Victoria is one of Canada’s most visited destinations. It has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals looking for fun things to do. If you’re planning your trip there, use this list of interesting and fun facts about Victoria BC as your guide.
Did you know that the first European explorers in Victoria were from Spain? Or that the city plants 1,600 flower baskets on lampposts in the summer? We share these and other fascinating facts about Victoria British Columbia here!
43 Interesting and Fun Facts about Victoria BC
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1. Victoria is the capital city of BC
Victoria is the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia. It is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
It is known for its pleasant atmosphere, beautiful gardens, and mild climate. In fact, it’s commonly known as one of North America’s most enduring cities. This is a place where you can enjoy all four seasons but none are so harsh that they discourage outdoor activities.
In addition, the city has a variety of activities, attractions, and amenities for both residents and visitors to enjoy.
Tourists flock to Victoria BC all year round for a number of reasons. First off, the city’s temperate weather means that there is never a bad time to visit. Add to this the fact that the city offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or an art lover, there is no shortage of things to do in this city.
2. Victoria is the southernmost Canadian city
Victoria is the southernmost major city in Western Canada. It is about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Vancouver on the mainland. You can get to Victoria by plane or ferry from Vancouver and other cities in Canada.
From Washington State (Seattle), Victoria is an easy airplane, ferry, or the Clipper ride away.
3. Seventh densely populated city in Canada
Victoria is the 7th most populated city in Canada. It has a population of 85,792, with the Greater Victoria Area at 367,770 residents. (2016 Census)
4. The first settlers of ‘Victoria’
The early settlers in Victoria’s present-day area date back to over 10 000 years old, when it was inhabited by the Coast Salish (Salishan) First Nations (Native American) people. The site of the future city was known to the Coast Salish as Camosun or Camosack.
5. First came the Spanish explorers, and then the British
The first explorers of British Columbia were from Spain. In fact, the West Coast of Canada was almost taken by the Spanish between 1774 and 1795. They made their first permanent post on Vancouver Island.
The first Spaniard to undertake the exploration of the Pacific coast was Juan Pérez Hernandez. English sailors were also undertaking expeditions to the Pacific Northwest around the same time.
6. Captain James Cook, and Discover(y) Victoria BC
In the 1770s, an English sailor, and later Captain sailed into the waters of present-day British Columbia.
He was none other than Captain James Cook, who on his third voyage (with this ship – Discovery) paved the way for others to understand the PNW, and assisted in establishing British presence in the region.
Cook was influenced by George Vancouver sailing as a midshipman with Captain Cook during his Pacific voyages. (Royal BC Museum).
7. Victoria was founded by the Europeans
The City of Victoria was founded by the Hudson’s Bay Company on March 14, 1843. It opened as a trading post and fort at the location the Lekwungen People called “Camosack” meaning “Rush of Water.”
8. The city is named after the Queen herself
This city was named for Queen Victoria, and it is one of the oldest in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement roots tracing back to 1843.
9. Victoria has four sister cities
They are Napier in New Zealand, Morioka in Japan, Suzhou in China, and Khabarovsk in Russia (no, the one in Australia is not a sister city, although it shares the same name!)
10. Victoria is known internationally as the City of Gardens
Victoria is often referred to as the “Garden City”. This is largely due to the fact that the city has nice weather for flowers to grow and bloom almost all year round.
There are around 100,000 gardens throughout the Capital Regional District.
This city is truly a home to many gardens, and you will be mesmerized by them when you visit Victoria BC in the summer months!
11. Celebrating summer is a tradition in Victoria
Since 1937, Victoria welcomes summer by placing over 1,600 flower baskets on lampposts in the city. This is done every June.
Many tourists come to Victoria BC in the summer months to enjoy the famous view of the flower baskets hanging from lampposts throughout the city. The baskets are filled with flowers and greenery, which makes Victoria one of Canada’s most beautiful cities.
12. Victoria is home to the Legislative Assembly of BC
The legislative Assembly of British Columbia is located on 501 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC. It was built in 1898, so it is about 123 years old.
The BC Parliament Buildings with the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has a 150-meter-long facade (500 ft), a central dome, and gorgeous gardens in front of the complex.
There are two end pavilions and a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver on top. You will also find a statue of Queen Victoria looking at the Inner Harbor.
Pro-tip: Join a free guided tour of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia daily. Don’t forget to drop by the pretty rose garden located there.
13. Downtown Victoria glows at night
The Parliament buildings in Victoria are lit up as the sun sets on the Inner Harbour every day. This tradition started in 1897 in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and 350 “two candle-power” to decorate the Parliament buildings.
Today they are 3300 energy-efficient lights wired all around the building, and it looks like a festive end to each evening in the city.
These lights are programmed to turn on each evening from sunset to 1:00 am, and will illuminate the early hours of each morning from 6:00 am to 8:00 am (or sunrise, if it occurs earlier) local time.
14. The stunning Empress Hotel
The Fairmont Empress is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria, British Columbia. It was built by Canadian Pacific Hotels, a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway company just like most of the Fairmont hotels in Canada!
