Romantic getaways in Victoria BC are not something that happen a lot once you have kids. Heck, they don’t really happen anywhere for that matter. And yet, we all know how necessary they are. I was once again reminded of this when my husband and I snuck off for a quick overnight on the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to explore Victoria, the capital of British Columbia one sunny weekend.
Couples getaway to Victoria
Let’s get straight to the point– Victoria, BC is a very romantic European-style city. It’s so alive and it makes you feel the same as you walk the streets hand in hand. The locals and shop owners are so delightfully warm and friendly. My husband and I could visit over and over and never have the same experience twice.
At first glance, Victoria may seem like a small city, but there is so much to do. Here’s just a taste of what you can do in the Inner Harbour:
- Whale watching tours
- Sea plane tours
- Shuttles to Butchart Gardens
- Horse drawn carriage rides
- Afternoon tea
And that doesn’t even include exploring the neighborhoods and farther afield. If you aren’t sure what you want do, wait until you get there and see what feels right. You can easily spend all of your time just strolling the city.
Victoria Clipper Vacations
The Victoria Clipper has to be the best way to travel up to Victoria, BC. The Clipper is a catamaran style ferry that travels back and forth from Seattle to Victoria, BC. It’s a passenger only ferry, so you will need to leave your car in the Bell Street Pier garage. Once aboard the boat, an attendant can validate your parking ticket to get you half off per day.
Have no fear! Once we arrived in Victoria we never felt like we needed our car. Everything we wanted to do was within walking distance of the hotel or we could take a shuttle.
Clipper Ferry Logistics
- Don’t forget your passport
- Enhanced Washington State Driver license will work, which is what we did, but those only work for land and sea travel however.
- Check-in is similar to airplane travel. You need a boarding pass, identification, and you can check a bag.
- There’s no security line and no limitations for amounts of liquids or outside food and beverage with the exception of alcohol.
- Seats are airplane style or you can sit at a table. I recommend taking your favorite snacks and card games and grabbing one of the tables.
- Coffee and snacks are available for purchase, though only with major credit cards. The coffee was pretty good. I didn’t expect much but then again we did get up at 5 AM to make the 7:30 AM Clipper so we were desperate. Two dollars a cup and free refills. Yes, thank you.
- Motion Sickness Alert: If you forget that you are prone to motion sickness, the Clipper staff provides meds for free… and cold wash clothes and cups of ice. I learned this the hard way.
Start Your Victoria BC Vacation on the Boat
The trip to Victoria BC takes about three hours. Use this time to start catching up. Play Skip-Bo like the old days, or start planning the rest of the weekend if you haven’t already. Don’t stare at your phones the entire time!
Overnight and day trip packages are available when you book your trip with the Victoria Clipper. However tickets and shuttle passes to Butchart Gardens are available for purchase aboard the boat. If that’s your destination, the shuttle will be waiting to whisk you right over when you arrive in Victoria.
The Fairmont Empress
Swoon. Once I saw a photo of the Fairmont Empress online, I was ecstatic to be in her presence. This may be as close as I’ll ever come to my own personal Downton Abbey experience.
The Empress is stunning. It just underwent an almost $60 million restoration. I’m not sure what it looked like before, but I’m in love with it now. I would have been happy camping in the hallways. They were just as lovely as the rooms themselves in all of their modern luxurious glory. There is a vast amount of natural light around every corner.
It’s no surprise that it’s consistently a Conde Nast Readers’ choice and Gold List Hotel. She stands with such poise overlooking the Inner Harbour and right across from the Parliament building. It’s a quick walk from the port where you get off of the Victoria Clipper. The hotel staff stored our luggage before check in and after checkout so that we could freely explore.
When you reserve your room at the Fairmont Empress, ask them about their packages. For a romantic weekend, I recommend choosing between the Spa package, Sleep and Steep Tea package or the Suite Moments in Victoria package, which includes a discounted rate of one of their luxurious suites, breakfast and cocktails.
