The Walkable, Culture-rich City of Victoria Makes a Perfect Winter Escape

Spend your next weekend getaway in the Great White North

By Gemma Wilson December 16, 2019


This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the December 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Few cities lend themselves to wintertime coziness as well as Victoria, British Columbia. With its compact layout, vibrant food scene and grand architecture reminiscent of Europe’s great cities—not to mention the mildest climate in Canada—the City of Gardens continues to blossom when temperatures drop.

Butchart Gardens

Let there be lights. The famous Butchart Gardens pulls out all the stops for its annual Magic of Christmas light display, a breathtaking nighttime extravaganza, complete with an ice-skating rink and live music, December 1–January 6. Enjoy a festive light show right in the city center when Christmas Lights Across Canada illuminates the city’s Parliament building and grounds from December 5 through early January.

High tea at the Fairmont Empress Lobby Lounge

Sleep tight. Diagonally across from the Parliament building, you’ll find the grande dame of Victoria hotels, the Fairmont Empress, famous for its indulgent high tea. Built in 1908, the Empress recently received a royal upgrade, from rooms to restaurants, completed in 2017. For a more intimate experience, bed-and-breakfasts are plentiful; the fireplaces in every room of the Beaconsfield Inn are especially appealing in winter months. 

Chow down, fuel up. Brunch is serious business in Victoria, and Jam Cafe and Nourish Kitchen & Cafe are two of many excellent options serving hearty meals (like Jam’s pulled pork pancakes) to last you until dinnertime.

For a relatively small city, Victoria boasts an abundance of global cuisine. We recommend Chimac’s Korean fried chicken or Vij’s Sutra, an offshoot of the popular Vancouver Indian restaurant. For a hyperlocal menu, check out 10 Acres: The restaurant’s three locations all feature seasonal ingredients grown on its farm. If you find yourself in need of a midday snack and shopping break, the many food and craft vendors at Victoria Public Market are happy to oblige.

Pulled pork pancakes at Jam Cafe. Photo by Helene Cyr

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