How to Spend 5 Days in Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province. This tiny, but mighty island, is a wonderful choice for your next vacation! 

In this post I’ll be sharing why we chose PEI as our fall destination and a 5-Day itinerary. 

One thing to note is PEI (and the scenic drives we did below) are broken into 4 major regions: North Cape (western), Red Shores (south central), Green Gables (north central), and Points East (eastern).

We stayed in North Cape but visited the Red Shores and Green Gables area.

Lots of beach walks in Prince Edward Island
Sunset at North Cape Nature Trail, PEI
Red Rock Cliffs of the North Cape, PEI

Why Prince Edward Island Is a Great Destination Choice

We are always on the lookout for underrated destinations with no crowds, plenty of nature to explore, and accommodation that won’t break the bank. 

And PEI was a great choice!

We loved how accessible PEI is from Maine. The drive from Portland, ME to Charlottetown, PEI is only 8 hours. 

We drove through New Brunswick to get to PEI, but you can also take a 75 minutes ferry from Nova Scotia. 

You could also fly into PEI’s airport in Charlottetown. 

And finally, because PEI is such a tiny island, it’s easy to explore the area in a short time, which is great for a shorter vacation!

Read More: 11 Photos of PEI to Inspire Your First Trip

Visiting Prince Edward Island in October

We visited in October so there were even less crowds than in the summer months.

We found a great oceanfront Airbnb for under $2000 for the week (note that prices would be way higher in the summer). 

While we were hoping to catch the autumn foliage, it was limited and there were few leaves left. Our guess was there weren’t as many leaves due to the constant source of wind on the island. It was still beautiful even without the leaves though!

Reasons We Chose Tignish, PEI as our homebase

We wanted to stay in one place while visiting PEI. And we looked for an area of PEI that was relaxing and secluded, and Tignish was the perfect destination! Even during the peak season I doubt this area gets that crowded since it’s at the tippy top of the island. 

When choosing a destination it’s so important to consider what you need and are hoping to get out of your trip. 

While we were planning our trip to PEI, most people assumed we were visiting Cavendish in the center of the island and centralized near Prince Edward Island National Park and Charlottetown.

Big Tignish Lighthouse boardwalk

But we knew that Cavendish also had a reputation as a tourist destination, and while popular places have their advantages, it’s not what we were seeking on this trip.  

We tend to like the places that are a bit off the beaten path and Tignish definitely fits the bill (as can be proven by how few restaurants are in the area). 

Next time we visit PEI I would love to stay on the Eastern end of the Island.

Read More: How to Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park This Year

Review of our Tignish, PEI Airbnb

While searching for accommodation in PEI we considered two options. We could take our RV and stay at the campgrounds or rent an Airbnb. While there are plenty of hotel options, we prefer to have our own space and kitchen while on vacation. Having the ability to cook your own meals saves a TON of money. 

And because our trip was going to be during October, we knew most of the campgrounds would be closed for the RVing season so we opted for a rental instead. 

If you’re interested in a secluded, cozy oceanfront cottage in the North Cape region of PEI, check out our Airbnb rental! 

While the house itself was quite small, we found it had everything we needed. We loved taking walks on the beach, searching for seaglass, and relaxing next to the outdoor firepit. 

So much seaglass!

The only two downsides weren’t a big deal, but our worth mentioning. While the cottage has been recently renovated, the bathrooms and kitchens are pretty standard and nothing fancy. 

And during our visit, there was a ton of washed up seaweed from recent storms, resulting in a slightly unsightly view of the beach. Which, of course, is due to Mother Nature and nothing the rental owners could control.

Watching the sunrise from our Airbnb, Tignish, PEI

BUT, even still, the house was a delight and we highly recommend it! Personally, with the one upstairs bedroom, I think this rental is more suited for one person or couple. 

And the owners were a delight to communicate with.

How many days do you need in PEI?

We felt one week in Prince Edward Island was a great length of trip. A week gives you enough time to take a few day trips like you’ll see below, but also makes the trip really accessible if you don’t have a lot of time off.

However, you could easily visit for a shorter amount of time and really enjoy your trip. If you have less than 4 days I would stick to one region is explore it fully rather than staying in multiple regions.

Read More: How to Travel More with Limited Time Off

A 5-Day Prince Edward Island Itinerary

For this 5-day itinerary you’ll want to be based in the:

North Cape (western PEI featuring the towns of North Cape, West Point, and Summerside)

OR Green Gables Shore (north central PEI featuring famous towns of Cavendish and Charlottetown)

Or Red Shore (south central PEI where you’ll likely enter via New Brunswick). 

Below I’ve suggested a 5-Day itinerary based on what we did on our first trip to the island. We actually stayed in PEI for 7 nights but we had a few relaxing days at home with little exploring.

Day 1 – Explore the North Cape Scenic Drive

Today you’re going on an adventure! Pack some snacks, the kids or dogs, and hit the road! 

We chose to drive along one of three major scenic drives on the island. 

Depending on where you’re staying on the island, you may want to start your scenic drive elsewhere. 

Since we were staying in Tignish, PEI along the “North Cape” of the island, this is where we started our drive. From Tignish we drove down towards Cedar Dunes Provincial Park.

One stop we made on our way was to an old graveyard we spotted along our route. 

