Tourist magnets Gastown and Granville Island


In Canadian Vancouver For the pleasure and benefit of passengers, the cruise ships dock close to the center in the Downtown district. The terrain is an ideal starting point for excursions inside and outside Vancouver. Under Vancouver attractions we have named various attractive daily destinations.

Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal

Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal


In our experience, the inner-city destinations worth seeing include the districts of Gastown and Granville Island. For us both are a tourist must. 

Gastown - Vancouver's historic center

No one should expect historical buildings like those in Florence, Rome or Rothenburg ob der Tauber. After all, the then deserted region of British Columbia was only explored in 1792 by the British captain George Vancouver.

The first settlement called Gastown was built at Vancouver's current location in the 1860s. The municipality was granted city rights in 1886. The place name Gastown was no longer appropriate in this context. From then on, the new city was called the City of Vancouver, in honor of George Vancouver, the explorer of the region. Gastown was the nucleus of the city in the southwest of Canada, which today has a population of more than 630.000.Gastown - Seen from the Vancouver Lookout

Gastown - Seen from the Vancouver Lookout


Unfortunately, the settlement fell victim to a devastating fire that same year. The city then had to be rebuilt. This explains the prevailing, uniform-looking architectural style.

The distance between the Canada Place cruise terminal and the trendy Gastown district is around one kilometer. We start at Canada Place, there are some architecturally interesting buildings on our way.

Starting point at Canada Place

Starting point at Canada Place


One is the 122-meter-high Woodward's Building. The high-rise, which was completed in 2009, offers residential and commercial space. The SFU School for Contemporary Arts is also located there. We especially like the building because of the trees on the roof level.

Woodward's Building Trees on the Woodward's Building SunTower SunTower

The 82 meter high Sun Tower also appeals to us. Its trademark is a green dome. The classic-looking high-rise was built in the Beaux Art style. Nine muses seem to give stability to the cornice. The tower was named after the daily Vancouver Sun.

Victory Square is also worth seeing. In the center of the more than four hectare park is Vancouver's memorial to those who died in the First World War. It is a striking granite pillar over nine meters high. On November 11th of each year, Remembrance Day - Canadian Memorial Day - commemorates the more than 60.000 Canadians who died in World War I. Unfortunately, the area is a no-go area for tourists outside of this period because it is firmly in the hands of the drug scene and the homeless.

Victor Square Park

Victor Square Park


In any case, it amazes us that we see many homeless people camping on Granville Street, one of the city's arteries. Vancouver residents explain this to us with the mild climate of the city. There are usually no really cold winters in Vancouver. This is reason enough for Canada's homeless people to move to Vancouver, receive social assistance and live on the streets.

Water Street in the Gastown district

Water Street in the Gastown district


Back to Gastown: The district is definitely worth a visit. A walk through Water Street is recommended. The buildings on this main street are home to interesting bars, restaurants, galleries and shops of all kinds. Side streets repeatedly offer a view of the water surface of Burrard Inlet.

Shoe store on Water Street

Shoe store on Water Street


It is said that the visitor should see two attractions of Gastown: We stick to that. There are the steam clock, a steam clock, and the statue of the city founder "Gassy Jack".

There should be only seven steam clocks worldwide. What in Vancouver looks like a holdover from the Victorian Age only emerged in 1977 as a result of a fruitful collaboration between watch specialist Raymond Saunders and metalworker Doug Smith. For a better understanding: The clock is driven electrically. With steam power, only the quarter-hour and hourly beats are displayed. The clock is at the intersection of Water and Cambie Streets. It cannot be missed.

The Gastown Steam Clock Mechanics of the Gastown Steam Clock

A certain John Deighton was a regular steamship captain on Canada's west coast. In what is now Vancouver, he had sawmill workers build a bar on Burrard Inlet. The workers were rewarded with as much whiskey as they could drink. The bar owner's nickname was "Gassy Jack", from which "Gastown" was derived. We think a city founder is entitled to a monument. Gassy Jack's, the man standing stylishly on a whiskey barrel, is in Maple Tree Square. He is said to have set up his bar there. Incidentally, the "talkative Jacob" was only 45 years old.

Gassy Jack - standing on the whiskey barrel

Gassy Jack - standing on the whiskey barrel


Once you've seen the monument, it's time to visit a bar or café at the latest.

Creative break at Gastown's Maple Tree Square

Creative break at Gastown's Maple Tree Square


We have to strengthen ourselves, because we still want to report on the second stop of our little Vancouver excursion. And this is … 

granville island

In the shadow of the eight-lane Granville Bridge lies the artificial peninsula Granville Island in False Creek Bay. Until the 1970s, the area was a desolate industrial site. After abandoning commercial use, only one cement works survived, Granville Island was used for other purposes.

Access to Granville Island

Access to Granville Island


The area mutated into a cultural and business district. Major settlements today are a large marina, the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, several theaters, the Granville Island Public Market and a museum for model trains. The peninsula is also the location of various handicraft businesses.

The Granville Island Marina The Granville Island Public Market

Our visit to Granville Island is accompanied by the only low rain that we could catch during our stay in Vancouver. In this respect, we do not perceive too much of the charms of the peninsula. The time of day is also not right. The late afternoon or evening would have been more recommendable. Then it attracts more people.

We really like the Granville Island Public Market from the first moment. It offers a wide variety of shops and fast food restaurants. Nice people serve us, and everything in the store is very straightforward. The market also offers an excellent view of the Burrard Street Bridge, which opened in 1932. The more than 800 meter long truss bridge connects Vancouver's Kitsilano and West End.

Besides Gastown, Granville Island is also a recommendable address from our point of view.

Cafe in the Granville Island Public Market Burrard Street Bridge

There are two ways to get to Granville Island from downtown Vancouver. By car over the Granville Bridge or by small boat between the peninsula and the Hornby Street ferry terminal. Walking over the Granville Bridge offers excellent views of False Creek, but it is really not recommended because of the hellish traffic. We have tested both options and recommend the ferry.

Ferry across False Creek

Ferry across False Creek


Update April 2021

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