Tours in Victoria BC

The options for tours in Victoria BC are as diverse as our landscape. You won’t be disappointed whether you are looking for a free self-guided tour, a group tour, or a private local guided tour. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Without a doubt, the most popular tours in Victoria BC are whale watching on the wild Pacific Ocean, the incredible floral displays of Butchart Gardens and wine tasting tours in the popular Cowichan Valley and Saanich Peninsula. But there are many, many more options to choose from.

Guided Tours in Victoria BC

Learn more about your tour options and compare prices on these tours:

  • City Sightseeing Tours

If you’ve got a full day and want as much Victoria BC city sightseeing as you can possibly fit in, then a “see it all” tour is for you. With the ultimate Victoria BC city sightseeing tour, your guide can recommend an itinerary of some of the most popular stops or customize a tour specifically for you and your guests. 

The tour will usually start with your guide picking you up at a mutually agreed upon location such as your hotel or the Port of Victoria if you have arrived by cruise ship. 

Compare some of the best tours in Victoria BC here and find the one that suits your interests. 

A popular itinerary of the “must-sees” might include a stop at the national historically designated site The Butchart Gardens. These beautifully manicured gardens span 55 acres and welcome over a million visitors annually. They are not only popular with tourists but thousands of locals like myself, have an annual pass and go to the gardens several times a year to enjoy the scenery change with the seasons. No two visits are the same!

Another popular spot located just down the road from Butchart Gardens is Butterfly Gardens. With thousands of tropical butterflies flying freely throughout, flamingoes, tortoises, iguanas, parrots and more, it’s really a unique attraction that will delight young and old. 

If all your guests are 19+ then a stop at one of our award-winning wineries or cideries could be your next destination. On the peninsula – where Butterfly and Butchart Gardens are located – popular choices are Church & State Wines, de Vine Vineyards and Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. Your guide can make a recommendation suitable for your party. 

For the latter part of your tour, you can expect a scenic drive back to the heart of town. Most guides will provide a fully narrated tour with fun and interesting facts about the area and the sights you are seeing. 

Back in town, there are a number of sights that may interest you. Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria and was home to one of the wealthiest families in the west – the Dunsmuir family. Four floors of Victorian-era furnishings, elaborate wood carvings and remarkable stained-glass windows make this castle a popular Victorian experience. 

Other highlights of a Victoria BC city sightseeing tour could include visits to Government House which is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and where members of the Royal family and dignitaries often stay while in Victoria. It is also home to magnificently groomed gardens that are open to the public.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a unique village of colourful houseboats and also home to some awesome fish and chips. It’s a popular spot for a relaxing stroll along the docks and if you’re lucky, the harbour seals will poke their head up from the water. Of course they are looking for food, but as of 2017 the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has banned feeding the seals at the wharf. But taking pictures of the cute little guys is still welcomed!

Other stops on the tour may include Beacon Hill Park which is a 200-acre multi-use park just steps from the Inner Harbour and Victoria’s China Town which is the oldest China Town in Canada. 

No Victoria BC City sightseeing tour is complete without a stop at the iconic Inner Harbour. Surrounded by the majestic British Columbia Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Inner Harbour provides the backdrop for some incredible photos. 

On weekends from April through October, the city welcomes over 10,000 visitors per day from cruise ships alone so these tours in Victoria BC book up quickly. Don’t be disappointed, book your tour today.

Find the best deals on these popular tours:

West Coast Sightseeing by Air

Experience the west coast sightseeing by air for an incredible view of our rugged coastline, towering trees and majestic mountains. With three distinct ways to see what makes it so special here, we invite you to join one of our local airlines for a west coast sightseeing adventure like no other.

Photo Credit: Victoria Flying Club

Did you know our Inner Harbour is an official "airport"?

Also known as the Victoria Harbour Water Airport, it is where our floatplanes taxi, take off and land. Floatplanes, also known as water planes or sea planes are small aircraft with pontoons. Sea planes is a generic term for planes that take off and land on the water - some types of sea planes use their fuselage for buoyancy such as Port Alberni's Martin Mars which are the world's largest flying boats (used primarily for forest fire fighting). 

West coast sightseeing trips booked through the Victoria Flying Club operate from their location at the Victoria International Airport in North Saanich on the peninsula. Helijet (helicopter) trips take off and land at their waterfront location beside the cruise ship terminal at the Breakwater District.

West Coast Sightseeing by Floatplane

Harbour Air Float Planes

  • Victoria Harbour Airport
  • 950 Wharf Street, Victoria, BC  V8W 1T3
  • 250-384-2215 or 1-800-665-0212
  • Enjoy an introduction to seaplane aviation with spectacular vistas of Victoria’s most iconic sights

Ocean Air Floatplanes

  • 1234 Wharf Street, Victoria, BC V8W 3H9
  • 250-655-1144 or 1-866-655-1144
  • Choose from air tours of Victoria and the Gulf Islands, air with a vineyard stop or air with fly-in fishing

West Coast Sightseeing by Airplane

Victoria Flying Club

  • 101 – 1852 Canso Rd, Sidney, BC V8L 5V5
  • 250-656-2833
  • Private sight-seeing excursion
  • Choose from City Tour, Gulf Island Tour, Lighthouse Tour or customize your own

West Coast Sightseeing by Helicopter

Helijet International

  • 79 Dallas Road, Victoria BC  V8V 1A2
  • 1-800-665-4354
  • Operates twin-engine Sikorsky S76 helicopters on scheduled and charter flights

Private Guided Tours

Still not sure if you should use a guide or do your own thing? If you are considering booking private guided tours and not sure if it is worth it, keep reading for the advantages of using a guide, the advantages of doing your own thing and the disadvantages of both. We hope this will help you determine if you should book private guided tours for some of your excursions. 

