The Best Things to Do in Victoria & Banff, Canada

Posted on May 13th, 2022 in Canada

Are you finding yourself ready to expand your travels beyond the United States, but not quite ready to cross an ocean? A transcontinental journey to the “Great White North” may be the perfect next destination for you. Canada is a phenomenal vacation spot with something for everyone to enjoy. Its natural beauty is unmatched, with winding riverbends, picturesque mountain towns, incredible national parks, mesmerizing blue and turquoise lakes, and glaciers. In fact, one of our favorite stops is the Columbia Icefields, which is famous for its glacial blue water. We enjoy the unique experience of boarding a giant Ice Explorer to carry us onto Athabasca Glacier, the most visited glacier in North America!

While the landscapes make Canada a vacation-worthy destination itself, you’ll find the cities are also alluring. Vibrant harbor cities, like Victoria and Vancouver, are abundant in rich history and culture. In Victoria, you can enjoy a British time-honored tradition, like afternoon tea, and take a stroll through the lush greens and colorful blooms found in Butchart Gardens®. Vancouver is one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities with thriving music, art, and theatre scenes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, sitting 230 feet above the Capilano River.



If this sounds like an ideal next vacation for you, join us on our Canadian Rockies, Vancouver & Victoria or Victoria, Vancouver & the Canadian Rockies tour. Both tours follow the same remarkable itinerary, just opposite of one another. We travel through Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Jasper, Banff, and Calgary. A highlight of these tours is the overnight on VIA Rail’s historic Canadian train to Vancouver, with accommodations in the comfortable Sleeper Plus cars. We’ve done the hard part of planning an itinerary full of the must-see attractions on this vacation, but you’ll also enjoy ample unscheduled time to explore as you wish in Banff and Victoria. Don’t worry, we would never leave you hanging to research the best things to do during that time – we’ve already compiled a list of options for you!

Exploring Banff

For transportation during unscheduled time, you can utilize Roam Transit or take a taxi. The public bus system offers nine different routes, which you can read about on Roam Transit’s official website. Some attractions also offer free shuttle service.

Sulphur Mountain Observation Deck

Sulphur Mountain Observation Deck

  1. Banff Gondola – Enjoy views of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the town of Banff from Sulphur Mountain summit. At the top, you can stroll the boardwalk, visit the world-class discovery center, shop for a souvenir, grab a coffee, or sit down for a delectable dish at the award-winning bistro. If you stop by at night, you’ll enjoy live music, drinks on the rooftop patio, and a stunning sunset. The Lower Terminal is 5,194 feet above sea level and the Upper Terminal is 7,486 feet above sea level. The summit complex is handicap accessible.
  2. Rocky Mountain Raft Tours – Embark on a scenic guided float trip down the Bow River. This is not a wild whitewater rafting ride, but instead a fun sightseeing trip that’s great for all ages. The rafts have a customized elevated floorboard, so your shoes will stay dry. This is a very popular choice among our guests!
  3. Banff Sunshine Summer – Take in breathtaking views from Banff’s largest gondola or the standish sightseeing chairlift. This is a fairly short ride if you’re looking for a quick activity.
  4. Banff Park Museum National Historic Site – Get face-to-face with Rocky Mountain wildlife, from vintage stuffed bears and bighorn sheep to birds and bees inside western Canada’s oldest natural history museum. This attraction houses more than 5,000 historic botanical and zoological specimens. Explore the Victorian-era collection, while admiring the stately 1903 museum, a log masterpiece and the oldest surviving federal building in any Canadian National Park.
  5. The Banff Springs Golf Course – Play a round on one of the most famous golf courses in the world, thanks to its spectacular setting and distinctive layout, set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Banff Springs offers an 18-hole Stanley Thompson course and a 9-hole Tunnel Mountain course.

Exploring Victoria

For transportation during unscheduled time, you can utilize Victoria’s Regional Transit System or take a taxi. The public transit system offers various routes, which you can read about on the BC Transit website. Some attractions also offer free shuttle service.

  1. Royal BC Museum – Visit one of Canada’s best cultural treasures. Founded back in 1886, with the Archives established in 1894, discover intriguing artifacts, documents, and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history.
  2. Craigdarroch Castle – This National Historic Site was built by a coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored and provides a glimpse of the Dunsmuir’s lives back in the 1890s.
  3. Whale Watching – From May to October, salmon migrate through the waters around southern Vancouver Island, attracting Orcas, sea birds, and other captivating marine animals. There are a few different companies you can schedule a tour through: Orca Spirit Adventures, Prince of Whales, and Eagle Wing Tours. Expert Tip: It can get cold on the water, so bring layers.
  4. Victoria Harbour Ferry – This quintessential Victoria experience offers two waterway tours –Harbor tours or Gorge cruises. Climb aboard and relax as the captain shares local secrets and personal memories of the area. These tours focus on five cornerstones: history, architecture, harbor life, aircraft, and wildlife.
  5. Fisherman’s Wharf – You can rent a kayak or go shopping at the boutique, but the highlight of Fisherman’s Wharf is the food. There are several great options to choose from; however, we find guests are fans of Barb’s Fish & Chips. Other cuisines include Mexican, sushi, and pizza. Don’t forget to swing by the ice cream shop before you leave!
  6. Miniature World – With over 85 unique, miniature displays, this is a very popular tourist attraction in downtown Victoria. Featuring the world’s largest dollhouses from 1880, one of the world’s largest model railways, a Buckingham Palace replica, and more.

    Seaplane Flying Over Victoria Harbor

    Seaplane Flying Over Victoria Harbor

  7. Harbour Air Seaplane – Take flight on a Victoria Classic Panorama Seaplane Tour. You’ll witness the beauty of Victoria’s twisting coastline, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the majestic Olympic Peninsula.
  8. Chinatown – Explore the oldest Chinatown in Canada and discover historic origins. Within Chinatown, you’ll find Fan Tan Alley. This is the narrowest street in Canada, just over 35” wide at its smallest point!
  9. Robert Bateman Centre – View the largest permanent collection of Robert Bateman’s work. Since he was a boy growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Bateman has painted, sketched, and sculpted the particularities of the natural world.
  10. Christ Church Cathedral – Take a tour and admire the architecture of this old, Gothic-style Anglican cathedral with a labyrinth and old cemetery at adjacent Pioneer Square. Self-guided tours are welcome.

Holiday Vacations Travelers

While we have listed a handful of noteworthy attractions, the options are endless. Of course, going for a hike, renting a bicycle, or simply strolling through downtown areas are also excellent activities. Between your unscheduled time and the premier attractions we have in store for you, these tours will leave you with fond memories to last a lifetime. Join us to experience milestone firsts: walking out on an actual glacier, trekking across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, trying out poutine for lunch, and smelling the fragrances of hundreds of flower varieties at the Butchart Gardens®. This tour can connect your soul in new ways to nature, history, new cultures, and new friendships with your fellow travelers.

Canadian Rockies, Vancouver & Victoriafeaturing one night on VIA RailAll Airfare IncludedDiscover the Canadian Rockies and vibrant cities of Western Canada, featuring two breathtaking national parks and one overnight scenic rail journey.Click to Learn MoreLeisurely

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