Southern Vancouver Island
The South Island includes the pastoral Saanich peninsula and a rugged southwest coastline framed by postcard views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the towering peaks of Washington State’s Olympic Mountain range. With so many must-see attractions, it’s tempting to settle into comfortable lodgings in the city of Victoria (British Columbia’s capital, “the City of Gardens”) and explore this end of the Island at leisure by car or on foot.
Steeped in rich history, the city of Victoria combines old-world charm with new-world experiences. Picturesque 19th century heritage buildings house galleries, boutique shops, cocktail lounges and brewpubs. The year-round events calendar is marked by diverse festivals and a pulsating live-music scene. Victoria has an extraordinary assortment of cuisine, ranging from elegant fine dining to casual bistros, waterfront pubs and gourmet food trucks. Local chefs capitalize on an abundance of Island meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. And drink menus invariably include outstanding locally made wines, ciders, beers and spirits. Pick up the Craft Beer Map from a Visitor Centre to plot a tour of the city’s many taphouses and regional breweries.
From international destinations such as the national historic site of Butchart Gardens to hidden gems like Canada’s oldest Chinatown, your days in the region can be as busy or relaxed as you want. Marvel at the Royal British Columbia Museum’s natural history, First Nations and pioneer exhibits. Shop downtown or visit seaside neighborhoods like Oak Bay and Estevan Village to experience a British High Street experience with a modern twist of style and culinary expertise.
Many visitors unpack at once to wander the city at their own leisure. Other visitors balance the urban pleasures with daytrip excursions. Head north into Saanich for a roadtrip tour of farms and wineries, stopping for a waterside lunch in Brentwood Bay, a visit to one of Canada’s most beloved public gardens or a tour of Sidney’s many book stores and unique boutiques.
The South Island invites spontaneity and unplanned agendas. Although it’s the most populous area on Vancouver Island, it’s still quiet enough to attract residents who treasure peace, serenity and all kinds of holistic opportunities to stay fit and healthy. There are also numerous parks, easy-access beaches, recreation facilities, yoga studios and two of Canada’s best family hiking and biking routes, the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails, available for visitors to enjoy.