Visiting Prince Edward Island feels like arriving in a special place, one that’s far away from workday clamor and rich in charm and history.
From feeling the salty spray of the ocean as you walk along luxurious beaches, to experiencing the historical charm you can only find at the Birthplace of Confederation, Prince Edward Island has endless delights awaiting your discovery.
You can drive the length of the Island in a little over three hours, so if you have three days, you can truly immerse yourself in life on this beautiful island. But with so much to see and do, settling on an itinerary can be challenging. We’re here to help. Here are our top three-day adventure guides that will help you experience all that the Island has to offer.
SIGHTSEE ALONG PEI’S BEST COASTAL DRIVES
It can be tempting to get out of the city and head right into the lush landscapes of the Island. But slow down and start by spending some time in the province’s capital, Charlottetown. Settled during the early 1700s, Charlottetown is home to Province House, where the Confederation conference was hosted in 1864. The quaint town is rich in history and breathtaking architecture, making it an enlightening place to start your trip.
Let a handheld GPS take you on a self-guided tour through Charlottetown’s historic gems. Then, stroll through the waterfront town and stop by the Historic Peake’s Wharf, where you can pick up a maritime souvenir to bring home. The Water Prince Corner Shop is the perfect place to go for a ‘warm Island welcome’ and a fresh lobster lunch.
If it’s a Thursday, you’re in for an extra special treat. Check out the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse for an informal open jam session. It’s basically a kitchen party, which offers an authentic taste of maritime nightlife that you can’t get anywhere else.
Next, head out of town and venture along the North Cape Coastal Drive and discover the famous red sand beaches. Test your creative talents by weaving your own basket using traditional Acadian styles and learning about Acadian history. Or, visit a land of Bottle Houses (colourful houses made from recycled bottles).
Interested in a unique accommodation experience? Spend a night in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters at the West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum within the Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. The museum features exhibits that tell the history of lighthouses on the Island – making this a must-stop for anyone curious about the background of Prince Edward Island.
Wake up to the picturesque beaches within Cedar Dunes Provincial Park. Then, continue to explore the North Cape Coastal Drive. This 350 kilometre route along the north west portion of the Island is dotted with unique sights, like the giant potato outside and the Canadian Potato Museum.
Experience the colliding of the tides of the Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence up close, on the very tip of Prince Edward Island! Be sure to watch for birds, seals or whales in the water. Or, visit Lennox Island First Nation and learn quillwork and Mi’kmaq history with a Mi’kmaq artisan.
Round out your trip by driving all the way up to the very tip of Prince Edward Island: North Cape.
You may think that once you’ve seen one lighthouse, you’ve seen them all. But each lighthouse on PEI is distinct and delights in its own way. While you’re in the northwestern tip of the Island, stop into the North Cape Lighthouse. This landmark is surrounded by slabs of red sandstone, perfect for a beachcomber looking for unique rocks or shells to collect.
Then, visit the Tignish Run and Judes Point Harbour Wharf to observe the largest inshore fishing fleet on the Island in action. Watch while different seasonal catches, including lobster, crab and bluefin tuna, are brought in fresh.
Finally, don’t forget to hit famed local seafood diner Our Family Traditions for an authentic taste of PEI cuisine – from lobster to crabcakes and chowder – before heading home.
DISCOVER MARINE WILDLIFE WHILE FISHING PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND’S WATERS
If you aren’t flying into Charlottetown, a truly enjoyable way to arrive on the Island is via ferry from Caribou, N.S. to Wood Islands, P.E.I. The 75-minute ride provides a scenic view of the beautiful Northumberland Strait. With food available to purchase onboard and comfortable seating, taking the ferry is a relaxing way to experience the excitement of breaking away from the mainland.
Nothing makes a meal taste better than knowing it’s your catch of the day. Start your trip by driving down to the shores of Georgetown, where you can beachcomb for soft shelled clams, quahogs, bay scallops, razor clams, mussels and more. Then, enjoy your fresh-boiled catch right on the beach. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
While you’re picnicking oceanside, keep an eye out for sea glass and special stones. Hold onto them as keepsakes or use them to make your own ocean gem jewellery at Gen’s Ocean Gems, a DIY beach jewellery-crafting workshop in the area.
We recommend ending your day with a visit to Greenwich National Park, on the tip of the peninsula that separates St. Peter’s Bay from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Explore the park’s trails, walk the floating boardwalk and visit the sandy dunes.
