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Victoria Basics

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Scenes of Victoria

Fast Facts: Victoria

Victoria--the City of Gardens--is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and looks out on the Juan de Fuca Strait. Often called the most British city in Canada, the city maintains the charm of a smaller city yet provides its population with first class services and amenities. Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia, and boasts a metropolitan population of about 380,000 inhabitants.

The mainstays of Victoria's economy are technology, tourism, education, federal and provincial government administration and services. Over 3.5 million tourists come to Victoria every year; in 2017, the Port of Victoria expects to host 235 cruise ship visits.

Victoria enjoys mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. The climate is temperate, as it is subtly influenced by warm Japanese currents. The rugged mountain ranges of the Olympics, Cascades, Coast Mountains and the Island Ridge protect the city from North Pacific rains and winds. Nonetheless, on-shore breezes are an ever present feature of Victoria's climate, making the weather unpredictable.


Victoria map


First Impressions


Inner Harbour
©2014 ChrisJohnstone86, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Victoria is a very pretty city, and like almost all Canadian cities, very clean. During the spring, summer and early fall, the city abounds with abundant flowers and their wonderful aromas.

The focal point of the city is the Inner Harbour, where you'll find the provincial Parliament buildings, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, museums, shops, pubs, restaurants and other attractions. One of the nice things about Victoria is that most everything that you may want to see and do is within easy walking distance of each other in the Inner Harbour/downtown area.

Your ship will dock at the Ogden Point Cruise Terminal in the Outer Harbour area of Victoria, which is located just over 1 mile from the Inner Harbour and downtown areas. At the Cruise Terminal, you can find gift shops, foreign currency exchange services and pay telephones. Tour and shuttle buses, taxis and other forms of transportation are readily available for passenger excursions to the city center and major tour attractions.

While a number of ships are scheduled to spend a full day in Victoria in 2017, 60% of the ships planning stops in Victoria will arrive at 6:00 pm or later. That rules out visits to most of the city's museums, as well as some shopping venues. But that means you'll have time to enjoy a fun culinary experience in the city, as well as the lights on the city's buildings. And the sun sets late during the summer, so at least some of your time in Victoria will take place during daylight hours.

Victoria really comes alive from May through September. The weather is very pleasant, the days are long, street entertainers do their thing, and there are flowers everywhere. People are happy.


Time Zone


Victoria is on Pacific Time, eight hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during standard time, or seven hours during daylight savings time. Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

Canada flag Victoria Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken in Victoria. Some shopkeepers also speak French.


Travel Advisory


US Embassy Logo

An advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Canada states that Americans planning to enter Canada must be aware that "anyone with a criminal record (including a drunk driving conviction) may be excluded from entering Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued, but several weeks are required and a processing fee must be paid. Contact the Canadian Embassy or a Canadian Consulate in the U.S." As of March 1, 2012, these rules have been eased slightly by the Government of Canada.


Dealing with Money in Victoria


Currency



Canadian dollars

The currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar, and it is printed on bills in five denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins include the nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cent piece and the one dollar (referred to as the "loonie") and two dollar (called the "toonie") coins. The Canadian government is gradually replacing its paper money with plastic bills.

The current exchange rate for the US dollar is shown below.


Banks and ATMs

ATM machines in Victoria are plentiful and can be found at bank branches, hotels, restaurants, drug stores and other establishments in the Inner Harbour area. Banks with ATM machines can be found at the following locations:

  • HSBC: 752 Fort Street is their main branch in Victoria.

  • CIBC: 1175 Douglas Street; 265 Menzies Street; and 904 Yates Street are the most convenient bank branch locations.

  • Bank of Montreal: 1225 Douglas Street is their main branch in Victoria; another branch is located at 230 Menzies Street.

  • Royal Bank of Canada: 1079 Douglas Street is their main branch in Victoria.

Victoria ATM Map


Map icon

Seet our Victoria ATM map for the locations of the above bank ATMs.


Using US Dollars in Victoria

US dollars are accepted in Victoria, but at a discount to the bank rate. All change for US dollar transactions will be given in Canadian currency. Since ATM machines are so plentiful in Victoria, it is easy to obtain Canadian dollars. Alternatively, you can charge your purchases on credit cards and get a slightly better rate, but you may be charged a foreign exchange transaction fee.


Weather


Butchart Gardens
©2011 Robthepiper, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Located in a sub-Mediterranean zone, Victoria enjoys some of the most moderate weather in all of Canada. The climate is temperate, as it is subtly influenced by warm Japanese currents. The rugged mountain ranges of the Olympics, Cascades, Coast Mountains and the Island Ridge protect the city from North Pacific rains and winds. Nonetheless, onshore breezes are an ever present feature of Victoria's climate.

From November through March, Victoria is often gray and gloomy. The average monthly rainfall in winter is 2 inches (5 cm), but Victorians are seldom without an umbrella. Rainfall during the summer is less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) per month.

Humidity is generally pretty low in Victoria, and the almost constant offshore breezes keep summer days from becoming too hot. During the spring and summer evenings, the temperature becomes much cooler, so if you're out and about, don't forget to bring a sweater or a light coat.

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation

Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Victoria

Coffee shops and restaurants with free Wi-Fi can be found throughout Victoria; however, Cybercafes in Victoria are fairly hard to come by.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

The following list of free Wi-Fi hotspots is by no means definitive, as there are hundreds of restaurants and other coffee shops that provide free Wi-Fi in Victoria.

  • Starbucks, located at 1150 Douglas Street, in the Victoria Bay Centre. Open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 381-1150.

