I live just ten minutes from the Isle of Wight, in Portsmouth. It’s an easy ride on the hovercraft to get over there from here. Thanks to that, I’ve been over a few times, but still, there are so many things to do on the Isle of Wight that I know it’s going to be one of my favourite weekends away for a long time to come.
The Isle of Wight beaches usually top the favourite Isle of Wight attractions lists, but it’s also the strong foodie culture, wildlife and easy cycling routes that keep us coming back for more. The island has recently been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – thanks to the wealth of environmental initiatives protecting the confirmed Area of Natural Beauty.
It’s an exciting time to visit the Isle of Wight!
Isle of Wight holidays are a right of passage for many Brits every year, so why not jump on the bandwagon and hop on over for a day trip, weekend, or week in one of England’s sunniest spots.
– Quick links –
My top 5 Isle of Wight activities
Best places for Foodie fun
Top 5 restaurants
5 adventurous things to do
Best Isle of Wight beaches
Top animal attractions
Best Attractions for kids
Historical things to do
Green spaces on the Isle of Wight
Museums on the Isle of Wight
Festivals on the Isle of Wight
National Trust Membership sites
English Heritage sites
Cool accommodation on the Isle of Wight
How to get to the Isle of Wight
58 best things to do on the Isle of Wight
I’ve been to the Isle of Wight quite a few times now, and have a four-day trip booked in for the end of September. If you’ve only got a limited amount of time for your Isle of Wight trip, then here are the top 5 things I’d recommend you make sure to include in your itinerary.
Don’t go to the Isle of Wight without visiting them!
1. Go for a ride on the Needles
The Needles at Alum Bay are the icon of the Isle of Wight.
The best shot of them is from Headon Warren. I did not take the picture above by the way – thanks Unsplash. Mine to come.
As well as the iconic rocks and lighthouse you’ll find the Old Battery there, which is your chance to wander through the cliff tunnel and get really close up to the Needles for another heart wrenching view.
In the 50s and 60s the Isle of Wight joined the Space Race by building the Black Knight at the Needles Old Battery. It was all very secretive but today there’s an exhibition about it right there, revealing all.
You’ll also find the Needles Pleasure Park there – look out for the plaque commemorating Guglieimo Marconi who started off his telecommunications work here.
The Needles, and the surrounding area, are Isle of Wight charm and beauty at its best.
2. Visit Osborne House
I was genuinely amazed by Osborne House the first time I saw it – I’d never even heard of it and then ended up going on a press trip to the Isle of Wight for the day to check it out.
Turns out it’s actually mega famous thanks to being the site of Queen Victoria’s mourning, after old Albert died. Before you go watch the films Mrs Brown, and Victoria and Abdul, both starring Judi Dench as Vicky so you have more history to draw on.
The rooms inside are amazing, but the gardens and beach are also impressive too. And to think, some of them were originally planted by Prince Albert – wow!
If you want to know more about visiting Osborne House, check out my story of my day on the Isle of Wight.
3. Walk an alpaca
At West Wight Alpaca Farm you can either just visit the animals, OR you can walk them. Alpaca my bags?!
Yes, thought so.
There are tens of alpacas here – I walked Will.I.Am when I was there, but also made friends with Woody. As well as the alpacas there are pigs and chickens and goats to chat with.
This is a great one for the kids, but also for the adults. Bit of time to get at one with nature and all that.
Also, there’s a pizza oven there and the pizzas are divine. Tuck in!
4. Relax on your favourite beach
Relaxing on the beach is one of the top things to do in the Isle of Wight. As an island, you’re surrounded by beautiful coastline, and on a sunny day you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in the Caribbean, kinda. With a squint. And a bit of imagination.
Seriously though – there are some absolutely stunning beaches on the Isle of Wight. Relax on as many as possible to work out which one is your favourite. For more on the beaches on the Isle of Wight, take a look below.
Day out on the Isle of Wight
Check out the video I made for Days Out in England on the Isle of Wight!
5. Eat seafood
Oh there is some excellent food on the Isle of Wight. Being so close to the sea just makes you want to trough down on its wares, doesn’t it?
