Victoria's Inner Harbour
is the heart of this incredibly tourist oriented city. Surrounded by spectacular buildings, historical monuments and stunning totem poles, the Inner Harbour is a free Victoria attraction that takes hours to fully appreciate. From the two kilometre cement and granite causeway that skirts the harbour and then continues at both ends for much longer, to the various centuries old buildings.
The British Columbia parliament buildings dominate one end of the Inner Harbour and you are free to wander much of this astonishingly old and ridiculously extravagant building. The beautiful Empress Hotel sits across from the Inner Harbour as well and along with being a luxury hotel, it is a free museum of sorts on its lower level. You can wander through the lower hallways that take you back over a century as you look at artifacts and hotel menus from the 1800's.
If you exit the front of the Empress Hotel and cross to the Inner Harbour you will see the imposing and huge statue of Captain Cook. If you love history or have travelled to other places Cook travelled, you will recognize him immediately. Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Britain all share strikingly similar monuments to this wonderful explorer.
Just a five minute walk from the Captain Cook statue past the Empress is the wonderful Royal BC Museum. This amazing museum houses a seemingly endless array of local history ranging from thousands of years ago to recent decades. No where else in the world will you find such a breathtaking collection of totem poles. The causeway continues in both directions.
If you walk to the left (in the direction of the Parliament Buildings) and follow the waterfront you will connect to a beautiful trail that skirts the Inner Harbour for quite some distance. After about 30 minutes you will arrive at Fisherman's Wharf. This cute little marina is a world of its own with its permanent residents living in floating houses in Float Home Village. There are some great places there to get ice cream, and fresh from the ocean food. Picnic tables on the wharf are located right in the middle of the action. There is even a free, live show.. the Seal Cam, showing the big, fat and jolly harbour seals lurking below you. You can see it online here..
From Fisherman's Wharf you can continue walking along the waterfront for several more kilometres if you want. The next sight further along is the Ogden Point Breakwater. A giant cement walkway that takes you straight out into the crashing ocean all around. Along the way seeing fishermen casting off from the walkway as well as scuba divers just a few metres away in this popular Victoria diving location.
This is also the beginning of the beautiful Ocean Drive and Beacon Hill Park. From here you could literally walk for hours along the beach and breakwater, through fields of flowers, up to hilltop viewpoints and circle back to the Inner Harbour. Again, not really a hike, but a wonderfully long walk in this beautiful city.
Directions to Victoria's Inner Harbour
Victoria's Inner Harbour is the centre of tourism in Victoria and therefore all roads lead to it. Easy to find and plenty of parking options. Street parking at metres is good for an hour or two and plenty of parkades to choose from for fairly cheap.
Victoria Area Hiking Trails
Avatar Grove and Canada's gnarliest tree is an amazing thing to see and finding it is half the fun. The cute little town of Port Renfrew, know for it's logging, amazing fishing and home of one of the trailheads to the world renowned West Coast Trail, is now reworking it's image to include this fantastic wonder. Dubbed Canada's gnarliest tree this mammoth cedar will surely leap from the unknown to the feature of millions of tourist photos in the coming days and years. Avatar Grove is a 50 hectare area of old growth forest it has shot to prominence in this part of the world and groups everywhere you look are embracing it as something to be saved, admired and loved. Not cut into lumber. The Victoria based Ancient Forest Alliance is at the forefront of rescuing and protecting Avatar Forest. They discovered, named and drove it into the world's eyes. Avatar Grove is slowly growing into a hiking destination.
is astonishingly beautiful and incredibly interesting as a tourist attraction in Victoria that most never see. This fact is amazing as it is wonderful and unquestionably, or at least arguably, as good or better than any other attraction around. And at $3.90, what a phenomenal deal. You can crawl all over all the real pre World War I era defensive structures and even play with and all but fire a genuine World War II Anti-Aircraft Gun... which astonishingly is in the parking lot. Fort Rodd Hill has so much to see it spills onto the parking lot. What unbelievable place! Though you could make your way through at a rushed pace in about 30 minutes, expect to take over two hours at a moderate pace as there is such an astonishingly huge amount to see. Real fortifications from a century ago as if frozen in time. Thick cement walls that look indestructible. Gun slits in the metre thick walls that you can peer through as though you had to defend the fort yourself. Some buildings even have sound effects as you walk in. The enormous anti-ship guns are still in place. These monstrous barrels pointing out to sea as if still looking for invading ships to fire upon.