I’m sure it’s a bit odd, but I really enjoy exploring old cemeteries and imagining the lives of the locals who inhabited the area I’m visiting long before I was born. During our stop, I spotted the gravesite of the McWilliam family. What struck me so profoundly was the 5 children, all under 2 years of age, who had died within the family around the 1880s.

Cedar Dunes Provincial Park and Westpoint Lighthouse Museum and Inn

An adorable park and lighthouse! You can even stay at the Inn here.

Westpoint Lighthouse, PEI

Cape Egmont Lighthouse

My favorite lighthouse during our visit. This is a bit of a hidden gem and obviously got a makeover because online pictures look really outdated. 

We loved this photo so much we now have it framed on our travel wall. 

If you have a little more time, you could pack a picnic and make a whole afternoon of this private area.

Cape Egmont Lighthouse

Belmont Provincial Park

Our favorite hidden gem provincial park was the Belmont Provincial Park. If you walk along the back you’ll come across a private area with a secluded walking path and picnic table. Adorable!

Belmont Provincial Park

Bonus Stop: Summerside

We didn’t get a ton of time in Summerside, but had to make a stop by this adorable sign! If we had more time I would have loved to walk around this main street. 

There is also a connector here for the Confederate trail that runs through multiple towns in PEI. 

Summerside, PEI

Day 2 – Take Time to Rest and Relax

Take today to have a family day at your rental or campground. Play games, walk the local beach, or read a book. Remember to relax on your vacation!

PEI was hit by a big storm on our third day, so we decided to have a cozy day inside watching movies and playing games. 

So often we go on vacation and believe we must explore non-stop. It’s nice when Mother Nature says otherwise and encourages you to take time to rest and relax. 

Day 3 – Walk Along the North Cape

After a relaxing day yesterday, take today to get outside and explore the island. 

On this day we decided to explore the very northern tip of PEI and walk along the 3.2 mile long North Cape Lighthouse Nature Trail. You’ll likely see seals and even eagles

This is a really interesting area of the island because it features a museum, gift shop, nature trail, lighthouse, and the North Cape Wind Farm. 

I had no idea how many windmills we would see in PEI! But fun fact, PEI is one of the global leaders of wind energy. 

Day 4 – Explore the Coastal Central Drive

For Day 4 we decided to go on another day trip adventure! This time to visit PEI’s only National Park as well as drive the northern end of the Coastal Central Drive. 

Cabot Beach Provincial Park

My favorite beach we visited on our trip. Not only is this a public beach, it’s also a campground! 

French River Viewpoint

A charming viewpoint to explore along the way towards Prince Edward Island National park. 

French River Viewpoint, PEI

Prince Edward Island National Park

I will definitely be coming back here to explore more. There were so many trails! We made a few stops within the official boundaries of the national park including Cavendish Beach, Shaw Beach, and Stanhope beach. 

It was a very beach heavy day! 

Of course, you don’t have to visit all of these beaches, you could pick one and spend the whole day!

Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward National Park

Charlottetown

On our final stop for the day, we spent a few hours exploring Charlottetown. 

Charlottetown is such a cute little city! I wished we had more time to explore this area because there were so many restaurants and shops to explore. 

We loved our time at the Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar where my husband and tried oysters for the first time!

Oysters from Sims Steakhouse and Oyster Bar in Charlottetown, PEI

Day 5 – Explore Tignish, PEI (or your homebase!)

We chose to have another at-home day today and walk even more along the beaches near our Airbnb and a campground nearby, Jacques Cartier Provincial Park. 

We stopped at a farm stand and checked out the local park which features the Big Tignish Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself isn’t that nice but we really enjoyed walking the boardwalk and reading about the history of the early residents of Tignish. 

We also visited a local farmstand called Heart & Soil well worth your visit!

Heart and Soil Farmstand, Tignish, PEI

Cost of One Week in Prince Edward Island

Our Airbnb rental for 7 nights with 2 dogs was $1700 in October. 

We spend $300 on groceries and eating out.

We spent $100 on gas. 

The toll when leaving PEI to New Brunswick was $50. They let you in for free, but you pay when you leave. 

Total = $2150 or so

We actively choose to cook our own meals while traveling so we save a bit doing that. Plus, most of the activities we chose were free and inexpensive. 

It also helped that we chose to visit during October so all of the parks including the National Park was free to enter. 

We could have saved even more if we chose a less expensive AirBnb, but I fell in love with the idea of an oceanfront rental and it was well worth it!

Sunset view from our Airbnb in Tignish, PEI

Things to Know Before Visiting Prince Edward Island

A few things we wished we knew before visiting was that PEI, while small, is still too large to visit all in one week. We suggest picking the North Cape, Central, or Eastern region to visit and focus on nearby adventures. 

The next thing we wish we knew was the fact that PEI is a relatively flat region meaning the walks and “hikes” aren’t very challenging. Contrast this with nearby Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highland’s landscape which featured dramatic hiking options to explore. 

And lastly, October was truly an off season time to visit. There were very few open restaurants to visit outside of the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown. 

We saw horseback riding on Stanhope Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park

Final Thoughts

We would absolutely recommend a visit to Prince Edward Island. This is an especially perfect trip idea for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination, less crowds, and affordable accommodations. 

And of course, if you love lighthouses, beaches, and seafood, this is your ideal vacation!