There’s nothing like eating a crab burger as fresh as fresh can be, and on the Isle of Wight you’ll have a plethora of places to do that. I’ve tried as many Isle of Wight restaurants as possible, but it’s a work in progress.
Set aside some budget to try some of the great food options on the island.
More on my favourite places to eat on the Isle of Wight below.
Where is the Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight is a relatively small island a mile off the coast of Portsmouth, or 45 minutes from Southampton. You can access by hovercraft, foot ferry or car ferry – see more in how to get to the Isle of Wight below.
It’s a wonderful sun trap, that’s totally underrated by anyone who hasn’t been there. The Isle of Wight has a reputation as a quintessential British seaside destination, complete with buckets and spades, arcade machines and piers.
Zoom into the map to get a better idea of where the Isle of Wight is, exactly.
The Isle of Wighters (caulkheads) are proud producers of garlic, tomatoes, asparagus, rock samphire and crab. Thanks to the mild climate and record breaking sunshine hours over there they can grow things we can only dream of on the mainland.
There are plenty of opportunities to collect up some of these tasty treats as you travel around, or at least to sample as you go. If it’s a nicely labelled jar, or a locally grown spud that gets you all excited, here are some of the best foodie ops on the Isle of Wight especially for you.
6. Rosemary Vineyard and Adgestone Vineyard
Two different vineyards, but the same idea. Using Isle of Wight produce they both want to make the best local wine possible.
In Sandown at the Adgestone Vineyard you can try their wines in the cafe, as well as stay over at the B&B – no driving, yay! It’s one of the oldest vineyards in England. You can also buy liqueurs, chilli sauces and preserves too.
Watch out for that Arson Fire hot sauce though.
At the Rosemary Vineyard you’ll find 30 acres of wine, liqueurs, juices and ciders. As one of the largest producers of English wine in the country, get your friends together and enjoy a group tasting in the cellar.
7. Holliers Park and the House of Chilli
If you want the best of the Isle of Wight’s foodie offerings, in one place, then you need to go to Holliers Park. Here you’ll find a gallimaufry of the island’s produce – and you can pick up a hamper to take home for yourself.
There’s a cafe, a tearoom, and the House of Chilli with a range of hot sauces to add a bit of spice in your life.
8. Go for an Afternoon Tea
Both the Hamborough and the Royal Hotel in Ventnor offer cream tea – as do many of the beachside hotels and restaurants. An Isle of Wight cream tea is a ‘thing’. You can get tea for two at the Bembridge Coast Hotel or you might prefer The Champagne Tea at the Royal Hotel in Ventnor, which is £60 for 2.
There’s also a lovely beach at Steephill Cove with a variety of cafes, which is just below the Botanic Garden, accessible on foot only. You’ll be able to find a tasty cream tea here.
Check out the top foods to try on the Isle of Wight on BBC Good Food here.
9. Visit the Garlic Farm
The Garlic Farm is one of the most popular attractions in the Isle of Wight. As well as a farm, it’s a cafe and restaurant serving as much local produce as possible. There’s a gift shop too, so if you want any souvenirs for your friends and family, this is the place to be.
Head on down and give them a visit – you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cooking with garlic.
10. Have a beach picnic
One of the absolute top attractions on the Isle of Wight is to get a picnic at one of the supermarkets, or one of the artisan food shops, and take it all down to one of the beaches for a picnic.
This is a fab and cheap way to eat on the Isle of Wight.
BONUS Isle of Wight food tip: Get some fish and chips from the chippy. You’re by the sea, rude not to!
The Isle of Wight restaurant scene is buzzing. You can enjoy anything from budget cafes by the sea serving OAP specials, to hipster lunches of sharing boards, and onto Michelin starred restaurants for your dinner.
Here’s a selection of the top rated restaurants on the Isle of Wight, either by me, or by this online world of ours.
11. Smoking Lobster, Ventnor
Smoking Lobster on Ventnor’s seafront is the number one restaurant on Trip Advisor. It’s a seafood, grill, cocktail & wine bar, with sea views in what I think is the coolest part of the island. Seafood platters, ceviche and steak are the order of the day – lush!
