Aerial view of houses in Prince Edward Island, and roads where you can go driving in PEI

Driving in Prince Edward Island in 2022 (Practical Guide)

If you’re planning an epic trip to eastern Canada and are wondering about driving in PEI, then I’m here to help.

Prince Edward Island is a gorgeous Canadian province filled with beaches, lighthouses, towns, incredible views, and tons of fun things to do. But getting to the best spots during your PEI itinerary does require having your own set of wheels, and there are some things you should know before you go.

As a Canadian who has explored nooks and crannies of Prince Edward Island by car, I know a thing or two about driving in Canada and on the island. I’m here to spill everything you need to know about getting behind the wheel!

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Driving Laws and Rules in Prince Edward Island

View of a colorful houses in Charlottetown
Colorful streets in downtown Charlottetown

Whether you’re coming from across the ocean, another Canadian province, or the United States, there are some idiosyncrasies to driving and highway safety in PEI:

  • 🛣️ The highways are well maintained and wide, although driving in lesser-visited places can mean gravel backroads and less-than ideal conditions.
  • ❄️ Driving in PEI during winter means icy and snowy conditions. Winter tires are necessary.
  • 🧍 All independent drivers must be 16 years of age or older.
  • 👋🏻 Local drivers are generally laid back, although faster-paced on major highway routes. 
  • 🚗 Prince Edward Islanders (and all Canadians) drive on the right hand side of the road and pass on the left.
  • Highway speeds are 80km/h (50m/h) unless otherwise posted, residential speeds are 50km/h (31m/h) unless otherwise posted.
  • 📵 Driving while using a cell phone is illegal in PEI. Unless it’s a hands-free device, this includes calling, texting, emailing, etc.
  • 🍺 License suspensions start when a driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.05.
  • 🚦 Right turns on red lights are allowed unless otherwise posted.
  • 🚌 Drivers going either direction must stop for school buses when the red lights are flashing.
  • 🚶 Pedestrians have the right of way whether at marked or unmarked intersections.
  • 🚥 Entering an intersection with a flashing amber light means drivers must proceed with caution and yield to pedestrians.

📚 Related Reading: 5 Day Prince Edward Island Itinerary Planner

PEI License Requirements

The author admiring the colorful sky in Greenwich PEI National Park
Driving to this spot in Prince Edward Island National Park requires a car

Driving in Prince Edward Island means having proof of a valid drivers license and car insurance. Before you travel, search whether Canada requires an international driving permit for your home country. 

As a general rule, travelers coming from the USA do not need an international driving permit, and can use their home state’s license.

Where to Rent a Car in Prince Edward Island

The author walking by the beach in Basin Head Beach
Rent a car before heading to Singing Sands Beach (Basin Head) on the Points East Coastal Drive

Renting a car in Prince Edward Island is easily done online, and there are multiple options for doing so in Charlottetown. However, there is a car rental shortage in Prince Edward Island (as in many places around the world) at the moment, so you should book as far in advance as possible and confirm with the company via phone.

Don’t assume you can show up in Prince Edward Island and get a car on the spot.

The best way to rent a car in Prince Edward Island is through RentalCars. Their system looks at all the car rental companies and stacks up the rates and options. This will give you a full view of the car rental landscape before you book. 

👉 Pro Tip: Unless you have extra cash to wave around, don’t rent a car from the airport. Generally speaking, car rentals are much cheaper from other locations.

Car Insurance Rules in PEI

Aerial view of the author and Cape Bear Lighthouse in Prince Edward Island Canada
The roads to Cape Bear Lighthouse are somewhat twisty and narrow

Car insurance is required for operating a vehicle in Prince Edward Island. The minimum coverage required for third-party insurance is $200,000 CAD.

If you own a car in the USA or Canada, then it’s likely your existing insurance will cover this. Of course, it’s recommended to review your policy to make sure.

When renting a car through RentalCars, you’ll also have the option to purchase additional Personal Accident Insurance for a daily fee. This is a good idea unless you’re already covered through another Canadian insurance policy or credit card.

👉 Looking for an easy insurance option? World Nomads is a trusted insurance provider – whether you’re renting a car or want to protect your finances in case of injury. I’ve used them on plenty of international trips.

5 Tips for Driving in Prince Edward Island

Tip #1 – Secure Your Rental Far in Advance

Aerial view of the author on the beach with the West Point Lighthouse
West Point Lighthouse on the North Cape Coastal Drive

As mentioned previously, there is currently a car rental shortage in many areas of the world, including Prince Edward Island. Especially if you travel during high season (summer), make sure you secure your rental booking through RentalCars far in advance.

Though the island has a couple of bus routes and tour providers, there’s no way you’ll be able to see the best PEI beaches or places to visit without a car.

Tip #2 – Prepare to Pay a Toll if You Drive to the Island

If you plan on driving to PEI from New Brunswick, then you’ll have to cross the Confederation bridge. This bridge has is a toll route, which you can pay on the spot with a credit card, interac, or cash.

Tip #3 – Don’t Underestimate Winter Conditions

To be frank, I don’t recommend planning your trip to Prince Edward Island in the winter. As a tourist, you’ll have a way better time picking a PEI season when all the attractions, hotels, and beaches are open.

However, if driving in PEI during winter is unavoidable, then prepare for icy and snowy conditions. You’ll need winter tires and an abundance of caution.

Tip #4 – Drive the Predetermined Road Trips

Due to the amazing scenery, lighthouses, beaches, and more, Prince Edward Island is an awesome road trip destination. 

While there, I recommend researching the best road trips to take including the Points East Coastal Drive, The Argyle Shore, North Cape Coastal Drive, Central Coastal Drive (Green Gables Shore), and more.

Driving these routes will give you easy access to the best activities on PEI.

Tip #5 – Know the Charlottetown Parking Situation

View of different building shops in Charlottetown
Victoria Row in Downtown Charlottetown

Most places in PEI offer free parking, including small towns and residential areas of Charlottetown. However, unless you find a Charlottetown hotel that offers a free stall, chances are you may have to shell out a few bucks. 

There is a fee for parking in downtown Charlottetown if staying for longer than 1 hour during the week. There are a few parkades and other spots to park, but if you have a stacked Charlottetown itinerary (especially if you’re parking overnight), then it’s something to be aware of. 

That said, parking in parkades or on the street is completely free on weekends.

FAQs About Driving in PEI

Do you need a car in Prince Edward Island?

You’ll need a car in Prince Edward Island to see the best sites that the province has to offer. This includes beaches, lighthouses, red cliffs, artisan studios, camping spots, towns, and more.

How long does it take to drive around Prince Edward Island?

From tip-to-tip without stopping, it will take you roughly 3 hours to drive around PEI. However, there is so much to see if you take your time and plan out different routes in advance.

What is the highest speed limit in PEI?

The highest speed limit in PEI is 90km/h (56miles/h), and is found on major highways. 

What side of the road does Prince Edward Island drive on?

Drivers in Prince Edward Island drive on the right side of the road and pass on the left.

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Thanks for reading my guide to driving in PEI! Hitting the road is really the best way to check out the province. Up next, check out my guide to where to stay in Prince Edward Island!

Have a blast driving in Prince Edward Island!

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