Going on vacation should be fun and stress-free. But let’s face it, sometimes unpredictable things happen. From minor inconveniences like not being able to locate that little café the guy on the plane told you about, to major disasters like not getting back to your cruise ship on time and watching it sail away without you – stuff happens!

When you use a guide, “stuff” doesn’t happen nearly as often!

Advantages of Doing Your Own Thing

  • You are completely on your own schedule and can spend as much or as little time at the spots that appeal to you most
  • You get to choose just the attractions you want to see and not those chosen by somebody else
  • You only pay for the attractions you choose
  • You can walk about town and discover shops and attractions you didn’t even know you wanted to see
  • You can change your itinerary on a whim
  • You can rent any sized automobile and travel in comfort
  • You can grab a cab to take you to places around town or out of town
  • No annoying strangers!

Disadvantages of Doing Your Own Thing

  • If you don’t stick to a well-planned itinerary, you risk running out of time to see all the attractions you intended to
  • If you rent a vehicle, you’ll have the extra costs of gas and insurance plus the time spent picking up and dropping off
  • You may get lost and be unable to access google maps. There are patches of the island without cell service (really!). If you are travelling outside of the major centres, you should purchase a back-country map and be able to read it. Depending on exactly where your travels take you, a satellite phone may also be recommended.
  • You won’t know the history or fun facts of all the sites and attractions that you see
  • Taxi cab drivers will get you around but will not provide a narrated tour
  • You may need an international license depending on where you are travelling from

Advantages of Booking with a Group

  • The route, sites and stops are all planned out in advance - sit back and enjoy
  • You will see the most popular sites
  • Narrated tour
  • Safe and reliable transportation
  • Easier to budget when costs are known up front
  • You'll meet interesting people from around the world

Disadvantages of Booking with a Group

  • No flexibility in the schedule or activities; itineraries can not be altered
  • You may pay admissions for attractions you are not that interested in
  • You may not discover the hidden gems of your destination, or where the locals go
  • Some travelers in your group may be annoying (ugh!)

Advantages of Private Guided Tours

  • Sit back, relax and enjoy the narrated tour – no fumbling with maps or electronics to figure out where you are; learn fun and interesting facts about the things you see
  • Just you and your travel partners in a private, luxury vehicle 
  • Safe and reliable transportation
  • Guides are locals too and they know their way around town. If there is a road closure or some construction, they’ll know how to get around it and on to the next stop on your itinerary
  • Guides know exactly how much you can pack into one day and they’ll make sure you make the most out of your time
  • Your guided trips and tours can be personalized to suit your interests 
  • Time permitting, your tour can be altered “on the fly” to see more of one attraction or less of another
  • Gas and insurance are included in the tour price
  • Prices are usually quoted per tour, not per person (activity prices are usually not included)
  • easier to budget when excursion prices are known upfront
  • Ideal choice when you have limited time in one city
  • If you are arriving in Victoria via one of 20 different cruise lines, you have the option to book a shore excursion that includes port pick-up, customizable itineraries and a return to ship guarantee 

Disadvantages of Using a Private Guide

  • Additional cost to be included in your vacation budget

Free Tours in Victoria BC

  • Parliament Buildings at the Inner Harbour – If you enjoy history and beautiful architecture then you will want to take advantage of a 45-minute tour of the BC Parliament Buildings.  Conclude your tour with a relaxed dining experience in the building’s lower-level Parliamentary Dining Room. The public hours vary depending on the schedule of the Legislative Assembly. Check their hours here. Lunch is not included in the free tour. This is one of my favourite tours in Victoria BC and I take all my visiting guests here.
  • Gardens at Government House – located at 1401 Rockland Avenue, they are not as spectacular as Butchart Gardens however they are still magnificent and you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through 36 acres of manicured gardens and native woodlands at your own pace, at no cost from dawn till dusk. 
Grounds at Hatley Park in Victoria BC
Flowers at Hatley Park in Victoria BC
Flowers at Hatley Park in Victoria BC
Grounds at Hatley Park in Victoria BC
Flowers at Hatley Park in Victoria BC
Flowers at Hatley Park in Victoria BC

End of summer gardens at Hatley Park

  • Gardens at Hatley Park – located at 2005 Sooke Road in Colwood, the park is home to Hatley Castle and several acres of beautifully manicured gardens including the Italian Garden, the Rose Garden and Japanese Gardens. Tours of the castle are not included in the free garden tours.

Free Heritage Self-Guided Walking Tours in Victoria BC

Click on the links below to download the maps and guides.

  • James Bay Heritage Walking Tour #1 – this route begins and ends at Government and Superior streets and includes the house where writer/artist Emily Carr lived.
  • James Bay Heritage Walking Tour #2 – this tour begins and ends at Ogden Point (Breakwater District) and takes you to the Inner Harbour before heading towards the neighbourhood of James Bay and then back to the Dallas Road waterfront.
  • Haunted Victoria – we have been dubbed the Most Haunted City in Canada. This self-guided tour from St. Ann’s Academy to Bastion Square will help you experience the supernatural side of Victoria. 
  • Law and Disorder – From the Union Club to City Hall, follow this route to discover some of the not-so-law-abiding citizens and their stories.
  • Rollicking Boomtown – You would never guess that Victoria was once known for opium smuggling, gambling and prostitution. This tour takes you back to an era that was wild, and got even wilder when Gold Rush madness descended on Victoria. 
  • Mysterious Chinatown – From Market Square to the Gates of Harmonious Interest, this is one of the most popular walking tours in Victoria BC. Learn about secret tunnels, tea houses, gambling dens and opium parlours in Canada’s oldest Chinatown. 

We would love to hear your feedback on these trips and tours in Victoria BC. Please contact us when you get home to share your story. 

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