Tucked away on the crags of southern Vancouver Island, trust us when we say the capital city of British Columbia is worth the journey! Victoria is known for boasting Canada’s rampant outdoors and stunning scenery right in its backyard.
Within the city itself, there’s a colorful past to discover. You’ll find stately Victorian residences, castles and mansions, and First Nations monuments.
There’s a lot to see here, no doubt. However, you may find that you’re still scratching your head over exactly where to stay in Victoria. There are a few areas to choose from, each offering something slightly different to travelers.
To help you out, we’ve created this guide on the best accommodation in Victoria, Canada. Combining our own experiences with hints and tips from travel experts, we’ve got the lowdown on the coolest places to stay for any travel style and budget.
Ready? Let’s get started!
- Where to Stay in Victoria
- Victoria Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Victoria
- 1. James Bay – Where to Stay in Victoria for the First Time
- 2. Burnside Gorge – Where to Stay in Victoria on a Budget
- 3. Downtown – Best Area to Stay in Victoria for Nightlife
- 4. Oak Bay – Coolest Place to Stay in Victoria
- 5. Rockland – Best Neighborhood in Victoria for Families
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are the top-rated places to stay in Victoria.
Best Airbnb in Victoria: Fernwood Hideaway
This Airbnb is ideal for families visiting Victoria. The home is stylishly decorated with modern amenities, and features a large deck and outdoor space for kids to run around in. The home is close to shops and top attractions, creating a convenient and comfortable base for your trip to the city.
Best Hostel in Victoria: Days Inn Victoria Uptown
This no-frills, simple hostel offers great-value accommodation next to Victoria’s Upper Harbor. Rooms are all private, and there’s a pool, sauna, and gym on-site! Downtown isn’t too far from here, making this a great base for exploring Victoria.
Best Hotel in Victoria: The Oswego Hotel
This gorgeous boutique hotel offers spacious rooms, contemporary features, and elegant decor. With a 4-star rating, guests can enjoy valet parking, a fitness suite, a beauty center, and a fantastic on-site restaurant. It’s got a fantastic location, offering the ideal base for exploring James Bay and the rest of the city.
If you want a piece of everything Victoria has to offer, James Bay is one of the best areas in Victoria to stay in. As the oldest part of the city, it is crawling with heritage and landmarks.
The neighborhood of Burnside Gorge is north of Downtown and connects via Government Road. It’s the commercial and industrial district of Victoria, but has a number of interesting low-key yet noteworthy attractions and parks to check out.
Victoria’s Downtown neighborhood is your ticket to bars, pubs and world-class restaurants, making this our top choice for where to stay in Victoria for nightlife. Much of the nightlife is centered on the scenic Wharf Street and happy go lucky Bastion Square.
Oak Bay has the monopoly on the eastern side of Victoria. This sprawling neighborhood is known for its bays, parks and residences which flank the waterside and overlook the Haro Strait.
Rockland is the realm of Arts and Crafts mansions, bountiful gardens and the grand Craigdarroch Castle. This niche neighborhood sits between Downtown and Oak Bay on a craggy hilltop.
Victoria is divided into 11 neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personalities and unique landmarks. It’s also one of Canada’s most walkable cities, so you can easily explore everything on offer without spending your budget on public transport. As a result, most residents make their daily commute on foot and the population is one of the fittest in Canada!
This extraordinary city is brimming with urban delights, rich heritage, a diverse culinary scene. It’s the craft beer capital of BC, and its abundance of natural beauty earned it the accolade ‘City of Gardens’.
If you’re visiting Victoria for the first time or are just staying for a couple of days, we recommend staying in James Bay. This spirited neighborhood has views, cuisine, and a huge range of activities to get you acquainted with a bit of everything this destination has to offer.
Burnside Gorge is the best place to go if you’re visiting Canada on a budget. It’s a laid-back area close to the historic quarter, and is where you’ll find some of the cheaper accommodation options.
If you’re looking to let off some steam, knock back a couple of drinks, and party like a Vancouverite, check out Downtown. It’s a bustling area the top spot for where to stay in Victoria for nightlife, hosting some of the best bars in the city.
Over on the east coast of the island, Oak Bay is one of the coolest places to stay in Victoria. It’s got a unique village ambience, an arty high street, and endless ocean views.
