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 having the rampant outdoors which make Canada such a desirable destination as its backyard.

Within the city itself, a colorful past bounces out from stately Victorian residences, castles and mansions, and First Nations monuments.

Booked your flight but still scratching your head over where to stay in Victoria?

That’s why our expert travel writers have compiled this Victoria neighborhood guide, to help you find the best area in Victoria to stay to suit your vacation preferences.

Let’s get started with the best areas to stay in Victoria.

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Victoria

  • Where to stay in Victoria the first time – James Bay
  • Where to stay in Victoria on a budget – Burnside Gorge
  • Best area to stay in Victoria for nightlife – Downtown
  • Coolest place to stay in Victoria – Oak Bay
  • Best neighborhood in Victoria for families – Rockland

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

FIRST TIME IN VICTORIA

James Bay

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.

Places to visit:
  • Sign up for a whale-watching excursion
  • Grab fish and chips on the Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Watch the sunset over the ocean from Holland Point Park

Where to Stay in Victoria

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are the top-rated places to stay in Victoria.

Best Hostel in Victoria Ocean Island Inn | Backpackers | Suites

What can be better than a hostel which gives you a free dinner every night, free breakfast, free hot drinks and even a free beer? That’s exactly what you get at our favorite hostel in Victoria!

This renovated 19th-century building offers dorms and private rooms. You can snag some discounts on local attractions too, just ask at reception.

Best Airbnb in Victoria – Gorgeous Studio in the HEART of the Harbour

This stylish, comfortable studio condo fits two guests. The space is modern meets history, with gorgeous exposed rafters, exposed brick and a spectacular view of Victoria’s treasured parliament building and the surrounding mountains.

The location is perfect if you’re looking for the ideal spot to explore the all parts of the city. All together, we can confidently say that this is one of the best Airbnbs in Victoria.

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Victoria Helm’s Inn

This hotel in Victoria ticks all the boxes. Location-wise, it straddles the neighboring Downtown and James Bay – two of the best areas to stay in Victoria. The amenities are flawless, the rooms are spacious and immaculately clean.

They have regular rooms and studio suites with kitchenettes at very reasonable prices.

Victoria Neighborhood Guide

FIRST TIME IN VICTORIA
victoria - james bay
FIRST TIME IN VICTORIA

James Bay

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.

ON A BUDGET
shutterstock - victoria - burnside gorge
ON A BUDGET

Burnside Gorge

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.

NIGHTLIFE
victoria - downtown
NIGHTLIFE

Downtown

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.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
victoria - oak bay
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Oak Bay

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.

FOR FAMILIES
shutterstock - victoria - rockland
FOR FAMILIES

Rockland

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 with their own distinct personalities and unique landmarks. Residents rub shoulders with tourists in many of these, so you’ll get a sense of what it means to be a local in this lovable city.

Victoria is one of Canada’s most walkable cities, which is music to the ears of travelers researching where to stay in Victoria for the first time! With the majority of its residents making their daily journeys on foot, it’s also one of the fittest populations 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’.

But now you’re wondering exactly where to stay in Victoria?

James Bay is our top pick for where to stay in Victoria for one night, or if you’re a first-time visitor. This spirited neighborhood has views, cuisine and a huge range of activities.

Burnside Gorge is a good shout for where to stay in Victoria on a budget. It’s close enough to get to the historic quarters, and we love how chilled the area is.

If you’re looking to let off some steam, knock back a couple of drinks and party like a Vancouverite, Downtown is the top spot for where to stay in Victoria for nightlife.

Over on the east coast of the island, Oak Bay is one of the coolest places to stay in Victoria. We love the village ambience, the arty high street and the endless ocean views.

Vancouver Island bears that awesome Canadian hospitality, and we reckon Rockland is the best place for where to stay in Victoria for families. There’s plenty here to entertain even the twitchiest of toddlers or trickiest teenager!

The BEST Travel Backpack?!
aer travel pack 2 backpack

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite travel backpack is the Aer Travel Pack 2.

View on AER

5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Victoria

Let’s take a look at the 5 best neighborhoods to stay in Victoria. They’re each a little different, depending on the type of experience you’re after.

