One of the great ways to see a side of real life in Victoria is to visit its villages. Most people may not know it, but the older communities are all in villages. These villages connect now but you can still enjoy each one separately. It's one of my favorite things about Victoria! Walk between two, or grab a bike and visit more than two!
Here is a quick guide:
James Bay - Victoria's oldest, just behind the Legislature building on the Inner Harbour's south side; cafes and shops in the middle, old houses around it.
Fairfield - Between Beacon Hill Park & Oak Bay. The Arts & Crafts neighbourhoods with leafy streets and beach proximity make it desirable. Cook St Village is a great hang-out.
Chinatown (and Johnson Street) - North America's second oldest, after SF.
Fernwood - Funky, sometimes alternative, great eats.
Oak Bay - A large village surrounded by peaceful walking in neighbourhoods.
Estevan - Just up from Willows Beach in Oak Bay with a great cafe, clothing shops, Italian bistro and more.
Cadboro Bay - Down the hill from the University and next to the beach, this is upscale residents meets students and kids of all ages. As usual, a pub, a cafe and more.