A coastal city full of art galleries, fresh seafood, and fascinating history, there are a ton of unique things to do in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
I recently visited Prince Edward Island with the precise mission of uncovering the best things to do in PEI and the coziest places to stay, and I was thrilled with what I found. The island as a whole features quaint villages, dramatic red cliffs, sprawling beaches, and poignant Canadian history, and the capital city of Charlottetown acts as the hub of it all.
Downtown Charlottetown is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also walkable, incredibly safe, and friendly.
Let’s dive in!
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16 Best Things to Do in Charlottetown
Go shopping in a historic setting
📍 Map It: 146 Richmond Street, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 1J1 | Hours: 6:30 am – 3 am daily, summer hours
Looking to browse mom and pop shops, gaze at historic buildings, sip drinks on patios, and listen to live music? Then Victoria Row in downtown Charlottetown is the places to be.
This quaint street is pedestrian-only in the summertime, and this is also when the restaurants stretch their seating areas to cover the sidewalks.
The whole area offers free Wi-Fi and the street often features buskers and festivals. Along this strip, I especially love Receiver Coffee Co., Row House Lobster Co., and Northern Watters Knitwear & Tartan Shop.
🛎️ Need a hotel? The Holman Grand Hotel is centrally located, luxurious, and has amenities for the whole family.
Victoria Park Boardwalk
Take a stroll by the sea
📍 Map It: Victoria Park Boardwalk | Hours: Always Open
Running from the Beaconsfield Historic House to West Street, taking a stroll along the 1.2km (0.74 mile) Victoria Park Boardwalk is not to be missed in Charlottetown.
Not only is this an excellent way to stretch your legs and take in the idyllic harbor views, but it’s also the path to Victoria Park, Government House National Historic Site, and the Prince Edward Battery.
Also along the boardwalk, you’ll find a tennis court, splash pad, kids play area, dock, lighthouse, and more. Plus, if you go at sunset, chances are you’ll be greeted with a beautifully-colored sky over the water.
Anne of Green Gables Store
Indulge in everything Anne
📍 Map It: Queen Street | Phone: +1-800-665-2663| Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens April 2022 | 👉 Browse Anne of Green Gables Tours from Charlottetown
Anne of Green Gables fan? Then you’re in luck! Prince Edward Island was the setting for the beloved by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the island is home to prominent Anne sites (including a museum and farmhouse in Cavendish).
Though not a site referenced in the novels, the Anne of Green Gables store in Charlottetown’s core is a great place to get a slice of everything Anne.
The store features all kinds of souvenirs, most notably dolls, posters, and shelves full of candy. I hope you have a sweet tooth!
👉 Note: The Victoria Row location is seasonally closed until April 2022, at which time it will open again in a new location on Queen Street.
St. Dunstan’s Basilica
Explore Charlottetown’s regal Cathedral
One of Prince Edward Island’s most distinguished sites, St. Dunstan’s Basilica was built in 1916 and is a Roman Catholic Cathedral noted by its spires and gothic revival architecture.
Modeled after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the structure as we see it today is actually the fourth church built on the property. After the most recent one was destroyed by a fire in 1913, the church was rebuilt to be one of the tallest buildings in the city.
Located on Great George Street, this is one of the most elegant structures in eastern Canada and is worth a stop to check out the art and architecture.
The exterior is what will grab you, but the interior is just as stunning with stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and a pipe organ.
Sip on local brews
📍 Map The Gahan House: 126 Sydney St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1G5 | Phone: +1-902-626-2337 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am – 12 am Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 am – 10 pm Sunday, 11:30 am – 11 pm Monday
For any craft beer lovers in the house, Prince Edward Island has a few notable microbreweries that will level your trip up a notch.
In particular, Charlottetown lays claim to Upstreet Craft Brewing, The Gahan House, Red Island Cider, and Prince Edward Island Brewing Company.
Each of these locations has its own taproom and great selections, although I’d have to give it to The Gahan House for ambiance — they regularly feature live music in a warm pub-style setting.
I found their 1772 India Pale Ale to be especially delicious.
Discover Charlottetown’s wharf
Comprised of an area along Charlottetown’s harborfront with shops, restaurants, boat docking, live music, and a boardwalk, spending an afternoon at Peake’s Wharf is fun for the whole family.
Here you’ll find Confederation Landing park, Peake’s Quay Marina, Prince Edward Island Convention Centre, harbor sailing tours, and a ton of coastal-themed artisan shops and restaurants.
I also found that on nice evenings, local musicians would come out to play in this area. It’s worth grabbing a drink and sticking around for.
Hike or bike across Prince Edward Island
At 449 kilometers, the Confederation Trail is Prince Edward Island’s longest hiking trail. Stretching from Tignish in the west and Elmira in the east, this trail runs along an old railway track and is popular with athletic types who want to travel coast to coast at their own pace.
However, just because the trail is long doesn’t mean your hike has to be. The trail has a branch running straight into Charlottetown (beginning at the Joseph A. Ghiz Memorial Park) and is easily accessible.
Though this branch runs 80km to Murray Harbour, feel free to make it an out-and-back trip at whatever length you’re comfortable — it makes a great adventure on a nice day!
👉 Pro tip: If you plan on taking a Prince Edward Island road trip, check rates with Discover Cars. Not only will they compare all the top options in your destination, but they’ll also get you the best bang for your buck.
Charlottetown Farmers Market
Shop for fresh produce & souvenirs
Featuring over sixty vendors every week, visiting the Charlottetown Farmers Market is a great way to try fresh seasonal food, meet some local Prince Edward Island residents, and learn all about island life.
Though you probably won’t purchase too much local produce on a short trip to the city, the market does feature ready-made food vendors, pottery, knitting, fine art, and more.