Vancouver Island bears that awesome Canadian hospitality, and we reckon Rockland is the best place to stay in Victoria for families. There’s plenty here to entertain even the twitchiest of toddlers or trickiest teenagers!
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Victoria
Let’s take a look at the 5 best neighborhoods to stay in Victoria in more detail. They’re each a little different, so make sure to pick the one that’s best suited to your travel needs.
1. James Bay – Where to Stay in Victoria for the First Time
If you want a piece of everything Victoria has to offer, then James Bay is one of the best areas to stay in. As the oldest part of the city, it’s loaded with heritage and landmarks. Its waterfront setting gives desirable views out to sea, as well as of the Olympic Mountain Range.
St James Bay is located just southwest of Downtown and is popular with tourists and residents alike. Stay here to explore Victorian architecture, dreamy seascapes, and the freshest seafood in town.
Best Airbnb in the James Bay: Cozy Home away from Home in James Bay, Victoria BC
This private guest suite comes can sleep up to four guests on one double and one sofa bed. You get your own private bathroom and a personal coffee maker, fridge, and microwave, as well as access to a shared kitchen. The property is ideally situated within walking distance of the top activities and sights of Victoria, so you can explore at ease.
Best Affordable Hotel in James Bay: James Bay Inn Hotel Suites & Cottage
Given its epic location and stylish interiors, this inn is a steal for the price! The rooms are bright and comfortable, and some feature kitchenettes which is ideal for long stays. There’s a garden and pub on-site for guests to recharge in, as well as a restaurant. This heritage hotel offers tours and activities so you can make the most of your time in the city!
Best Hotel in James Bay: The Oswego Hotel
This boutique four-star hotel has spacious rooms, elegant decor, and contemporary features. Each room comes with its own kitchen, but the on-site restaurant is well worth a visit. It’s pet-friendly and family rooms are available. Downtown, shops, and restaurants are just five minutes away from the hotel on foot.
Things to See and Do in James Bay:
- Grab fish and chips on the Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Sign up for a whale-watching excursion.
- Explore the landscaped gardens of Beacon Hill Park and crane your neck at the world’s tallest free-standing totem pole!
- Watch the sunset over the ocean from Holland Point Park.
- Scout for seals at Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Ogle the ornate parliament buildings on Belleville Street.
- Get to grips with nature at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature.
- Cycle or walk to check out the First Nations Breakwater Murals.
- Delve into Jurassic and natural history at the Royal BC Museum.
- Feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook at the historic Emily Carr House and Gardens.
- Take a scenic coastal cruise for the best views in town.
- Tell time the old-fashioned way at the Ogden Point Sundial.
2. Burnside Gorge – Where to Stay in Victoria on a Budget
The neighborhood of Burnside Gorge is the commercial and industrial district of Victoria. It sits north of Downtown and has a number of interesting attractions and parks to check out. There are also a number of chain hotels and independent guesthouses in this area, making it an ideal option if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rock Bay is a cool part of the neighborhood to hang out in, where you can find a cluster of local breweries. You can even cross over to West Victoria via Bay Street, making Burnside Gorge a great base for discovering Victoria.
Best Airbnb in Burnside Gorge: Garden Suite 300m from the Gorge/ 3.5km frm DT
This guest suite is bright, airy, and boasts an incredible garden to relax in. It has a fully equipped kitchen and two bedrooms, making it ideal for groups or small families. Downtown is easily accessible by public transport and the gorge is just 300m away!
Best Hostel in Burnside Gorge: Days Inn Victoria Uptown
This no-frills, simple hostel in Victoria offers budget (but comfortable) private rooms which cater to the needs of any traveler. There is a guest pool for a refreshing post-sightseeing plunge, plus a sauna and gym. It’s definitely more than your average backpackers’, making it a great pick for accommodation.
Best Hotel in Burnside Gorge: Arbutus Inn
This comfortable Burnside Gorge accommodation features cheerful rooms fitted with a fridge, kettle, and microwave. There are family rooms available and the motel has free parking for guests. Top sights are just a short walk away, including Chinatown and the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Things to See and Do in Burnside Gorge:
- Stroll across the Selkirk Trestle.
