British Columbia may have travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

Find out moreOpens in new tab or window

GastownVancouver

The birthplace of Vancouver is full of old-world charm with cobbled streets, Victorian buildings, and a unique steam-powered clock. 

Gastown grew up around a tavern, which opened in 1867 to service thirsty sawmill workers and visiting sailors. The bar owner was John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, so called because of his talkative nature.

As the nearest pub was more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away, Deighton’s establishment became the heart of the small town in what was mostly wilderness on Canada’s west coast. Both the fledgling town, which took it’s name from Gassy Jack, and the watering hole prospered thanks to the sawmill and the seaport, and would become the world-class city of Vancouver.

After the global Great Depression of the 1930s, the neighborhood hit hard times. The city had expanded westward and changed its name to Vancouver, and Gastown was largely forgotten. In fact, it became so rundown that there were calls for the neighborhood to be torn down. A large public campaign organized by property owners and local businesses managed to persuade the provincial government to spare Gastown from the wrecking ball in the 1970s.

The area has benefited from a major regeneration program and gentrification, and today is a happy confluence of old town history and modern day urban chic.

It may not be the heart of the city anymore, but Gastown has retained its character with cobblestone streets and old buildings, many of which are more than a hundred years old.

Many of those original buildings are now home to bars and restaurants. Enjoy fine dining — from Italian, to French, to Asian-influenced — as well as tap houses with exceptional locally-brewed beer.

Explore this eclectic neighborhood by day and night. Your meandering will take you past nightspots, high fashion boutiques, antique stores and galleries. Several chic home design shops offer elegant, decorative fabrics and tableware from all over the world. Observe the statue of “Gassy Jack” perched atop a whiskey barrel in Maple Tree Square on the site of the area’s first tavern, and there’s a French restaurant on the site of Vancouver’s first jail.

One of the town’s best-known landmarks is its steam-powered clock, which stands on the intersection of Cambie Street and Water Street, and ‘toots’ every 15 minutes. The clock’s timepiece is partially driven by water vapor and while it looks like a Victorian antique, it was actually built in 1977. It was the first of its type ever built. Plaques with information on buildings and landmarks are scattered throughout the town.

Gastown is an easy walk from the surrounding hotel districts, and also accessible by bus or the Skytrain, Vancouver’s rapid transportation system. Parking can be tricky to find during the busy summer tourist season.


Popular places to visit in Gastown

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Image for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Imagine you are in Suzhou, China in this beautifully created urban oasis where architecture, rocks, plants and water provide a peaceful, harmonious setting.

Steam Clock
Image for Steam Clock

Steam Clock

5/5(1 review)

Visit Gastown and see this unique fixture that adds a nostalgic bit of novelty to the historic area with delights for three senses.

Gassy Jack Statue
Image for Gassy Jack Statue

Gassy Jack Statue

3.5/5(4 reviews)

Towns and cities often have founders with military backgrounds. Vancouver, however, has one with more colorful beginnings and an unusual name.  

Top things to do in Gastown

Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour
Image for Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour

Hop-On Hop-Off Vancouver City Tour

CA $59
Per adult
82% of travellers recommend
Vancouver 2 Day Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour
Image for Vancouver 2 Day Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour

Vancouver 2 Day Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour

CA $55
Per adult
90% of travellers recommend
The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour
Image for The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour

The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour

CA $32
Per adult
92% of travellers recommend
Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program
Image for Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

CA $21
Per adult
Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown
Image for Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

CA $93
Per adult
90% of travellers recommend
5hr Bike Rental
Image for 5hr Bike Rental

5hr Bike Rental

CA $37
Per adult

Top Hotels in Gastown

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
4 out of 5
550 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is CA $151 per night from Sep 26 to Sep 27

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canada Place, Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Vancouver Convention Centre. Robson Street ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (990 reviews)

"Our room was very clean and the whole staff was so nice!"…"

Reviewed on Sep. 23, 2020

Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
2.5 out of 5
435 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
The price is CA $86 per night from Oct 4 to Oct 5

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Simon Fraser University - Downtown and Pacific Centre Shopping Mall. Vancouver Convention ...

