With heritage architecture and cobbled streets, Old Town Victoria exudes historic character. The area sprang to life in the 19th-century gold rushes, and today it encompasses the city’s commercial core, Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and the waterfront. Visit to see its brightly painted Victorian buildings, which house shops and restaurants.
Explore Old Town to get a sense of Victoria’s historic character. Walking tours typically pass along key thoroughfares such as Johnson Street, lined with Victorian buildings; Chinatown's lantern-lined Fan Tan Alley; and landmark-heavy Government Street. To give your feet a break, take a horse-drawn carriage ride or pedicab tour. Sightseeing tours by vintage car often pass through Old Town, while some full-day tours combine Old Town with a visit to Butchart Gardens.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If possible, explore Old Town Victoria on foot and pause to admire historic Victorian facades and browse shops along the way.
- Look out for plaques explaining the significance of historic buildings in the area.
- There are lots of restaurants, cafes, and bars where you can refuel.
How to Get There
Old Town Victoria is situated near the Inner Harbour waterfront. Its boundaries are generally considered to extend as far north as Chatham Street and as far south as the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Some high-speed passenger ferries from Vancouver stop at the nearby Victoria Harbour, which is within walking distance of Old Town.
When to Get There
For optimal conditions, visit in summer, when the streets are lively, the views across the water are at their best, and street performers offer entertainment. Mild weather also means you can enjoy an al fresco meal or drink.
Victoria’s small Chinatown is centered around Fisgard Street and situated within the Old Town area. The oldest Chinatown in Canada, it dates back to the 19th century. It has shrunk in size from its early 20th-century peak, but it still retains its original character. Admire the traditional Chinese architecture of the Gate of Harmonious Interest and the Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street, and stroll down the narrow, shop-bordered Fan Tan Alley.