The Isle of Wight, that delightful, diamond shaped island is separated from Hampshire by the Solent and Spithead. As it has a milder climate than most of the rest of England, it attracts tourists like a magnet.
The stunning coastline of the Isle of Wight
But climate is not all the Island offers, small coastal resorts, sailing, fishing, natural heritage plus walking and cycling in attractive terrain. The island is rich in fossils of dinosaurs.
It is a natural habitat for the rare red squirrel, almost extinct on the mainland pushed out by the imported American grey squirrel.
It was home to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Osborne House, East Cowes. Alfred Lord Tennyson lived at Freshwater. He was in fact Baron of Aldworth in Sussex and Freshwater on the Island.
If one excludes the City of London, at high tide the Isle of Wight is the smallest ceremonial county in England, but at low tide that honour still belongs to Rutland on the mainland. The Island is however the most populated Parliamentary constituency in the UK according to the 2001 census.
Garden at Osborne House
Photograph © Susan Dixon
Cowes, a small town famous for its sailing regattas, is situated on the northern tip of the island. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built Osborne House in East Cowes, now run by English Heritage it is open to the public. From West Cowes a floating bridge runs a regular service throught the year across the River Medina to East Cowes.
Ryde – Gateway to the Island. That is why
it has the fourth longest pier in the United Kingdom, an absolutely
necessary structure to ferry passengers by train from the Portsmouth
hovercraft and ferries to the town. The water is very shallow at low
tide and it does make for a wide sandy beach beloved of sunbathers and
children with their buckets and spades.
Newport, capital of the island. It embraces the head of the River Medina's navigable section that sees its mouth at Cowes. It is about 7 miles from Ryde and 5 from Cowes. The Quay at Newport has been modernised with an Arts Centre and galleries. The town has a couple of new shopping centres.
Sandown is a charming seaside resort on
the south east corner of the Island. With Shanklin it shares the English
Channel golden sandy beach of Sandown Bay. Suntrapped they are ideal
for safe bathing. Sandown pier entices both holiday makers and
fishermen. Meet the animals at The Wild Heart Animal Sanctuary.
Shanklin with its sheltered beach, the clear waters of Sandown Bay and the cliffs behind. There is a lift to the top of the cliffs and the views from there are magnificent. If you are feeling more energetic there are steps. In the summer season a road train runs to the town centre and the beautiful old village with its thatched cottages and appealing old fashioned shops. Among them there are enchanting cafe's for a delicious cream tea.
© Steven Muster
Ventnor – The Island's most southern resort. It is a charming town of the Victorian era. A bit hilly as it was built on the side of St Boniface Down which in turn shelters the beach. St Boniface Down is the highest point on the Island. Ventnor is noted for having more sunny days than most of Britain and not so many frosts making it popular with visitors and residents. Walking in Ventnor Botanical Gardens brings a delightful haven of peace and tranquility among plants from the world's temperate and sub tropical regions of the world.
Bonchurch is on the Shanklin side of Ventnor and like Ventnor is built on the side of St Bonface Down during the Victorian era. The sand and shingle beach is ideal for children for there are also rocks to scramble over and rock pools to investigate.
There are so many events on the island, so please visit our events pages for a fuller list. Perhaps plan your short break on the island around an event.
The Island is a paradise for walkers. 500 miles of walking trails, the coastal walk is 60 miles in its own right! Lovely short breaks could be had just walking short sections. Stunning scenery wherever you go. There are also short walks in towns and circular ones over the Island. The Isle of Wight has a famous Walking Festival. In fact two, one in Spring and one in Autumn. Check out the Events page.
The Island terrain lends itself to mountain biking and off road. Such is the steepness of some of the hills the scenery is absolutely stunning. There are many delightful routes for the quieter form of the sport. Weekends in the summer there are quite a lot of cyclists around the Island, very popular.
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Sunshine Trail, Shanklin
Photograph © Peter Trimming
The main ferry routes are from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. Try these links - from Southampton to Cowes. Or this one for for Portsmouth to Ryde or Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth
For a list of the events on The Isle of Wight visit this page Walking and cycling events are particularly popular.
The Island is a delightful holiday destination for both day trippers and the holiday break. If the latter it is advisable to book as early as possible to get the best accommodation whether 5 star or budget and anything in between.
This is a developing map. Some areas have better coverage.
To find the nearest Electric Vehicle Charging Point please click here.
There are plenty of taxis and rental cars on the island.
Perhaps you prefer not to have a car and love the green and pleasant way to see the area or get to the event you wish, then this is the way to go. Sit on top of a double decker tour bus and see the countryside. You might be lucky and get the front seat. Done it, recommend it!!!! Southern Vectis are the way to go.