You haven’t really experienced P.E.I. if you haven’t felt – and tasted - the spray of the Atlantic Ocean on your skin. The best way to experience this salty sea breeze is by going deep-sea fishing. Learn to fish mackerel and haul lobster traps off the east coast of the Island directly from an experienced guide.
Then, rent bikes in Morell and cruise the Confederation Trail to Mount Stewart and Montague. Stop in Cardigan on the way, where you can visit the farmer’s market and the country’s smallest library – a charming square building 3.5 by 3.5 metres in size, lined from floor to ceiling with books. The Confederation Trail spans from one tip of the Island to the other, 435 kilometres in total. It’s an easy gravel trail built on a decade-old abandoned railway line – making it both a smooth and scenic ride.
If you’d prefer to bike alongside the comfort of a guide, check out the Red Rock Adventure Company cycling tour that brings you from Naufrage Harbour to Cow River Beach and learn about Prince Edward Island’s infamous red soil firsthand.
Finish your day by experiencing rural Prince Edward Island as it was in 1895 at Orwell Historic Village. Spend your afternoon working with farmers to harness horses and plow the fields, with blacksmiths to forge your own token from the 1800s and with fiddlers learning to dance a jig.
Spend your morning with an Islander and learn to tong oysters like a local. Enjoy shucking and eating as many as you can on the Boughton River, with red sand beaches and tranquil waters that make for a relaxing dining spot.
Then, take the Central Coastal Drive – a scenic 253-kilometre route that spans the circumference of the center of PEI – toward the north shore. Stop and stretch your legs along the way at the Cape Tryon lighthouse, which was built in 1905 and still stands magnificently on the red sandstone cliffs of Cape Tryon.
The lighthouse is tucked away down a long farmer’s lane, between two fields on a stretch of red sandstone cliff the Island is known for. It’s a secret paradise perfect to watch for birds, whales and maybe a sunset or sunrise. Even Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author of the Anne of Green Gables novels, once wrote fondly about the lighthouse location: “I have seen few more beautiful sights than a sea-sunset off that point.”
EXPLORE PEI’S BEACHES BY BIKE OR FOOT
Begin your day in Victoria-by-the-Sea by experiencing clam digging and kayaking with By-The-Sea-Kayaking. Paddle out to your clamming location, collect your catch and paddle back to shore, where you will cook up a hearty beachside clam chowder. It’s a one-of-a-kind eating experience that’s a must-do when in PEI.
The historic little fishing village is the perfect Island escape. For a relaxing end to your evening, spend some time walking along the sandy beaches, dipping your toes into the region’s warm waters. Then, dip in and out of the town’s quaint shops, where you will find charming local art, antiques and more.
Warmer weather is the perfect time to eat outdoors. Plan a picnic on the pristine sandy shores of Brackley Beach in the Prince Edward Island National Park. Get your basket and hit the beach to watch the waves roll in as you enjoy locally sourced cuisine. The park is home to over 50 kilometres of hiking and cycling trails, so once you’re done with lunch, take your own tour through the park.
The Dunes Studio Gallery & Café is a known hub for local art, furniture and fresh cuisine. Take a stroll in their garden or hunt for the perfect piece of art to take home and remember your trip by.
Nearby is Dalvay-by-the-sea – a quintessential 1800s home-turned-hotel that provides a perfectly charming seaside overnight stay. Round out the day by wandering around the property’s luscious greens, renting a bike from the Inn, or taking a short canoe or kayak trip through Dalvay Lake (where Duke and Duchess William and Kate took part in a Dragon Boat Race upon visiting the Island in 2011).
Spend your last day on the Island experiencing the red cliffs and salt marshes of Prince Edward Island’s south shore with Experience PEI’s passionate naturalist Brenda Penak as your guide. Learn about the natural history of the diverse landscapes while touring around off the beaten path.
Before leaving the Island entirely, head back to Charlottetown to take part in a century-old tradition: place your bets at the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino. Not only does this spot serve an indulgent buffet dinner, but if you book in advance with Experience PEI, you can be an “Owner for a Night”. This experience lets you meet your horse in-person, learn the strategy of horse-racing and collect prizes, making for an unforgettable day and life-long memory.
Photos & video supplied by Tourism PEI; John Sylvester, Yvonne Duivenvoorden, Lans Photography, Carrie Gregory, Heather Ogg, Stephen Harris and iStock.