Great walks for Downtown Victoria? There sure are!
With stunning ocean vistas and distant mountain ranges, gorgeous heritage sites, peaceful neighbourhoods and cool urban development, there’s no doubt that Victoria is the jewel of Vancouver Island. And with so many things to see that are best experienced on foot, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start! That’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up our top 5 best walks that you can do in under an hour that showcase the best of this vibrant, breathtaking city.
To kick off this list, we’re going to start right at the heart of downtown Victoria. No matter how large or small a city is, it’s easy to get turned around, miss some of the best sights and even easier to skip the hidden gems only the locals know about! This walk highlights all our favourite spots in one easy hour long stroll. Make sure to pop into Union Pacific Coffee before you begin to grab a coffee and some delicious, fresh food to-go! On this walk, you’ll see historic Chinatown, funky Fan Tan Alley, the beloved Market Square, check out the great shopping on LoJo, see the heritage buildings on Government St, wander through Bastion Square and head back through the little known back entrance of Union Pacific. This walk is the perfect way to wander the city like a local!
Cook Street is a popular village in the lovely neighbourhood of Fairfield. Lined with huge chestnut trees, this lively village is the perfect spot to find a great cup of coffee and a seat in the sunshine. It is also home to a cozy neighbourhood pub, The Beagle and one of the best bakeries in the city Bubby Rose’s. As you walk south, you leave the bustling village behind and find the edge of Beacon Hill Park, tudor-style apartment buildings and ‘40’s style small houses. One you are at the ocean, there is a lovely seaside path that takes you to Finlayson Park, a mix of beach, rocky outcrops and grassy meadow – a perfect spot for a picnic, especially if you’ve stopped at Bubby’s first! If not, you can walk along the beach, dip your toes and continue to Beach Drive where you’ll skim the southernmost part of Beacon Hill Park back towards Cook St. Walk back up, into the village and stop for a pint on the patio at The Beagle or pick up some groceries from the market and treat yourself to some fresh flowers. Whatever you decide to do, this is a wonderful way to spend a day.
James Bay is a really special place. Surrounded by the ocean and bordered by Beacon Hill Park, this is a downtown burrough that feels like a small seaside village. Tree lined streets and ocean breezes abound as do little cafés, markets, funky bookstores and picture perfect beaches. On this walk, you’ll begin right in the Inner Harbour – the bustling, picturesque downtown marina. From there, you’ll head into colourful Fisherman’s Wharf and walk through the park to Dallas Road where the city meets the sea. As you round the corner to the oceanfront stretch of the walk, you’ll find the famous Ogden breakwater, a concrete path almost a kilometer long, that terminates at a classic lighthouse. On this unique ancillary stroll, you might see our friendly sea otters or a few harbour seals popping up to say hello! At Holland Park you’ll find an idyllic, a classic Victoria park with grasses, prominent boulders and little beach coves. When you’re ready to head back, take Menzies Street that cuts right through the heart of James Bay and allows you to stroll through the village on your way back. Time this walk just right and you can head to 10 Acres Commons and end your adventure with a delicious meal.
This is a park that needs no introduction. It’s one of the most popular parks for locals and tourists alike and with it’s unmitigated beauty, it’s easy to see why. From carefully cultivated flower beds and ponds to woodland wildflowers and grassy meadows plus everything to keep little ones entertained for hours, this is a really magical place. No matter where you go, how far you walk or how long you stay in this park, you’ll fall in love. Nevertheless, we’ve created a walking route that showcases all the highlights of this urban garden. We begin this walk nearby easy to find parking and it loops around the entire park, down to Dallas Road and then back. However, this park is a wonderful place to get lost in, has tons of footpaths and secret gardens so the only rule for this walk is, there are no rules!
Rockland is a neighbourhood of heritage elegance and architectural grandeur. Today, many of the stately homes from Victoria’s past can still be seen while wandering through the beautiful streets of this magnificent neighbourhood. This walk begins on Rockland Avenue just off of Cook St. – keep your eyes open for colourful heritage homes dispersed throughout this residential stretch of Rockland Ave. Head north to see the stunning, famous Craigdarroch Castle built at the turn of the 20th century by coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir. Circle around and see the grounds of this stately home and head south again toward Government House. Here you’ll find gorgeous garden paths to walk through. Start at the aromatic rose garden then wander through the orchard, where huge, fragrant irises bloom in the summer, tour the terrace and finish at the lush herb garden. Once you’re back where you began, just off Cook St., head to JOIE Grillades for sumptuous French fare – you’ve earned it!