Victoria Harbour

Old meets new as historic architecture, traditional fishing boats and contemporary performers crowd together at one of Victoria’s liveliest spots.

Come to Victoria Harbour to experience the spirit of the city at its most dynamic. Get a sense of the area’s modern atmosphere and culture as well as its history. Watch street performers flaunt their skills, visit some of Victoria’s most significant buildings and browse the markets for the perfect souvenir. All this against the backdrop of the sparkling waves, topped with vessels of all kinds.

Delve into Victoria’s past by exploring the manicured grounds and ornate architecture of the Parliament Buildings located on the Inner Harbour. The buildings date back to the end of the 19th century and still house the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia today. Nearby, look for the beautiful Empress Hotel, another iconic Victoria building. Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum to learn more about the harbor’s history, going back to its importance to Esquimalt and Songhee First Nations people long before the Spanish arrived.

At the market, pick up some snacks to nibble while shopping for gifts. Pause to watch street performers singing, dancing and even painting. When your feet get tired, treat yourself to a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or head out to sea on one of the boat tours that leave from the harbor. More adventurous options, such as kayaking and whale-watching trips, can also be arranged.

Though always animated, Victoria Harbour turns into a particularly hectic hub of celebration during important Canadian dates. In late June and early July, the harbor buzzes with festivities to mark Canada Day. Labour Day is also particularly lively. The harbor plays host to a series of events throughout the year, including an annual yacht race and a wide range of music and arts shows.

Make sure you look into what is on before you visit, as the program of seasonal activities is diverse. In particular, check the market times. Although markets usually take place during the last few days of the week, an atmospheric night market also takes place occasionally.