Victoria’s Inner Harbour


At any time of the year a visit to Victoria‘s Inner Harbour offers plenty of things to see and do, but during the summer this corner of British Columbia‘s capital city really comes to life! Artists, musicians, street performers and more line the walkway of the Inner Harbour and keep both locals and tourists entertained as we make our way from one attraction to the next.

While there are specific attractions on the Inner harbour, just sitting and watching the float planes taking off and landing is quite an experience if you’ve never seen this before. And it makes you wonder who’s inside, where they’re going, and where they’ve been! Admiring the boats that are moored here is a popular pastime too, and it makes you want to get out on the water and explore!

Of course, you can do this if you’d like to, using one of the very quaint little harbour ferries that only take around six passengers. These cute green ferries dart back and forth across the harbour ferrying passengers to their different stops, or offer more comprehensive harbour tours if that’s what you’d like.

Back on dry land the Pacific Undersea Gardens is a popular Inner Harbour attraction, where visitors get to see life under the water of the harbour. There are several aquariums to see, but the unique underwater perspective makes it feel all the more real as you gaze at the more than 5,000 different creatures that live here. Once you’ve seen the aquariums there are daily dive shows to experience too in which you get to see a Giant Pacific Octopus!

The two main landmarks of the Inner Harbour are the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, and the equally grand Fairmont Empress Hotel. Both of these impressive buildings face the Inner Harbour and they were built only a few years apart.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings were built between 1893 and 1896 and their neo-baroque style gives it quite the European feel. Architect Francis Rattenbury was responsible for the design, and following the success of the parliament buildings he was commissioned to design several other Victoria landmarks, including the Empress Hotel. It was designed for Canadian Pacific Hotels and was, and still remains, one of Canada’s great hotels. If you get the chance, take a little peak inside at the Victorian era grandeur that still exists today, and if you can spare around $60 per person come on in for afternoon tea! The Parliament Buildings are also open to the public and you can join a free guided tour or go self-guided inside this grand historic building.

Photo and article copyright Claire Bolgil. Claire is a freelance travel writer based in Beautiful BC. Find out more about her at

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