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Here's a breakdown of where to eat, play and stay for a weekend on island time in Victoria.
One hour: that’s how quickly you could be in Victoria from Vancouver if you time your Harbour Air flight right. And with this itinerary for a perfect Victoria Saturday (patent pending), you won’t be able to get the idea of a quick-toria day trip out of your head.
Meade Design Group crafted the Instagram-bait interiors of Bear and Joey, decking out the Aussie-inspired café in soft pastels and mid-century-meets-art-nouveau touches. But the brunch menu wows as much as the interiors. The savoury-and-sweet bread pudding ($19) is the sort of photogenic and indulgent meal that inspires both a post-breakfast social media update and a nap.
Ritual is a Scandinavian spa circuit experience just outside Victoria’s downtown core—think a compact Scandinave Spa. Run through the Nordic relaxation cycle—hot, cold, relax, repeat—at your own pace over the course of a two-hour session (from $59), hopping between the cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room, test-your-mettle cold plunge pool, bucket shower, salt lounge and fire pit as you see fit.
Stop for a horchata latte and homemade toaster tart at the colourful, PoMo-cool Hey Happy (designed by WL fave Bidgood) before shop-hopping your way through Johnson Street and Market Square. Still Life curates lifestyle goods and fashion essentials—think quirky ceramics and perfect mid-rise jeans—while stalwart Paboom packs shelves with Danica Heirloom pinch bowls, waxed wood cutting boards and a huge selection of Baggu. A pit stop at teeny-tiny Ayo Eat for an Indonesian gado-gado wrap ($4) is a must—the peanut sauce will haunt your dreams (in a good way!).
The Malahat SkyWalk is 35 minutes from Victoria by car—thrill-seekers, take note, and height-phobics, beware. It’s perched in the West Coast forest, allowing views for miles around: on a clear day, walk up the spiral ramp to find sightlines to Mount Baker and the Saanich Peninsula (the top is 250 metres above sea level). The walkway from the visitor centre to the SkyWalk runs high above the ground, placing you among the arbutus treetops, but if that’s not thrilling enough, you’re welcome to kick back on a vertigo-inducing net at the top of the structure, or whip down the spiral slide back to the bottom in a few heart-pounding seconds. A solid selection of beers and coffee is available at the on-site cafés to steel your nerves ($35 for adult admission).
The Grand Pacific is giving a certain other hotel restaurant (we see you, Courtney Room) a run for its money with its newly revamped dining room, Fathom—and we welcome this healthy, gourmet competition. It’s easy to fill up on the plush milk buns—served with honey cashew butter, rosemary, rock salt and bee pollen ($9)—but the squid-ink spaghetti vongole is a winning main, topped with a generous portion of tiger prawns and trout caviar ($38). Chef Peter Kim (formerly of Blue Water, Glowbal, Fairmont and Seaside Provisions) takes plenty of inspiration from Japanese cuisine: the halibut is served with miso custard and potato tobiko dumplings ($40), while the buttery sablefish ($41) comes on a plate of mind-bending “nori sand.” Grab a window seat as you tuck in so you can scope out the majestic Empress and watch the sailboats as they drift around the harbour.
Mid-century-inspired tiki bar Citrus and Cane is the ideal venue for a nightcap. Over an order of spicy coconut margarita (made with Sons of Vancouver chili vodka and toasted coconut orgeat, $17), start scheming up a game plan for your next Victoria escape.