, and you can secure your room here.

The Embassy Inn – $$

The Embassy Inn is located right in Victoria’s Harbor, making it very convenient for those traveling to Victoria by ferry. Many top sights are only a stone’s throw away, yet the hotel itself feels super quiet and relaxing. Rooms are spacious and all come with balconies to feel the fresh air and take in the view. They start from $170 CAD a night and you can check availability and book online here.

Helm’s Inn – $

Who said you can’t enjoy spacious accommodations on a budget? Helm’s Inn is an all-suite hotel including kitchenettes – perfect for saving some money by making a to-go lunch. This hotel is also really close to some of the best sights in the city, such as Beacon Hill Park (across the street), as well as the Legislature and Royal BC Museum. Rooms here start at around $140 CAD, but we recommend booking ahead online to get the best deal!

Ocean Island Backpackers – $

Ocean Island Backpackers Inn is a budget hostel in downtown Victoria, within walking distance of the harbor and lots of bars and restaurants. What’s more, breakfast, dinner, and one free drink at the pub downstairs are all included in your stay! A bunk here costs around $44 CAD per night, with private rooms starting at $130 CAD. If you’re backpacking across BC on a budget, you’ll definitely want to stay here by booking on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

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!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie while in Victoria, BC
Thanks for reading!

Victoria is such a beautiful city to explore on foot! Joining a walking tour makes it even easier and you’re sure to see all the best sights. We had so much fun on all these tours which is why we highly recommend them! So if you’re planning your trip to Victoria, we hope you’ve found a couple of walking tours to add to your Vancouver Island itinerary.

If you’re traveling through more of the country, check out our other blogs all about Canada. I’m a local and love writing and sharing about all the great destinations. And below, I’ve chosen some articles that will come in handy when visiting Victoria. Thanks for reading and safe travels!

10 BEST Stops on the Drive from Nanaimo to Victoria

13 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

18 BEST Stops on the Drive from Victoria to Tofino