#1 James Bay – Where to Stay in Victoria the First Time

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.

Its waterfront setting gives desirable views out to sea and of the Olympic Mountain Range. The neighborhood is lively and has plenty of places to eat and grab a drink.

victoria - james bay

You can see why we recommend James Bay for where to stay in Victoria for your first time!

St James Bay is located just southwest of Downtown and is popular with both tourists and residents. Stay here to explore Victorian architecture, dreamy seascapes and the freshest seafood in town.

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

Best Airbnb in the James Bay Cozy Home away from Home in James Bay, Victoria BC

This private guest suite comes with one bedroom plus a sofa bed if required. You get your own private bathroom and a personal coffee maker, small fridge and microwave.

You are welcome to use the shared kitchen if required. Luxurious touches include some gratis toiletries, fluffy bathrobes and pantry goods.

Best Affordable Hotel in James Bay James Bay Inn Hotel Suites & Cottage

The rooms are comfortable, functional and very reasonably priced for this desirable part of Victoria. There is a garden and a bar for guests to recharge in, and if you’re traveling with children there is a babysitting service available.

Our favourite hotel in James Bay for travelers on a budget!

Best Hotel in James Bay The Oswego Hotel

This modernly appointed hotel has spacious rooms with contemporary features and elegant decor. With a 4-star rating, it comes with valet parking, free Wi-Fi, a fitness suite, a beauty center and a fantastic on-site restaurant.

The location is fantastic as a base for getting out and about in this neighborhood.

#2 Burnside Gorge – Where to Stay in Victoria on a Budget

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.

Burnside Gorge is where you can find a number of chain hotels and independent guesthouses. This is your best option for where to stay in Victoria on a budget.

shutterstock - victoria - burnside gorge
source: Mark De Stephanis (Shutterstock)

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.

Things to See and Do in Burnside Gorge

– Stroll across the Selkirk Trestle

– Dunk yourself 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, fully 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

Best Hostel in Burnside Gorge – Days Inn Victoria Uptown

This no-frills, simple hostel offers budget private rooms which cater to the needs of any tourist. Rooms come with private bathrooms and comfortable fittings.

There is a guest pool for a refreshing post-sightseeing plunge, plus a sauna and gym. There is free parking available, free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour reception.

Best Airbnb in Burnside Gorge Garden Suite 300m frm the Gorge/ 3.5 km frm DT

Boasting an incredible garden, this guest suite is bright and airy. It has a fully equipped kitchen and ample seating. There are 2 bedrooms, making it ideal for traveling groups of friends who want to have a homely place to chill between activities and seeing the city.

Great value for what you get!

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.

You can hire a vacation via their friendly reception team if needs be. A handy base for seeing Victoria and the surrounding areas.

#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 nightlife is centered on the scenic Wharf Street and happy go lucky Bastion Square.

There are a few options for late-night clubbing and dancing.

victoria - downtown

During the day, there are some quirky landmarks, museums and galleries and to explore, and it’s a fun spot to chill with views of the boats in the harbour.

Things to See and Do in Downtown

– Get a selfie with the ‘Canada’ sign

– 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 linger 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 traditional pubs of Wharf Street

– Wander the totem poles and learn about carving at the Thunderbird Park

– Party late at Distrikt nightclub

– Have a pint in Big Bad John’s, the first bar in BC to hold a licence to serve!

– Sip only the best cocktails in town at Clive’s Classic Lounge

Best Hostel in Downtown – HI Victoria

This Downtown Victoria hotel is housed in a heritage building in the historic centre and is close to the bars, nightlife and all the attractions! There is high-speed Wi-Fi, a TV room and a kitchen with a couple of microwaves for preparing basic meals.

Dorms have security lockers and reception is staffed 24/7.

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 if you’re looking where to stay in Victoria for one night, a weekend or an extended stay. Perched on the Inner Harbour it has a great water view to enjoy with your morning mug of coffee.

