Victoria NightlifeAAA/Katie Broome
Downtown Victoria offers plenty of things to do after dark, whether you’re in the mood for live music at a cozy pub, craft cocktails at a hidden gem, a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Inner Harbour or an ice cream cone with a generous side of people watching. Most nightlife options are within a 10-minute walk of Government Street, the main thoroughfare in downtown Victoria, so you should have no trouble getting around and making a night of it. A bonus: Downtown parking is free after 6 p.m.
Cozy Pubs with Live Music
Two of the best pubs in Victoria, B.C., are located just a block from each other on Government Street. Housed in an 1885 bank building, the Bard & Banker (1022 Government St.) is a local favorite for upscale pub grub (breakfast, lunch and dinner), daily happy hour specials and friendly service. Families are welcomed until 9 p.m., and live music is offered seven nights a week with no cover charge (except St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve).
Another historic bank building houses the Irish Times Pub (1200 Government St.), a sister establishment to Bard & Banker. Beer and whiskey flights pair well with Irish comfort food and nightly live music. On Friday and Saturday afternoons you’ll hear traditional Celtic tunes.
Cocktail Lounges and Craft Beer Bars
You’re sure to find a craft beer you like at The Churchill (1140 Government St.), where 50 taps showcase brews from British Columbia and beyond. Handcrafted cocktails and hearty pub fare (try the poutine!) round out the menu.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path bar in Victoria, seek out Little Jumbo (506 Fort St.) for a drink or two. The intimate venue serves up B.C. wines as well as a rotating menu of specialty cocktails made with exotic ingredients. Little Jumbo opens nightly at 5 p.m.
CANOE Brewpub (450 Swift St.) is the place to go for craft beer and a stunning view. A large outdoor patio overlooking a private marina on Victoria’s Inner Harbour draws a crowd at sunset. Sit inside to see their brewing equipment and the beautifully restored interior, complete with crystal chandeliers and soaring timber ceilings. A small indoor stage is the site of live music Thursday through Sunday.
Best Hotel Bars in Victoria, B.C.
No visit to Victoria is complete without a stroll through The Fairmont Empress, the ivy-covered hotel that has been a landmark on Victoria’s harbor since 1908. Dress to impress for drinks at Q Bar (located inside the hotel’s restaurant, Q at the Empress ). It’s a good place for signature cocktails, local beers, a fancy dessert and nightly live entertainment.
A few other hotel bars in the city of Victoria are worth a stop. Clive’s Classic Lounge (in the Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites at 740 Burdett Ave.) has an extensive whiskey menu as well as handcrafted cocktails and tropical tiki drinks. Swans Hotel and Brewpub (506 Pandora Ave.) is another local hangout where you’ll find house-made beers, daily happy hours and a live music scene.
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Victoria, B.C., at Night
Nightlife in Victoria, B.C., doesn’t have to revolve around bars and lounges; there are plenty of family-friendly ways to experience the sights and sounds of the city after dark.
Take a stroll along the stone walls of the Inner Harbour to see boats bobbing in the marina and the lights of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia reflected on the water. If your feet are tired after a long day, opt to see the lights from a horse-drawn carriage ride with Victoria Carriage Tours . Private, narrated tours will take you around downtown until 10 p.m. on most summer nights.
And if a decadent, Instagram-worthy dessert sounds right up your alley, don’t miss a stop at Chocolats Favoris on Government Street. The Quebec-based chocolatier specializes in soft-serve ice cream dipped in any of 12 flavors of real chocolate. The shop stays open year-round until 8 or 9 p.m.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
British Columbia has a 5 percent goods and services tax (GST) and a 7 percent provincial sales tax (PST). Expect to pay an additional 3 percent for alcohol. Restaurants and admission fees are exempt from the 7 percent PST. Automobile rental sales tax is $1.50 per day.
Royal Jubilee Hospital, (250) 370-8000; Victoria General Hospital, (250) 727-4212.
812 Wharf St. Victoria, BC V8W 1T3. Phone:(250)953-2033 or (800)663-3883
Victoria International Airport
Hertz, 1640 Electra Blvd., North Saanich, phone (250) 657-0380; and 548 David St., Victoria, phone (250) 952-3765, offers discounts to AAA members. Contact your AAA travel advisor for help with adding a rental car to travel packages.
The BC Ferries Connector, 721 Douglas St., provides daily bus service between Vancouver and Victoria via ferry. The vessels transport personal vehicles; reservations are required. Phone (888) 788-8840.
Taxis charge $3.30 minimum plus $1.93 per kilometre (.6 mi.). Companies include Blue Bird Cabs, (250) 382-2222; Yellow Cab of Victoria, (250) 381-2222; and Victoria Taxi, (250) 383-7111.
BC Transit buses serve Greater Victoria's downtown area 6:30 a.m.-midnight. Fare $2.50 (single boarding); $5 (day pass); free (ages 0-5). Buses run frequently between downtown and the ferry terminal. For route information, phone (250) 382-6161.
Several ferry systems make connections with mainland Canada and the U.S.