It’s the perfect place to get that one-of-a-kind Prince Edward Island souvenir.
👉 Read Next: The Top Places to Go in Prince Edward Island
Food & Drink
A Prince Edward Island ice cream staple
Founded in Cavendish in 1983, Cows Creamery is a chain of ice cream parlors that have historically been named both Canada’s and the world’s best ice cream by various publications.
A bold statement, Cows Creamery stands by the title and you’ll find “World’s best” printed on their packaging — which also includes products like cheese, butter, sweet & salty chips, and popcorn.
There are two Cows locations in Charlottetown itself, but it’s the one at the marina that you’ll be able to take a free tour to see how the products are made.
Water Prince Corner Shop
An understated eatery with renowned dishes
Looking to find the best lobster roll in Prince Edward Island? Then I have to recommend Water Prince Corner Shop.
A casual place located on Water Street, the shop is a family-run business that has provided fresh seafood to Charlottetown residents for over 30 years.
Though their lobster rolls have been featured in TV specials and magazines, they’re also known for their scallop burgers, seafood chowder, and potato salad.
Slaymaker & Nichols Gastro House
Upscale boutique hotel & pub
📍 Map It: 82 Fitzroy St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1R7| Phone: +1-902-629-3411 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 9 pm Monday to Wednesday, 11 am – 11 pm Thursday and Friday, 9 am – 11 pm Saturday, 9 am – 9 pm Sunday
Comprising a three-room boutique inn and a famed gastropub, Slaymaker & Nichols is an elegant spot that dates back over 150 years to Canada’s confederation days.
The restaurant lends itself to be a great gathering place, with shareable gourmet dishes and an extensive old-fashioned cocktail menu as cornerstone features. The establishment also has a great brunch menu, so don’t feel limited to making your visit an evening affair.
Just do remember to make reservations — this is arguably the most famous restaurant in town, and it does tend to book up.
📚 Related Reading: 13 Canada Road Trips You Should Really Drive At Least Once
Founders Food Hall & Market
Sample local food vendors
One visit to Charlottetown’s Founders Food Hall & Market on Prince Street and you’ll understand why Prince Edward Island is known as Canada’s food island.
Home to over a dozen vendors, you’ll find everything in the market from vegan cafes to hot sauces, wood-fired pizza, sea glass jewelry, and liquor.
The market is set in a beautiful brick building by the water, and they even have a full event calendar of live music and holiday specials.
Museums & Culture
Beaconsfield Historic House
A Victorian jewel
📍 Map It: 2 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1M6 | Phone: +1-902-368-6603 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 4 pm Tuesday through Friday, Check seasonal hours | Entrance: Seniors $5.00, Adult $6.00, Student $5.00, Family: $15.00
Constructed in 1877 for wealthy shipbuilder James Peak and his wife Edith, Beaconsfield Historic House was built to be one of downtown Charlottetown’s most distinguished properties.
The house changed hands a few times over the years, but today has been transformed into a museum that offers tours, concerts, and even educational lectures.
If you’re interested in Charlottetown’s fascinating history, then it’s worth stopping in for a tour and checking out the pristine Victorian architecture.
📚 Related Reading: Looking for more awesome places to visit in Canada? Check out my 15 top Canadian destinations!
Confederation Centre of the Arts
Catch a unique performance
Located in downtown Charlottetown, The Confederation Centre of the Arts is Prince Edward Island’s primary hub of concerts, theatre, and productions of all kinds.
In particular, this is where you’ll find the island’s annual Anne of Green Gables musical, spooky ghost-themed walking tours, a life-sized replica of the Confederation Chamber (where Canada’s founding members met during the Charlottetown Conference), and the home of the Confederation players.
The latter item is an 1800s-costume-clad troupe that leads visitors on the Great George Heritage Walk – a historical tour that’ll give you a glimpse into what Charlottetown was like during the confederation of Canada.
👉 Love History? Downtown Charlottetown has the perfect blend of historical sites and walkability, and this Charlottetown walking tour will take you to all the top spots.
Confederation Centre Art Gallery
View local and international art
📍 Map It: 145 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1 | Phone: +1-800-565-0278 | Website | Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 PM, Closed Monday and Tuesday| Entrance: Donation-based
Tacked on to the Confederation Centre of the Arts is one of Charlottetown’s most prominent art galleries featuring contemporary, classical, local, and international works.
The Confederation Centre Art Gallery consists of two levels of permanent displays and temporary exhibits and is home to more than 17,000 items of artistic significance.
Obviously, this is a must-stop for art lovers, but I’d recommend it for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of Canadiana and who wants to learn more about Prince Edward Island’s history as a whole.
Allot at least an hour to peruse the gallery, and click here to view current exhibitions.
📚 Related Reading: The Best Time to Visit Canada [According to a Local!]
Province House National Historic Site
Canada’s confederation birthplace
Built in the 1840’s, Province House is one of the most historical attractions in Charlottetown as it was the site of the Confederation Conference of 1864 — the first meeting regarding Canadian confederation.
In addition to it being historically relevant, Province House is an example of Neoclassical architecture and is used today as Prince Edward Island’s legislative building.
You’ll find the house at the end of the Great George Street Historic District, among other notable historic buildings such as St. Dunstan’s Basilica.
👉 Want More Activities in PEI? Be sure to check out my full list of the best things to do in Prince Edward Island!
That’s it for my 16 best things to do in Charlottetown, PEI! From Anne of Green Gables to learning all about island life, there are endless fun things to do in this unique corner of the world.
For more information about travel in Canada, check out my top 16 Canada travel tips.
Have fun in Charlottetown!