Norwegian Sun - Day 8 - Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

Author Anne Plau

Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia in Canada. The city is not particularly big with around 80.000 inhabitants. It is located on Vancouver Island, and can be reached from Vancouver by plane or ferry.

Victoria BC in Canada

Victoria BC in Canada


We discover Victoria on our own

It's a wonderful day: cool, sunny, with a clear blue sky. Today we will visit the Butchart Gardens, a park-like garden that is a bit out of the way but can be easily reached by public transport. Then we will explore the city on our own. The cruise port at Ogden Point is approximately 2 km from downtown Victoria. In Victoria itself you can easily reach all sights on foot or, if you are a little further away, use the excellent local public transport. A day pass, which includes the distance to Butchart Gardens, costs 5 Canadian dollars (5 CAD).

Shore excursion to Butchart Gardens

We're leaving Norwegian Sun and get on bus 31 right at the exit of the port. The driver confirms that we have to change to bus 75 at Royal Oak station, which will then take us to Butchart Gardens. Some fellow passengers on Norwegian Sun are also on the bus, around 15 people in total who, like us, are on their own. Everything works very well. The connecting bus 75 stops directly in front of the entrance to Butchart Gardens. The entrance fee - around CAD 33 - can also be paid by credit card.

In the garden paradise of Butchart Gardens

In the garden paradise of Butchart Gardens


The Butchart Gardens were laid out in a former quarry over 100 years ago. Winding paths lead through the gardens and steps lead to the various levels. In between there are lakes, watercourses and fountains. The planting changes with the seasons. There are different themed gardens, e.g. a Japanese garden or a rose garden.

Butchart Gardens - Sunken Garden Butchart Gardens - The Frog Fountain

 

There is also an old carousel on the spacious area, a square with totem stakes and a music stage. Of course there is no lack of cafes, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. We could easily spend all day in Butchart Gardens. We found the entrance fee at the equivalent of a good 20 EUR initially quite expensive. However, the expenditure was worth it.

Attractions in Victoria

Back we take bus 75 again, but get off at downtown Victoria at the corner of Douglas St / Fisgard St. Here we start our city tour. Past the town hall over Centennial Square our way leads to Chinatown, which begins behind the Chinese archway, the Gate of Harmonious. We reach Market Square through Fan Tan Alley, one of the narrowest streets in the world. Time for a snack. Small cafes and bistros invite you to linger. Here is old Victoria, and we stroll through the picturesque alleys to Bastion Square.

At Market Square

At Market Square


At Fort St. we get on the bus again. We want to see Craigdarroch Castle, which is about two kilometers away on a hill above the harbor area. We drive to Fort at Fernwood, which is not far on foot. Craigdarroch Castle is a castle-like mansion from 1890. It looks very representative, but mainly impresses with the great location and the view of Victoria and the sea.

The Inner Harbor - the heart of Victoria

We take the bus back towards the harbor. The Inner Harbor is the heart of Victoria. The seaplanes to Vancouver, Whistler and Seattle and the ferries to Seattle and Port Angeles start here. Smaller boats connect downtown with Victoria West and Fisherman`s Wharf or circle the Inner or Upper Harbor. It's really busy.

Boats in front of the Empress Hotel

Boats in front of the Empress Hotel


The scene around the Inner Harbor could come from a picture book. There are the representative buildings: the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Royal British Columbia Museum, and the Parliament Building. In front of it an attractive promenade with the statue of the explorer James Cook. And everything is decorated with flowers, in beds, borders and hanging baskets. With one of the small boats that can only accommodate 12 people, we take a tour around the Inner Harbor.

Fairmont Empress Hotel Victoria's Seaplane Harbor Harbor Ferry Victoria BC - View of the Bay

 

So we see this postcard idyll again from the water. It's really beautiful. The footpath leading to the cruise port along the water is also very nice. We walk past Parliament, then the Robert Bateman Art Gallery and around Laurel Point Park to Fisherman's Wharf.

Floating Homes at Fisherman's Wharf

Floating Homes at Fisherman's Wharf


Here we make a detour and take a look at the floating houses and the quaint little bars and shops. Then we walk past Fisherman's Wharf Park to the Cruise Terminal. There are always wonderful vantage points. We can recommend this route to anyone calling at Victoria on a cruise ship.

In the evening, the Norwegian Sun leaves the port of Victoria. We drive through the Juan de Fuca Strait to the Pacific Ocean.

Continue reading: Day 9 - Astoria, Oregon

 

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