- Take a plunge in the Gorge Waterway, a natural swimming area.
- Have a laugh at one of the comedy shows hosted by Hecklers Bar and Grill at the weekend.
- Take a sprint through Topaz Park to soak up the community vibes.
- Work out your muscles at the Boulder House Climbing wall.
- Take a day trip to the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, a hilly park which is a haven to wildlife.
- Step into Victorian-era Victoria at the Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens, kitted out with original furnishings.
- Eat trendy food on the patio of Glo Restaurant and Lounge.
- Go brewery hopping in Rock Bay – you’ve got a range of options to work your way through!
- Stock up on anything you need at the Mayfair Shopping Mall.
3. Downtown – Best Area to Stay in Victoria for Nightlife
Victoria’s Downtown neighborhood is your ticket to bars, pubs, and world-class restaurants, making this our top choice for where to stay in Victoria for nightlife. Much of the action is centered on the scenic Wharf Street and happy-go-lucky Bastion Square.
During the day, there are some quirky landmarks, museums, and galleries and to explore. It’s also a fun spot to chill with views of boats in the harbour, especially when you’ve had a big one the night before.
Best Airbnb in Downtown: Modern Apartment in the Heart of the City
This brand new, modern studio apartment has a sophisticated design and is the perfect space no matter how long you decide to stay in Victoria. Perched on the Inner Harbour, this is one of the coolest Airbnbs in Victoria thanks to its great views over the water. The apartment is ideal for two guests or solo travellers.
Best Hostel in Downtown: HI Victoria
This Downtown Victoria hotel is housed in a heritage building in the historic center and is close to the bars, nightlife, and all the attractions! The high-speed Wi-Fi is ideal for digital nomads, and there’s an equipped kitchen for guest use. There are heaps of social spaces where you can get to know other travelers, and the friendly staff will make sure you have everything you need.
Best Hotel in Downtown: Strathcona Hotel
This 3-star hotel in Victoria offers rooms with city views and has a huge rooftop ‘beach club’ with a volleyball court and BBQ area. It’s set in a classic building with contemporary furnishings and provides a continental breakfast each morning. This hotel is ideally located close to top attractions, and there are bars and even a nightclub on-site!
Things to See and Do in Downtown:
- Check out the big ‘Canada 150’ sign down by the river.
- Make some creepy crawly friends and brave holding a live scorpion at the Victoria Bug Zoo.
- Grab dim sum in Canada’s oldest Chinatown neighborhood and admire the authentic architecture.
- Dip into nautical heritage at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia.
- Watch the boats from the Inner Harbour Causeway and stay around in the evening for al fresco dining and lively bars.
- Head to Bastion Square for chilled bars, seasonal markets and live music.
- Treat yourself to a sustainable, artisan meal at Q at the Empress – which is designed with a modern twist on royalty.
- Take your pick from the traditional pubs of Wharf Street.
- Wander the totem poles and learn about carving at the Thunderbird Park.
- Party late at Distrikt nightclub (found at the Strathcona Hotel!)
- Have a pint in Big Bad John’s, the first bar in BC to hold a licence to serve.
- Sip on the best cocktails in town at Clive’s Classic Lounge.
4. Oak Bay – Coolest Place to Stay in Victoria
Oak Bay covers the eastern side of Victoria. This sprawling neighborhood is known for its bays, parks, and residences which flank the waterside and overlook the Haro Strait. Most of the culinary and cultural attractions is focused on the village-like Oak Bay Avenue. To explore the wider neighborhood in full, you’ll benefit from a car or bicycle.
Languid, scenic, and subtly swanky, we think Oak Bay is the coolest place to stay in Victoria. Picturesque streets are lined with galleries, delis, and boutiques in the shade of the region’s namesake trees. Let yourself be lured into cafes with freshly baked pastries, and be tempted to stay out late in the classy bars.
Best Airbnb in Oak Bay: Charming Studio Suite
If you want to stay in Oak Bay but are travelling on a tighter budget, check out this charming studio suite. The accommodation is self-contained and has a private entrance, as well as a private bathroom, fridge, and microwave. The suite is situated in a peaceful area, and is ideal for solo travellers, business travellers, or couples. Oak Bay Village is close by, while Downtown Victoria is a short bus-ride away.