Best Hotel in Downtown – Strathcona Hotel

This 3-star hotel offers rooms with city views and has a huge rooftop ‘beach club’ with a volleyball court and BBQ area. It’s got a restaurant in which you can enjoy your daily breakfast which comes in the rate.

A gem of a Downtown hotel in Victoria!

#4 Oak Bay – Coolest Place to Stay in Victoria

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.

Most of the culinary and cultural attractions is focused on the village-esque Oak Bay Avenue. To explore the wider neighborhood in full, you’ll benefit from a car or bicycle.

victoria - oak bay

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.

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

– Stuff your face with sushi at Oak Bay Bon Sushi

– 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 Beach

Best Airbnb in Oak Bay – Luxurious Suite with ensuite & private courtyard

Footsteps from the ocean, you will experience a luxurious private room with ensuite bathroom, and private courtyard surrounded by tranquil gardens. Luxurious touches will make your stay special: bathrobes, fancy toiletries, a selection of black and green teas from local tea maker Silk Road, French press coffee and a fireplace.

Best Affordable Hotel in Oak Bay – Oak Bay Guest House Bed and Breakfast

This privately owned inn has 11 rooms available. Each one is uniquely designed to retain the original Tudor style but feature all the necessary modern touches.

There is a gorgeous garden for guests to wind down in or enjoy a bottle of wine in the evening, and the breakfast is delicious!

Best Hotel in Oak Bay – Oak Bay Beach Hotel

If you fancy splashing out a bit, this 5-star Oak Bay hotel is worth it. The pool, sauna and tasteful restaurant make this one of the coolest places to stay in Victoria.

Treat yourself to a room with a view, or enjoy the ample seascapes you get from the plush guest lounge.

#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 has some of Victoria’s top tourist attractions but is heavily residential.

shutterstock - victoria - rockland
source: 2009fotofriends (Shutterstock)

There’s plenty to do in Rockland. It’s our recommendation for where to stay in Victoria for families, you’ll find something to keep the whole clan entertained in these parts.

Rockland accommodation is ideal for families, and it’s close enough to explore other areas nearby without having to travel too much.

Things to See and Do in Rockland

– Explore Canadian and Asian works at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

– Take yourself on a tour of the Victorian Craigdarroch Castle. Built-in the late 1880s it’s furnished with period decor and furniture

– Visit the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians, Government House, and take a gander around the expansive gardens

– Broaden your knowledge of the local architecture with a trip to Wentworth Villa  Architectural Heritage Museum

– 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

Best Airbnb in Rockland – Oasis Garden Home By the Sea

This gorgeous Rockland accommodation is great value for large families or groups of travelers. It’s walking distance to many beaches including the picturesque Gonzales Bay.

The space has a delightful patio and SW facing gardens. The hosts have included gourmet seasoning blends and everything you need to create fabulous meals at home.

Best Affordable Hotel in Rockland – The Craigmyle

A suite at The Craigmyle is our pick for where to stay in Rockland for families. It is steps from the Craigdarroch Castle, eateries and nightlife options.

Rooms are filled with a variety of essential amenities to ensure guests have a comfortable stay and breakfast is included in the rate.

Best Hotel in Rockland – Prior Castle Inn

This converted Tudor property has spacious rooms (or chambers, as they call them!) to accommodate families, which are comfortably furnished with period and rustic furnishings. Rooms have luxurious bathtubs for a nightly soak to make your holiday complete!

A hearty breakfast is prepared daily for guests before you hit the sights.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Victoria

Victoria is a unique and special city, with so much appeal for travelers from solo backpackers through to families. It’s got it all – riveting museums, awesome restaurants, zesty nightlife and jaw-dropping nature.

We created this Victoria accommodation guide to help you decide where to stay in Victoria. If you’re still not decided, our overall top pick for where to stay in Victoria is James Bay.

This gives you the chance to experience all the best bits that the city has to offer. You can’t go wrong with the simple yet stylish Helm’s Inn for accommodation.

Its location makes this one of the coolest places to stay in Victoria!

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!

world nomads insurance banner

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.

“Find out how YOU can support the site. We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web, for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers [that’s you!]. Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂

For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support.