Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, is a port of call on a Disney Cruise Line Alaska Cruise vacation. Located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, this scenic metropolis also known as the "City of Gardens" is a popular tourist destination renowned for its sweeping harbor views and British-inspired historic sites.
Things to See and Do
Guests looking for an immaculately groomed expanse of greenery need look no further than the impressive Butchart Gardens, a historic 55-acre site featuring the city's most beautiful floral landscaping. Butterfly Gardens, located approximately 14 miles from the city center, welcomes all who enter with the unique opportunity to share in an up-close-and-personal encounter with hundreds of brightly-colored butterflies amid a sprawling indoor rainforest. And nature lovers will surely want to visit Beacon Hill Park, a sprawling, 63-acre park originally constructed in 1882 that features gardens, playing fields and a petting zoo for the little ones.
If Victoria's history stirs your imagination, then a visit to the late 19th-century Craigdarroch Castle is highly recommended. Perched high on a hill overlooking the city, this Victorian mansion built for Robert Dunsmuir features 39 rooms for exploration and includes a myriad ornate antique furnishings. Additionally, the Royal British Columbia Museum, built in 1886, features 3 permanent galleries and boasts over 7 million historical papers and relics, including a replica of an age-old ship and a mighty wooly mammoth.
Treasure hunters will want to be sure to visit Market Square, home to a number of boutiques, eateries and clubs. Additionally, Government Street Promenade is one of the more popular shopping destinations in town, offering 5 blocks of souvenir shops. British collectibles can also be purchased at Antique Row, located on the eastern side of downtown Victoria.
Finally, a visit to Victoria wouldn't be complete without a stop at The Empress Hotel, the iconic symbol of the city and destination of choice for the rich and famous for over 100 years. Overlooking the Inner Harbor, the lush Edwardian chateau-style hotel features 477 rooms and is famous for serving afternoon tea in the main upper lobby daily-reservations required.
Local Culture and Flavor
Voted one of the top 10 cities to visit by travel magazine Conde Nasté Traveler, Victoria is known for its British heritage, and it is this regal ambience that can be felt all throughout town. From the narrow city streets which are emblazoned with English-style lamp posts and hanging floral arrangements to the countless boutiques and eateries nestled inside historic Victorian buildings, the city imbues a sense of timelessness to all who visit. And with a picturesque harbor, brimming with yachts, set against a backdrop of towering mountains, it's easy to see why this place is so loved the world over.
Past and Present
Originally a Hudson Bay Company trading post in 1843, Victoria became the port of entry to the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island in 1858 during the Fraser Valley Gold Rush. When the colonies combined, Victoria became the capital and the largest city in British Columbia, known for trade and commerce. During the 20th century, Victoria's economic focus shifted to that government, retirement and—due to its inherent beauty—tourism. Today, the city is home to Canada's western naval base, a major fishing fleet and a growing ship-building industry.
Fun Facts & Tips
More than 3.5 million tourists visit Victoria every year.
Victoria was incorporated as a city in 1862.