Meet animals at Victoria’s Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. // © 2017 Dana Rebbman
Bike Tours Victoria BC takes passengers on a ride through Victoria. // © 2017 Dana Rebmann
It’s easy for first-time visitors and even return travelers to Victoria, British Columbia, to remain in Inner Harbour and never tire of the seaside view, the picturesque Parliament Buildings and the iconic Fairmont Empress hotel.
But for those who want to discover more, Victoria’s must-see neighborhoods and attractions are all within easy reach. In fact, when on an adventure with Bike Tours Victoria BC, clients will realize that exploring here is twice as much fun when done on two wheels.
Whether you’ve only got a day to see it all or just want to get a good lay of the land, The Highlight City Tour delivers. And for anyone concerned about keeping up with everyone else, no need to worry — it doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a pro or a beginner, this tour is a fun fit for riders of all levels.
Plus, there’s no question about it — Matt Oliver, chief tour guide and owner of Bike Tours Victoria BC, loves his job. Sharing stories and entertaining history lessons throughout the rides, he wants visitors to appreciate Victoria as much as he does.
Rides begin with some of Victoria’s best-known landmarks such as Thunderbird Park and the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. But passengers quickly leave bustling areas behind to explore local spots that visitors might miss otherwise, including the charming and colorful James Bay neighborhood. Streets used to navigate through town are quiet, and there are frequent stops for photos and intriguing tidbits shared by guides.
For a city tour, I was delightfully surprised by the number of unexpected, nonurban highlights. In Beacon Hill Park, we saw turtles and egrets. Then, we pedaled to Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, where a baby goat named Felix made itself comfortable in the bike helmet set on my lap. From there, it was on to a beautiful stretch of beach where we lingered to take pictures and soak in the sun. I could have stayed all day, but Victoria’s Chinatown and more was waiting.
Besides biking, it’s obvious Oliver also enjoys eating well. Lucky for guests, he’s happy to share his favorite spots around town.
“I know what I like — and that’s a blend of food and local connection,” Oliver said.
Tours might visit Victoria Public Market where guests can taste gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar at Olive the Senses. Or, tell Oliver you’ve got a sweet tooth, and you might wind up at The Chocolate Project, home to more than 300 bean-to-bar chocolates from artisan producers all over the world. Thirsty? Silk Road Tea has a reputation for swaying even the most devout coffee drinkers.
Tours may also swing through the city’s Food Eco District (FED). Featuring bakeries, cafes, burger joints, Neapolitan pizzerias and more, FED restaurants are committed to reducing their impact on the environment. (FED restaurants are certified by the Vancouver Island Green Business Program to ensure they are using environmentally friendly practices.)
Plan on three to three-and-a-half hours for the tour, and rides are limited to eight people. In addition to custom rides, Bike Tours Victoria BC also offers The Discovery Tour, an easy five-hour tour, designed for folks who want more time in the saddle. Meanwhile, foodies will especially enjoy The Harbour to Farm Tour. A moderate level, five-hour tour, it includes stops for lunch and nibbles to keep energy and spirits high.