15. The Fairmont Empress and 500,000 cups of tea
The Empress has an afternoon tea service. It serves over 500,000 cups of tea per year. Queen Elizabeth herself enjoyed royal tea at the Empress.
16. The city remembers Francis Rattenbury
Any sightseeing trip in Victoria will have a story or two about Francis Rattenbury. He was a British architect who is well known for his designs and creations in Victoria BC – this is where he spent most of his time as well.
He moved to BC when he was around 25 years, after winning an architecture competition to design the Parliament Buildings.
He later on designed The Empress Hotel and other structures in Victoria.
Francis Ratterbury led a very interesting life – he was divorced amid scandal (womanizing, drinking) and later murdered in England by his young second wife’s lover (who died later by suicide).
Today he is buried in England, unsung of his architectural merits – but he is very often lovingly remembered in Victoria!
17. Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada
The oldest Chinatown in Canada is located in Victoria, and it dates back to 1858 – when a mass influx of miners moved from California to British Columbia.
Victoria’s Chinatown is also the second oldest in North America (after San Francisco). It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.
18. Fan Tan Alley in Victoria is the narrowest street in Canada
Fan Tan Alley is located within Chinatown, and it’s the narrowest street in Canada. It holds this title because of its width – which measures less than 2 feet wide!
19. Victoria has a lot of Japanese influence
In fact, Victoria definitely has a noticeable Japanese influence throughout the city. This dates back to 1877 when ships from Japan arrived in the city harbor.
Many of the oldest businesses in Chinatown were established by former immigrants from Japan who moved to Victoria for its temperate climate.
20. The world’s (second) tallest free-standing totem pole is in Victoria
Located at the Beacon Hill Park in Victoria is an impressive 127 ft, 7 inches tall totem pole. It was carved by a team led by Mungo Martin, Kwakiutl tribal chief, and renowned carver, the Beacon Hill Park Story Pole stands majestically overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
When installed, it was the world’s tallest free-standing story pole, today it is the second tallest (after the one created in Alert Bay, also located in BC).
Today it has become a famous tourist attraction in the area – people love taking photos here!
21. Butchart Gardens are famous worldwide
The Butchart Gardens are one of Canada’s top tourist destinations. They are beautiful year-round, with over 1 million tulips blooming during the springtime.
Butchart Gardens were built by early Canadian businessman, Robert P Butchart, and his wife. The Butcharts built the gardens to help bring pleasure to their home, and it has become one of Vancouver Island’s most popular attractions!
They are located near the metro area of Victoria, BC – in Brentwood Bay. It was designated a National Historic Site in 2004.
It gets over 2 million people to visit every year. People travel to the beautiful flowers, the sparkling ponds, and many other stunning sights at Butchart Gardens from all over the world. It is particularly stunning in the winter with the lights show.
22. The only working harbor in Canada
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is the only working harbor in Canada. It is a magical place to watch the sunset and take some photos – but usually, people will be here watching them go up or down!
It is the most popular place in Victoria to be (you can get water taxis to different parts of the city like Fisherman’s Wharf, or go whale watching).
23. Victoria is great for whale watching
Victoria’s waters are home to three resident pods of orca whales. The area is also visited by transient (migratory) pods of transient orcas. The resident pods are easily identified, as they live in the same place year-round.
Transients travel throughout BC waters and are often hard to identify due to their moving behavior.
The first Orca born in captivity was at Marineland of Canada on Vancouver Island.
24. The most comprehensive collection of Asian art in Canada
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is one of Canada’s top institutions for Chinese arts and culture, with the most comprehensive collection of Asian art in Canada.
It hosts over 5,000 works from different time periods – dating back as early as 200 BC up to contemporary times.
25. The Royal BC Museum is a renowned cultural institution
The Royal BC Museum is one of Canada’s oldest and foremost cultural institutions. It was originally called the Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, and it opened in 1886.
It hosts 3 permanent galleries (Becoming BC, Natural History, and First Peoples galleries) focused on BC history and heritage. Every year there are temporary exhibitions opened as well.
The “Royal” title was approved by Queen Elizabeth II and bestowed by HRH Prince Philip in 1987.
26. Victoria is full of hidden trails and parks (over 70 city parks)
Victoria has many hidden trails you can discover throughout the city which are very beautiful!
They offer great views throughout the city, including oceanfront views – there are several downtowns, but some locations to start would be Beacon Hill Park (where the giant Christmas tree is located), and a trail near the Cook Street Village.
27. Beacon Hill Park treasures
From the (second) tallest totem pole to natural landscape and milestones, Beacon Hill Park is also home to the Mile “0” marker for the 8,000 km Trans-Canada Trail.
28. Victoria is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country
Victoria is home to hundreds of kilometers of cycle and bike lanes and routes.
In the summer, a bike is a great option for exploring Victoria BC. You can ride around town and watch as people go about their days, admiring the architecture of the old buildings, and visiting parks and gardens along the way.
29. In Victoria, you can golf 365 days a year
Victoria has so many courses, it would be possible to golf every day of the year.
