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8 hours in Victoria: what to see, eat & do

8 hours in Victoria: what to see, eat & do
8 hours in Victoria: what to see, eat & do

Taking one of the floatplanes from Vancouver Harbour to Vancouver Island has been on my adventure bucket list ever since I moved to Vancouver.

Over Canada Day long weekend, I got a good deal on a roundtrip Harbour Air floatplane ticket to Victoria and made a day trip to the Island. The weather and the day were perfect.

Have 8 hours to spend in Victoria, BC? Here is what to see, eat & do:

10:00 am: check in at Vancouver Harbour Air Flight Centre (#1 Burrard Landing, 1055 Canada Place)

Check-in was quick and easy and you are only required to be there 25 minutes in advance of your flight. Complimentary WIFI and tea, coffee, and pastries are available.

10:30 am: board float plane to Victoria

I was able to grab the same seat on the way there and the way back, offering different view points each way (front right side window). If you are brave, ask the pilot if you can sit in the cockpit.


10:40 am: take off and soak in the scenery

11:15 am: arrive in Victoria Inner Harbour Airport (950 Wharf Street)

A short 35 minutes later, we landed smoothly in Victoria Inner Harbour. It only takes minutes to get off the plane, grab you bag, and exit the terminal.


11:30 am: coffee at Habit Coffee (522 Pandora Avenue) 

A 10-15 minute walk from the terminal, through downtown and into Chinatown, start your day with a cold brew coffee or Americano at Habit Coffee. The beans, Bows & Arrow, are delicious and roasted locally. There is plenty of seating, but no WIFI.


12:00 pm: snack at Victoria Public Market at the Hudson (1701 Douglas Street) 

A 5-10 minute walk from Habit Coffee, spend some time exploring the Victoria Public Market in the historic Hudson building. A smaller (and in my opinion less touristy) version of Granville Island Public Market, there are local artisans, fresh seafood, locally-produced cheese, local meats, farm-fresh groceries, handmade pies, a French bakery, oils and vinegars, fresh flowers, specialty retail, gourmet food service offerings, and much more. I made sure to stop by the Salt Spring Island cheese stand, Silk Road Tea, and the chocolate stand – they were featuring Canadian-made chocolates in celebration of Canada Day and offering tastings!


1:00 pm: Lunch at Nourish in the Harbour (225 Quebec Street) 

The 25-30 minute walk from Victoria Public Market to Nourish Kitchen & Cafe is lovely: walk through Chinatown and Downtown, past the famous Empress Hotel, walk by the Parliament Buildings and water, and eventually make your way over to Quebec Street.


My lunch at Nourish was fantastic: their cashew cream cheese was worth the trip to Victoria alone! This restaurant and cafe serves simple farm-fresh mains and snacks in an airy, bright Victorian house. I enjoyed the cultured cashew cheese (served with 2 pieces of gluten-free buckwheat and seedy bread and homemade kimchi) and the raw turnip noodles (bok choy, red onion, carrots, radish, soft herbs, sesame with a chilli almond sauce). I wanted to try everything on their menu!

2:00 pm: Walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ogden Point Breakwater 

Fisherman’s Wharf can be a little tacky, but if you have never been it is worth a quick stop and it is on the way to the Ogden Point Breakwater. Feed the seals (buy some fish scraps from one of the stands down by the wharf) and look at the house boats (pretend you’re in Sleepless in Seattle).

Follow David Foster Way (yes that David Foster) to the Ogden Point Breakwater. The breakwater is a 1 mile walk starting adjacent to the Ogden Point Cafe and out into the water. The views of Dallas Road, the city, ocean, and mountains are stunning.

3:00 pm: Walk Dallas Road to Clover Point.

Return back to David Foster Way and continue on Dallas Road to Clover Point. This is one of my favourite spots, ever. Breath in that fresh ocean air and relax. Walk down the various sets of stairs along the way to explore the beach and climb on the rocks, or stay on the main path above the water. When you reach Clover Point, keep a look out for colourful kite surfers especially on a windy day!

3:45 pm: Turn around at Clover Point and explore Beacon Hill Park before dinner

Head back in the direction you came and stop by Beacon Hill Park before dinner. Over 60 acres of land, the park is beautifully landscaped and manicured with bridges, lakes and ponds, and an alpine and rock garden. Wander the paths and don’t miss: Goodacre and Fountain Lakes; Rose, Willow, Deer, and Queen’s Lake; the rose garden, and the petting farm! Download a Map of Beacon Hill Park here.

4:30 pm: Walk to dinner via Cook Street and Fort Street and window shop

Cook Street Village in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood is described as “eclectic” and having “Old World Charm”. The street is scattered with antique stores, local markets, boutiques, coffee houses, British-inspired pubs, and more. For more information about Cook Street visit the Hello BC Blog or BC Living Magazine.

5:00 pm: Dinner at Be Love Restaurant (1019 Blanshard Street)

I loved my dinner at Be Love Restaurant. Described as “pure nourishment”, Be Love specializes in farm-to-table vegan food. Everything is 100% vegan, wheat-free, and sugar-free… but certainly not lacking in flavour. It has a modern, clean vibe, high ceilings, and a bright and airy interior. I had the Green Bowl (dark greens, broccolini, baby bok choy, mushrooms & veggies in thai coconut green curry on steamed brown rice topped with avocado, toasted cashews, cilantro & scallions ) and had I not been stuffed, I would have definitely gotten their lavender fig cacao cup and cardamom almond mylk latte for dessert.


6:10 pm : check-in at Victoria Inner Harbour Flight Centre

After hours of exploring and eating my way through Victoria (and 30,000 steps later!) it was time to head home. I managed to snag an earlier flight, and was back in Vancouver shortly after 7:00 pm.

6:30 pm: board plane for Vancouver

6:40 pm: take off


7:15 pm: arrive in Vancouver


Have more than 8 hours? Here are some of my other favourite things to do in Victoria: 


Vegetarian and Vegan Food at Rebar

Dinner on the patio at Oak Bay Beach Resort’s Snug Pub overlooking the ocean

Island Oat Bar at Serious Coffee

Drinks and live music at Bard and Banker

Seafood and hand-crafted beers at Canoe Brew Pub

High tea at the Empress Hotel or gluten-free high tea at White Heather Tea Room


Climb up Moss Rock and look for the cappuccino-coloured cat

Explore the grounds of Craigdarroch Castle: historic home of the wealthy Dunsmuir family

Take a day trip to East Sooke Park and hike the 10 km Coast Trail. Stop at the Smokin Tuna Cafe for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, homemade lemonade, and straight-from-the-ocean seafood.

Hike up Mount Doug (1-1.5 hours)

Hike up Mount Tolmie (20-30 minutes)

If you had 8 hours to spend in any city, where would you go?


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