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Group photo of hikers at the top of Mt. Doug

5 ways you can get fit and have fun in Victoria (even during a pandemic)

Victoria is famous for its outdoor activities and proximity to nature, and the locals love to be active in and around town. Victoria makes it easy for you to focus on your physical health as well as your cultural experience. Keep reading for five fun ways to exercise in Victoria! 

 

The best news is that you can even do these activities now, during the COVID-19 pandemic – just remember to keep your physical distance!

 

1. Cycling to success

 

Victoria is one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities.  Over the past few years, Victoria has been constructing a network of protected bike lanes. This means the bike lanes follow major roads in the city, but they’re protected from cars by concrete barriers.

 

The best part is that, if you’re a beginner cyclist, this is an “AAA” bike network. AAA stands for “All Ages and Abilities”, which means everyone who can ride a bike will feel comfortable on these bike lanes.  Using this bike network is a great way to get exercise and see the core of the city. 

 

For cyclists who want a bit of a challenge, there are numerous other bike paths available. The most popular bike path is the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, or the Goose for short. It stretches 55km in length from Victoria to the nearby region of Sooke.

 

Whereas the Goose runs east and west, the Lochside Trail runs north and south between Victoria and the City of Sidney. (It actually goes all the way up to the ferry terminal, where cyclists can take a ferry over to Vancouver).

 

Finally, we have the E&N Rail Trail. Although this trail is not yet complete, a large section of the trail is ready for riders. It also shares a section with the Goose and city streets, making it easy for cyclists to complete the ride. When it’s complete, the E&N Rail Trail will stretch a total of 17km.

 

* It’s important to note that not all sections of the Galloping Goose, the Lochside Trail, and the E&N Rail Trail are paved. The majority of the Lochside Trail and the E&N Rail Trail are paved, but more than half of the Galloping Goose is gravel instead of pavement.

 

 

2. Run around Victoria

For some of us, going to the gym just isn’t as interesting as exercising outdoors. If you love the wind in your hair, fresh air in your lungs, and a scenic adventure, here are some of your best running options in and around Victoria.

 

Dallas Road is one of the most popular running areas in Victoria. This 6km paved path follows the waterfront and is constructed entirely on level ground, so it’s an easy way to start running in a great location. You can get to Dallas Road by city bus, car, or bicycle. If you want to extend your run, you can continue through the nearby neighbourhoods and make a loop back to downtown Victoria. Dallas Road is also popular thanks to its dog park and easy access to the beach. And if you make it all the way to Clover Point (a loop at the end of Dallas Road), you can often see people flying kites, windsurfing, and even paragliding.

 

Another beautiful path to run in Victoria is the Westsong Walkway. This path leads runners along the waterfront of Victoria West / Esquimalt area. It begins downtown near the Johnson Street Bridge and heads west for 5km. You can run or jog this path and return by bus or make it a 10km trek by running back to your starting point.

 

For a great run in nature, we recommend going to Elk Lake / Beaver Lake. These are two small lakes north of Victoria and the trail around them is about 10km in total. You can stop for a rest at one of the parks around the lakes, and you could even pack a picnic if you want to spend the day there. 

 

Victoria has many great places for runners and joggers, so don’t be shy to explore the area and try new routes. For more suggestions about running in Victoria, check out Tourism Victoria's suggestions for other great runs in the city.

 

 

3. A hiker’s heaven

Hikers rejoice! Victoria is the perfect place to get outdoors and see beautiful Vancouver Island. To be honest, there are simply too many options to list here, but some of the best spots are hard to access if you don’t have a car. (There are some places that city buses just can’t go.) So, let’s start with hikes that are easy to access with public transit.

 

As a fairly easy hike, Thetis Lake (in Langford, a neighbouring community) is an excellent place to get in touch with nature and get some exercise too. Thetis Lake is a very popular hiking spot and it’s accessible by bus. There is a small network of trails that go around the lake and into the surrounding hills. Several rest areas allow hikers to stop for a snack and enjoy the scenery. If it’s your first time, stay on the trail beside the lake so you don’t get lost. We highly recommend this route as an introduction to hiking on Vancouver Island.