3.9/5Good! (997 reviews)

"Staying at the Ramada Limited in Vancouver was an absolute pleasure. The staff there really made our trip delightful. You will be amazed by their amazing hospitality. Paul and Leo were both so wonderful to us. They were extremely helpful, kind, and welcoming and never hesitated to make sure we had ..."…"

Reviewed on Sep. 22, 2020

Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Skwachàys Lodge
Skwachàys Lodge
2.5 out of 5
31 West Pender, Vancouver, BC
The price is CA $129 per night from Sep 26 to Sep 27

Located in Gastown, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Rogers Arena and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Vancouver Waterfront ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (902 reviews)

"Excellent hotel. My friend and I stayed there for two nights and were so pleased with the service. Rick went out of his way to show us around the hotel, he called an excellent restaurant for us and the gave us vip service as a result. Best service I’ve ever had."…"

Reviewed on Aug. 22, 2020

Skwachàys Lodge
Cambie Hostel Gastown
Cambie Hostel Gastown
2 out of 5
310 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this hostel is within a 5-minute walk of Vancouver Waterfront, Granville Street and Harbour Centre. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Canada Place ...

3/5 (323 reviews)

"The location is primo. Staff are awesome. The vibe there is definitely upbeat. Loved the sense of security. As a female travelling alone I appreciated the female only dorm and bathroom option. Breakfast is the bomb. Recommend the veggie eggs benny."…"

Reviewed on Nov. 3, 2019

Cambie Hostel Gastown
Sterling Suites - Gastown
Sterling Suites - Gastown
27 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this condo is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Granville Street. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Rogers ...

5/5Exceptional! (2 reviews)

"Really cute place in scenic Gastown. We've never been to Vancouver so we didn't know it was kind of close to E Hastings but it was okay. Very modern rustic style to the apartment. Host was AMAZING at communication. Every question I had got answered within 5 minutes. We had an issue with Wifi and ..."…"

Reviewed on Jul. 10, 2020

Sterling Suites - Gastown
Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower
Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower
128 W Cordova St, Suite 2604, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this historic condo is within a 5-minute walk of Vancouver Waterfront and Granville Street. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Rogers Arena are ...

5/5Exceptional! (6 reviews)
Nice condo in newer building

"We were there for a month (mid-August to mid-September). Don and Sandra were pleasant and attentive. The unit was super clean with a nice view of the Burrard Inlet. We walked and rode bikes everywhere; what a great city!"…"

Reviewed on Sep. 24, 2019

Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower

Other areas in Vancouver

Chinatown featuring heritage architecture

Chinatown

You'll enjoy the restaurants and gardens in Chinatown. You might want to make time for a stop at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or Rickshaw Theatre.

Chinatown
Yaletown which includes a city, night scenes and street scenes

Yaletown

If you're in Yaletown, take some time to enjoy the ample dining options. Consider a stop by Vancouver False Creek Seawall, and you can hop on the metro at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station to see more of the area.

Yaletown
Downtown Vancouver showing a high-rise building, modern architecture and a city

Downtown Vancouver

4.5/5Wonderful!(6,655 area reviews)

Known for its captivating waterfront views, popular shops, and acclaimed art galleries, there's plenty to explore in Downtown Vancouver. Top attractions like Granville Street and Robson Street are major draws. Catch the metro at Vancouver City Center Station or Burrard Station to see more of the city.

Downtown Vancouver
West End featuring a city, street scenes and signage

West End

The stunning beaches and popular shops are just a few highlights of West End. Make a stop by Robson Street or Stanley Park while you're exploring the area.

West End
Granville Island showing a high-rise building, a river or creek and a bay or harbour

Granville Island

4.5/5Wonderful!(100 area reviews)

Travelers come to Granville Island for its abundant dining options, and you can see top attractions like Granville Island Public Market and False Creek while you're in town.

Granville Island
Kitsilano which includes street scenes and a city

Kitsilano

4.5/5Wonderful!(2 area reviews)

Kitsilano is noteworthy for its beaches, and you can make a stop at top attractions like Kitsilano Beach and Sunset Beach.

Kitsilano

More to Explore

Image for What to do in Vancouver in Winter

What to do in Vancouver in Winter

What to do in Vancouver in Winter
Image for Best day trips from Vancouver

Best day trips from Vancouver

Best day trips from Vancouver
Image for 10 Fall Activities To Do in Vancouver

10 Fall Activities To Do in Vancouver

10 Fall Activities To Do in Vancouver
Image for 5 things to consider when planning an Alaskan cruise

5 things to consider when planning an Alaskan cruise

5 things to consider when planning an Alaskan cruise
Image for Top Canadian Destinations for Baby Boomers

Top Canadian Destinations for Baby Boomers

Top Canadian Destinations for Baby Boomers
Image for Most Active Cities in Canada, Ranked

Most Active Cities in Canada, Ranked

Most Active Cities in Canada, Ranked

Gastown

Choose two or more items and save on your trip: