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Experience Victoria, BC Like a Local

Victoria, BC is a vibrant city bursting with local charm and hidden gems waiting to be explored. Read on for a list of our favorite local spots that capture the essence of Victoria’s unique culture and beauty. From picturesque beaches and viewpoints to delectable eateries and cultural hotspots, Victoria has something for everyone. Whether you’re a local looking to rediscover your city or a visitor eager to experience the best of Victoria, these places will showcase the rich diversity and character that make Victoria a truly special place.


Cold Comfort Ice Cream

Cold Comfort Ice Cream. Credit: Cold Comfort.

1. Cold Comfort Ice Cream

1115 North Park Street | 11-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
Located just outside of downtown Victoria in the Fernwood neighborhood, Cold Comfort Ice Cream is a beloved artisanal shop known for its inventive flavors and high-quality ingredients. From classic favorites like vanilla bean and chocolate to unique creations like lavender honey and Earl Grey, their menu caters to a wide range of palettes. With gluten and vegan options available, they have something for everyone. We recommend trying one of their homemade ice cream sandwiches, made with fresh-baked cookies and delightful ice cream flavors.

Fan Tan Alley

Fan Tan Alley. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria.

2. Fan Tan Alley

50 Fan Tan Alley | 19-minute walk from Black Ball’s terminal
Situated in the heart of Victoria’s Chinatown, Fan Tan Alley is known for being the narrowest commercial street in North America. It was once the main route into Victoria's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in Canada and second oldest in North America. As you walk down this narrow street you can find quaint shops selling jewelry, clothing and other knick knacks.

Beacon Hill Park

Munro's Books. Credit: Munro's Books.

3. Munro’s Books

1108 Government Street | 13-minute walk from Black Ball’s terminal
Munro’s Books stands as a literary haven and cultural landmark. Nestled in a historic building, Munro’s is known for its vast collection of books spanning various genres, from bestsellers to rare finds. The bookstore’s cozy interior, complete with wooden shelves and inviting nooks, creates an immersive and welcoming atmosphere for book lovers of all ages. Founded in 1963, Munro’s Books continues to uphold a legacy of promoting literature and fostering a deep appreciation for the written word within Victoria’s vibrant literary community.

Beacon Hill Park

Gonzales Observatory. Credit: Gonzales Neighbourhood Association.

4. Gonzales Observatory

302 Denison Road | 13-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
A hidden gem that even some locals may not know about, the Gonzales Observatory used to be a weather station in Victoria but now is a heritage building and landmark. Perched atop Gonzales Hill, this observation point offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Depending on the time of day, you may be able to spot the MV COHO!

Sea and Cider 

The Ciderhouse at Sea Cider. Credit: Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse.

5. Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

2487 Mount St. Michael Road | 30-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
Located just outside of Victoria in Saanichton, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse is a picturesque cidery known for its exceptional craft ciders and stunning orchard setting. Situated on a historic farm with scenic ocean views, Sea Cider offers a unique experience for visitors to explore the cider-making process amidst lush apple orchards. The cidery’s dedication to using locally sourced, organic apples results in a range of delicious and innovative ciders, from traditional dry ciders to experimental blends infused with local flavors. With guided tours and a charming tasting room, Sea Cider provides a delightful escape into the world of artisanal cider-making.

Brasserie L'Ecole

Brasserie L'Ecole. Credit: Brasserie L'Ecole.

6. Brasserie l’Ecole

1715 Government Street | 19-minute walk from Black Ball’s terminal
Nestled in a historic building, Brasserie L’Ecole is a beloved eatery renowned for its authentic French cuisine and charming bistro ambiance. The menu features a delightful selection of French-inspired dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the chef’s skills in creating traditional flavors with a modern twist. From mouth watering steak frites to decadent seafood platters, Brasserie L’Ecole delights guests with its diverse and delicious offers, making it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. They do not take reservations, so be sure to arrive at 5:30pm to put your name down on the list... Trust us, it’s worth the wait!

Willows Beach

Willows Beach. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria.