12. Fisherman’s Cottage, Shanklin
Fisherman’s Cottage in Shanklin is another island highlight. Located just beneath Shanklin Chine (see things to do below) at the end of Shanklin Esplanade the thatched dining pub dates back to 1817.
Right now you can eat at Fisherman’s Cottage and then get into Shanklin Chine for free.
Visit Fisherman’s Cottage and you can enjoy music nights, a scenic beach patio and what is widely regarded as some of the best food on the island.
13. Off the Rails, Yarmouth
People who like olde trains will love the Isle of Wight – there’s a steam railway museum, with a wonderful and award winning restaurant on site. So, even if you don’t like trains at least you can sit and have a coffee while you’re waiting for your beloved.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – with a real log fire – the unique setting and ambience is heightened by the high quality food. ‘First class’ some would say. Lols.
4 Best Places for Wild Swimming in Hampshire
14. No 64 in Ryde
If you’re coming into the Isle of Wight via hovercraft, then you’ll come into Ryde.
Interesting fact about Ryde, Ryde Pier is the oldest pier in the UK, and the second longest. OoooooOOOOoooo.
No 64 is one of those cool, hipster, kinda places. One of the those serving delicious cakes and artisan coffees. There’s a good veggie menu here (so I’m told, can’t give up my piggy products) and gives you a quick getaway for the hoverport if you need. You can get breakfast, lunch and coffee – to take away too.
15. The Bandstand at Sandown
The Bandstand is a good one for those summer nights. Located right on the beach, on the site of the former bandstand, there’s a classic pub menu to enjoy – with a fishy emphasis.
As well as dinner, you can enjoy the brunch and lunch menus in the day too. Mostly sandwiches and paninis, but sometimes that’s all you need right?
More great restaurants on the Isle of Wight
The Little Gloster,Cowes – with panoramic views of the Solent The Little Gloster serves a seasonal menu with a seafood emphasis. Comes as one of the most highly rated restaurants on the island.
Artisan Bar and Kitchen, Ryde – amazing sharers and great cocktail bar upstairs. Live music too.
Wonky Cafe, Ventnor – traditional beach cafe with good prices and perched on the coastal path. This is the one if you want breakfast with a view.
The Taverners, Godshill – meaty platters. A la carte restaurant using local produce.
The Crab Shed, Ventnor – comes highly recommended thanks to the freshest crab, lobster & mackerel caught every morning.
If you like your holidays with a touch of adventure then the Isle of Wight has plenty of options for you to enjoy. Surrounded by water there’s obviously a whole plethora of watersports to enjoy, and with tourism so high on the island a bunch of tourist attractions have opened up to give you some fun in the sun.
There’s nothing like getting on a bike to really experience a new destination – there are loads of cycling routes on the Isle of Wight for you to enjoy. You just need to get your hands on a bike first.
You’ve got a few options for kayaking on the Isle of Wight, including just renting out a kayak, or going on an organised tour. Unless you’re super confident I’d recommend the tour – just to get used to the area, and to learn more about it too.
Kayaks are available for rent near all of the main beaches. Have fun!
17. Stand up paddleboarding (with yoga!)
People just love paddleboarding don’t they?
On the Isle of Wight you can book onto a paddleboarding session, or you can book onto a yoga paddleboarding session – I mean, which sounds cooler?
There are quite a few companies on the Isle of Wight set up for paddleboarding so just have a look and an ask around where you are.
18. Go on a boat tour around the island
If you’re looking for something a little crazy on the Isle of Wight things to do list, then the high speed RIB boat costs about £10 for about 15 minutes. One of those scream if you wanna go faster kinda things. It’ll take you around the Needles (see Isle of Wight attractions number 1) which is a quick and easy way to see one of the best things on the island.
If you don’t have the need for speed then you can book onto the Needles Pleasure Cruise for a more sedate trip out to the lighthouse, with commentary.
Black Rock Cruises run an in between speeds cruise from Yarmouth for 90 minutes, that could be a good option if you want longer on the boat.
19. Cycling on the Isle of Wight
Cycling round the Isle of Wight is a big ‘thing’ to do. I really want to do it, the whole thing. One day. Keep an eye on this blog. For now though, let’s just talk about cycling on the Isle of Wight, not round it.
