Maps of Towns and Regions in Greater Victoria
- Victoria Downtown
- South Vancouver Island
- Pacific Marine Circle Tour
- Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour
Information on Towns and Regions in Greater Victoria
Almost half of Vancouver Island’s population of 700,000 lives within the Capital region district (CRD) around Victoria at the southern end of Vancouver Island. Victoria has a temperate climate with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. It is sometimes classified as a cool-summer Mediterranean climate due to its usually dry summers. There is a rich diversity of landscapes within the region, ranging from the Douglas fir forests along the coast to the drier, exposed conditions of the higher, rockier elevations that support arbutus (madrona) and Garry oak forests. Flowers bloom year-round in Victoria, which makes exploring the outdoors here enjoyable in any season. Ferns and lichens colour the forest floor throughout the winter; come spring, an explosion of trilliums and calypso orchids heightens the effect before giving way to bushes lush with huckleberry, salmonberry, trailing blackberry, salal, and Oregon grape. Such profusion is a reward for migrating birds that make the Victoria region a semi-annual stop-over point. Bald eagles, ospreys, turkey vultures, herons, shorebirds, belted kingfishers, dippers, winter wrens, and many species of migratory ducks, geese, and swans flock to the delightfully benign environment.
Victorians display their love for the natural world by cultivating flower gardens at every turn. As you’d imagine in a region where a large urban population interacts with such a delightful natural tableau, a vast network of walking, hiking and biking routes leads through the many parks with which the city is blessed. In fact, the very first property to be donated to the provincial park system – John Dean Provincial Park – is located in the middle of Greater Victoria’s Saanich Peninsula. Throughout the 1990s, a string of new parks were set aside in the CRD, including the almost 3,000-acre Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Much of the Greater Victoria is connected by two regional commuter walk and cycle trails; Galloping Goose Trail and Lochside Trail.
Although the mountainscape on the southern end of Vancouver Island is not as rugged as the North Shore mountains that rise above Vancouver, this actually mitigates in favour of hiking, as the physical demands for reaching viewpoints is not as great. On the other hand, the views are as panoramic and breathtaking as anywhere in the province. It’s easy to imagine how sweet life was for Native Canadians who once had this all to themselves. Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria was the site of a village that had been inhabited for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the colonial settlers in the 1840s. A tangled web of events since then has displaced the original dwellers, but their history is evident in the petroglyphs that adorn the shoreline and in the middens of seashells mounded up beside the beaches on Strait of Juan de Fuca. Totem poles new and old stand as proud reminders of this heritage.
To gain a fresh appreciation for the talents and skills of First Nations people, combine a visit to the outdoors around Victoria with a stop at the Royal British Columbia Museum, a world-class repository of native artifacts. With the enriched perspective that such a visit will bring, you’ll look at the landscape with new interest and appreciation. The figures on the totems will no longer be static representations from a mythological age. Instead, combined with the presence of killer whales, seals, eagles, ravens, salmon, and other species that are as vibrant in the landscape today as they were in the past, you’ll enter a timeless real and, in the process, discover a new place in nature for yourself.
Victoria lies on the southern tip of Vancouver island and is linked with the rest of the 450 km long island by the Island Highway (Highway 1), whose southern terminus begins at Douglas Street in downtown Victoria. Visitors from the Lower Mainland travel to Victoria via BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta. Visitors from the United States can journey to Victoria via ferry from either Anacortes in northwestern Washington, from Seattle, or from Port Angeles on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic and Saanich Peninsulas are separated by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a 27 km stretch of (almost) open ocean.
By air, visitors arrive at either Victoria Harbour, by float plane, or at Victoria International Airport on the Saanich Peninsula, about 27 km north of Victoria.