A small city with a big heart – experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Charlottetown.
1. Eat, drink and shop on Victoria Row
A tree-lined cobblestone street of red-brick Victorian buildings, Victoria Row is one of Charlottetown's prettiest spots. Better known as 'The Row,’ it's a hub of restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and galleries. Browse independent stores for antiques, local artworks, jewellery, knitwear and Anne of Green Gables-themed goodies. Then grab a sunset drink with a bird's eye view on the rooftop patio at Fishies on the Roof. The Row is pedestrianised in summer, with tables spilling out onto the street for sociable evenings of drinks and dinner under the stars.
2. Meet Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery's red-headed heroine is one of PEI's most famous exports. And although you'll need to head to the north shore of the island to visit the real Green Gables, you can also find Anne in Charlottetown. Anne of Green Gables The Musical is the world’s longest-running annual musical. It's been performed at the Confederation Center of the Arts every year since 1965 and runs from June to September. She's not the only Anne in town either – there's also the Anne and Gilbert musical at The Guild, telling the story of her university years.
3. Explore Charlottetown Farmers’ Market
Discover why PEI is known as Canada's food island at Charlottetown's weekly farmers' market, where you can find some of the island's tastiest produce. Each Saturday, over 50 different local producers sell their fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, and freshly baked bread at the market. There are delicious dishes from around the world too, with everything from dim sum to Dutch pancakes. It's also a great place to meet island artists and browse their stalls for paintings, pottery, jewellery, woodcrafts, and other gifts to take home.
4. Visit the Confederation Centre of the Arts
Stretching over a full block of the city, the Confederation Centre of the Arts is Charlottetown's cultural heart. This centre for arts, culture, and heritage hosts the Charlottetown Festival each summer as well as performances in its five theatres throughout the year. But it's also an art gallery featuring works by Canadian artists. There are an immense 17,000 objects in its collections, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photography and video.
5. Walk the Victoria Park boardwalk
On a sunny day, locals flock to Charlottetown's Victoria Park to walk, jog, cycle, or swim in the outdoor pool. Join them to explore this 37-acre park at the southern tip of Charlottetown. It's surrounded by a long, wooden boardwalk that's an easy flat walkway with a great view out into the harbour. Watch the boats come and go and spot seabirds or maybe even a seal swimming past. And don't miss the old cannons and remains of the historic fort at the entrance to the park.
6. Soak up the peace of St Dunstan’s Basilica
The spires of St Dunstan’s Basilica tower over the rooftops of Charlottetown. But the inside of this French Gothic-style cathedral is just as impressive. There have been four Catholic cathedrals on this site over the last 200 years. The current cathedral was built in 1913 using a design based on St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. St Dunstan’s has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada, with ornate stained-glass windows and carved woodwork in its peaceful interiors.
7. Learn about the story of Confederation
For a small city, Charlottetown has played a big role in Canadian history. It's here that the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia first met to form the new nation of Canada back in 1864. The original Confederation Chamber in Province House is closed for renovation for the next few years, but you can see a replica of it in the Upper Foyer at the Confederation Center of the Arts. You might spot some of the 23 founding fathers around the city too, including a statue of the two John Hamilton Grays opposite St Dunstan's Basilica.
8. Eat ice cream at Peake’s Wharf
One hundred and fifty years ago, Canada's founding fathers came ashore at Peake's Wharf. Today this harbour is home to a pastel-painted waterfront promenade with 20 unique shops and restaurants. You can take a boat ride around the bay, or just sit on the water's edge and listen to live music on a summer afternoon with a scoop or two of creamy Cows ice cream. With its cow-pun flavour names and quirky merchandise, Cows Creamery is a PEI institution that's grown to have shops across Canada and as far away as China.
9. Feast on local seafood
With over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, it's no wonder that seafood is such big business in PEI. From silky lobster rolls on the wharf to gourmet multi-course dinners, Charlottetown is brimming with top seafood restaurants where you can get your fix. Try fresh Malpeque oysters with a dash of raspberry vinaigrette at the Claddagh Oyster House, a platter of lobster, mussels, and scallops at the Water Prince Corner Shop, or a shellfish chowder at Sims Corner Steakhouse & Oyster Bar. And if you've still not had enough, visit the island in September when there's a whole festival dedicated to all things shellfish.
10. Cycle the Confederation Trail
Get on your bike and explore some of PEI's unspoilt landscapes. The Confederation Trail is a former railway track which has been converted into a walking and cycling path (or a snowmobile track in winter) which stretches for 435 kilometres from one tip of the island to the other. You can hire a bike in Charlottetown – or an ebike if that sounds too energetic – and cycle as far as you like. Before long you'll find yourself out of the city and out among orchards and farmland with rich red soil and gently rolling green hills.