You can take your bikes on the ferry, and on the hovercraft, or you can rent your bikes on the Isle of Wight while you’re there. Ryd is right by the ferry crossing, and a great place to pick up two wheels.
TOP TIP: The Red Squirrel trail is a good shout for anyone looking for an easier three-hour cycle trip. You can also stop for lunch along the route.
Whether you want hills or a straight, even, path, there are so many options to choose from if you want to cycle the Isle of Wight.
20. Go Karting on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight Karting is one of the newer attractions in the Isle of Wight, especially popular with stag dos. Over the summer they offer sunset karting, which makes the most of the longer hours and gives you the discount.
READ MORE: My Isle of Wight Festival Experience
There are miles of unspoilt National Trust coastline on the Isle of Wight, meaning the beaches are some of the best in the country. They’re known for winning nationwide accolades in celebration of their beauty, and a few of them have got all the buckets and spade shops, seafront cafes and arcade machines you could ever want.
Shanklin is the most popular beach on the Isle of Wight, thanks to the miles of sandy beach. Located on the south east coast of the island it’s here you’ll find all the delights of a traditional British seaside holiday – with amusement arcades, crazy golf, bowling, seaside cafes and beach shops selling everything you could ever need for your day at the beach.
22. Sandown Bay
Sandown Bay Beach is where Take That filmed their I Found Heaven video. It also won Beach Of The Year in the Countryfile Magazine Awards 2019. I mean, two fantastic accolades right there.
It stretches 8.5 miles through Sandown, Lake and Shanklin.
Ventnor Beach is a wild one but it’s also the coolest, IMHO. It’s where you’ll find some great cafes and pubs, and also, the almight Ventnor Fringe Festival every summer. See Isle of Wight festivals below.
Here you’ll find Steephill Cove – a traditional, unspoilt fishing cove with a safe, sandy beach, snuggled between rocky cliffs and smugglers’ coves. Make sure to pop into The Spyglass, a pub that really makes the most of that pirate mood.
The sandy beach at Ryde is the first impression of the Isle of Wight for many tourists coming in to experience the island for themselves. This area is popular with sunbathers, watersports lovers and for looking back at the mainland to remind yourself how close you are to home, but also, far enough away to feel like you’ve really ‘gone’ on holiday.
Look at that sand!
25. Compton Bay
Compton Bay was once named as one of the world’s best beaches – by Sunday Times Travel Magazine no less. Two miles of contrasting dark and golden sands on the west of the island offer amazing views to the white chalk cliffs of Freshwater in the distance. It’s a popular beach for fossil hunters and for relaxing away from the summer business of Shanklin and Sandown.
READ MORE: Best Days Out on the Isle of Wight
[Takes you to DaysOutinEngland.com]
Animals and the Isle of Wight go together like err… peas and carrots? Thanks to the unique climate and green fields of the island, there are lots of four legged creatures around for you to admire.
26. Isle of Wight Zoo
Top of the Isle of Wight things to do if you’re into animals, is the Isle of Wight Zoo. Here you’ll find bees, birds, farm animals, lemurs and lions to admire, as well as monkeys and tigers. Turn up and pay on the door at Sandown for the ultimate animal experiences on the Isle of Wight.
The zoo is dedicated to helping and supporting all its animals, so show them some support and come on dowwwwn.
27. Parkhurst Forest
The Isle of Wight is the only place in the UK that has red squirrels, and if you want to see them, you need to go to Parkhurst Forest on the outskirts of Newport. You could also try Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve (near Sandown), Borthwood Copse (near Sandown area) or Brading Marshes.
Great for bird watching and spotting small animals too.
28. Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary is a free attraction in Ventnor and animal lovers on every stage of the animal loving spectrum will enjoy it. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the Isle of Wight and a way for you to enjoy donkeys by the seaside – as is the British seaside way – without the old, cruel practice of riding them.
This is a home for unwanted donkeys where you can adopt one, donate, or just enjoy being around the 55 acres of 97 donkeys and 26 ponies. There’s also a gift shop and a cafe – not serving Moscow Mules unfortunately.
29. Isle of Wight Deer Farm
If you’re more of a deer lover than a donkey one, then the Isle of Wight deer farm is the one for you. Located in Newport it’s home to 145 Red Deer and 61 Fallow Deer, at last count. At 334 acres there’s loads of space for the deer to enjoy prancing around in safety and this is your opportunity to learn more about the beautiful creatures.
I’m not sure whether to tell you this, but there are also plans for a working abattoir there ASAP.
30. Newtown National Nature Reserve
The Newtown National Nature Reserve offers ‘perhaps the best opportunity for bird watching on the Isle of Wight’. Here you can rest in the hides waiting for the birds of your dreams to appear.
There are some great walks here for you to enjoy and flowers, ponds and dragonflies for all. A wonderful spot to gather your thoughts and try to calm your mind.
Kids love the Isle of Wight. It’s why the island is so popular with young families. You still have all the excitement of ‘travelling’ somewhere, by boat, but it’s not too far to be stressed out by airline cancellations, different currencies and traffic.
There’s lots of soft adventure here for little ones, and with all those beaches, it’s actually a pretty cheap destination too.
31. Blackgang Chine
Blackgang Chine is the oldest theme park in the world. Worth visiting just for that right?
The good news is that it’s constantly been updated and now you’ll find fun rides, slides, different characters and a whole park to enjoy – filled with history and fun. Food and drink is available and you can spend a whole day here, having fun.
Located near the cliff edge, the views are pretty sweet too.
32. Poo Museum
The Isle of Wight Poo Museum promises to ‘lift the lid on the secret world of poo’. This is your chance to celebrate the gut and ‘break through the poo taboo’. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn here, about one of the most basic functions in the world that every living animal and creature does.
I mean, did you know that wombats do cubed poos?
Well, you do now.
Kids love it here, big kids too.
33. Fort Victoria
Fort Victoria Country Park is a great day out on the Isle of Wight. Located on the north shore of the island, the fort was built to protect from attacks in the Solent. It now houses a marine aquarium, a comprehensive Sea Bed Archaeology Exhibition and an amazing model railway. There’s also a cafe for that coffee fix too.
Get your kids off their computers and out into the countryside – they’ll thank you for it one day!
34. Dinosaur Isle
The Isle of Wight is known as the dinosaur capital of the UK. One of the most fun activities on the isle of wight is to go fossil hunting – a 5 year old recently found a super important bone and now the new species of dinosaur found has even been named after her.
Join a dinosaur fossil hunting trip and see if you can match her find. It’s not as crazy as you might think – as the cliffs and ground erode, more fossils come to the surface ready for the picking. Name the dinosaur after me though, yeah? Flipiosflopidocus.
35. Tapnell Farm Park
I love Tapnell Farm Park. I stayed at Tom’s Eco Lodge here and had a great weekend chilling with the animals at the farm and enjoying the views. There’s loads to do, no matter the weather, including wallabies, adventure zones and jumping pillows too.
A floating aqua park is even opening next spring – woohoo!
The Isle of Wight has a fascinating history, thanks to its position in the middle of the Solent and the fact it’s the south coast’s first defence from danger. Also, the royal connection and the beautiful landscapes, meant it was an appealing investment for the wealthy and rich back in the day.
History buffs will love the Isle of Wight – guaranteed. Here’s why.
36. Appuldurcombe House
Appuldurcombe is a shadow of its former glory. It was once the grandest house on the Isle of Wight, but thanks to a few (sexy) scandals, and the passing of time, if you visit, you’ll just have to imagine how wonderful it once was.
Appuldurcombe House is free to visit – see if you can get on one of their ghost walks for a spooky evening out.
37. Quarr Abbey
Quarr Abbey is a monastery and home to a small group of Benedictine monks who spend their days praying, working and serving their community. The monastery is totally open to visitors though and there’s a farm shop and tea shop on site to welcome you in.
You can go on a guided tour, join a prayer, or just wander around the impressive building to see it for yourself.
38. St Catherine’s Oratory and Lighthouse
Aka the Pepperpot on the Isle of Wight, St Catherine’s Oratory is the leftovers of a 14th century lighthouse. Weirdly it’s quite inland for a lighthouse, which could explain why it’s now no longer used as one.