Best Vacation Rental in Oak Bay: Victoria Studio By The Beach
It doesn’t get much closer to the beach as this little vacation rental in Oak Bay! You’ll get the best of both worlds here; guests can relax to the sound of the waves while only being 7 minutes from Downtown by car. The suite features a kitchenette and dining area ideal for two guests, and the host can assist with kayak rental if you want to go out on the water.
Best Hotel in Oak Bay: Oak Bay Beach Hotel
If you fancy splashing out a bit, this 5-star Oak Bay hotel is well worth the price. The pool, sauna, and tasteful restaurant make this one of the coolest places to stay in Victoria. All rooms feature kitchenettes and some come with ocean views. The hotel is situated right on the beach, and the marina and parks are close by.
Things to See and Do in Oak Bay:
- Hire a kayak and explore the bay and its islands at leisure.
- Take a boat cruise around the Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve.
- Wander the Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head Walkway.
- Lap up the tranquillity in shoreside Queen’s Park.
- Breakfast on focaccia and Italian coffee at Ottavio Italian Bakery, Delicatessen and Cafe.
- Get a touch of luxury at the waterside Boathouse Spa & Baths.
- Go gallery hopping along Oak Bay Avenue.
- Call into Sweet Delights for some sugary souvenirs.
- Pack a picnic and cycle the length of Beach Drive.
- Bask in the views from the Anderson Hill Park.
- Kick back with charcuterie and French burgundy at Vis-a-Vis bar.
- Soak up the sun and bathe in the calm waters of Willows Beac.h
5. Rockland – Best Neighborhood in Victoria for Families
Rockland is the realm of Arts and Crafts mansions, bountiful gardens, and the grand Craigdarroch Castle. This niche neighborhood sits between Downtown and Oak Bay on a craggy hilltop. The area is heavily residential despite being home to many of Victoria’s top attractions, making it our top recommendation for where to stay in Victoria with family.
Due to its location, other areas of Victoria can be explored pretty hassle-free. It’s an ideal base if you want a vacation that’s as action-packed as it is laid-back. It’s full of mansions and great estates, and lot’s of family-friendly accommodation.
Best Airbnb in Rockland: Oasis Garden Home By the Sea
This gorgeous house sleeps six guests, making it ideal for families or groups. There are two bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen, as well as all the comforts of home. Board games and cable TV are provided for entertainment on rainy days. Outdoors, there’s a delightful patio and garden to enjoy, and there are numerous beaches within walking distance.
Best Holiday Home in Rockland: Fernwood Hideaway
This family-friendly home sits just north of Rockland. There are two double bedrooms, as well as a modern kitchen and newly refurbished bathroom. The home features a spacious deck with BBQ and plenty of space to run around outside, and children’s toys can be provided for entertainment. The house is tastefully decorated and is close to shopping, dining, and sightseeing.
Best Affordable Hotel in Rockland: The Craigmyle
Families will love staying in a suite at The Craigmyle. Breakfast is included in the room rate, so you can fuel up before a day of exploring. The hotel is steps from the Craigdarroch Castle and eateries, as well as other top attractions.
Things to See and Do in Rockland:
- Explore Canadian and Asian works at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
- Enjoy a slice of history at the Victorian Craigdarroch Castle built in the late 1880s, furnished with original period decor.
- Visit the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians, Government House, and wander around the expansive gardens.
- Relax in the colorful blooms of Abkhazi Garden.
- Observe the ocean and city views from the Gonzales Observatory.
- Have a nosy around the Ross Bay Villa, a cute 19th-century cottage overlooking the Ross Bay Cemetery.
- Pick up farm-fresh veggies, seasonal fruits and artisan products at the Moss Street Farmer’s Market, weekly on Saturday mornings.
- Take your tea with a freshly baked scone or piece of cake at the Cary Mews Tea House.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Victoria
Victoria is a unique and special city, with so much appeal for all types of travelers. It’s got it all – riveting museums, awesome restaurants, zesty nightlife, and jaw-dropping beaches.
If you’re still unsure where to stay, then your best bet is James Bay. It’s got a bit of everything Victoria has to offer, making it the ideal spot for getting to know the area. You’ll find all kinds of accommodation there, and it makes a great base for exploring the rest of the city.
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
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