Plan your Prince Edward Island vacation | Top attractions, hotels, and areas

by W. Andrew Powell
Prince Edward Island

From red, sandy beaches, to fresh seafood, fun festivals, and beautiful scenery, Prince Edward Island is an incredible vacation destination.

The island is inviting, unique, and like nowhere else, from Charlottetown to Green Gables Shore, Summerside, the North Cape Coastal Drive, and the eastern coastline.

Read on for my full guide on why PEI is so charming, the best time to visit, getting around, and some of my favourite things to do on the island.

About Prince Edward Island

Argyle Shore Provincial Park
Argyle Shore

PEI is located in Canada’s east coast, in the Maritimes, east of New Brunswick and north of Nova Scotia. The small island is easy to get to by flights into Charlottetown, the capital city, driving across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, or by ferry from Nova Scotia.

The beautiful island has a number of small towns, and you can drive from the west side to the east in a little over 2 hours.

The local currency is Canadian dollars, you can dine on lots of seafood, especially during the summer months and early fall, and there are numerous inns, B&Bs, hotels, and cottages you can rent.

The people are friendly and inviting, the summer is warm with lots of ocean breezes, and there are lots of beaches to enjoy, hiking trails, water sports, and much more.

When to travel

Summerside, PEI
Summerside, PEI

Summer and early fall are the perfect time to visit Prince Edward Island, and that’s when most businesses and restaurants are open all week long. During the summer you can also find many flights to and from PEI, making it easy to get there, and temperatures are between 20 and 34 degrees Celsius (that’s 70 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit for our U.S. friends).

July and August are the peak travel season in PEI, so I highly recommend booking your accommodations as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

September and early October are also wonderful times to visit, with a number of fall festivals, and you can also consider June. During these months, it’s best to call ahead or check business websites to make sure that they are open, as some places are focused on summer hours, and weekends.

PEI does offer a range of winter activities, too, so if you love cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, there’s still a lot to do.

Getting there and getting around

The Great George Hotel, Charlottetown
The Great George Hotel, Charlottetown

Flying into PEI is the easiest way to start your vacation. Porter, Air Canada, Flair, and Westjet all fly into Charlottetown, with connections from major airports like Toronto Pearson, Halifax Stanfield, and Montréal Trudeau airports. From the Charlottetown airport you can rent a car and drive across the island within 30-60 minutes.

Road trips are also a great option for exploring the Maritimes, and getting to PEI with your own vehicle, or a rental from another nearby airport like Moncton, in New Brunswick, Halifax, in Nova Scotia, or even Maine. As one example, Bangor, Maine is a 6 hour drive from Charlottetown.

Taking the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, the drive from Moncton is just over 2 hours, and it only takes 10 minutes to drive across the bridge. Crossing from New Brunswick to PEI is free via the bridge, however it’s important to note that there is a toll when you drive back from PEI to New Brunswick. In 2024, the toll is $50.25 Canadian for a car, $20 for motorcycles, and $9.50 for cyclists.

What to do in PEI and top attractions

Spinnakers' Landing, Summerside
Spinnakers’ Landing, Summerside

PEI may be a small island, but there is so much to do across the province. It’s a summer paradise for outdoor lovers, foodies, music fans, and anyone looking for the perfect beach.

Starting in Charlottetown, since many people arrive in the capital city, there’s a rich arts and culture scene, including musicals and plays at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, the Harbourfront Theatre, and other small venues. One favourite is Anne & Gilbert, The Musical, running from May 15 to October 15, 2024. And you can explore art at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, or learn from the Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors with Rhythms and Stories of the Red Earth.

The city has a rich history, including walking tours, or learning about the history of Canada’s Confederation and how Charlottetown played a big part in that story. And there are so many great places to eat, including one of my favourites, Slaymaker & Nichols Gastro House.

Coastal drives are a wonderful way to explore the island, and I highly recommend the North Cape Coastal Drive, but the Points East Coastal Drive is very popular for beaches, iconic views, or maybe a round or two of golf. On the east side of PEI, Montague, Basin Head Provincial Park, Georgetown, and discover the Confederation Trail that covers 273 kilometres from one side of the island to the other.

Not far from Confederation Bridge and Charlottetown, explore the charming and quaint town of Victoria, with its restaurants and inns. To the west is Summerside, one of the province’s larger towns with a hotel and inns, and to the north, explore Cavendish, a beach-side community with a lot to offer including the Anne of Green Gables Museum, which is open from May 17th to October 15th in 2024.

Prince Edward Island National Park is an iconic destination for natural spaces, offering camping and beaches, and there are lots of provincial parks across PEI, with options for camping, hiking, and day-use activities.

Hidden gems can be found across the island, including the charming North Cape Coastal Drive, exploring West Point, O’Leary and the Canadian Potato Museum, to Tyne Valley, all the way to Summerside. Stay tuned for my full North Cape Coastal Drive road trip itinerary coming soon.

And watch out as you travel for the province’s amazing seafood, including lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, and fish. You can also find delicious PEI potatoes served up everywhere as fries, baked potatoes, and in seafood chowders. I highly recommend a stop at the Lobster Barn in Victoria for an amazing lobster roll.

Where to stay in PEI

The Great George Hotel, Charlottetown
The Great George Hotel, Charlottetown

PEI has a number of hotels and inns in Charlottetown, Summerside, Cavendish, and between Murray Harbour and Montague, and you can find rental cottages across the island. You can easily find the most places to stay in Charlottetown, and make day trips from the city, or plan a road trip and stay in the main towns for a few days each.

From the west, you can stay in a lighthouse at West Point Lighthouse, enjoy scenery and golfing at Mill River Resort in O’Leary, or enjoy The Loyalist Country Inn‘s central location in Summerside, close to shops, restaurants, activities, and bars.

Victoria offers The Willow House, Victoria Inn, and The Home Place Inn, and on the east coast you can find the Rodd Brudenell River Resort, or the Gateway to Greenwich Suites.

In Charlottetown you can find a number of hotels, and a wide range of accommodations. My favourite is the outstanding, historic, and cozy Great George Hotel. Located in the heart of the city, steps from Queen Street, The Great George is a collection of heritage buildings with luxury suites, and a delicious breakfast buffet.

More resources for your trip

Find the latest trip ideas and resources on the Prince Edward Island Tourism website, including ideas for itineraries, and places to go. You can also find a lot of trip ideas for Charlottetown and the surrounding area on the Discover Charlottetown website.

Destination Canada also offers a guide on the top 10 attractions on Prince Edward Island.

Discover more about PEI’s parks and book your camping reservations on the PEI Parks and Parks Canada websites.

Watch my video on the trip along the North Cape Coastal Drive from West Point to Charlottetown, and use the map below to find a hotel for your trip.

Need more help or just want to talk about your trip to PEI? Leave a comment below and let me know anything you’d like to know or share.

Looking for more travel stories? Visit our Canadian Travel Guide for ideas across the country.

First image courtesy of Prince Edward Island Tourism. All other images by W. Andrew Powell/The GATE.

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