48 hours in Victoria: The ultimate guide to relaxing and recharging (PHOTOS)

Mar 18 2022, 8:15 pm

After the two years we’ve all been through, who couldn’t use some extra rest and relaxation right about now?

Even if you’re not yet ready to board a plane to an exotic locale, you can still treat yourself to a relaxing getaway — without leaving the province.

Here’s our ultimate guide on where to go and what to do in order to squeeze the maximum R&R out of 48 hours in Victoria.

Harbour Air

Harbour Air in front of Parliament BuildingsMaximize your time in Victoria — and skip the stress of ferry travel — by hopping on a flight with Harbour Air, North America’s largest all-seaplane airline. The trip from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria takes just 35 minutes.

Keep your camera ready, because along the way you’ll see breathtaking views of the Gulf Islands. To experience even more of BC’s most gorgeous scenery, book a flightseeing tour from Victoria. In the summer months, a Soar ’n’ Sip tour is also available, which includes afternoon tea at The Butchart Gardens.

Harbour Air flight taking off from Inner HarbourWorried about the carbon footprint of your journey? Harbour Air’s partnership with Ostrom Climate (formerly Offsetters Climate Solutions), which started back in 2007, makes it the first carbon-neutral airline in North America.

The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Suite in The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Located just one block from the Inner Harbour, The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a quick walk to anywhere downtown. This award-winning boutique hotel boasts thoughtful touches such as bicycles that guests can borrow for free. To help you explore Victoria at your own pace, ask at the front desk for one of the hotel’s many themed maps, including Running Trails; Bikes, Blooms and Brews; Beautiful Boutiques Trail; and Cook Street, Beacon Hill and James Bay Bike Trail.

Bathroom in The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Photo by Leanna Rathkelly

Bathrooms in the hotel’s Diamond-level guest rooms were recently renovated, and many of them now feature deep soaker tubs. Pick up a new novel or memoir from Munro’s Books or Russell Books, pour a glass of champagne, and indulge in a leisurely read in a bubble bath. If you find long showers more relaxing, then request one of the Diamond rooms that feature an oversized shower with multiple shower heads.

The Experience Magnolia getaway, available until the end of March, includes a credit of $75 per night that can be put toward items or services such as a pampering treatment at The Spa Magnolia, a meal at The Courtney Room, sparkling wine upon arrival, minibar snacks or valet parking.

Ritual Nordic Spa

Two people relaxing in sauna at Ritual Nordic Spa

Heat up, cool off, chill out — and repeat. Ritual Nordic Spa is a new urban destination that brings the Scandinavian spa experience to downtown Victoria.

Himalayan salt lounge at Ritual Nordic Spa

Start by heating up in the Finnish-style sauna or the eucalyptus-infused steam room. Then plunge into the cold pool or brave the icy-cold bucket shower. Finally, relax in the warm Himalayan salt lounge or on the sunny patio. For the maximum boost to both physical and mental wellbeing, repeat the circuit a few times during your two-hour booking. The only challenge will be trying to stay awake.

The Spa Magnolia

Woman getting facial treatment at The Spa Magnolia

Get pampered from head to toe at The Spa Magnolia. This tranquil spot helps you achieve  max relaxation with blissful experiences such as a detoxifying Himalayan salt treatment, clarifying facial or tension-relieving reflexology. And you can’t go wrong with the Spa Magnolia Signature package, which includes a facial, massage, body scrub and hydrotherapy session.

Bottle of Radiance Boost Serum by EndotaThe spa uses only products that are truly good for you, including Endota products from Australia. The much-loved skincare brand from Down Under makes serums, masks, peels, boosters, cleansers, lotions, sunscreens and more, all of which build upon the knowledge they’ve gained from running more than 100 spas.

Silk Road Tea

The founder of Silk Road Tea holds a cup of tea

Daniela Cubelic, founder of Silk Road Tea | Photo by Chung Chow

Walking into Silk Road Tea is like entering a sanctuary, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The air is rich with the fragrance of teas, while the artfully arranged displays of teacups and teapots employ the principles of colour therapy, evoking a feeling of serenity.

Every tea is made from organic botanicals, with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. The educators can point you toward the right tea blend to boost mood, aid sleep, reduce hay fever symptoms, help with detoxification, improve skin radiance or promote relaxation.

Tins on display in Silk Road Tea

Photo courtesy Destination Greater Victoria

Ask for a quick tutorial about how to use the roll-on aromatherapy products for self-acupressure. These handy roll-ons are perfect for tucking into a pocket or bag, to combat stress, allergies and headaches — even hangovers! — while on the go.

The Spa at Silk Road is currently closed due to the City of Victoria’s extensive (and extremely noisy) roadwork outside, but it’s worth a return visit to spend another 48 hours in Victoria once the spa reopens.

