Gastown's famous steam-powered clock.

Halfway along Water St, this oddly popular tourist magnet lures the cameras with its tooting steam whistle. Built in 1977, the clock's mechanism is actually driven by electricity; only the pipes on top are steam fueled (reveal that to the patiently waiting tourists and you might cause a riot). It sounds every 15 minutes, and marks each hour with little whistling symphonies.

Once you have taken the required photo, spend time exploring the rest of brick-cobbled Water St. One of Vancouver's most historic thoroughfares, its well-preserved heritage buildings contain shops, galleries and resto-bars. Be sure to cast your gaze above entrance level for cool architectural features, including statuary faces.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gastown & Chinatown attractions

1. Dominion Building

0.12 MILES

A handsome architectural vestige of yesteryear Vancouver, this copper-hued, French-style vintage skyscraper across from Victory Square is well worth a…

2. Flack Block

0.12 MILES

Restored to its former glory in 2014, this dramatic corner landmark across from Victory Sq is chiefly noted for its hulking, elaborately-carved stone…

3. Woodward's

0.17 MILES

The project that catalyzed latter-day Downtown Eastside redevelopment, this former iconic department store was a derelict shell after closing in the early…

4. Vancouver Lookout

0.18 MILES

Expect your lurching stomach to make a bid for freedom as the glass elevator whisks you 169m to the apex of this needle-like viewing tower in just 40…

5. Maple Tree Square

0.22 MILES

The intersection where Vancouver began was the site of John 'Gassy Jack' Deighton's first pub, and the spot where the inaugural city-council meeting was…

6. Or Gallery

0.24 MILES

A small, contemporary, artist-run gallery with a loyal in-the-know following; check out the ever-changing, often abstract shows here, from photography to…

7. Chinatown Millennium Gate


Inaugurated in 2002, Chinatown's towering entrance is the landmark most visitors look for. Stand well back, since the decoration is mostly on its lofty…

8. Canada Place

0.33 MILES

Vancouver's version of the Sydney Opera House – judging by the number of postcards it appears on – this iconic landmark is shaped like sails jutting into…