You can join a tour of St Catherine’s Lighthouse to learn more about the lighthouse’s work since 1323.
Visit during one of the sailing festivals and you’ll get an impressive vista out to sea featuring the sails and ships of the day.
This is not my picture by the way – mine’s on it’s way. Looks amazing though, right?
39. Carisbrooke Castle
You’ll have probably seen Carisbrooke Castle on the front of the Isle of Wight tourism brochures. It’s an English Heritage site (see below) and is definitely one of the most impressive places to visit on the island. It’s been around since the 7th Century and King Charles I was once imprisoned here as he awaited trial.
One of those places that’s absolutely steeped in history. Probably best to just go along to learn more.
40. Yarmouth Castle
Visit this 16th Century castle and you’ll get to learn all about the wrecks of the area, the ones who didn’t quite get to their destinations. The castle looks out over a treacherous stretch of water, but an important one. Back in the times of Henry VIII, he ordered this to be built in Yarmouth to add to the country’s coastal defences.
Once an important defence during the country’s wars, it’s now a full on tourist attraction to remind us of our country in days past. Go and have a look!
In amongst all these castles and beaches we need a little time for some green spaces, right?
41. Ventnor Botanical Garden
The Ventnor Botanical Garden is one of the top experiences on the Isle of Wight. The love and attention the gardeners give to their flowers and fauna is easy to see.
As well as stunning subtropical and exotic gardens and borders, there’s also a whole wellbeing track at the Gardens. You can join in with some tai chi and yoga in among the flowers and visit the cafe and restaurant for refreshment afterwards.
42. Shanklin Chine
Shanklin Chine – not to be confused with Blackgang Chine – is a tree lined gorge for us public to wander on through. Jane Austen’s been here, Turner, and next, you. Wander on through the gap in the cliffs and you’ll come out at a tearooms and a beach.
Kind of like a secret entrance to the beach, except everyone who’s read this post now knows about it.
43. Mottistone Gardens
Explore the Gardens at this beautiful Manor House for more of the green stuff. I feel at this point in this extremely long blog about the Isle of Wight, they can describe themselves better than I can.
“Enchanting gardens set in a sheltered valley and surrounded by rolling downland”
Great, thanks for that Google.
44. Robin Hill Park
Robin Hill Park! Known to me from the now defunct Bestival Festival. Nowadays though, it’s better known as gorgeous 88-acre woodland. Fun for all the family from children playing at the park, to parents having a break on the benches and grandparents sniffing the flowers.
Those difficult teenagers might even get a smile on their faces with the array of fun events and activities taking place on selected dates throughout the year.
45. Rylstone Gardens
You’ll love the Rylstone Gardens in Shanklin before you even get there – thanks to the fact they’re free. There’s a nice park, mini golf and brass bands in summer. If you love hanging baskets, butterflies and bees – you’ll love it here.
READ MORE: Music Lover’s Guide to the Isle of Wight
46. Isle of Wight Pearl
Isle of Wight pearl is a ‘thing’. Go along to the museum / gift shop and you can learn more about the pearls with a talk, enjoy the chocolate shop and cafe, and maybe pick yourself up a treat too. It’s on the Military Road, with a panoramic outlook over the Isle of Wight’s west coast.
47. The Isle of Wight Bus and Coach Museum
Oh my dad would love it here. The Isle of Wight Bus and Coach Museum in Ryde is free and you get to climb on the buses and coaches for pics too. Not that dad would necessarily do that, but he’d love to learn about the history of public motors on the island, I’m sure.
48. Classic Boat Museum
Come along to Cowes’ Classic Boat Museum and learn all about the Isle of Wight’s rich maritime history. There are over 70 boats here, as well as artefacts, uniforms, classic yachts, motorboats and memorabilia across the Boat Shed and the Gallery.
Probably best avoided during Cowes Week, when it will be absolutely rammed.
49. Dimbola Lodge
The Dimbola Lodge is a photographic museum with tearooms, and a Jimi Hendrix statue. It was once the home of the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and is now dedicated to her life and work, and that of more contemporary photographers too.
