Victoria/Colwood – An Overnight Stay in Victoria, BC and breakfast in Sidney, BC!
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located on Vancouver Island. To get there, you must take a ferry or the seaplane from Vancouver. Victoria also has its own international airport. After our trip to Tofino and stay with family in Maple Bay, we spent a day in Victoria area prior to heading back to Vancouver. There is so much to see and do in this area! Note: The evening in Victoria was actually a work-trip. After the visit to Fort Rodd and Fisgard Lighthouse, we headed back to Maple Bay for dinner and headed to Sidney the next morning to catch the ferry back to Vancouver.
We spent the morning in Maple Bay and went for an early morning hike. Mt. Tzouhalem Municipal Forest has multiple trails with various start points. The most popular trail being the Mt. Tzouhalem Cross Hike. We decided to try out a combination of the other trails instead. We started from Genoa Bay Road, followed the power lines, headed to a beautiful viewpoint on the Awesome Trail, and looped back down using the Grand Traverse Trail. The loop was steep at some points, and took about an hour and a half to complete.
Afterwards, we headed to Victoria. A must stop is the Malahat Skywalk, opened in Summer 2021. The attraction begins with a 600m treewalk and leads to the 32m high spiral walkway. The view from the top is amazing. Instead of walking back down, you can opt to take the slide down instead. The adventure net is also an exhilarating experience. I did not realize how high I was until I walked out on the net and looked down!
For lunch, we headed to Sushi Ya located in Langford. Langford is a city just outside Victoria, only a 20 minute drive from downtown Victoria. I ordered the lunch special which came with miso soup, tempura, salad, beef teriyaki, california roll, dynamite roll and an orange for dessert. Very filling and delicious!
After lunch, we headed to Hatley Castle in Colwood (a city beside Langford). The castle was completed in 1908 and originally served as a dormitory and mess hall for students and staff of the Royal Roads Military College. Today, the castle is the administrative building for Royal Roads University. The castle is designated a National Historic Site of Canada. It has also served as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in multiple X-Men Movies. The gardens and the castle were not open during our visit, but we walked around the grounds taking in the castle sights. It was also interesting to see peacocks freely roaming the castle grounds.
After Hatley Castle, we headed to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. Fort Rodd Hill was an active artillery fortress between 1895 and 1956. It was very interesting to visit the bunkers and see old artillery equipment. It gave us an interesting glimpse into history.
Fisgard Lighthouse was built in 1860 to guide vessels into the harbour and was the first lighthouse on west coast Canada. The lighthouse tower is closed to the public, but the lighthouse keeper’s residence is open and the exhibits recount the site’s rich history. Due to the high winds and waves crashing onto the rocks the day we visited, the pathway leading out to the lighthouse was closed. Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse are free to visit.
After Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, it is a good time to check-in to the hotel for the evening. I stayed at the Parkside Hotel in downtown Victoria. Parking was included in the stay and they give you the code at check-in. The room at Parkside Hotel was spacious and came complete with a kitchen and living room. After settling in, I headed out for an evening stroll.
My first stop was just across from the hotel – St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site. St. Ann’s Academy was originally a Catholic school, but was sold to the BC government in 1974 and is now used as office space. Tours are available.
I continued along my walk, heading in the direction of the Parliament Building. On the way, I passed the Royal BC Museum and the Netherlands Centennial Carillon. The 62-bell carillon was unveiled to the public in 1968. It was a gift to Canada by the Dutch Community in BC to thank Canada for its role in liberating the Netherlands from the Germans forces during World War 2.
Across from the carillon is the Parliament Building, which overlooks the harbour. To the north of the Parliament Building is the Fairmont Empress, a National Historic Site. To the west is the Bateman Gallery, an art gallery focused on connecting people to nature.
I continued to wander the streets of Victoria, heading to Tacofino on Fort Street for dinner. The contrasting colours in the evening sunset were gorgeous.
I ordered 3 tacos for dinner – fish, tuna, and steak – and a mango Jarritos to go. I headed back to my hotel to eat dinner. The tacos were delicious – Tacofino never disappoints.
Before catching the ferry back to Vancouver, we stopped at the Five & Dime Diner for breakfast. The diner has an old time feel – super cute! I ordered the Everything Benny – bacon, tomato, avocado, and brie with herb pesto hollandaise.
Side Note: Here are some photos of us on the sailboat in Maple Bay!
Complete Day 1 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
8:00am: Have breakfast at a local restaurant. Suggestion: Five & Dime Diner (near Sidney)
9:00am: Go for a morning hike. Suggestion near Victoria: Goldstream Provincial Park (31 minute drive from Five & Dime Diner). If you are near Maple Bay, consider the Mt. Tzouhalem Cross Trail. Either option is about an hour and a half round trip.
11:00am: Visit Malahat Skywalk (44 minute drive from Maple Bay).
12:00pm: Have lunch at Sushi Ya (30 minute drive from Goldstream Provincial Park).
1:00pm: Visit Hatley Castle (8 minute drive). Explore the gardens and the castle.
3:00pm: Visit Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse (10 minute drive from Hatley Castle).
5:00pm: Go for an evening walk in Victoria Downtown (24 minute drive from Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse). Stop at St. Ann’s Academy, Royal BC Museum, the Parliament Building, the Bateman Gallery and the Fairmont Empress.
6:00pm: Have dinner at Tacofino (17 minute walk from the Parliament Building).
7:00pm: If staying overnight, check in to the hotel (Suggestion: Parkside Hotel & Spa). If not, catch the ferry back to Vancouver (26 minute drive from Downtown Victoria to Swartz Bay ferry terminal). The ferry ride is an hour and half.