Ryde is the first port of call for anyone visiting the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth on the catamaran or the hovercraft. There are loads of things to do in Ryde, but it’s too often skipped as holidaymakers travel on to the rest of the island.
STOP… and stay – enjoy some of the many activities in Ryde. In fact, you can easily take a day trip to Ryde from Portsmouth, and spend your day enjoying the shops, attractions and restaurants in the seaside town.
I went to Ryde for the day so I can show you just a few of the great things to do over there. Visit Ryde and it kinda feels like you’ve travelled abroad with the water crossing, without all the hassle of passports.
– Paid partnership with Ryde Tourism
Let me show you some of the great things to do in Ryde, to hopefully inspire you to take a trip over to the island from the south coast.
Great Things to Do in Ryde
Activities in Ryde
Here are some of the best activities in Ryde you can enjoy, just a short cycle, bus ride or taxi from Ryde Pier and hovercraft terminal.
1. Wight Karting
Have a go at karting round the all-weather Wight Karting track and see if you can lap your friends.
Unfortunately I was the one who was lapped this time, but, I still had a great time trying.
Karting is surprisingly easy (to do, hard to do well) and in my 15-minute session I managed to go round 20 times, which did spin me out a bit. Literally.
I was saved from the bumpers twice but apart from that, I’m proud of my first attempt. So much fun putting full pedal to the metal though, and charging round the track.
Wight Karting had all kinds of precautions for COVID in place – with balaclavas for all, washed and quarantined jumpsuits and new gloves for everyone too.
It’s a really popular activity for all ages, and the friendly staff made it a really nice experience too.
2. Cycling along the seafront
I took my own bike over on the hovercraft, which is free but you just need to tell them in advance. Or, you could hire a bike from TAV Cycles in Ryde if you prefer.
Having a bike made it easier to get up to Wight Karting, although there was that big hill that was much more fun on the way down.
After karting I cycled down to Appley Beach and seafront and along the path there. You’ll see Appley Tower and can climb up the steps. Keep going past the beach huts, and as far as you want – that’s the beauty of cycling!
I also cycled back into town and locked it up there to look round the shops. It was easy to bring it home again on the catamaran as there’s a designated bike area on there too.
3. Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum
The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum is one of the most unique attractions on the island. Featuring an awesome collection of buses restored from every era since buses began, you’ll see some real rarities here.
Unfortunately I didn’t quite have time to pop in but next year I’m well up for the Isle of Wight Bus and Beer Weekend – one of the most unique festivals on the Isle of Wight. The basic premise is to ride old buses round the island, to the pubs. Dad and I are excited for it already.
4. Goodleaf Tree Climbing
I love the concept behind the Goodleaf Tree Climbing. Basically, they’ve kitted out this tree to be safe for kids and adults to climb up and down as high as they dare.
I was looking for a ‘centre’ on my hunt for this, but it’s this tree, in the middle of a field. The sun had come out, the kids were squealing in delight and parents watching were happy their kids were happy.
Shopping in Ryde
5. Shopping on Cross Street
Can’t visit Ryde without a little shopping now can you? Looking round the boutique shops in the area is one of the best things to do in Ryde.
The Christmas Imaginarium shop is amazing. It’s open from March to December and is a homage to all things festive. The owner, Russell Ince, wrote Santa’s Secrets years ago – a Christmas book which has taken off incredibly. He’s sold film rights in Hollywood, now has a whole bookshelf of books in this series, and has this shop in Ryde as a HQ.
Also, on Cross Street, check out Bouchic for Orla Kiely products, Moomins stuff, and some fun things to buy for babies and children. And, Kandy Box for every kind of sweetie you could want. They have prepacked sweet selections (which I went for) and the olde style of containers of sweets too. Bought Ben home a Dip Dab, aren’t I kind?
6. Shopping on Union Street
Union Street is well known for it’s long run of unique shops. Visit Mia, House of Zabre, Pure Wight Soy Candles, Number 66, Fantastic Store, Framers, The Velvet Pig and Gibbs and Gurnell. Whether you’re Christmas shopping in Ryde, clothes shopping or just window shopping in Ryde, you’ll find some unique things to buy here.
Pop into the Royal Victoria Arcade on Union Street too, to see the restored stained glass panels in the rotunda. You can find more on the history of it here.
There’s also an Americana AJ’s Diner in there which when I walked past was serving up big milkshake floats.