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Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Empress
You must have tea while in Victoria. I don’t want to know if you skip this part, so don’t tell me. Tea in the Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont Empress is probably the number one place to have tea in town. Pretend you’re Mary from Downton Abbey heading downstairs to whisper sweet nothings to one of your many suitors, aka your spouse, over a cup of royal tea. Who says romance is dead after you have kids?!
At the end of the day, once tea time is over, but it still feels early and you don’t want to be lame and waste these hours that you’re actually awake and alone, but your feet hurt because you packed the cute shoes that didn’t double as comfortable, head back to the Empress for cocktails. Have a drink on the Veranda and enjoy the Inner Harbour at night. If the weather isn’t great, stop by Q Bar instead, which is right next to the Lobby Lounge. You won’t be sorry.
No trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at Butchart Gardens. Our Victoria Clipper package included not only round trip tickets from Seattle on the Clipper ferry, but also the shuttle to and from the gardens and our entry tickets. Although we booked these ahead of time, we could also book these directly on that boat if we had wanted to after boarding.
Around 1905, Mrs. Jennie Butchart began planting flowers at her home around her family’s cement business. When the limestone ran out, Mrs. Butchart saw potential for more living beauty. It took nine years to create what is known as the Sunken Garden which was the main area of the quarry. The iconic photos you will run across from the gardens are usually of the Sunken Garden.
My husband’s favorite was the Japanese Garden. We were a smidgen too early to see the Rose Garden in full bloom, much to my dismay. In the last couple of years, I’ve discovered that flowers can bring about an emotional response from me, and roses are definitely some of my favorites.
Butchart Gardens is definitely worth a visit no matter the season. There is always something blooming. The 12 Days of Christmas at Butchart Gardens is also one of the best light displays in the Pacific Northwest, if not North America.
Tea at Butchart Gardens
When Mrs. Butchart began opening her gardens to the public, she would invite the visitors into her home for tea. What a treat! That’s just what my husband and I did during our tour of the gardens. I mean really– who says no to finger sandwiches and sweets?!
Chantilly cream sponge cake, house-made sausage rolls, curried chicken salad, smoked salmon, peach-lavender pound cake, and candied ginger scones are a few of the delicious bites. From their loose leaf tea selection we chose the 100th Anniversary tea which the menu describes as a light black tea blend of Darjeeling, black Hunan and gunpowder. Our second was Garden Peppermint. We chose wisely. The corner of the house that we sat in had gorgeous natural light complimenting the mint green walls as if the gardens continued right into the house.
The Butterfly Gardens
It takes about three and half hours to get through all of Butchart Gardens, if you don’t linger too long. If you’re going to have tea there, add on another hour. We also hopped off the shuttle at the Butterfly Gardens. It’s right up the street from Butchart Gardens, which was actually better than I expected. I’m not a huge fan of butterfly gardens usually, but this one was more like a rain forest jungle. There were pink flamingos, brightly colored tree frogs, turtles, fish, unique plant life, oh and butterflies.
Keep in mind when planning your trip that both of these destinations are about 45 minutes from Victoria. The shuttles conveniently pick up and drop off right in front of the Fairmont Empress.
ROMANTIC GETAWAYS TO VICTORIA BC
Victoria, BC is colorful, vibrant, artistically inspirational and it’s absolutely perfect for any occasion. I plan to take a guided historically romantic or haunted tour on our next trip without the kids. The Spa package at The Fairmont Empress along with afternoon tea and boutique shopping in downtown Victoria is the perfect recipe for a girl’s weekend. So, basically I have a lot of trips in my future to this capital city in British Columbia.
Many thanks to Tourism Victoria for hosting us for our first of many romantic getaways to Victoria BC and the Victoria Clipper for bringing us there and back for the purposes of this article. We will be back and we’re bringing friends! As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t, you will be the first to know.