The Inner Harbour is the beautiful centre of downtown Victoria on the waterfront around which the Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel are located.
The Inner Harbour in Downtown Victoria
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is where the fashionable part of Government Street begins, the Royal BC Museum and Tourist Information Centre are located, Harbour Air seaplanes land and take off, and the Coho Ferry and Victoria Clipper passenger boats arrive and depart from.
The area is also where Harbour Ferries scurry around, yachts are moored, buskers entertain and tourists wander around with their cameras. In short, it’s the epicentre of what makes Victoria a world-famous travel destination.
Inner Harbour Attractions
Many of Victoria’s most popular and most photographed sights and attractions are located in and around the Inner Harbour. Places and activities you’ll find at the heart of the Inner Harbour include the following:
- Robert Bateman Gallery – an art gallery featuring the work of one of Canada’s most famous artists, Robert Bateman, located at 470 Belleville Street in the beautiful Steamship Terminal building.
- The Lower Causeway – the walkway along the harbour in front of the Legislative Buildings and Empress Hotel. Especially in the summer and on weekends, this area is often full of buskers, artists and people enjoying a stroll along the waterfront. The Lower Causeway is also where people board mini Harbour Ferry boats, catch whale watching excursions, or sit outside on the patio at Milestones Restaurant.
- Coho Ferry – the terminal for the ferry ship that takes passengers from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to Port Angeles in the United States is located at 430 Belleville Street.
- The Empress Hotel – Victoria’s impressive almost castle-like landmark hotel built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 20th Century and now a National Historic Site. It’s an experience to stay in, but also interesting to simply walk around or enjoy a salubrious English Tea at.
- Government Street – Victoria’s main touristy street with dozens of souvenir shops, boutique clothing stores and restaurants.
- Harbour Air – the seaplane company’s small float planes land and take off from the water-based terminal at 950 Wharf Street in the Inner Harbour.
- Harbour Ferries – cute little ferry boats that shuttle people to and from different places along the Inner Harbour.
- Inner Harbour Night Market – a night market on the main dock in the Inner Harbour in the summer.
- Legislative Buildings – BC’s palace-like parliament buildings which are open for public tours.
- Miniature World – Victoria’s museum at the side of the Empress Hotel that’s full of doll houses, toy soldier battle scenes, miniature railways and all kinds of tiny fun things to look at.
- Prince of Whales– the whale-watching tour company’s boats depart from the Lower Causeway right in the Inner Harbour.
- Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria’s world-class history and anthropological museum.
- Tourist Information Centre – Tourism Victoria’s building that’s full of maps, tourist brochures and helpful advice at 812 Wharf Street.
- Victoria Carriage Tours – a company that offers horse-drawn carriage tours around the Inner Harbour and the downtown area starting at the corner of Menzies Street and Belleville beside the lawns of the Legislative Buildings.
- Victoria Clipper – the terminal for the passenger boat that connects Victoria with Seattle is at 254 Belleville Street.
- Victoria IMAX Theatre – a movie theatre located at the Royal BC Museum that shows National Geographic-style films on a giant six-storey tall screen.
Inner Harbour Restaurants
In the Inner Harbour there are a number of fantastic restaurants and food stands where you can eat a meal with a beautiful view of the harbour, the people exploring it, and the ships moored in it. Some of these restaurants include Milestone’s, which is located beside the visitor centre, and Songhee’s Seafood and Steam, near Centennial Park on the other side of the Blackball Ferry terminal.
Some of the more popular food stand-type restaurants are Red Fish Blue Fish, who specializes in mouth-watering fish and chips, and lemonade and mini donut stands distributed throughout the harbour.
Another interesting restaurant is the Flying Otter Grill, which is located on the docks next to the Harbour Air Seaplane terminal. Those who are flying with Harbour Air can get up to 20% off their meal at this fabulous restaurant!
Inner Harbour Hotels
A number of salubrious hotels are also located right in the Inner Harbour including the Empress Hotel, the socially-responsible Inn at the Laurel Point at 680 Montreal Street, the fancy Hotel Grand Pacific by the Legislative Buildings at 463 Belleville Street, and the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel at 1234 Wharf Street.
The modern Delta Ocean Pointe Resort is also sort of in the Inner Harbour, although not quite as convenient as it’s on the other side of the Johnson Street Bridge at 100 Harbour Road.
Slightly less expensive but still fairly fancy hotels in the Inner Harbour include the Best Western Plus Inner Harbour at 412 Quebec Street and the Coast Harbourside Hotel & Marina which is a bit further away at 146 Kingston Street.
Numerous other hotels are also close by, both right in the Inner Harbour and spread out around the area. Click Victoria Hotels for a list of some of the best including some fairly affordable ones.