A guide to Charlottetown, PEI for every type of traveller

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, CanadaFresh seafood, stately homes, seaside shops and friendly folks are among the charms of Charlottetown, the picturesque capital of Prince Edward Island. Coupled with the fact that the city is the birthplace of the country’s confederation, it’s no wonder many people make the trip out to the spot on Canada’s east coast—particularly during the summer months.

With a surprising amount of attractions in the small, walkable city there’s plenty to please everyone, whether you peg yourself as a foodie, hipster or even a fashionista. Here are some of the top picks for what to do in Charlottetown, for every type of traveller.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

You’ve gotta admit, this statue along the waterfront is a pretty awesome!

The History Buff

Save for the nation’s capital, Charlottetown is perhaps one of the most important places in Canada when it comes to tracing the country’s roots, making it a mecca for history buffs. The city plays up its past by employing guides dressed in period costumes, and it’s not uncommon to see a croquet match break out in a park near the Confederation Centre just as it would have in the old days.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Fathers of Confederation met at Province House National Historic Site in 1864, and one century later the surrounding area was expanded with the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Today, the massive sandstone complex showcases Canada’s heritage along with the likes of an art gallery, walking tours and live theatre including Anne of Green Gables- The Musical which has a Guinness World Record for the longest running production.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Towering St. Dustan’s Basilica sits along nearby Great George Street, and its grand steeples are pretty great themselves. The cathedral was built in the early 1900s in the High Victorian Gothic Revival style, yet sadly had to be rebuilt just a few years later following a devastating fire.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Closer to the waterfront are two of Charlottetown’s most historic landmarks. The first is Beaconsfield Historic House, which dates back to 1877 and was once considered one of PEI’s most elegant homes (and still is, in this writer’s opinion). Also built in the Victorian style, it boasts 25 rooms and eight fireplaces, and hosts tours and special events year-round.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The other spot of note is the Government House, also known as Fanningbank, which was built in 1834 as the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI. Its winding driveway, grand white façade framed by pillars and manicured gardens are reminiscent of the historic estates found in America’s deep south, and visitors are welcome to explore the grounds.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The last stop for history buffs is found by following the pathway from Fanningbank along the Victoria Park boardwalk. There, overlooking the water, are a number of cannons which have stood guard since the 1800s. Prince Edward Battery overlooks the harbour, and visitors are welcome to wander between them or peer through a telescope that brings other notable spots around the island such as Port-la-Joye Fort Amherst National Historic Site into focus.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Foodie

With miles of farmland and coastlines, it’s no wonder Prince Edward Island’s culinary scene is thriving, particularly in Charlottetown. Fresh seafood is never hard to find, and farm to table cuisine is the rule rather than the exception. Many of the city’s top restaurants are found along Victoria Row which is pedestrian-only during the summer, and diners can usually score a seat on the patio at spots like Fishbones Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill or the Row House Lobster Co.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Victoria Row in Charlottetown

Other spots worth checking out around town include Terre Rouge Bistro Marche where ingredients are sourced from small local producers, and Local 343 which offers a bistro-style menu including to-go items. And while PEI isn’t as well-known for its beef as say, Alberta, you’d never know it after devouring a burger from local favourite BOOMburger. Their made-to-order patties are served up with a side of fresh-cut PEI fries and topped with butter and cheese from COWS Creamery—which just so happens to be across the street.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

The perfect spot to satisfy a sweet tooth, COWS Creamery was founded in PEI decades ago and has since expanded to other locations across Canada. Rated as one of the world’s best ice cream spots even beating out heavy-hitters like Vermont’s Ben & Jerry’s, the creamery christens its flavours with creative cow monikers like Moo Henry, Gooey Mooey and Messie Bessie.

The Hipster

Thanks to streets lined with independent shops and a growing craft beer scene, hipsters will find themselves at home in Charlottetown. Queen Street in the heart of downtown is home to a number of used book stores worth checking out, while City Cinema located just one block over on King Street has been screening films since 1993. The 70 seat theatre showcases productions that aren’t found in mainstream cinemas, and has also partnered with the Toronto International Film Festival to bring more films in house.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Drinks at The Gahan House

For a night out, hipsters will want to start off by sampling local brews at spots like Upstreet Craft Brewing, or The Gahan House which offers brewery tours and serves up beer from the Prince Edward Island Brewing Co. made with fresh PEI water, malted barley, hops and yeast. Finish off the night at The Alley, a cool bowling alley that also has a restaurant and serves up cocktails like Moscow mules, bourbon sours and of course an old fashioned.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Gahan House

The Shopper

While Charlottetown will never compete with the likes of Rodeo Drive, there are more than enough shops around town to keep fashionistas occupied. Confederation Court Mall is in the heart of downtown, and has dozens of stores and boutiques offering everything from fashion, giftware and home decor as well as typical offerings like a salon and food court.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Inside Confederation Court Mall

The mall just so happens to be on Queen Street which also has a number of independently owned shops, and tourist favourites like the Anne of Green Gables Store which has more Anne-related merchandise than you ever knew existed. Shoppers will want to tuck into Victoria Row for nautical-themed gift shops, or time their visit to check out one of the city’s farmer’s markets.

The Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday along Belvedere Avenue, and features fresh produce, baked goods and art displays. The market is also open on select Wednesdays from June through October. Meantime, the Downtown Farmers’ Market pops-up on Queen Street between Grafton and King Streets, running Sundays from early July to late September. Boasting locally grown produce, food vendors, artisans and musical performances, shoppers will want to come with an empty stomach and a full wallet!

Canada-PEI-Charlottetown-anne-of-green-gables-store

About a 10 minute drive from downtown to where the Trans-Canada Highway begins along the North River Causeway, there’s also an outlet mall selling the likes of athletic gear and homewares, as well as PEI favourites like Anne of Green Gables Chocolate, the COWS Creamery and BOOMburger.

The Athlete

With 1,100 kilometres of coastline, a bike path that links much of the province and no shortage of open water to explore, Prince Edward Island is a great spot for outdoor, athletic types. In Charlottetown, it’s easy to rent a bicycle and hit the trails in and around town, or go for a run along the Victoria Park boardwalk which traces the waterfront.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Victoria Park boardwalk

Hitting the water is a great way to get some exercise while still enjoying the sights, and kayak and canoe rentals are available from Peake’s Wharf through companies like Paddles. Those who prefer an afternoon on the links are in the right place, as Prince Edward Island is famous for its scenic golf courses with many located just a short drive from the city. There are also options right in Charlottetown, including the Belvedere Golf Club and All About Golf in Confederation Mall which has an indoor putting green.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Charlottetown’s harbour

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

10 quintessential Prince Edward Island experiences you must try

The best beaches on Prince Edward Island’s north shore

Tracing the roots of Anne of Green Gables in Prince Edward Island 

13 stunning spots on Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail worth stopping for 

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Top sights for every traveller in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Globe Guide explored Charlottetown in collaboration with Tourism Prince Edward Island. As always, hosts have no influence on articles.

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18 Responses

  1. Cameron says:

    Stunning photos. PEI looks like it would make a great weekend spot. Would love to enjoy some fresh seafood on a summers day, pair that with an indie film and it would be perfect for me.

  2. Kallsy Page says:

    Wow! Love all of the historical buildings and their stories. Looks like the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing and learning. My personal favorite was that gorgeous cathedral!

  3. Sarah Ricks says:

    History, food, and shopping – what a treat on all fronts. Your photos are wonderful, and the quality of light looks clear and clean. So beautiful.

  4. Cristina says:

    What a charming place! Loved the pictures and the way you described it. I would love to go one day. In fact, I would love to move to Canada :). Thanks for the inspo.
    Cristina

  5. Natalia says:

    It looks like an interesting destination to visit. I love the architecture and the water walk. Great pictures, Tamara. Thank you for sharing

  6. Great shots and activities. Never been there but I’ve seen a few of those locations in movies and TV shows, I think! Would love to visit one day.

  7. Jenna says:

    Charlottetown looks like an adorable town! I’d love to check out the history and the food there. The Anne of Green Gables musical would be great to see as well! Gorgeous photos!

  8. What a beautiful place! As a self-confessed history nerd I love historic places like Charlottetown, especially when the heritage is so well preserved you feel like you have gone back in time when you explore it. The dress code back then was just so lovely and elegant. I’m going to look into this a little more I’m very much intrigued 😉

  9. Mags says:

    Charlottetown looks adorable. Until know the only thing I knew about PEI is that they have great mussels (which is enough of a reason to visit on it’s own!)

  10. Marlies says:

    Oh man! I wish I had discovered your blog before I went to PEI last summer. Apparently I missed a couple things in Charlottetown, dammit.
    We didn’t had that much time. I think this means I have to go back some day 😉

  1. April 2, 2017

    […] only a 20 minute drive from Charlottetown, it’s no wonder Brackley Beach is a favourite with the locals. Boasting sparkling golden sand […]

  2. May 31, 2017

    […] months. Easily navigable, it’s easy to explore the whole island by car or plant yourself in the capital of Charlottetown and take day trips from there. With untouched beaches, scenic golf courses, fresh seafood and […]

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