7. Willows Beach

2452 Esplanade | 19-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
Situated in the Oak Bay area, Willows Beach offers stunning views of the Salish Sea and nearby islands, making it a popular spot for picnics, sunbathing, and leisurely walks along the shore. The beach is lined with lush greenery and towering willow trees, adding to its serene charm and providing shade on hot summer days. With calm waters ideal for swimming and kayaking, Willows Beach is a beloved local treasure.

Bon Macaron Patisserie

Macarons. Credit: Bon Macaron Patisserie.

8. Bon Macaron Patisserie

1012 Broad Street | 13-minute walk from Black Ball’s terminal
Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, Bon Macaron’s charming storefront invites guests into a world of sweet indulgence. Each macaron is meticulously crafted using traditional techniques and premium ingredients, resulting in a perfect balance of delicate shells and fillings. From classics like chocolate and vanilla to unique creations like passionfruit and goat cheese, Bon Macaron’s diverse selection offers a delightful experience to all taste buds. If you’re feeling inspired, you can enroll in a macaron making workshop, where you will make 30-40 of your own macarons! For more information, check out their website.

Goodside Pastry House

Goodside Pastry House. Credit: Goodside Pastry House.

9. Goodside Pastry House

1805 Fort Street | 13-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
Goodside Pastry House is a special treat for pastry enthusiasts, offering an exquisite range of baked goods and sweet treats. Their menu boasts a variety of options, from flaky croissants and danishes to decadent cakes and tarts. Using high-quality ingredients and expert techniques, Goodside Pastry House delivers a delightful experience for those seeking quality pastries. Be sure to arrive early, as they sell out quickly!

Island View Beach

Sunset at Island View Beach.

10. Island View Beach

3215 Island View Road | 29-minute drive from Black Ball’s terminal
Island View Beach is a picturesque coastal area located in Central Saanich, just north of Victoria. This sandy beach stretches along the eastern shore of the Saanich Peninsula and offers stunning views of Haro Strait, Mount Baker, and the Gulf Islands. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, relax on the sandy beach, or explore the tidal pools teeming with marine life. Island View Beach is also a popular spot for picnics, birdwatching, dog walks, and water activities.

Habit Coffee

Habit Coffee. Credit: Habit Coffee.

11. Habit Coffee

552 Pandora Avenue | 17-minute walk from Black Ball's terminal
Habit Coffee is a beloved coffee shop that's known for its exceptional coffee and cozy ambience. Founded in 2005, Habit Coffee has become a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike, offering a welcoming atmosphere and expertly crafted coffee beverages. The menu features a variety of coffee options, including espresso drinks, pour-over coffee, and cold brews, made with locally roasted beans for freshness and flavor. The cafe's rustic decor, comfortable seating, and friendly staff create a relaxed environment perfect for enjoying a morning pick-me-up or catching up with friends over a cup of coffee.

Tora Tiki

Tora Tiki. Credit: Tora Tiki.

12. Tora Tiki

714 Cormorant Street | 20-minute walk from Black Ball's terminal
This exotic oasis transports guests to a Polynesian paradise with its colorful decor, bamboo accents, and tiki-inspired artwork. The menu features a wide selection of creative cocktails, including classic tiki drinks like Mai Tais and Zombies, as well as signature concoctions with tropical flavors and exotic garnishes. Tora Tiki's vibrant interior and upbeat music contributes to its fun and festive vibe, making it a popular destination for those looking to escape to a tropical getaway without leaving the city.

Whistle Buoy

Sample of beers from Whistle Buoy. Credit: Whistle Buoy Brewing Company.

13. Whistle Buoy Brewing Company

560 Johnson Street, Market Square Lower Courtyard #63 | 16-minute walk from Black Ball's terminal
Situated in Market Square in downtown Victoria, Whistle Buoy is a prominent craft brewery known for its innovative brews and inviting taproom atmosphere. Founded by a group of passionate beer enthusiasts, Whistle Buoy focuses on producing high-quality, small-batch beers that showcase a range of styles and flavors. The brewery's taproom offers a cozy and welcoming space where patrons can sample a rotating selection of beers on tap, from hoppy IPAs and refreshing lagers to rich stouts and sour ales. With a commitment to creativity and quality, Whistle Buoy has become a favorite for beer lovers seeking unique and flavorful brews in Victoria.

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