Boasted as having the best weather in Canada, Victoria has a temperate climate that is usually classified as Marine west coast, with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. Daily temperatures rise above 30°C (86°F) on an average of one or two days per year and fall below -5°C (23°F) on an average of only 2 nights per year. During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8.2°C (47°F) and 3.6°C (38°F), respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 19.6°C (67°F) and low of 11.3°C (52°F). Victoria's equable climate has also added to its reputation as the "City of Gardens". With its mild temperatures and plentiful sunshine, Victoria boasts gardens that are home to many plant species rarely found elsewhere in Canada.
Due to its Mediterranean-type climate, Victoria and its surrounding
area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and parts of the
Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast) is also home to many rare, native
plants found nowhere else in Canada.
Many of these endangered species exist here at the northern end of
their range, and are found as far south as Central and Southern
California, and even parts of Mexico.
The Victoria area has three public post secondary educational institutions: University of Victoria (UVic), Camosun College, Royal Roads University.
English and French are Canada's two official languages. English is the predominant language in British Columbia. Because of its location and multicultural environment, it's also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.
The Vancouver island is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. Daylight Savings Time is in effect from 0200hr on the second Sunday in March until 0200hr on the first Sunday in November.
The Canadian dollar is worth around 0.9 US dollar. The Canadian dollar itself is a relatively large gold-coloured coin and the locals have nicknamed it the 'Loonie', officially because it features a Canadian bird, the loon, on its face.
The current Canada/US exchange rate and the exchange rate between Canada and other countries can be found at: www.x-rates.com
Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust
companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers,
but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving.
Some hotels, merchants, restaurants and suppliers accept US or other
foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the
daily rate posted by financial institutions.
Custom House Foreign Global
Exchange - with Global
Headquarters in Victoria. The foreign-exchange company
competitive rates and excellent service. Some Custom House branches
provide a buy-back guarantee: Get your foreign
currency from Custom House Global Foreign Exchange and return any
unused bills, up to 1/3 of your original transaction, at the same rate.
Regular banking hours in Canada are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with extended hours including weekends at some locations. Visitors who wish to cash cheques or require other banking services are advised to check times of operation with the institutions. Most banks have automatic teller machines, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, using bank or credit cards on major international banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Interac.
Most major credit cards are accepted, but visitors are always advised to check with the vendor before a purchase is made. Cash machines with 24-hour access are available.
Some properties and resort hotels include tips or gratuities with tours group to simplify bookkeeping. This will usually include gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. If meals are included in the price, customary gratuity will be calculated at 15 per cent. Visitors should be advised that the standard tip in most restaurants is 15 per cent.
There are three levels of taxation that affect visitors to Vancouver. There's a 10% tax charged on accommodation and liquor. For most other goods and services, there is a 7% provincial sales tax (PST) in BC and a 6% federal goods and services tax (GST). See Individual for more details.
Visitors to Vancouver from outside the country can apply to have the GST returned to them when they leave the country, but they must keep purchase receipts as proof of the amount paid. See Visitor Tax Rebate for more details.
Visitors are not covered by Canadian health insurance plans.
Outlets and voltage (110 volts) are the same as in the United States. Small appliances such as hair dryers, irons, razors, etc. can be used in Canada. For those from other countries, adapters are required for electrical appliances. The frequency of electrical current in Canada is 60 Hz.
There are three telephone area codes for the province of British Columbia. Dialling in BC required 10-digit phone numbers, so ensure you include the correct area code in front of the local number.