Take a journey to Charlottetown, the dreamy capital of Prince Edward Island, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation, filled with old Victorian houses, red brick facades, Gothic cathedrals, historic statues and fantastic museums.
It’s also one of the prettiest cities in the world, with charming cobbled streets, pastel waterfront houses and of course, the emerald-green meadows, red soil and beaches that inspired Anne of Green Gables, a century-old classic. Whether you want to check out the unique markets and boutique stores, indulge in the country’s best seafood and ice cream, or soak up the rich heritage, here’s our guide to visiting Charlottetown.
Best things to do in Charlottetown
Discover the real world of Anne of Green Gables
Ever since the beloved classic ‘Anne of Green Gables’ was first published in 1908, readers dreamed of exploring the green pastures, swaying grasses and red beaches that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s stories. You’ll make that dream a reality when you visit Prince Edward Island, the captivating place that our favourite red-headed Anne adored.
There are Anne-related attractions all over the island and you can imagine yourself in Marilla’s kitchen, and walk down Lovers Lane and The Haunted Woods, when you visit Green Gables Heritage Place.
You can also discover where it all began at Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace, visit the Bideford Parsonage Museum where 19-year-old Lucy lived, and take a tour of her Cavendish home. You can also pick up some souvenirs at the Anne of Green Gables Store in Charlottetown.
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Take a step back in time at the historic Shaw’s Hotel
In 1860, Grandfather Shaw opened his inn on the family’s pioneer farm to offer a relaxing country lodge for guests. Four generations later, the Shaw family still runs the property and it’s now a National Historic Site of Canada.
You’ll discover a simpler way of life when we take you here to meet your host, Robbie Shaw, explore the grounds of the historic hotel, and enjoy lunch surrounded by the beauty of Brackley Bay.
Visit the Confederation Centre of the Arts
The incredible arts, culture and heritage centre takes up a whole block with galleries, theatres and exhibitions. It also holds an important place in history as it’s known as the ‘Birthplace in Canada’.
In 1864, delegates from the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec gathered at this site for the Charlottetown Conference to propose a national union. This led to the birth of modern-day Canada and you can see the Province House where the conference took place in the centre’s Upper Foyer.
Over 150 years later, Province House has expanded into a massive complex of art, music and history. See the replica of the Confederation Chamber where the first meeting was held, and explore the fantastic art gallery which showcases Canadian artists including sculptures, paintings and installations.
Be sure to head to the live theatre where you can see Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, which holds the world record for the longest-running production. It’s been performed here every year since 1965 and you can catch the music from June to September. Our tip? Pick up some chocolates from Anne of Green Gables Chocolates next door, to eat as you enjoy the show.
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Beaconsfield Historic House
History buffs can’t miss Beaconsfield Historic House. Dating back to 1877, it was once considered one of the most elegant homes on Prince Edward Island, and today it’s a beautifully preserved piece of Victorian architecture. With 25 rooms and eight fireplaces to explore, this the place to get your Victorian heritage fix.
Government House is another fantastic historic site in Charlottetown. Built in 1834, Government House was the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. You can explore the manicured gardens and winding driveway that lead to the regal white façade and pillars of the house.
St Dunstan’s Basilica
This grand cathedral was originally built in the early 1900s in a High Victorian Gothic Revival style, but it had to be rebuilt in 1919 after a devastating fire. The new design was modelled after St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and today it’s designated as a National Historic Site. It’s a peaceful place to wander around and soak up the history of Charlottetown.
Walk along Peake’s Wharf
Starting at Victoria Park, follow the boardwalk along the waterfront as you pass some of the city’s most beautiful houses. You’ll reach Peake’s Wharf, a historic site where the Fathers of Confederation first came ashore.
There are a number of cannons along the boardwalk which have stood here since the 1800s, while the harbour is lined with pretty pastel-coloured wooden buildings. If you’re visiting in summer, it’s a great place to go shopping, grab dinner and enjoy some live entertainment.
Explore Charlottetown Farmers’ Market
If you’re visiting on a weekend, be sure to check out the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, held every Saturday on Belvedere Avenue. You’ll find all kinds of fresh produce and baked goods, from Thai noodles to Mexican tacos to Dutch poffertjes. You can also find local arts and crafts including jewellery, pottery, soaps and wood carvings.
Stroll down Victoria’s Row
There’s no better place to eat, drink and shop than Victoria’s Row in Charlottetown. This charming cobblestone street is lined with some of the town’s most gorgeous red-brick buildings, along with fantastic markets, shops and cafes. Head up to the rooftop patio bar at Fishies on the Roof for a lovely view over the street.
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What to eat and drink in Charlottetown
This little city isn’t short on big flavours, and you’ll find all sorts of treats including the freshest seafood with local lobsters, mussels, oysters and scallops. Expect to find award-winning craft beers and even their famous potatoes which can be made into vodka!
You also can’t go past the PEI Preserve Company without stopping in, where you’ll find a huge array of locally made preserves, jams, honey, seasonings, sauces, tea, coffee, candy and baked treats.
Of course, no trip to Charlottetown is complete without a stop (or two) at Cow’s Creamery. This iconic creamery was founded in Prince Edward Island and now sells its delicious ice cream all over Canada and the world. It’s been rated as one of the world’s best ice cream spots and even beat out famous brands like Ben & Jerry’s.
You can indulge in all sorts of cow-themed flavours, like Moo Henry, Messie Bessie, Gooey Mooey, and Wowie Cowie, made with vanilla ice cream, toffee, chocolate flakes and crunchy delights. We bet you won’t be able to stop at just one scoop!
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Getting around Charlottetown
You’ll take a cruise across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island and drive by pastoral landscapes and gabled farmhouses to get to Charlottetown.
Once you arrive, you’ll find that most of the city is flat and easy to walk around. You can also rent bicycles and go for a breezy ride, or even try out the island’s reliable public transport with the green T3 Transit buses.
The best time to visit Charlottetown
We love visiting Charlottetown any time from May to October, when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. One of the most popular seasons is the autumn months from September to October, when the leaves go for gold and turn all shades of red, orange and yellow.
Springtime is also beautiful with the spring blooms lighting up the city. Temperatures in autumn average around 12 to 19°C, while May sees highs of 14°C. August is the warmest month with highs of 23°C. Perfect!
You can travel to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island with our new Maritimes Adventure tour, part of our Neat Not Far series of domestic trips. Domestic tours are currently available to those living in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
What are your favourite things to do in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island? Let us know in the comments below!