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Bus Tour in Victoria, British Columbia

Doing the tourist thing in British Columbia – and loving it!

Ever taken a bus tour? How about a double-decker bus tour? I recently traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to speak at a conference and I tacked a few days onto the trip to visit family in Victoria – and take a bus tour.

SightSeeingVictoria tours start hereI travel a lot for business and I adopted a policy long ago that my business travel had to be more than just about business. Sometimes it’s enjoying dinner at a spectacular restaurant and other times its adding a day or two onto the trip to go off and get lost on my own. During my recent trip to Victoria, my uncle wanted to show me the town but he didn’t want to drive.

Wasn’t I surprised to arrive in Victoria and be informed we’d be touring the town on a bus. I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Me on a bus tour? Really? But it was a lot more fun than I expected and it gave Uncle Tom and me a chance to chat – without the worry of traffic.

Our epic bus tour adventure

Uncle Tom and I sightseeingUncle Tom and I began our adventure together by enjoying lunch at the Grand Pacific Hotel. It’s very swanky with a glorious view of the harbour. Our server, Martin (who also happened to be employee of the month) offered up the special of the day along with information on preparation time – I told him I was starving. After lunch, I tweeted the hotel, thanking them for a lovely meal and great service – they answered me within minutes. Sweet!

We hopped on our Double Decker Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour across the street from the hotel at Fisherman’s Warf, which we could see from our table in the restaurant. If you have time, venture down the stairs closer to the water and you’ll find a smorgasbord of vendors selling local arts and crafts. From here you can take a bus tour that actually goes into the water (Hippo Tours) – Uncle Tom decided that wasn’t for him.

double decker bus tours in VictoriaThe Hop-On-Hop-Off tour has 14 stops and is exactly what the name suggests. The bus circles back every hour until approx. 5pm, making it easy to get off at any stop and explore further. Your ticket is also good for 48 hours so you can stretch the fun over two days if you’re a serious tour-bus-junkie.

My favorite bus tour stops

I won’t tell you all the stops on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour (you’ll have to travel to Victoria if you want that information) but I’m happy to share my faves with you.

Mile 0 at Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park marks the start of the Trans Continental Highway, the longest highway in Canada. It stretches 8,030 km (4,990 miles) from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland. You’ll also find a monument erected to Terry Fox in 2006, who passed away in 1981 after abandoning his Marathon of Hope across Canada in Thunder Bay, Ontario – this was the planned finish line.

Christ Church Cathedral

One of Victoria’s gorgeous historical landmarks, the Christ Church Cathedral was built in 1896 and is the episcopal seat of the Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia. It’s built in the ornate gothic style of the 13th century. Our driver was running ahead of schedule and herded us inside for a closer look. We weren’t disappointed.

Empress Hotel

the quintessential Empress HotelQuintessentially Victoria, the Empress Hotel takes guests back to days gone by with their famous afternoon tea, curry lunch or a stroll through the gardens. Regardless of when you visit, bring your umbrella – it rains a lot in Victoria.

Craigdarroch Castle

This is a spot I wish we’d explored more. Craigdarroch Castle was built in 1898 and sits at the top of a steep hill. Built for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish baron, who became wealthy during the industrial revolution, it’s a stunning example of the opulent lifestyle of the newly wealthy families who settled here.

Oak Bay Village, Marina and Hotel

There’s so much to see in this charming village-like area. Quaint shops, afternoon tea and a view of the Olympic mountains (in the marina and hotel area). The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a new addition the landscape, recently opened to replace the original hotel that operated here for more than 80 years.

After the bus tour, Uncle Tom and I strolled around the marina and visited the Robert Bateman Centre. Do yourself a favor and begin your visit by watching the video of Robert discussing the process behind his creativity and why he thinks the world would be a better place if we all just got outside more often. The best part of the museum, for me, was discovering that Uncle Tom and I share a love for this artist.

the Robert Bateman Museum, Victoria, BCA bus tour might sound rather pedestrian to all you adventurers out there but it’s a great way enjoy a sense of place while spending time with someone you love. My Uncle and I haven’t had had time to enjoy each other’s company and for me, it was an opportunity to get to know the man my most favorite aunt in the whole world loved dearly until her death.

Thank you Uncle Tom, for showing me Victoria and sharing your time and love with me. Let’s do it again soon, okay?

If you’d like to take the same tour Uncle Tom and I did, visit SightSeeingVictoria.com or call 250-385-6553. Rates vary depending on the season

Have you ever taken a bus tour through an unknown city? I’d love hear what you discovered! Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!

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