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We cruised into port at Victoria, British Columbia with less than six hours to make our visit count. How could we explore and learn about this historic city in such a short amount of time?
If you are heading out on an Alaskan cruise that makes a short stop at Victoria, read on to find out how we made the most of our few hours in Canada.
While planning our excursions for each port of our Alaskan cruise, we noticed right away that we would be arriving in Victoria at 6 p.m. and leaving at 12 midnight. Considering all passengers can't get off the cruise ship at once, and everyone is required back onboard well before sailing time, we would have way less than six hours to explore the city of Victoria.
READ MORE: 5 Reasons To Fall In Love With Victoria, British Columbia
After researching and finding that many tourist locations and shops would be closed by the time our ship arrived, I contacted the Victoria Visitors Centre for suggestions.
In return, I was sent a great list of attractions that would be open late the day of our visit. Armed with this information, along with some walking tour maps I found online, I began to plan our way around Victoria.
From the cruise ship, we walked towards the Visitors Centre via Fisherman's Wharf. Of course, we could have taken a taxi into town, but Victoria is very walkable, and when you can go on your own walking tour to your destination, why not?
Our walk took us past cute little shacks at the wharf, historic homes like Huntingdon Manor and amazing buildings like the Provincial Legislature Buildings. Lots of locals were out and about walking dogs, getting a bite to eat, people-watching, and just enjoying the beautiful night.
We made our way to the Visitors Centre where we met up with our Ghostly Walks tour for the night. The tours leave from the Visitors Centre, last about 90 minutes and the schedule can be found on the Ghostly Walks website.
Tons of people showed up for the Ghostly Walks, so everyone was split into several groups, each with a different guide who each led their own unique tour! We thought this was a great idea so that you can do the tour more than once and get a different experience! Several locals were on their second or third tours. Very, very smart! For our 7:30 tour, we were led by Jason Stevens.
Our Ghostly Walks led us to the Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum, the Helmcken house, and St. Ann's Schoolhouse. By learning about each place's haunts, we also learned about the history of the buildings and its people (A more in depth post about Victoria's Ghostly Walks will be up on the blog soon!).
Plus, the weather was awesome, so walking around and viewing these beautiful historic buildings was such a great way to spend the night.
Our Ghostly Walks tour guide, Jason, said farewell to us at the school, and Mark and I made our short walk back to the Royal BC Museum. We passed Thunderbird Park, full of towering, colorful totem poles.
The Royal BC Museum, founded in 1886, has two stories filled with exhibits and artifacts (one for natural history and the other for first people and modern history), and we were determined to see as much as possible. We definitely speed-walked and speed-read through some of the exhibits, but we really, really enjoyed the museum and its setup.
From languages to totem poles, mammoths to otters, we learned about the area's history, wildlife, and culture. We loved how the animals and buildings were depicted in realistic settings. One could easily spend an entire day in the museum and on its grounds.
We finished our night in Victoria walking back to the ship with the gorgeous buildings lit up around us and bought a few souvenirs to remember our trip from vendors closer to our cruise port. Some local artists were even set up selling their crafts.
Overall, we believe this was a wonderful itinerary to get to know the people, culture, architecture, and history of the city in a short amount of time. Of course, like most places that we visit, it made us want to go back and explore even more!
From our itinerary for the night, we saw most of Walking Tour 1 from the Frommer's website, so be sure to check it out and print your own copy if you're interested!
READ MORE: Our Favorite Souvenirs from England
Thank you to Victoria and especially the Victoria Visitors Centre for welcoming us to your city! We can't wait to visit again in the future!
What would we LOVE to see in Victoria next time? The famous Buchart Gardens, Chinatown and Fan Tan Alley, the Craigdarroch Castle House, and we definitely need to see to go on a whale tour and eat some poutine!
*The Visitors Centre of Victoria granted us a 2016 Complimentary Attractions Pass, but attraction choices and opinions are our own.*
Have you visited Victoria? What would you recommend to see in a short amount of time? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!
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