Street Smarts, Victoria
Many of Victoria's street intersections are at strange angles, rather than being 90 degrees intersections between strict east-west and north-south streets. Instead, most of the streets fit with the shape of the peninsulas on which Victoria is built. I found that this makes it very easy to make wrong turns in almost all locations.
Free maps of downtown are available in a number of locations. See photo 1 for an example. However, they only really feature the true downtown core, and there are a lot of places in Victoria that are not on this map. Therefore, I also carried prints of Google maps and satellite image maps. However, the free maps are still a reasonably good assistance for most of the tourist attractions, and as they are freely available in hotels, from Victoria Clipper, or various other sources there's no point in not having a map with you.
Even with all that, I found that I had taken a wrong turn just south of downtown Victoria, as a particular intersection on the south side of Parliament actually feels as though it is oriented in a different direction to downtown than it is due to the number of gradually curving streets. They may seem straight, but they are actually gradually curving.
Besides, the advertisements featured on the free maps are helpful in making you hear about attractions that you may never have heard about before getting one. It also shows many parking areas, which a Google map will not show you.
However, the Victoria Tourist Map doesn't have some of the hotels on it that you might expect, and the map of everything outside downtown isn't that good, so it may be useful to have both a Google map and the free tourist map.
The web site below is operated by "Attractions Victoria", which is the publisher of the particular tourist map that I managed to obtain and is shown in the photos.
Victoria is generaly a safe place, but crime can happen everywhere. During the time I lived there I hadn't had any unpleasant situation but I saw lots of drugadicts near Sr. Johnson bridge, Centenial Square and outside Douglas Hotel (which I think it doesn't longer exist). Just avoid walking where you see that kind of people.
Once a homeless followed me trying to get a coin but I just ingnored him and he went away.
Victoria is a nice place but of course every place has some bad things in it! be careful on walking down the street especially at night time.. lots of young drug addicts or gangs roaming around the place.. just for precautions leave your important belongings in your hotel room. make sure to have a companion when going out.
Centennial Square was originally designed to bring life back to downtown Victoria... it succeeded for a while, but now seems to attact LOW-life to the downtown area. Young people walking around this area (especially at night) can expect to be offered drugs, and there are often drug deals and fights occuring nearby. You will notice many local businesses employ private security guards in the area now. This area is really only a problem along Douglas Street and in the square itself, from about Johnson St. to Fisgard St. Try to walk on the other side of the road if possible, and don't stay in the Douglas Hotel!
In some places they may be called bums or beggars. I call them street people. They aren't pushy in Victoria, in fact some are humorous. One asked for change because "good beer is more expensive". At least he was honest. No matter, I don't recommend handing out money, but it's up to you.
Victoria is generally a safe place, there are a few street people along the main roads.
Stay out of dark alleys and make sure you don't carry a lot of cash on you. Use indoor bank machines (opposed to the outdoor ones).
First of all! Downtown Victoria is one of the highest crime areas in Canada! Mind you it's all petty crime such as thefts. First of all, never ever ever ever ever ever under any circumstances leave anything in your parked vehicle. I made this mistake once in Hawaii, where I felt very safe! Victoria is the same way, it's very quaint you feel very safe, but there's lots of petty crime. Do not leave any bags unattended. I knew a lady who set her bags down to look at something in a store and someone snatched and ran with them.
The other thing are the homeless people. There are alot of them. Frankly, Victoria has the warmest average temperature anywhere in Canada, so this town is Mecca for them. Downtown you'll get several and several people ask you for money. These people are usually very polite and honestly don't pose any threat. Do not feel intimidated. Do not feel like you have to give them any money. In fact I make it a point not to give anyone any money downtown. First of all, by taking out money you are letting a potential thief or thieves know where you are carrying it. Second of all there are many scams. One of the latest ones is someone will approach you who looks really decent, well dressed, maybe business atire saying that he lost his wallet etc. etc. and needs money to catch the ferry, and he'll give you his I.D. #, and promises he'll send you the money. This is a scam! Do not fall for it!
There are many Panhandlers and Street people and although not usually a danger can become an annoyance.
Also since Victoria isTHE place to retire their are a lot of seniors driving out there. (Sorry Mom..Dad)
Also the City busses have right of way and don't hesitate when taking it.