Truth: the locals like secret gems to stay within the inner island circle. It’s not that we’re unwilling to share, but there is a focus on preserving unique finds or at least keeping the foot traffic down. There are the key topics that deserve (and get major) attention: brunch, coffee and craft beer mostly. Yet there’s so much to appreciate about this city that keeping all the gems to ourselves is a waste. Creating this tourist guide to exploring Victoria’s secret gems gives a local experience wrapped up into a full, west coast day. Just you, food, some island sights and lots of coffee and beer. Welcome to Victoria. We know you’ll like it.

Morning: Picnic Too

There are many places to go for the breakfast mission, but we can all agree that every morning on the island begins with coffee. Finding yourself at Picnic Too, getting off the beaten downtown path, means you’re less likely to be in a waiting line. Get that tasty morning dish and go for a side donut too. You’re on vacation so you’re allowed to splurge.


Most have heard about Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Empress Resort. It’s a popular go-to and easy break when spending the day downtown. If you’re able to venture beyond the harbour, spend some time at high tea spot, Abkhazi Teahouse. There’s a secret garden to discover in addition to the many tiny, delicious sandwiches and tea selections. Classy, local and secluded – this screams gem status.

Mid-afternoon snack:

Cold Comfort brings the one-of-a-kind ice cream treats while the closeby Fernwood Coffee delivers your afternoon espresso shot. The result? Build your own Victoria-inspired Affogato. Perhaps you would have thought of this on your own, but we couldn’t take that chance. This is the push to try an off-menu item by combining the best of local business. Enjoy.

Afternoon shopping:

Looking for unique, local souvenirs isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s not always easy. There’s a lot of downtown noise to overwhelm and confuse even the most savvy, adventurous tourist. The Hudson Public Market is a good stop to make and a secret/not-so-secret place to explore. The bold signage on Douglas means this place is on the map, but inside there’s so much to find and explore. From Salt Spring Island Cheese to Victoria Pie Co. and Cowichan Bay Seafood, the vendors keep things interesting. If nothing else, get some great cheese out of the adventure.

From jewelry maker to leather goods designer, Jovee Handcrafted’s shop owner has an eye for detail and quality. A unique leather find is not just a souvenir, but a lifelong accessory. Also, when people ask where you got it, you can re-live all the details from your trip to Victoria. (And people will ask.) You should get something you’re going to use, so put down that jade pendant.

You may come to discover that the west coast is big on recycling – food and clothing. We have stylish, impressive second-hand stores where you’re sure to grab trendy finds to claim as your own. Be sure to wander up to Flavour Upstairs. Johnson Street will impress you with the boutique shopping, but this second-hand store is worth a browse. Trust us.



Much like with breakfast, you have more than a couple options for nightlife. A harbour ferry ride to Spinnakers sounds like a good place to start. Since it’s not in the downtown core, you may not think to head out that way, but getting that view with your drink will be worth it. They also have a think called Hoppy Hour, so there’s that too.

If you like the thought of a harbour ferry, the Pickle Boat Pub Crawl may be another gem for you. This tour includes four hops on the ferry so your ride and driver is confirmed. You get to see more of Victoria while tasting some quality craft brews.

In the never-ending battle to avoid wait times and lines, trying a bar that’s not central to the tourist hub could prove beneficial. Cenote, located under the Cineplex Odeon theatre on Yates, is a subtle, trendy bar choice for a night in Victoria.

victoria gem 2

And since no night is complete without some after hours food, you’re going to La fogata for Colombian Street Food. You’ll still be talking about it in the morning.

Truth: locals like to keep secret gems to in the island inner circle, but we also like to talk about the island a lot. This balance means tourists can get an insider perspective to exploring all Victoria has to offer. Now that you have one day down in Victoria, don’t stop the adventures. There’s a lot to see/eat here and you’re just getting started.

We know there will be opinions – share with us! We want to hear what you would add to this tourist guide for secret gems.