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Gastown: Vancouver’s Trendiest Neighborhood

Old “Gassy Jack” would be proud.

In 1867, he opened a saloon for mill workers.

More bars and businesses took root nearby, and very quickly the place grew to become the city of Vancouver.

Now Gastown, his namesake neighborhood, may be the trendiest in Vancouver, British Columbia.


The pop culture website even rated Gastown, Vancouver, the fourth most stylish district in the world, just behind New York’s Soho.

Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver

For many years, Gastown, Vancouver,  (the oldest part of the city) was – let’s be frank – seedy.

Its cobbled streets and big iconic Steam Clock, which blows off steam and plays musical tunes throughout the day, were its best features.

And visitors liked the inexpensive souvenir shops selling T-shirts and maple leaf knick-knacks.

Gastown steam clock, Vancouver

But in recent years, gentrification has ramped up Gastown’s cool meter.

Lofts have been converted into high-end condos. And a swack of designer stores and oh-so-hip restaurants have moved into the historic brick buildings.

Gastown, Vancouver

The outer edges are still gritty, as Gastown borders the city’s infamous Downtown Eastside, with its shelters for the homeless and drug-addicted.

But you’re quite safe exploring the main parts of Gastown, day or night.

And who knows? You might even bump into a movie star (Robert Pattinson and Jessica Biel have been spotted dining in Gastown).

Yes, when you visit Vancouver, you’re going to bicycle around Stanley Park. (You must do this!)

But guaranteed. You’ll also love strolling about Gastown.

More information

For more on what to see and do in Gastown, along with the best Instagrammable photo spots in Gastown, see the Tourism Vancouver website.

Experience more of British Columbia!

Victoria: Visiting Victoria too? See our complete guide on taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria.

Tofino: When the weather is wild and bad, head to Tofino for storm watching!

Parksville area: From swimming at warm shallow beaches to caving to spying the goats on the roof, you’ll love these crazy fun things to do in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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Photo credits: 3 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Salika Jay

Friday 9th of August 2013

How times change. I still like the Steam Clock though.

Becky Padmore

Wednesday 7th of August 2013

I've always wanted to go to Vancouver, when I do get there I will definitely be checking out this area!

Janice and George

Wednesday 7th of August 2013

Yes, you'll luv it. And if you visit in summer, you must rent bikes and pedal around the Stanley Park seawall too!

Lesley Peterson

Thursday 1st of August 2013

Atmospheric photo! Taking pics on a rainy night sure works out better than taking pics on a rainy day. I don't remember Gastown looking this good the day I visited:))

Janice and George

Thursday 1st of August 2013

Maybe you'll just have to visit again :-).