7. Shopping on Ryde High Street
A bit further up from Union Street, you’ll find the main High Street of Ryde. Some of the highlights include WightTrash, for all your skateboarding needs. It’s also the retail branch of John Cattle’s Skate Club – he can teach anyone (including me apparently) how to skateboard. Think I’ll try a lesson next time I’m over on the island!
If you’re after some fruit or local produce, then visit Barrow Boys. It’s a thriving fruit and veg shop – get your Isle of Wight tomatoes in!
The Ryde Bookshop is also up this end of town, and the tattoo shop you see above. It’s a great part of town for creatives and there’s some big investments in the works to make it even better.
Look in the window of the Aspire Community Shop as you pass, or go in. There’s an exhibition there right now featuring work created by young people in Ryde ahead of Charles Dimmock’s Fantastic Flower Market.
Coffee in Ryde
8. Coffee Apothecary
When you get off the hovercraft and walk over the bridge you’ll see the Chocolate Apothecary ready and waiting for you on Ryde Esplanade.
You can enjoy indulgent chocolate cakes, sweets and drinks all created on site. I went for an amazingly strong Americano – just what I needed in the morning, and a seat by the impressive front windows to look out to Ryde’s Western Gardens and the Solent.
I’d recommend popping in in the afternoon and enjoying a hot chocolate with a side of chocolate cake on a rainy day. The chocolate alchemists here will be happy to rustle it up for you!
9. Wonky Goat
Wonky Goat is a new addition to the great things to do in Ryde, which I accidentally found when I was trying to get out of the rain. To be honest, I thought it was a bar. I was focused on the ‘Wonky’.
It’s a lovely cafe though with lots of space and even a kids play cafe at the back to keep them amused. You’ll find it on Union Street.
Restaurants in Ryde
If you’re looking for a special cafe for breakfast, brunch or lunch, I’d absolutely recommend No64. Located on Cross Street, just up the road from the Christmas Emporium (see above), it’s a cosy yet cool cafe with an interesting menu.
I was torn. Yakisoba, falafel shakshuka or avocado and prawn salad?
I ended up going for the vegetarian brunch stack. Also, a lemon drizzle cake for dessert.
It was so lovely and cosy in here, but also had high windows and loads of light – making it the perfect choice whatever the weather is doing outside!
Also, lovely and attentive staff – could’ve stayed all day!
11. The Duck
For dinner, The Duck is known as one of the best restaurants on the Isle of Wight. Honestly, it’s SO good. I went and had a Wobbly Duck cocktail and Kentucky Fried Duck for starter, then Isle of Wight brisket and a Malbec for main.
It was everything I wanted having been desperate to come to this restaurant ever since I heard about it.
The actual restaurant is lovely and serene and looks out to Canoe Lake just a few steps back from the beach in Ryde.
The service at The Duck was lovely and the food was just exceptional. So much meat on that duck, and in my brisket burger – very generous portions.
I was gutted I didn’t have enough time for the Sticky Toffee Pudding WITH FUDGE PIECES for dessert, but my catamaran was calling to get home. Probably for the best given how full I was.
I also thought it was very reasonable here for the food and general ambience – definitely coming back for my dessert one day!
How to get to Ryde for the day
12. Ryde by hovercraft
Portsmouth has the only hovercraft transport in the UK, and it’s awesome. In just ten minutes you can be over on the island.
You’ll get on the hovercraft from Southsea in Portsmouth, just by Clarence Pier. It’s better to buy your tickets in advance but you can just turn up and get on the next one if there’s space.
13. Ryde by catamaran ferry
Travelling to Ryde by the FastCat catamaran takes just over 20 minutes and leaves from Portsmouth Harbour by Gunwharf Quays. This route is just for foot passengers and is very convenient from the train station.
Check out the latest prices for the FastCat here.
What to do in Ryde
As you can see, there are loads of things to do in Ryde for a day out. Whether you like shopping, activities, just chilling, or dream of just lying on a sandy beach in easy reach of England you’ll find it here.
Get either the hovercraft or catamaran over, and enjoy exploring!
My day out in Ryde was sponsored by Ryde Tourism. All thoughts and feelings my own and I was not told what to write.
Explore more of England
NEW SITE: I recently launched a brand new website dedicated entirely to days out in England.
It’s called… DAY OUT IN ENGLAND. Ha!
It’s packed full of local knowledge, awesome things to do, and more.
Few of my favourite posts for you: how about the best adventurous days out in England, or the most popular English beaches? I’ve also put together a guide on saving money on days out, and even an English food quiz too. Go and check it out – you’re guaranteed to learn more about England!