 

Mount Douglas is probably one of the most famous hikes in Victoria. “Mount Doug” is an intermediate hike, so you’ll want to have the proper footwear for this one. Although the trail is only 4km long, the hike takes about 1.5 hours to climb up the mountain and return to the bottom. It’s pretty easy to get here by bus and, if you hike down towards Cordova Bay Road, you can walk straight over to the beach for celebratory photos when you’re done. Check out this link for a map and directions by bus.

 

If you want to really see the beauty of nature of Vancouver Island, it’s time for you to visit Goldstream Provincial Park! Here, you can experience a few awesome hikes. Some easier ones include Upper Goldstream Falls and our own miniature Niagara Falls. Difficult ones include Mount Finlayson, the Railway Trestle, and the Gold Mine Trail. If you’re travelling to Goldstream Park by public transit, you’ll want to check where the buses stop. Hikes starting at the Goldstream campground (Upper Goldstream Falls and the Gold Mine Trail) are accessible by bus, but the others are not. It is still possible to walk to them, but you’ll want to save your energy for hiking these amazing trails instead.

 

 

 

4. Kayak here, kayak there, kayak everywhere!

Imagine the wind in your hair, the sunshine on your face, and the sound of water all around you. Victoria’s kayaking scene is the perfect place for both beginner and experienced kayakers alike. From lessons to guided tours and solo paddling experiences, Victoria is a kayaker’s dream. 

 

For the first-time kayaker, we recommend that you take a few lessons until you feel comfortable on the water. (Lessons usually include equipment rentals too.) In these lessons, you’ll learn about water safety, paddling techniques, and beginner navigation. Kayaking is a pretty easy activity to learn, so once you’ve mastered the basics, you can rent equipment and go out for a leisurely paddle.

 

For more experienced kayakers who are already comfortable on the water, companies usually offer a variety of equipment rentals and guided tours around the local area.

 

Check TripAdvisor for lesson and rental recommendations.  Hours may be reduced, but local companies are still open for rentals and lessons! 

 

Important! When you’re kayaking without a guide or teacher, you must learn the rules of the water. Victoria’s inner harbour is very active with private boats, whale watchers, and sea-planes, so you need to know how to get around safely. Check out this link for safety tips and other important information about Victoria’s water traffic.

 

 

 

5. Say YES to yoga!

If you’ve ever thought of trying yoga, this is your big chance! Victoria is packed with yoga studios, especially in the downtown area, and it’s one of the most popular activities for mental and physical well-being in town.

 

Even though all the yoga studios were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, many are starting to slowly reopen effective June 1st.

 

You’ll find many different styles of yoga in Victoria, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, and Yin.  Most yoga studios offer a free trial class so you can get to know the atmosphere, learn about the styles, and ask questions. They also offer specific classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Many also offer family classes and all-level classes as well. There are so many amazing options tailored to the needs and abilities of each person.

 

Some great options for yoga studios include Iyengar Yoga Centre, MokSana Yoga Centre, and Hemma.

 

Iyengar and MokSana are both located in the heart of downtown Victoria, within walking distance of Global Village, and offer classes throughout the day and on weekends. Hemma is a smaller community-sized studio, but it operates in a quiet neighbourhood, has beautiful facilities, and offers additional wellness services such as acupuncture.

 

If you’re a beginner at yoga, make sure that you inform your instructor of any physical challenges that you have, particularly if you’re suffering from a recent or chronic injury. A good instructor will know how to adjust your practice to accommodate any issues or concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all of these choices, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to stay active and have fun in Victoria!   Just reminder to be mindful of your physical distancing to keep safe and healthy!

 

Good news!  All the stores are starting to reopen as well.  Check out where you can get your shopping done here.

 

Curious about our school? Check out Global Village Victoria’s general information page.