Cherry blossoms

Woman walking under cherry blossoms

Andrea C. Miller/Shutterstock

There’s nothing quite like walking under thousands of cherry blossoms in full bloom, with pink petals carpeting the pathway underfoot, while contemplating the beauty of springtime and the transient nature of life itself.

Cherry blossoms by the Parliament Buildings

Heather Dunbar/Shutterstock

March and April are the best months of the year to see the blossoms, though they sometimes appear as early as February and remain as late as May, thanks to Victoria’s famously mild climate. This interactive map shows the best locations in the city to spot the floral phenomena.

Saveur

Saveur restaurantHigh ceilings, exposed ductwork, a bustling open kitchen and an inviting bar serve as the backdrop for the French-inspired contemporary cuisine at Saveur.

Food at Saveur restaurant

The menu at this unpretentious spot changes frequently, to reflect what’s local and in season. According to one of the servers, the crispy pork belly has been known to make grown men weep with joy. Other dishes sure to spark strong emotions include the beef tenderloin, lamb duo, gnocchi, and mushroom crackling with kimchi powder (warning: made from tapioca, this vegan version of pork crackling is deliciously addictive). Be sure to sample something from the creative cocktail list, which changes seasonally.

The Courtney Room

The Courtney Room restaurant

Photo by Gary McKinstry

Tucked inside The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, The Courtney Room boasts three different spaces, each with its own distinct vibe. The lively bar showcases a mix of local and international wines, along with craft beers and ciders, classic cocktails and creative original concoctions. The welcoming brasserie is the perfect spot to enjoy brunch or happy hour. Upstairs, the elegant dining room was designed for relaxing, unhurried dinners.

Food at The Courtney Room

Nora Hamade Photography

On the menu, seasonal dishes showcase the best of the Pacific Northwest, including local produce, fresh seafood and dry-aged steak. Always popular is the chef’s tasting menu. It’s easy to see why this resto was named one of the 100 best restaurants in Canada in 2019.

10 Acres

The BistroEverything at 10 Acres Farm & Restaurants is about shining a spotlight on organic local fare. Produce and meats from their farm in North Saanich take centre stage on the menus at their four tasty dining destinations: The Bistro, their flagship resto downtown; Commons, their lively gastropub, also downtown; The Pier, located seaside in Sidney, with panoramic views; and The Cafe, also in Sidney.

Food at 10 Acres

Any ingredients that don’t come straight from the 10 Acres farm are sourced from other local farmers, food purveyors and fishers. Word to the wise: save room for dessert.

Catawampus Fudge & Funk

Founder Tammy Flynn stands behind assorted fudge

Tammy Flynn, founder of Catawampus Fudge & Funk | Photo by Sheri Radford

Tammy Flynn started making fudge over 50 years ago. Her eclectic shop, Catawampus Fudge & Funk, has been a mainstay on Wharf Street for 18 years. In it you’ll find quirky clothing and accessories for anyone who adores cats, dogs or wine — along with Flynn’s delectable, diet-defying fudge.

Assorted flavours of fudge

Photo by Sheri Radford

At any given time, there are between 24 and 30 flavours on offer, such as chocolate, maple, Skor, mint chocolate swirl, butter pecan, Nanaimo bar, carrot cake and Baileys Irish Cream. Most popular are the espresso and the salted caramel. Treat your taste buds to one, or even a few. We won’t judge.

Ecologyst

New Ecologyst store

New Ecologyst store on Johnson Street

Skip wasteful fast fashion, support a sustainable local brand, and buy yourself some timeless apparel all at the same time at Ecologyst. The Victoria company uses organic cotton and ethically sourced wool to make soft but durable sweaters, tees, pants and more. The best part? Each garment comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Ecologyst headquarters

Ecologyst headquarters

Ecologyst’s brand-new flagship store on Johnson Street features sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed-brick walls. Or stop by their all-in-one headquarters, factory and retail space, housed in a gorgeous 1892 heritage building on Store Street, and watch garments being made while shopping for something special.

And Ecologyst isn’t the only BC brand with a slow-fashion ethos. Also disrupting the clothing industry are Anián, which makes garments from natural fibres that have been salvaged from landfills and spun into new fabrics, and Salt, which uses natural materials, designs pieces for longevity and manufactures everything in Vancouver. Perhaps another 48 hours in Victoria is required, to embark on an eco-minded shopping trip.

Further exploring

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Inner Harbour and Fairmont Empress | Photo by Sheri Radford

There are so many relaxing activities that 48 hours in Victoria simply isn’t long enough. A return trip is required to stroll around the Inner Harbour, cycle along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, enjoy high tea at the Fairmont Empress, visit The Butchart Gardens and Victoria Butterfly Gardens, wander through the Royal BC Museum and the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, and step back in time at Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Park. Fortunately, Victoria is just a quick flight away.

Aaaaaahhhhhhh. Are you feeling relaxed yet?

Sheri RadfordSheri Radford

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