Victoria BC is only about 100 km from Vancouver but sometimes I forget it’s really that close. My stepdaughter recently turned ten years old and I wanted to treat her to a little getaway to mark the special occasion. I decided a girls weekend to Victoria – including accommodation at the Fairmont Empress and the legendary Afternoon Tea at this iconic Vancouver Island hotel – would be the perfect birthday treat. Read on for details on our weekend away.
Victoria BC Travel Guide
How to get from Vancouver to Victoria BC
My absolute favourite way to travel to Vancouver Island is by seaplane. Harbour Air flies from downtown Vancouver to Victoria harbour, literally steps away from the Fairmont Empress. The flight is only 35 minutes and so incredibly scenic. You can also fly from the south terminal at Vancouver International Airport – so convenient!
Victoria BC Accommodation
When we arrived, our room wasn’t quite ready yet so we explored the hotel. The Fairmont Empress is super family friendly and gave us a fun scavenger hunt to do around the hotel. It’s such a great way to keep kids busy and educate them, too! Once completed, they can collect a prize from the Front Desk. Pure brilliance if you’re in Victoria for a family getaway and looking for things to do for your kids.
Once we checked into our room, we couldn’t believe the views! We were on the sixth floor and had incredible views of Victoria harbour. Our room at the Empress was really spacious with a king bed, pull out sofa, and two televisions. There was also a birthday cake and other goodies awaiting our arrival, which was so sweet! By the way, the Fairmont in Victoria recently completed a $60-million renovation in modern art deco and pure luxury (like this chandelier in the lobby made of 250,000 crystals) – it is STUNNING.
Things to Do in Victoria BC
Afternoon Tea in Victoria
Afternoon Tea at the Empress is a must for anyone visiting Victoria, British Columbia. The Fairmont serves more afternoon tea in a day than most hotels in London – and for good reason. This has been part of the Empress experience for over a hundred years and the china used was designed specifically for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their visit in 1939.
When we arrived at the Lobby Lounge, we were presented with a birthday gift: two tiaras to wear during our Afternoon Tea! The amazing staff then explained the entire tea process to us, and naturally they also offer Children’s Afternoon Tea at the Empress – it’s called the Prince or Princess Indulgence. We certainly felt like royalty.
Fairmont Spa in Victoria
A stay at the Fairmont Empress deserves a trip to the Willow Stream Spa, or at very least a swim in the beautiful pool and soak in the hot tub. We did our best to live our best #RobeLife (she more than I) and we agreed that we need to return when we have more than 24 hours in Victoria. Whether you choose the spa, the pool, or both one thing is certain – you’ll be much more relaxed afterwards.
We enjoyed room service dinner that night and movies in bed. Considering how often I stay in hotels (around 25%-50% of the time these days), this is such a rarity for me and was a real treat.
Family Friendly Activities in Victoria
There are so many fantastic family friendly activities in downtown Victoria, literally less than a block from the Fairmont Empress. We chose to check out the Royal BC Museum, which has a very cool Maya exhibit on currently, because it was pouring outside and felt like the perfect rainy day activity on Vancouver Island. If we’d had more time, we would have visited the Victoria Bug Museum and the Parliament Buildings in Victoria but we’ll just have to go back.
After a delicious breakfast at Q at the Empress, the hotel’s all day dining restaurant, we spent a little bit of time explore the centennial gardens of the hotel. The also happens to be where they keep their bee hives that produce the hotel’s honey.
Before we knew it, it was time to march back across the street and hop our seaplane home again after an incredible girls weekend in Victoria.
Victoria BC Details:
How far is Victoria from Vancouver?
From Victoria to Vancouver it is 107 kilometres (76 miles).
How do you get to Victoria BC from Vancouver?
You can travel by car and ferry, or bus and ferry, or like us, you can take a float plane over.
How long does it take to travel from Vancouver to Victoria?
It takes approximately 4 hours each way from downtown Vancouver to Victoria BC if you’re travelling by car and ferry. If you’re taking a float plane, it takes about 35 minutes from harbour to harbour (downtown to downtown).
Do you need a car in Victoria BC?
If you are travelling by float plane to Victoria BC then I would say you don’t need a car because you’ll be downtown and able to walk many places. However, if you are taking the ferry to Victoria then you most definitely need a car. Both ferry terminals – Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and Victoria (Swartz Bay) – are a lengthy drive from the city centres.
What is Victoria best known for?
Victoria BC is known as the City of Gardens. While we didn’t get there on this visit, I highly recommend adding The Butchart Gardens to your itinerary.
Is Victoria BC warm?
Victoria boasts the warmest climate in all of Canada. It is lovely, lush and warm.
Does Victoria get snow?
Rarely. Like most places in the Pacific Northwest, it might snow on the rare occasion in the winter but it rarely stays. However, it does rain a lot in the winter and is quite damp so be prepared with weather proof outerwear if you’re planning a winter visit.
Have you been to Victoria, British Columbia before? I’d love to hear your recommendations of things to see and do, your favourite restaurants (give me all those food recos!), and whether you went in summer or winter.