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What to see and do in Vancouver Island, from Nanaimo to Victoria

Usually when travelers come to Vancouver Island it is because they want to visit Victoria, the capital. You can get there from Vancouver by ferry for free or by doing an organized activity/tour.

You also have the option of doing a Road Trip and seeing a little beyond La Victoria. This second option is what we did, after touring the Sunshine Coast, we took a ferry in Power River to get to Nanaimo.

If you dare to visit Vancouver Island on your trip to Canada, in this article I will tell you what to see and do on Vancouver Island, taking a tour from Nanaimo to Victoria.

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What to see in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

Nanaimo, despite being the second largest city on Vancouver Island, is relatively small and you can tour the city and its historic center in one day. This area is surrounded by natural parks and if you are a lover of nature and of doing activities such as hiking or mountain biking, you will be able to enjoy yourself like dwarfs.

Englishman River falls

This natural park is an excellent option to disconnect from the trip, rest a bit from so many visits and enjoy nature. The park has many trails of various routes, difficulties and distances. However, you can reach the waterfall area without difficulty and it is really beautiful.

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Nanaimo Museum

This museum does a great job telling the story of Nanaimo. Details of the history of the mining, fishing and timber industry, three pillars that made this city grow, making it the second largest on Vancouver Island. It is a very small museum that can be visited in an hour maximum.


The Nanaimo Bastion is a historic octagon-shaped fortification located at 98 Front Street. It was built between 1853 and 1855 to defend coal mining operations in Nanaimo.

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Arbutus Grove park

It is another national park, and for me one of the most beautiful, it has something magical that I loved. Unlike the previous ones, this one does not have large lakes or waterfalls but it has a forest of ancient trees, full of vegetation and if you go in autumn you can enjoy a beautiful color combination. It is a fairly small park, with easy and well-marked trails.

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Gabriela Sands Provincial Park

It is another national natural park (I had already warned you) but unlike the others, this natural park has a coast and beach areas. Where you can enjoy a day of sun and beach. Being in a fairly closed area, this coast has no tide and is a good option if you go with children.

Long lake Nanaimo

It is a large lake, where you can enjoy countless activities, such as kayaking, paddle surfing, boats, bathing... It is a good option to stay, since you are just 7 km from the city center, but with tranquility and the beauty of this place.

If you want to stay here there are not many options, there is the Long Lake Waterfront Bed and Breakfast hotel where we decided to spend a night, although it is sold as a 4-star hotel, it is more of a bed and breakfast with great treatment and a unbeatable situation. It even has a small pier from where you can start kayaking if you wish or sit and sunbathe. It has a price from 120 euros/night in room. double.

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After two days in this area we decided to continue on our way to reach the capital, Victoria. Keep reading and I'll tell you everything to do in this area.

What to see and do in Victoria, Vancouver Island

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and the second most populous city, after Vancouver. To tour Victoria and its surroundings it is advisable to dedicate 3 to 4 days.

This city is calm, without skyscrapers and largely administrative and residential. Adding to these charms is a central area around the beautiful Inner Harbor, which retains its Victorian heritage buildings and atmosphere.

It has many things to see and do:

At the Empress Hotel

People still gather for afternoon tea throughout the day. It is a highly sought after "tourist attraction" and is always full. I can't tell you if the tea was good, because we couldn't get a place. The building itself is beautiful and just by going to see it and visit it, it is worth visiting.

Staying at this hotel, The Fairmont Empress Hotel is a good option if your budget allows it, its most basic room has a price from 210 euros/night. double. The hotel is very well located and has beautiful views of the port.

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Butchard Garden

Butchart Gardens are in Brentwood Bay. A small town just outside of Victoria. These gardens were created by Jennie Butchart, who created a fabulous magical garden, recognized worldwide for both its beauty and its size. For more than a century, people from many parts of the world have visited these gardens. These gardens are an essential stop in Victoria, they are beautiful.


It is worth going to Chinatown to visit and photograph the front door. It is the most emblematic of the neighborhood. Once there you can walk through its streets, eat at a street stall and move for a while to an "Asian atmosphere".

Beacon Hill Park

This park is a beautiful place full of trails. It has picnic areas, with a small farm for children to visit, you will also find monuments and the totem pole, which at the time was the highest in the world.

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Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is a palace in Victoria. The building consists of 39 rooms. It was built in the 1890s as a family residence for the wealthy Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. Robert died in April 1889. His sons, Alexander and James took over the role of finishing the castle after his death. The castle's initial architect, Warren Heywood Williams, also died before the castle's completion. His work was purchased by his partner, Arthur L. Smith, in 1890.

It is a beautiful building that is worth visiting, even if it is just to see it. There are guided visits and tours in which, apart from getting to know the castle and its interior, you will also visit other nearby places of interest.

Victorian Conservatory

The Conservatory has had the hallmark of Royal since December 10, 1921, a title requested by its founder, D. Isidoro Pérez de Herrasti, Count of Padul, and granted by HM Alfonso XIII in honor of his august wife, Queen Victoria Eugenia . It is a music conservatory and the building is beautiful.

Royal BC Museum

For me, without a doubt, this is a mandatory stop if you are going to travel to Victoria. In this museum you will find a lot of information about history and culture, many antiques and works of art. This Royal BC Museum is one of Canada's leading museums and research centers, covering 550 million years of natural history and 9,000 years of human history in British Columbia.

Ross Bay Cemetery

It is the most visited cemetery by tourists in Victoria. Personally, cemeteries give me a bit of a bad feeling, but everyone speaks so highly of him that we went to visit him. It is a natural environment, full of trees, walking areas, where you can see really old tombs and tombstones that are works of art.

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Ford rodd hills national historical

This place is an artillery fort. You will be able to see gun barrels, underground tunnels... What I liked about this place is the lighthouse, of an intense red it is beautiful with the blue color of the sea. If you don't have a lot of time in Victoria and you're not particularly passionate about the forts, it's one of the visits you can do without.

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Lake Thetis

This lake has an area of ​​350,000m2. It is a beautiful place that will allow you to do various mountain activities. Walking along trails, reaching the lake and crossing its forests will offer you the opportunity to disconnect. When I travel I usually get a little saturated and I need a break. I love these places because they offer you so much for very little.

Saint Andrew's Cathedral

It is the Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Victoria. It was built in the Victorian Gothic style. The construction of the cathedral began in 1890.

From Victoria you can also take a complete guided tour of the city or go whale watching.

Victoria is a very beautiful city, not only the main points of interest are something to see, its streets, the cafes with terraces, the port, parks and residential areas are essential that you must visit to appreciate this spectacular city.

By the way, I haven't told you about our hotel in Victoria: BEST WESTERN PLUS Carlton Plaza Hotel, it's a three-star hotel, very well located, we really liked breakfast and it was a "quite cheap" option considering that it's in the middle of hub. Rates start at 70 euros/night in room. double.

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I hope you enjoy your trip to Canada a lot and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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