These fun and exciting things to do in Charlottetown will help you plan an exciting visit to the capital of Prince Edward Island.
Don’t let the diminutive size of Canada’s smallest provincial capital fool you. The city of Charlottetown is among the most exciting places to visit on Prince Edward Island.
This vibrant city is among the most hospitable destinations in the country. And with a mix of vibrant culture, fantastic festivals, artisan shops, and world-class restaurants, there are enough things to do in Charlottetown, PEI, to keep anyone’s visit exciting. And that’s before you even scratch the surface of the city’s biggest draw.
Although Charlottetown is one of the birthplaces of the Canadian Confederation and is packed full of things to do, there’s one thing that draws visitors from around the world to the red, sandy shores of this island city. Charlottetown is the much-beloved home of the literary character Anne of Green Gables.
Charlottetown has been the go-to destination on Canada’s island province since it was founded in 1720. In the three centuries since it was first settled by the French, Charlottetown has gone through several changes.
The city, on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, was crucial to the birth of Canada as a nation. In fact, Charlottetown has been dubbed the “Birthplace of the Confederation” thanks to its hosting of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, which brought together Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in what would eventually draw up the road map for Canada’s independence.
Charlottetown’s history dates back far longer than the existence of Canada. It’s been plundered by pirates, seen its original French settlers deported under British rule, and has risen to become one of the most sought-after destinations in a country that is packed full of magnificent attractions.
The Best Things To Do In Charlottetown, PEI
Charlottetown offers all the excitement of a provincial capital wrapped up with a small-town feel.
The city itself boasts just over 40,000, making it the smallest provincial capital in Canada. But with these fun things to do in Charlottetown, you’ll have no problems filling your time.
Take A Stroll Down Victoria Row
If there’s one neighbourhood that captures the quaint romance of Charlottetown, it’s Victoria Row.
Picture strolling down a quaint, pedestrian-only street lined with vintage buildings filled with cafes, restaurants, and breweries with delightful patios, and artisanal shops, all to the sounds of live music.
Victoria Row is a window-shoppers paradise where free WiFi is available and local festivals often draw throngs of visitors. During the summer in Charlottetown, the roads are blocked off so that the crowds of locals and tourists can enjoy the wide lanes at their leisure.
For a relaxing drink, grab a cup of joe at Receiver Coffee Co. or enjoy some fresh Maritime seafood at Row House Lobster Co.
Explore All Things Anne of Green Gables
It’s no secret that Lucy Maud Montgomery’s adventure-loving underdog, Anne Shirley, is one of the star attractions of Charlottetown. This famous heroine is known around the world, and her story has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to Prince Edward Island since her stories were first published in 1908.
While much of the Anne of Green Gables story takes place on the islands North Shore, there are plenty of Anne of Green Gables sites in Charlottetown to visit.
Anne of Green Gables: The Musical is the world’s longest-running annual musical. This show tells the story of Ann and runs from June to September every year, as it has since 1965. Another great show is Anne and Gilbert, which follows Anne during her university years. This play takes place at The Guild on Queen St.
Wander Along The Victoria Park Boardwalk
The scenic coastline of Charlottetown’s Victoria Park is one of the best places to visit in the city. Locals and visitors alike flock to the picturesque shores for their sunrise strolls, afternoon bike rides, or to splash around in the community pool.
During Charlottetown’s warm summer days, this 37-acre park is the place to be. The long, wooden boardwalk offers a scenic and accessible mobility path for visitors to watch the boats, photograph seals, and dance among the seabirds.
The boardwalk strolls through some of Charlottetown’s historic structures. Along the path, you’ll find remnants of the city’s historic cannons as well as three granite stones used by land surveyors in the city’s youth.
Step Into History at Province House
There is, perhaps, no more important attraction in Charlottetown than Province House. After all, it’s this is one of the key places that helped birth Canada as a nation. It’s here where members of parliament got together to build the road map to the Canadian Confederation.
This building, known as the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, is where the provincial government sits and has since 1847, making it the second-oldest seat of government in the country.
Province House is undergoing a massive renovation that will likely take a few more years to complete, so access is limited to the outside. But you can check out the status of the renovations here to see if it’s completed yet. You can also visit an exhibit on the building at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
Sip Your Way Through The Charlottetown Craft Brewery Scene
Craft beer lovers rejoice! Prince Edward Island and Charlottetown, specifically, are a delight for those chasing hops.
