At just 5,180 square kilometres, slightly larger than Delaware, Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province.
It’s easy to get to this compact crescent-shaped island off Canada’s east coast: fly, drive the 12.9-kilometre Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, or take a boat ride with Northumberland Ferries from Nova Scotia. Soon you’ll be cruising roads through pastoral landscapes and alongside sandstone cliffs and windswept beaches. And wherever you explore, you’re never more than 16 kilometres from the ocean. That also means sumptuous seafood (lobster, oysters, clams) which has helped earn it the nickname “Canada’s Food Island.”
What does this drive look like?
After exploring Charlottetown’s historic sites, art galleries, and culinary hotspots, you’ll drive west to North Cape, getting a taste of Acadian culture and Island cuisine.
During the Points East route of the island you’ll settle into the slow place of small town life, wiling away hours at some of the area’s 50 beaches, iconic lighthouses, and touring the province’s first artisan distillery.
Double back to Charlottetown or Summerside to start the Central Coast driving route. In the north, improve your swing at one of the 10 golf courses and take in everything Anne of Green Gables. Then drive south to see the site of Prince Edward Island’s first permanent European settlement.
Each of these driving itineraries only take a few hours, so use them as a starting point. Customize your own tour, whether you want to spend all your time in the great outdoors or get a deeper understanding of PEI’s colourful history and heritage.
Top Notch Lobster Tours, Charlottetown
Top Notch Lobster Tours, Charlottetown
Day 1: Charlottetown
Your starting point
Must-stops along the way
Charlottetown is Prince Edward Island’s urban hub, situated where three rivers spill into its namesake harbour. The province’s capital and largest city has a thriving arts community, a lively music scene, and cool shops packed with local crafts. It’s an ideal base to learn about the province’s history, including its Irish and Scottish roots and its red-haired resident, Anne of Green Gables.
Confederation Centre Art Gallery: Digital media meets traditional art at this two-level gallery dedicated to developing Canadian visual arts that reflect Canada’s evolving identity. More than 20 exhibitions are presented annually and the gallery’s permanent collection boasts 16,500 items, including sculptures in the public outdoor plaza. When you’re ready for a rest, stop in at the on-site Mavor’s Restaurant for a bite to eat or glass of wine.
Top Notch Lobster Tours: If you’ve ever wondered what’s it’s like to be a lobster fisher for a day, you’ll enjoy this hands-on tour aboard a 13.7-metre fishing boat. Join Captain Mark (he’s from a four-generation lobster-fishing family) to learn things like how to haul a lobster trap. The highlight? Freshly caught lobster for dinner on board.
Old Triangle Irish Alehouse: The trio of Irish men who started this pub were inspired by their home country’s concept of the public as a gathering place. Venture into the Tigh an Cheoil, or “house of music” to see live acts (check the gig calendar to find out who’s performing) and sip a pint of its signature Old Triangle Irish Red Ale. Hungry? Chow down on traditional Irish dishes such as Connemara Shepherd’s pie or salt cod and haddock fish cakes served with homemade slaw and baked beans.
Seafood, seafood, seafood. Now is the time to fill up on freshly caught lobster, clams, crab, mussels, and more at top-notch restaurants and simple cafes, many with outstanding views.
Water Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound: Follow the locals inside an unassuming 1850s-era blue building that was once a grocery store and you’ll find a temple to seafood. For more than 25 years this restaurant has been serving simple, yet top-notch fare. On the menu are classics such as seafood chowder, fish and chips, and lobster rolls. You can also buy fresh local lobster here and have it shipped home.
Terre Rouge: French for “red earth,” this bistro is dedicated to serving farm-to-table island cuisine, much of it organic. Comfort food is created with a refined touch, like tempura mushroom tacos topped with cayenne and cumin crème fraîche, fried cod tongues with a side of house-made pickles, and the vegan-friendly lentil-beet burger.
Lobster on the Wharf: For a taste of PEI’s freshest Malpeque oysters, Island mussels, steamer clams, and lobster, head to this Prince Street restaurant and seafood shop overlooking the water. Can’t decide what to try? Build your own platter: choose from an array of seafood and “land” items, like baby back ribs and sirloin steak. This casual, family-friendly spot has a children’s menu too, plus plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free choices.
End your day
Charlottetown is packed with so much personality it requires at least a full day (or more) to truly get a feel for this delightful Maritime city. Be sure to go to the Hopyard for craft beer made from independent breweries before spending the night in your heritage B&B or hotel.
Elmwood Heritage Inn: This five-star B&B traces its lineage to 1889 when it was built for the grandson of the founder of the Cunard British steamship line. Surrounded by its namesake elms, the inn has eight rooms and suites, each with its own charm. The Cunard suite, for instance, features an antique mahogany burl sleigh bed.
The Great George: Primely positioned in the city’s National Historic District, this boutique hotel is all about unique and understated elegance. Its 54 rooms (ranging from condos and romantic hideaways to classic guest rooms and deluxe suites) are located among the property’s 17 heritage buildings.
Shipwright Inn: Bed down in one of the nine nautically-inspired suites (with names such as the Crow’s Nest or Captain’s Quarters) at this 1865 five-star B&B and you’ll be surrounded by reminders of Charlottetown’s shipbuilding heritage. Some of the Victorian rooms have double-sided fireplaces and clawfoot tubs and access to the inn’s verandahs and balconies.