Canada, Vancouver, Travel

The great Vancouver bucket list

Capilano Suspension Bridge Byrnewithme

In June 2018, I moved to Vancouver, BC with my boyfriend on a two-year working holiday visa. We came here with certain expectations of what our life would be like. We saw adventures in mountains, weekend camping trips, exploring nature, and visiting all of the scenic lakes we saw in pictures before we got here.

We also came here taking for granted that these are all things that would simply happen. After a few weeks of settling in, we realised it’s not that easy. Most of these experiences will be completely new to us. When you’re new to a city it takes time just to figure out how to get to the closest bus stop, never mind up the nearest mountain.

We started to feel a bit like fish out of water after a few weeks of settling in, and we didn’t know where to even begin. That’s when we decided to begin with a list. You can’t start anywhere if you don’t know what it is that you want to do. On arrival in Vancouver, we had only 18 months of our two year visas left to fill with as many experiences as possible, and this list is how we plan to do it.

Vancouver skyline from the seawall
View of the Vancouver skyline from the seawall bike route, which was part of my commute when I first arrived.

About the list

The list is divided into places to visit and activities or experiences to try. Some of the activities and the places are intertwined, while others are things we could do anywhere. We don’t know if we’re going to be able to do everything, but we are going to try.

Beaver Lake, Stanley Park
Beaver Lake, Stanley Park

I hope to be returning to this post again and again to cross off places and activities, share links to blog posts about some of the bucket list items, and upload pictures as we work our way through!

Keep up to date with our progress on our Vancouver bucket list by subscribing to the Byrnewithme Newsletter!


If there’s anything we’ve learned since starting our research for this bucket list, it’s that virtually nothing is nearby in Canada. Coming from a country as small as Ireland, it can be hard to wrap your head around the distances you need to travel to get to some of the places we want to visit. 

With this in mind, we tried to keep our bucket list destinations reasonable in terms of what we can achieve, but we gave ourselves a few more ambitious places to work towards.

Victoria, British Columbia

Vancouver Island, British Columbia (outside of Victoria)

Whistler, British Columbia

Squamish, British Columbia

Deep Cove, North Vancouver

White Rock, British Columbia

Lynn Canyon, North VancouverRead about Lynn Canyon here

Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta

Portland, Oregon

Canadian Rockies, British Columbia / Alberta

Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver

Bowen Island, Vancouver

Fort Langley, Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver

Activities / Experiences

As we work our way through some of the destinations above, we’ll be able to tick off some of this stuff too. This has been divided into winter activities, summer activities, and any-time-of-the-year activities.

Any time of the year

Visit every part of Stanley Park

Visit Science World

Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery

Visit the Contemporary Art Gallery

Visit the Bloedel Conservatory

Visit UBC

Visit Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Visit the Museum of Anthropology

Visit the Museum of Vancouver

Visit all of the Puplfiction Bookstore locations

See a film at the Rio Theatre

Have a Beaver Tail (delicious sugary pastries, not an actual beaver’s tail)

Go on the Sea to Sky gondola

Go zip lining

Stay in a cabin

Make s’mores

Visit Shannon Falls


Visit the UBC Botanical Gardens/Nitobe Gardens

Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Visit the Vandusen Botanical Garden

Do a proper hike

Do the Grouse Grind

Go kayaking or do another water sport

Visit the Richmond Night Market

Hike The Chief

Bike the Stanley Park Seawall (again)

Go whale watching

Eat a Honey Donut at Deep Cove

Go for a swim at Lynn Canyon 30 Foot Pool


Find the best hot chocolate in Vancouver

Go to the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

Go to an event at the Vancouver Writers Fest

Go dog sledding

Go snow shoeing

Go to a hockey game

Take a snowboarding lesson

Go to Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Have you been to Vancouver or BC and feel like there’s something big missing on this list? Let me know what you think of our Vancouver bucket list!

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Make sure you find out how many of these things we manage to do by subscribing to the Byrnewithme Newsletter!

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  • Reply Bec - views from my garden bench

    This sounds like a really diverse list – I’m looking forward to reading how you get on. My husband has always wanted to go mountain biking in Pacific NW. Love Bec

    September 12, 2018 at 1:20 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Thanks Bec! I feel like mountain biking would definitely be a level too high up for us right now, but you never know, maybe by the time we’re done that will be next on the list!

      September 12, 2018 at 4:34 pm
  • Reply josypheen

    Welcome to Vancouver! I hope you are loving it so far!!

    We moved here (from London) at the same time as you, but one year earlier in 2017. Most of my list of things have been epic hikes, but we have done so many now, that if you need hiking advice, I can totally help!

    By the way:
    – You can get Beaver tails on Grouse Mountain, so you can tick off multiple things at once!
    – When you visit UBC, try to visit the Nitobe garden (it is sooo lovely) as well as MOA (which is already on your list) they are pretty close to each other.
    – Maybe add some waterfalls to your spring/summer list. Shannon falls in Squamish, is just at the bottom of the gondola, and is truly stunning in spring!
    – Maybe add “visit deep cove and eat a honey doughnut” to your list too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    September 12, 2018 at 2:45 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Wow, thanks so much Josy! Waterfalls is a great idea, I never thought of that. This list barely scratches the surface of what there is to do here!

      We hope to get in a good few hikes, starting as early as possible when the rainy season ends (and maybe fitting something in before it starts) but we’re definitely new to it, so advice may be needed!

      September 12, 2018 at 4:38 pm
      • Reply josypheen

        If you can get some hikes in the next few weeks – dooo it! September is SUCH a good time for hikes, even if it is a little rainy. There are no bugs and the trails are less busy. You just have to start early, to make sure you finish before the sun sets.

        September 13, 2018 at 9:02 am
  • Reply AndyG

    Welcome! I think you may enjoy the Vancouver Hot Chocolate festival which starts in January and runs until Valentine’s Day. ๐Ÿ™‚ As Josy says, Honey’s doughnut – you can combine that with some nice laid back kayaking too.

    I recommend adding the Peak 2 Peak gondola in Whistler to your list, plus a visit to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island too, as well as enjoying as much sockeye salmon as you can eat ๐Ÿ™‚ And hiking lots! But I’m biased on that last point ๐Ÿ˜‰

    September 12, 2018 at 8:40 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Hot chocolate festival?! This is the best news I’ve gotten all week, Andy. Thanks for those tips, it’s great to get some local advice!

      September 13, 2018 at 9:06 am
      • Reply AndyG

        Happy to help out – hope you settle in here and get to enjoy your time!

        September 13, 2018 at 10:13 pm

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