There is a great range of micro-breweries in Charlottetown, and more seem to pop up each year. A few worth noting (although I’m sure I’ll miss a few) are The Gahan House. This Charlottetown brewery serves up a delicious brown ale with a smooth, chocolatey finish. You can enjoy this with a range of unconventional twists on pub grub, such as their Gochujang BBQ wings.
Another great stop for fresh ale is Upstreet Craft Brewing on Allen St. Their Whitenoize IPA is equally hoppy and flavourful. Pair it up with their Sweet Pig pizza topped with Garlic cream base, chilis, smoked mozzarella, bacon, and maple syrup.
If you’re looking to do a little beer tour of the city, don’t miss Red Island Cider and Prince Edward Island Brewing Company as well.
Enjoy Some Time At Peake’s Wharf
Situated on the edge of Charlottetown’s city centre is Peake’s Quay Marina. This colourful section of the city screams Maritime values. Here you can find harbour sailing tours and loads of adorable artisan shops, many with a unique island feel.
During summer evenings, many of the restaurants at Peake’s Wharf feature live music, and the entire region is a perfect escape for the whole family.
Next to Peake’s Wharf you’ll also find Confederation Landing Park, the Prince Edward Island Convention Centre, and the Founders Food Hall & Market, which is a great place to sample a variety of local food and drink. It’s also one of the best places to visit in Charlottetown in the rain, as it’s completely covered.
Get A Glimpse Of St. Dunstan’s Basilica
It’s hard not to notice the towering spires of St. Dunstan’s Basilica. This French Gothic-Revival cathedral in central Charlottetown is one of the coolest things to see in town. The dramatic church, which was built in 1913, is just as impressive inside as it is on the outside.
The church sits on the site of three other Catholic churches that have risen and fallen over the past two centuries. The current one was built with the inspiration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The cathedral features stunning stained-glass windows and hand-carved woodwork throughout it’s interior.
On top of being a great attraction, St. Dunstan’s Basilica is one of the top free things to do in Charlottetown. It contrasts brilliantly with the Great George Hotel, which is directly across the street. This bright and colourful building actually pre-dates the basilica by nearly 70-years!
Shop The Charlottetown Farmers Market
One of my favourite things to do in Charlottetown is to hit the farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets often help visitors to a new city really dial into the pulse of the local culture. Local artisans, vendors selling farm-fresh foods, and plenty of live entertainment and fun are always on-hand.
The farmers market in Charlottetown runs on Sundays during the summer in an open-air atmosphere on Queen St. between Grafton and Dorchester. The street is closed to auto traffic during the opening-hours, so it makes for a great, family-friendly atmosphere.
Watch Some Seals And Learn About History Along The Way
The waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are packed with seals, and many of them make their homes along the rocks and coves near Charlottetown. Peake’s Wharf Tours or Adventures Marine on a wildlife tour of the area that will include seal and bird watching.
Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the city and even get out on the water for some epic coastal views. It’s one of the best things to do in Charlottetown.
Browse Through Confederation Centre Art Gallery
Located adjacent to the Confederation Centre of the Arts is the most prestigious art gallery on Prince Edward Island.
The Charlottetown art gallery features contemporary, classical, international, and even works from local artists. They are displayed across two levels, with both permanent and temporary exhibits showcasing more than 17,000 unique pieces of art.
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.
Enjoy a Beverage On A Cycle-Driven Bar … On The Ocean!
Many major cities now feature cycle-pubs where a pedal-powered saloon roams through the city’s hotspots while guests enjoy a few drinks along the way.
Sol Paddle Tavern takes this fun, social experience one-step further by bringing the pedal power to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Tour the Charlottetown Harbor via a solar and human-powered boat with 10 cycle seats and a lounge. Chose a private 2-hour tour or a sunset tour. Snacks and refreshments are available (and encouraged) along the way.
Now It’s Time to Experience These Things To Do In Charlottetown For Yourself
There are more things to do in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island than meets the eye. From ocean-side walks and fabulous theatres to the great craft breweries and restaurants, you can find something for everyone in this beautiful region of PEI.
Many of these businesses and restaurants are anxious for visitors after a tough year. So let’s support local and make the most of your Charlottetown adventure.
Do you have a favourite attraction or restaurant in Canada? Head over to the We Explore Canada Facebook Community and join the conversation! You’ll find an amazing group of people passionate about travel in Canada who love to share their local secrets.
Kevin Wagar is a founder and editor of We Explore Canada. He has been working in the travel media industry since 2015 when he founded his family travel website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel.
Over the years Kevin has developed a deep love for his home country and aims to showcase the incredible experiences and amazing small businesses found within it.