Some might ask, “Why visit Victoria this winter?” But don’t let this northern gem fool you into thinking it has closed up shop. While the hanging baskets are stored for the season, there are still a plethora of fun things to do in Victoria this winter.
Sure, you’ll want to pack a good jacket. But don’t worry that exploring will put you at risk of frostbite, as it will throughout much of North America. The BC Capital is tucked at the edge of the Olympic Rain Shadow, making winters relatively mild and an early spring a common occurrence. And with the Victoria Inner Harbour and Victoria International Airport being just a short flight from the Emerald City, this is arguably the easiest Seattle weekend getaway around.
Top Victoria BC Activities this Winter
1. Enjoy a Spa Day
From aromatic steam rooms and rejuvenating body scrubs to massaging waterfalls and breathtaking views, let your body relax and be restored at these premier resort and day spas in Victoria BC and Vancouver Island. Discover our 12 favorite spa resorts and day spas in Victoria BC & Vancouver Island!
2. Visit the Fairmont Empress
A renowned international landmark, the Fairmont Empress is tucked at the edge of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Reminiscent of a majestic castle, it has welcomed dignitaries and royalty from throughout the globe. The brick-ivy façade and slate roof make it seem to have been plucked from an Elizabethan novel. And during the winter, the wonderous décor and festive lights are hard to beat.
3. Watch the Waves
While Vancouver Island’s northernmost city, Tofino, has earned a reputation for its winter storm-watching, it’s far from the only destination to witness a dramatic roll of waves. Throughout Victoria nature’s seasonal drama will often roar at stunning outlooks like Dallas Road, Ogden Point, and Esquimalt Lagoon.
4. Explore the Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum’s elaborate exhibits invite you to wander through time and immerse yourself in the past. In addition to its year-round exhibits showcasing the city’s history, it has attracted world-premiers like the museum’s current Dinosaurs of BC, which gets you up close and personal with the dinosaurs that once roamed the province.
5. Watch Bald Eagles Fly
Goldstream Provincial Park is a popular year-round destination thanks to its scenic hiking trails. But during the winter when the salmon come back to spawn, the park becomes a veritable playground for eagle lovers. Attracted by the easy dinners, these stately birds are most prominent from early December through late January.
6. Take a Horse-Drawn Trolley Ride
Want to give your feet a break, while still exploring the city’s winter splendor? Tally-Ho Carriage Tour offers iconic sightseeing trips through Beacon Hill Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.
7. Sample Your Way Through the Victoria Public Market
One of the best places to grab a bite to eat any time of year, the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson is the city’s only year-round market. It’s housed in a former HC department store and has become a hub for communal gatherings, locally-owned restaurants, and artisans showcasing their handmade goods.
8. Gingerbread Showcase
Victoria’s annual Gingerbread Showcase is a veritable feast for your eyes and your nose. It features elaborate, edible displays created by both professional and amateur chefs. The 2023 showcase will be held at the Grand Hotel Pacific.
9. Wander Through The Butchart Gardens’ Magic of Christmas
From carolers and ice skating to light displays and kid-friendly craft zones, The Butchart Gardens is a lot more than just elaborate flower displays during the winter. Their seasonal event — The Magic of Christmas — is a festive holiday tradition that can’t be beaten.
10. Sample Local Chocolate
Would it be a winter holiday celebration without indulging your sweet tooth? We think not. And, there’s no better way to do so than with a local favorite at Victoria’s iconic Rogers’ Chocolates. As Canada’s first chocolatier, they know how to make a great treat — especially their famous Victoria Cream!
11. Find a New Favorite Title at Munro’s Books
The soaring ceilings and expansive collection of titles at Munro’s Books make it the ideal place for a leisurely stroll out of the weather.
12. Feel Like Royalty at Craigdarroch Castle
Built in the late 1800s, Craigdarroch Castle has been carefully restored and maintained. It features 39 ornate rooms that will make you feel like you stepped back in time as one of Victoria’s elite. Plus, during the winter that castle embraces the season with festive décor and holiday tunes.
13. Delight in a Second Castle at Hatley Castle
If one castle is good, two is clearly better. Considered one of the most Instagram-worthy destinations in Victoria, this stately castle features holiday decorations that will delight.
14. Holiday Movie Night
Back by popular demand, Oak Bay Beach Hotel is offering Holiday Movie Nights! Guests will be treated to FARO Pizza dinner, followed by a holiday film in the David Foster Foundation Theater! What show are we most looking forward to? It’s hard to choose, but A White Christmas on December 12 is surely a classic.
15. Tour the Parliament Buildings
Another Inner Harbor landmark, the Victoria Parliament Buildings feature a year-round light display. But during the winter, they get a bit of a holiday upgrade as the more than 3,000 lights receive some red and green flare.
16. Take a Historic Walk in Chinatown
Victoria is home to the second-oldest Chinatown in all of North America. And, it’s easy to explore on your own. Wander down Fan Tan Ally, which spans only just a few feet in sections, to discover shops and restaurants tucked into quaint doorways. Stand beneath the Gates of Harmonious Interest and know you are protected by the statues on either side. Savor regional cuisine and more.
17. See the Festival of Trees
This yearly tradition has become Victoria’s unofficial kick-off to the holiday season. It features a collection of decorated trees — each sponsored by a business or organization from the region. Visitors are invited to vote for their favorite tree and the funds raised are donated to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. This year’s Victoria Festival of the Trees will be held at The Bay Centre.
18. Re-home a Gently Loved Book at Russel Books
Bookworms will delight at this three-story bookstore chock full of titles and knowledgeable staff. Here, a collection of well-loved copies are stacked on book-laden shelves throughout the three-story bookstore. And, there are several cozy corners tucked within Russel Books where you can easily curl up and acquaint yourself with your new literary companion.
19. Make Breakfast an Affair in the Brunch Capital of Canada
In 2017, Food Network Canada officially named Victoria the Brunch Capital of Canada, and with good reason. The chefs in this quaint city have developed quite the reputation for egg-filled creations, namely Eggs Benedict. Known to locals as ‘Bennies,’ nearly every brunch menu will feature at least one Benny, if not several unique with their own unique twist.
20. Find the Perfect Gifts & Keepsakes
Thanks to Victoria’s impressive selection of unique shops and Canada’s favorable exchange rate, Victoria is a shoppers’ paradise — especially if you’re looking for a great holiday gift or keepsake. Get our insider guide on where to go.