  • Starbucks, located at 425 Simcoe Street. Open from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm.
    Phone: (250) 361-4884.

  • Starbucks, located at 1234 Government Street. Open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 920-7203.

  • Starbucks, located at 865 Yates Street. Open from 5:30 am to 10:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 360-2246.

  • Starbucks, located at 801 Fort Street. Open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 383-6208.

  • Starbucks, in the Chapters Bookstore, located at 1212 Douglas Street.
    Phone: (250) 380-9009.

  • Starbucks, located at 1689 Government Street. Open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 382-7662.

  • Serious Coffee, located at 1609 Blanshard Street. Open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
    Phone: (250) 385-1100.

  • Serious Coffee, located at 225 Menzies Street. Open from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm.
    Phone: (250) 590-8507.

  • McDonalds, located at 1200 Douglas Street. Open 24 hours.
    Phone: (250) 952-3600.

  • Tim Hortons, located at 1410 Blanshard Street, in downtown Victoria.
    Phone: (250) 361-4616.

Internet Cafe

  • James Bay Coffee & Books, located at 143 Menzies Street in the James Bay area (a very pretty part of Victoria), not quite a mile from the Cruise Ship Terminal. Phone: (250) 386-4700.

Victoria Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our Victoria Internet Access map for the locations of the above internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services


Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Victoria:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in the Victoria area is provided by local partners Telus or Bell Mobility.
Data services: Through its partners, Verizon offers 4G LTE coverage in the greater Victoria area.
See details on cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in the Victoria area is provided by Rogers, Fido, Telus or Bell Mobility.
Data services: AT&T offers extensive 3G roaming service in the greater Victoria area through its partners.
See details on cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service is provided by Bell Mobility or Telus in the greater Victoria area.
Data services: Sprint offers data services in the greater Victoria area through its partners.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in the Victoria area through Telus, Rogers or Bell Mobility.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 3G service or above in the greater Victoria area through its partners.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage maps.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Victoria Telephone Information

American cell phones used in Canada work seamlessly north of the border, and just like back home.

Travelers with American cell phones should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in Canada. You can purchase a "Canada Plan" from your carrier; check with your carrier for the precise details. However, if you’re planning a visit of no more than a few days, such a plan may not be worth the time and hassle.

The Country Code in Canada is 1, just as in the U.S.

The Area Codes used in Victoria are 250, 778 and 236.

Canadian telephone numbers have seven digits, just like in the U.S.

Woman with a cell phone

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Victoria in 2017:

  • New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1.

  • Good Friday, Friday, April 14. Commemorates the Friday before Easter.

  • Easter Sunday, Sunday, April 16. The most important Christian holiday.

  • Easter Monday, Monday, April 17. Gives the people of Victoria a 4-day holiday.

  • Celtic Games
    Ryan MacDonald Photography
  • Celtic Festival & Highland Games, Saturday, May 20 through Monday, May 22. Activities include dance, bagpipe and drum competitions, pipe bands, caber throwing, heavy event championship, historical display, entertainment, and Celtic food. Takes place at Topaz Park.

  • Victoria Day & Parade, Monday, May 22. Celebrates the birthday of the current Canadian Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. However, the date does not change with the change of monarch; instead, it is set on the birthday of Queen Victoria, the Canadian Monarch at the time of Canadian Confederation and establishment of dominion status in 1867. The Parade is Victoria's largest parade event, with marching bands, floats, clowns, etc.

  • Heritage Day, Monday, June 12. Celebrating Victoria's cultural diversity through Dance from noon to 9:00 pm. Takes place at Beacon Hill Park.

  • Canada Day, Saturday, July 1. Celebrates Canada's 1867 Confederation and establishment of dominion status. In Victoria, they have an "Eh-rated" fireworks display that gets better each year.

  • British Columbia Day, Monday, August 7. Civic holiday.

  • Dragon Boats
  • 23rd Annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, Friday, August 18 through Sunday, August 20. Come down to the Inner Harbour for exhilarating dragon boat races, cultural entertainment and crafts for the whole family.

  • Labour Day, Monday, September 4. Celebrates economic and social achievements of workers.

  • Thanksgiving Day, Monday, October 9. A day to give thanks for the things one has at the close of the harvest season.

  • Remembrance Day, Saturday, November 11. Commemorates Canada's war dead. Anniversary of the armistice ending World War I in 1918.

  • Christmas Day, Monday, December 25. Celebrates the birth of Christ.

  • Boxing Day, Tuesday, December 26. Commemorates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Victoria Cruise Port Schedules


Ogden Point

Victoria is a very popular port for the seasonal Alaskan cruise ship trade, which extends from May through September. The city is generally the last stop made by the cruise ships prior to returning to their summer home ports in Vancouver, Seattle or San Francisco.

In the 2017 cruise ship season, almost 60% of the ships arriving in Victoria will do so at or after 5:00 pm. But because days are long in the summer, you'll have at least some sunlight in which to see the city.

In 2017, Victoria is slated to host 562,700 passengers sailing on 235 ships. For further information, see our Victoria Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Victoria


The following cruise lines will make port in Victoria in 2017:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Royal Caribbean
Celebrity Cruises  icon Celebrity Cruises princess icon
Princess Cruises
NCL icon NCL Holland America icon
Holland America
Disney icon Disney Cruises Regent icon Regent Cruises
Oceania icon Oceania Cruises Seabourn
Crystal Cruises Hapag Lloyd
Cruise Ship


       
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