Discover the Charm and Character of Victoria BC and the Gulf Islands

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As we approach the longest day of the year, we also enter the best time of year to travel throughout beautiful British Columbia, Canada. The ToursByLocals team is admittedly biased about promoting this part of the world as a top travel destination: it’s our home after all!

Today our local Victoria guide Elizabeth is here to share with us what makes her part of Vancouver Island a top travel destination. Elizabeth’s love of history, outdoor adventure and local artisanal culture make her the perfect person to appreciate Victoria’s many urban and natural charms.

Travelers who love history, architecture, nature, and culture are in for a big treat when visiting Victoria BC and the Gulf Islands. Arriving in the Inner Harbour by seaplane, foot or ferry a glorious 360º view unfurls: classic and elegant vessels moored at docks, horse-drawn carriages along avenues, Neo-baroque Parliament buildings, and the iconic Empress Hotel designated a National Historic Site.

There is so much to see around Victoria Harbour, an area with history dating back centuries and preserved in the heritage of spectacular totems of the First Nations People, viewed at Helmcken House and at the Royal Museum.

The names of the early European settlers of 1842 keep their prominence to this date by way of the many streets, avenues, and parks: James Douglas, Finlayson and McKenzie, men who came to a far away outpost on the southern-most tip of Vancouver Island only to be swept up by a historical event that changed the little town forever.

The outpost became a bustling center of shops and government offices when thousands of gold prospectors descended upon Victoria in the late 1850’s to look for gold in the Fraser River. Remnants of forts and railroad tracks, former courthouse and jail, Bastion Square, and an ancient Chinatown are all now sites that house festive patio restaurants, quaint stores and artisan markets. The old architectural wonder of castles and turn of the century houses is present everywhere.

Leaving the city behind and heading towards the Butchart Gardens, the splendor of a gentle countryside unfolds to reveal majestic farmhouses and mansions, herds of sheep, a family of deer, green pastures and serenity. Pristine forests along the coastline invite you to walk amidst giant black cottonwood and red alder trees, and paths of verdant ferns and wild flowers lead you into the stillness of lakes like Thetis, Swan, and Elk Lake.

And if you love it all so far you owe it to yourself to get on one of the many ferries bound for the Gulf islands, a spectacular archipelago of wonders: Salt Spring Island, Galiano, Pender, Mayne, Saturna, Islands cut deeply by fjords lined between high mountains with distinct eco-systems that are home to a diversity of plants and wild life, magnificent views and many communities of artists and bohemians located along the shores.

British Columbia’s Gulf Islands are now home to a new national park reserve and some of the highest-priced real estate in Canada. Here you can come for the quiet enchantment of an untouched place with eagles and whales or to the bustling art and musical festivals that take place during the summer months.

Whatever you are looking for as a traveler you are bound to find it here in the eco parks, historical sites, and rich culture of British Columbia’s Victoria and Gulf Islands.

Thank you Elizabeth! For any travelers headed to Victoria this summer, consider getting in touch with Elizabeth, who is eager to share her love for the city and surrounding region with you. You can find her full guide profile page here: Elizabeth’s guide profile.
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