GastownVancouver

Image for Gastown which includes street scenes, café lifestyle and a city

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.

Top hotels in Gastown

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
2.5 out of 5
435 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
NZ$144
per night
Jan 30 - Jan 31

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! (2,083 reviews)

"This property is clean has great location but room is bit small and old. Overall, I am satisfied with the hotel"…"

Reviewed on 13 Jan. 2020

Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Skwachàys Lodge
Skwachàys Lodge
2.5 out of 5
31 West Pender, Vancouver, BC
NZ$188
per night
Jan 20 - Jan 21

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. Harbour Centre ...

4.4/5Excellent! (827 reviews)

"Love the unique rooms and the gallery. The staff is so friendly and the breakfast very very good, a lot more stuff then there then I thought would be"…"

Reviewed on 22 Dec. 2019

Skwachàys Lodge
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
4 out of 5
550 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
NZ$253
per night
Feb 1 - Feb 2

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! (1,986 reviews)

"The suite was quite spacious and the king size bed was very comfortable. The fold out couch however was not very comfortable."…"

Reviewed on 11 Jan. 2020

Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
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 Granville Street and Harbour Centre. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Canada Place are also within 10 ...

3/5 (318 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 3 Nov. 2019

Cambie Hostel Gastown
Noel Suites-Gastown
Noel Suites-Gastown
4 out of 5
53 W Hastings, Vancouver, BC
NZ$214
per night
Jan 19 - Jan 20

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

4/5Very Good! (16 reviews)

"It was great staying here! You have to pick up the keys at a 7/11 nearby, but the process was simple and easy and the communication from Noel Suites was great! Space was nice and clean, and I enjoyed staying in this area."…"

Reviewed on 30 Dec. 2019

Noel Suites-Gastown
American Backpackers Hostel
American Backpackers Hostel
1 out of 5
347 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC

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

2.3/5 (23 reviews)

"I found clean ,safe ,fun ,I made a lot friends there ,there were musical instruments to ply with other people and it was like big family house with a lot real travelers that live there for long time ,big kitchen lots amenities ideal for long term stay"…"

Reviewed on 28 Oct. 2019

American Backpackers Hostel

Popular things to do 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

4/5(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

4.5/5(3 reviews)

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

Top activities 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

NZ$56

Explore Vancouver's seaside sights and forested parks at your own pace from the comfort of an open-air bus. With up to 30 stops around this Canadian city, you can ride to within walking distance of tops Vancouver attractions like the brick buildings of historic Gastown.

Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour
Image for Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour

Gastronomic Gastown Food & Walking Tour

NZ$112

Eating and drinking is officially Gastown's must-do activity - this is Gastown's one-and-only designated Canadian Signature Experience! Experience Gastown - Vancouver's foodie, boozy, historic neighbourhood on 3-hour walking food tour! In a small group, savor gastronomic delights and learn about the neighborhood's storied past from your expert tour guide.

Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program
Image for Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

NZ$16

Save Time & Save Money with Vancouver's top Attractions Program! Awarded Tourism Vancouver's Service Edge Award, we created this experience program so that you can enjoy over 1000.00 in savings at 50+ Attractions, Experiences & Restaurants.

Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown
Image for Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

NZ$107

Check out Vancouver's oldest neighborhood, Gastown, through food and on foot. Enjoy this walking food tour with stops at the city's top restaurants, grab samples at each place you visit, and get the chance to learn the secrets of this historic part of town.

Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets
Image for Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets

Vancouver Lookout Observation Deck Admission Tickets

NZ$21

Get a bird's-eye view of the Vancouver cityscape as well as the sprawling natural landscape from a panoramic observation deck. You feel like you can reach out and touch the Pacific Ocean, the historic site of Gastown, and the majestic North Shore and Olympic mountains.

Gastown & Chinatown Night Photography Tour
Image for Gastown & Chinatown Night Photography Tour

Gastown & Chinatown Night Photography Tour

NZ$59

You will walk through the cobble-stoned streets of Gastown with its famous Steam Clock and other iconic buildings at night

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