skip to Main Content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Views From The Cafe On The Sidney Pier

Things to do in Sidney BC – 8 of the Best

The seaside town of Sidney BC, located just five minutes down the road from the Schwartz Bay Terminal on Vancouver Island, offers a surprising number of things to do. Judging by the stream of ferry traffic on the highway, most people give Sidney a pass and head straight for Victoria. But the town is worth a stop, especially in the summer.

My mother lived in Sidney BC for many years so I was a frequent visitor. Over the 10 year period I lived in Vancouver, I loved to drive over and spend the day with her checking out all the local nurseries in spring. On many occasions I brought my bike and did some terrific biking on the Lochside Trail and the back roads on the Saanich Peninsula. And wine tasting – though not of the calibre of the Okanagan, was and still is a fun thing to do.

Updated April 2020. This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Location map once you arrive on Vancouver Island
Location map once you arrive on Vancouver Island – note Sidney location

Here are 8 of the best things to do in and around Sidney BC

Walk the pretty main street in Sidney

The pretty main street in Sidney is ideal for walking. Park your car and walk from one end all the way down to the ocean and back again. Stop in one of the many bookstores (my Discover Canada book is for sale in Tanners) where you could easily lose yourself for an entire day.

Did you know that there are more bookstores per capita in Sidney than anywhere else in Canada? There are galleries to browse, chocolate stores to try as well as loads of locally owned retail shops to check out including the fantastic Muffet and Louisa, a great kitchen and bath kind of store.

Eat in some of the Sidney BC Restaurants

When you’re hungry, you’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants in town. Two I really like include Sabhai Thai  and Haro’s Restaurant and Bar, located in the hotel by the water. And Beacon Landing Restaurant and Lounge offers good value.

Sidney's main street early in the morning
Sidney’s main street early in the morning

Visit the local Fish Market on the pier

Don’t miss a stop at the Fish Market to see what the local catch is for the day. A restaurant on the pier – the Sidney Pier Bistro – is the perfect place to enjoy the views across the Georgia Strait. The seagulls will keep you entertained as well.

Sunrise in Sidney
Sunrise in Sidney
Views from the cafe on the pier
Views from the cafe on the Sidney pier
Gulls will keep you entertained by the water in Sidney BC
Gulls will keep you entertained by the water

Rent a kayak and explore the nearby islands right from the wharf in Sidney.

Kayak for a day or a week. One of my favourite kayaking trips of all time included a few nights out on Rum Island overlooking Washington’s San Juan Islands. Just watch out for boat traffic, especially the Anacortes Ferry. In Sidney you can also sign up for a kayaking tour with A Paddle in the Park Kayaking.

Many people take the seasonal ferry over to Sidney Spit ($19 round trip) but you can easily kayak over and then spend many happy hours exploring. Sidney Spit is in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada.

The Anacortes ferry - with Mount Baker in the distance
The Sidney – Anacortes ferry – with Mount Baker in the distance
Loading my kayak for the return paddle from Sidney Spit
Loading my kayak for the return paddle

Walk for kilometres along the shoreline in Sidney.

Not only is it a pretty walk, but the bird life can be excellent. And don’t forget to check out Beacon Park for its sculptural pieces.

Lovely walking trails along the water give you views like this
Lovely walking trails along the water give you views like this
Having fun along the Sidney waterfront
Having fun along the Sidney waterfront

Visit the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre located in the Sidney Pier building, just up from the water. It’s an aquarium and marine education centre with a focus on the Salish Sea – an area between Vancouver and Washington State. It’s open daily at 10 AM – and there is a charge for admission.

Go whale watching out of Sidney

Go out with Sidney whale watching where the odds are high that you’ll see orca, grey, humpback, minke and occasionally fin whales. Dolphins and porpoises are also regularly sighted as are seals and sea lions.

Hop on the Lochside Trail and go for for a bike ride.

Sidney is located on the Lochside Trail, a 29 km bike path that travels from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to Victoria where it connects with the Galloping Goose Trail.

Rent bikes in Sidney and head off through farm country. There are some places where you must share the road with cars. 

The Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa
The Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa
Biking on the Lochside Trail
Biking on the Lochside Trail

Visit the Butchart Gardens

Visit the Butchart Gardens at any time of the year to get inspired. Gardens are impeccably kept and change with the seasons. Enjoy high tea or a meal but it’s best to reserve ahead. They gardens are just an 18 minute drive from Sidney. 

The Butchart Gardens in October
The Butchart Gardens in October

Where to stay in Sidney BC

If you’re looking to book a stay in Sidney I’d recommend these spots.

Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa Great location, excellent food at the onsite restaurant; have personally stayed here three times and love it.

Corbett Guest Suites – offers free bike and kayak rentals along with a very convenient location.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

8 of the best things to do in Sidney, BC

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. I always like your pictures! That ferry and that sunset, beautiful. I always like posts like these where the beauty of a lesser-known place is shown. I have never been to that part of the world unfortunately, but would love to for sure!

  2. What a discovery! I love the sunset photos, and ideas for exploration off the beaten path. Am hoping to be in the region this summer, so will tuck away your restaurant recommendations for future reference.

  3. Hi Leigh,
    What a gorgeous place to spend a few days or weeks! Your photos are inspiring, too. You are right — visitors should carve out time to spend in Sydney. So much to do and enjoy.

    1. @Josie Thanks for stopping by my blog. There is definitely enough to keep you busy for several days in Sidney and the rural area with wineries, nurseries…if you were so inclined.

    1. @Anita I keep hoping the Canadian Tourism Commission comes along with a dream job offer. That won’t happen but I”m always happy to show people all the great places I’ve enjoyed visiting in Canada.

  4. Great reminder how lovely Sidney is. We were guests on a boat a few years ago and stayed a night at the Sidney Pier before heading out to explore the San Juan Islands. There was a fun local market that day, and great seafood at a restaurant near the Pier. I would love to try kayaking there.

  5. We really need to visit Sidney. I can’t believe we lived in Vancouver for 5 years and have never been.

  6. What amazing photos. Sidney looks nearly as lovely as Sydney. Ok, I am biased but it does look stunning ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Those photos! Such beautiful colours in the sunsets. Iยดve travelled to many US States but never made it to Canada. This certainly is going on my travel to do list. thanks for the tips!

  8. Looks very pretty. At first, I though it was about Sidney on the other side of Canada – in Nova Scotia… or perhaps that’s Sydney. Anyway, I’d like to see both the Sidneys ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Thanks for this, we’re heading through BC next month – OMG I hope we see one of those spectacular sunsets! Will add Sidney to our list ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Yes, ports do suffer from people coming in on a ferry and then heading straight out. But to linger awhile is definitely a great option. Especially, so it seems, in Sidney.

  11. Wonderful pictures Leigh! I saw some of BC when I lived in Canada for a winter season in 2009, but never made it to the coast (the snowy mountains kept me firmly inland!). Next time โ€“ and there will be a next time โ€“ I’ll have to remember to add this one to my itinerary ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Be sure to check out the Deep Cove Market up West Saanich Road from Sidney. It’s just past Patricia Bay. And stop at Pat Bay Pottery on the way! The whole area just sings!

  13. You didn’t mention one of the area’s best attractions: local farms selling fresh produce at the farm gate and numerous beach area and hiking areas in North Saanich which surrounds Sidney.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close search

Pin It on Pinterest