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Boats parked in Victoria harbour on a sunny dayBoats parked in Victoria harbour on a sunny day

Why Victoria is the #1 best small city in the world 

As well as being the #1 Canadian comprehensive university for preparing career-ready students (THE Global University Employability Rankings 2024), the University of Victoria (UVic) is just a short bus ride from downtown Victoria — the #1 best small city in the world (Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2023). 

Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. It offers you all the amenities and excitement of a large city, but also has the warm feel of a close community with picturesque surroundings. So, it’s no wonder Victoria comes out on top as a small city. It’s also what makes it a great study abroad destination for international students!

Read on to discover more about Victoria.

Historic legislative assembly building with a bed of spring tulips
Fairmont Express hotel by Victoria harbour
Friendly, diverse and safe

Victoria may be a small city, but it certainly has a multicultural population and vibrant atmosphere.

With a population of 360,000 in the capital region (Learn Victoria), you’ll meet people from all over the world who call Victoria home. There are lots of different neighbourhoods, and the city strives to be an inclusive place for residents.

Canada is also known for being a very safe country, and it was ranked the #3 safest country in the world (U.S. News and World Report 2023), so you’ll have peace of mind living in Victoria.

It’s unique and there’s so much to see

Did you know that Victoria is the brunch capital of Canada? You’ll be spoiled for choice with what’s on offer — pancakes, waffles, bagels, eggs however you like them, and more!

You’ll also find plenty of seafood on offer at the colourful Fisherman’s Wharf. A historic fishing village in the James Bay area, Fisherman’s Wharf is full of places to eat and shop, and people even live in floating homes in this bustling hub. There’s lots to do in the area: you can take a trip on a water taxi, explore the area around the wharf, or go on a guided kayak tour of Victoria Harbour.

If you’re interested in history and architecture, then Victoria has some interesting buildings and museums you can visit. The Royal BC Museum has collections about natural and human history, including an Indigenous Collection, that chart the story of British Columbia, while Craigdarroch Castle gives you the chance to experience what it was like to live in a Victorian mansion.

The city is also home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America. It’s well worth a visit, and make sure you check out Fan Tan Alley, which is the narrowest commercial street in North America!

A building in Victoria's chinatown
Pleasant climate and natural beauty

Victoria offers city life along with peace, serenity and adventure in its picturesque natural environments. Victoria boasts the sunniest climate of any major city in British Columbia, so you’ll be able take part in a lot of outdoor activities.

Living on campus, you’ll also be close to Victoria’s beautiful beaches! Cadboro Bay is only a 15-minute walk away from the UVic campus, with sandy beaches and places to relax. Further away, you’ll find places like Willows Beach, which offers stunning views out over the water, including Mount Baker, and Gonzales Bay — a gorgeous crescent-shaped sandy beach.

Nature in Victoria, Canada
Victoria Harbour in Canada
Outdoor activities and nearby big cities

You’ll be able to try different water sports in Victoria, such as sailing, fishing, canoeing, and even stand-up paddleboarding! Or, for a truly spectacular experience, you can take a whale-watching tour, where you might catch sight of orcas and even humpback whales. But, if you prefer to stay on land, there are also a lot of trails that you can explore in Victoria on foot or by bike.

Bikes at the University of Victoria
UVic student hiking in nature

Victoria is also the ideal place to study if you want to be close to major cities — Vancouver and Seattle — for day trips or a weekend visits, but live somewhere that’s not as fast-paced. Taking a trip by bus and ferry from Victoria to Vancouver is around 3.5 hours, while the journey to Seattle is just over 3 hours. If you want to fly to either city, flight times are under an hour, so they’re both easy to reach!

How you can study abroad in Victoria

Inspired by Victoria and want to study in the world’s best small city? If so, then Kaplan can help. To find out more about studying at UVic, get in touch and one of our advisors will be happy to explore your options with you.

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