Many visitors to Victoria  spend a few nights in the city as part of a longer vacation that includes the rest of Vancouver Island. At an absolute minimum, plan on spending two full days in the capital, preferably overnighting at a character-filled bed-and-breakfast. Regardless of how long you’ll be in the city, much of your time will be spent in and around the Inner Harbour , a busy waterway surrounded by the city’s top sights and best restaurants.
At the top of the must-see list is the Royal British Columbia Museum , which will impress even the biggest museophobes, and the ivy-draped Fairmont Empress  hotel. Victoria’s most visited attraction is Butchart Gardens , an absolutely stunning collection of plants that deserves at least half a day of your time. Goldstream Provincial Park  and the scenic waterfront drive between downtown and Oak Bay are two outdoor destinations you should figure into your schedule.
Exploring Vancouver Island  beyond Victoria requires some advance planning, as well as an idea of where you want to end up. If you have just a day to spare, you can take the oceanside drive west from Victoria or travel north as far as Nanaimo , but to explore the island further you should schedule at least two days and preferably more.
The Southern Gulf Islands , linked to Victoria by ferry and floatplane, make a good overnight trip from the capital (for its deserted beaches and unspoiled forests, Galiano Island  is my favorite).
The island’s northern reaches provide a jumping off point for ferry travelers heading to Prince Rupert , but are also worth visiting to take a whale-watching trip from Telegraph Cove  and to immerse yourself in native culture at Alert Bay .