30. National Park near Victoria
Located near Victoria is the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. It was established in 2003 and is one of the recent additions to Canadian National Parks. This park extends over several of the Gulf Islands east of Vancouver Island.
31. One of the best regions for diving in the world
The West Coast of Vancouver Island is often regarded as one of the best regions in the world for diving.
It features unique underwater formations, old-growth forests, ancient trees, and marine life – making it ideal for scuba divers to explore!
There are many dive shops in Victoria BC where people can learn how to dive. In fact, the Jacques Cousteau Society ranks the waters near Victoria as the second best region for diving in the world due to its clarity and diverse marine life.
32. Victoria has a beautiful coastline
The city is surrounded by water on three sides – Juan de Fuca Strait to the west, Esquimalt Harbour to the south, and the Strait of Georgia to the east. It has 2,150 miles of coastline.
33. Victoria has beaches as well
There are many hidden beaches located in and around Victoria – the most well-known being Dallas Road Beach which is within walking distance from the downtown core. But there are others to discover as well, including Oak Bay, Spinnakers Brew Pub (which has a beautiful beach nearby), and Cadboro Bay to name a few.
34. Victoria BC has one of the mildest climates in Canada
With its coastal location and proximity to the mountains, Victoria’s climate is typically mild year-round. Temperatures remain relatively steady throughout the seasons. In fact, Victoria has the mildest climate in all of Canada.
35. Lots of sunshine in Victoria, and very little to no snow
Victoria is located in a sub-Mediterranean zone. It gets an average of 2,193 hours of sunshine annually. The average annual rainfall is 58.3 cm (23 inches).
36. Located in one of the seismically active areas of Canada
Victoria is located in one of the most seismically active areas of Canada. Vancouver Island experienced two large historic earthquakes, in 1918 and 1946.
37. Victoria comes alive during Christmas time
One thing you will notice about Victoria – is that during Christmas time, the city is totally alive with lights and Christmas cheer.
This time of year is one of Victoria’s busiest times – as everyone twists and turns to admire all of the beautiful decorations and lights on display in the downtown core and other areas around the city of Victoria.
There are over half a million twinkling lights draped along buildings, trees, and other places in Victoria during this time of year.
There are two main locations you can visit for seeing the lights – but there are many other smaller places to go to admire Christmas cheer. The main locations are the Butchart Gardens, and the downtown core’s tree at Beacon Hill Park.
38. Victoria is an expensive city to live in Canada
In 2018 – 19, Victoria was ranked as one of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in Canada. It’s a city that is known for its high cost of living and property prices (with rental prices at $1,400 CAD for a one-bedroom and $1,720 for a two-bedroom apartment).
Rental and property-owning might be expensive, but it is totally affordable to stay here for a few days while traveling through Vancouver Island and the rest of BC on a road trip.
39. Victoria has world class universities
Victoria is home to the University of Victoria and to Royal Roads University. Both are ranked as some of the best universities in Canada.
UVic is consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities worldwide. It’s also ranked #1 amongst Canadian universities under 50 years old.
Royal Roads University has also been recognized for its excellence, being ranked in the top 100 universities in the world by Times Higher Education and The Globe and Mail, and is ranked 2nd in Canada for its MBA program.
40. Victoria is admired!
Victoria has been awarded, and admired by many travel lovers from all over the world as a perfect destination for couples, culture travelers, and urban explorers! Titles, she has received over the past years are,
- Most Romantic City in Canada
- Top 15 Friendliest Cities in the World
- Canada’s Best City to Live in for Women
- Best cold water diving destinations – National Geographic
- Seventh Best City
- and Second Best Small City in the world – Condé Nast.
41. Home to Canada’s first brewpub
Victoria is home to Canada’s oldest licensed brewpub, Spinnakers located on the West Shore of Victoria.
42. Did you know that Victoria BC is a great place for afternoon tea?
The city’s European flair makes afternoon tea a real treat! It doesn’t matter where you are in Victoria, because you will always be able to find a place to sit down for a cup of delicious tea, cakes, and scones.
Our pick is the Fairmont Empress Hotel, but there are many in the city including afternoon tea at the Butchart Gardens, and Huntingdon Manor near the Inner Harbour to name a few.
Tea aficionados will enjoy the city of Victoria BC.
43. Victoria BC has a lot of really good restaurants
There are so many restaurants in Victoria BC with a variety of cuisines to choose from. It’s easy to go out and eat here because there are no shortages of choices when it comes to dining in Victoria BC.
Victoria is also known for having some of the best vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free cuisine in Canada. Vegetarians will love the fact that they can try delicious dishes at any restaurant here.
This is an important point to note because you won’t have to go hungry in Victoria BC. There are so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants offering scrumptious food choices that will never leave you unsatisfied.
Learning about the city of Victoria is so much fun. It’s a beautiful area with lots to do for visitors and residents alike.
There is so much to do and see in Victoria BC that you will never get bored of it all. Whether you’re looking forward to checking out some museums or catching some live music, there’s no shortage of things to do here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning these interesting facts about Victoria Canada, and are excited to visit! So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to the City of Gardens right away!
Search for Victoria BC planning guides or British Columbia travel tips here