50. The Lilliput Antique Doll and Toy Museum
Located in sunny Sandown, the Lilliput Antique Doll and Toy Museum started in the 60s with a nesting doll from Russia. There are now over 2000 items, dating from 2000BC to 1950. Come and see what the kids used to play with before Bratz, iPads and pikachus.
There are festivals year round on the Isle of Wight, it’s definitely a hotspot when it comes to the UK festival calendar. From comedy to mardi gras, to nostalgia and car shows, the Isle of Wight has something going on most weekends.
All that is for another blog post though. Let’s just stick with the top 5 Isle of Wight festivals for now, yeah?
51. Cowes Week
Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight is known as ‘the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world’. Thousands descend on the Isle of Wight for the week to watch the ships race for hours every day.
Head over to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the Cowes Week celebrations on the ground, or try and get on board one of the boats. Whatever happens, make sure to watch the last night fireworks – they’re pretty impressive!
52. Mardi Gras
The last Saturday of June is the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras. I’ve never actually made it, seeing as that’s also Glastonbury weekend, but it sounds like a good laugh and is one of the key dates on the Isle of Wight festival calendar for sure.
Held in Ryde, the parade is the star attraction although there’s dance, music, good food and drink, shows, entertainment, games and activities too. It’s one of the biggest events on the island and brings the whole community together.
53. Ventnor Fringe
The Ventnor Fringe is the Isle of Wight’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe – filled with pop up events, random parties and mystery tours.
The multi-award winning festival is an absolute highlight of the Isle of Wight festival calendar with big names among local talent. Go and support!
54. The Wight Proms
In the summer the Isle of Wight hosts the Wight Proms – cinema, comedy and musicals shown on the big screen to the seated picnikers. Held at the Grade II listed Northwood House it’s a new event to the IoW, but a popular one for all ages.
Every day has free workshops during the day, before the main event in the evening. A lovely and wholesome event for the whole family to attend.
55. The Isle of Wight Festival
The Isle of Wight Festival is an absolute stalwart on the UK festival calendar, and kicks the whole season off. It’s one of the top things to experience on the Isle of Wight.
The festival history dates back to Hendrix playing to thousands at a free concert, which was cancelled for a while, but is now back in full force. I went a few years ago to see Rod Stewart doing his thing on stage. It’s a chilled festival and attracts some of the top names in the biz.
Want to know more about the Isle of Wight festival?
Click the links below…
If you’ve got National Trust membership you’ll want to flex it on the Isle of Wight – there’s quite a bit to see and experience. If you haven’t, then it’s £72 each per year.
56. Bembridge Fort
Bembridge Fort is an unrestored Victorian fort on the Isle of Wight, where you can take guided tours through to learn more about the island’s history. Built in the 1860s, on the top of Bembridge Down it’s a fascinating place to look around – if you like forts.
57. Bembridge Windmill
The nearby Bembridge Windmill is one of the oldest attractions in the Isle of Wight. Built in the 1700s it makes for a great pic. Nowadays there’s a kiosk for coffee next door, and walking trails and nature trails nearby too. You can climb to the top to see how the mill would’ve worked back in the day.
58. Newtown Old Hall
Ok, there’s not actually that much to do at Newtown Old Hall, except revel in the history. It’s known for being the town hall of the town that’s no longer there. Newtown is now forever known as the ‘rotten borough’ thanks to the two dodgy MPs that ruined the place.
I know, only two?
Mottistone Manor Garden
Mottistone Manor Garden is a beautiful place to look around. Plant lovers and the green fingered will have a great time wandering around the beautifully pruned borders and pathways. Also, one of the top green spaces on the Isle of Wight, as mentioned above.
Needles Old Battery
Covered this one in the number one attraction in the Isle of Wight – see the beginning of the post.
What to do on the Isle of Wight for English Heritage members?
Carisbrooke Castle – £8.80 adult ticket
Osborne House – £18.50 adult ticket
St Catherine’s Oratory – free
Yarmouth Castle – £5.70
With the cost of the four of these adding up to £33, you might as well buy English Heritage membership which entitles you to go for free, for a whole year, to all the English Heritage sites around the UK.
English Heritage membership costs £60 a year (or £5 a month for a year) or, if there are two of you, you can get joint membership for £105 for the two of you – £52.50 each. It’s even cheaper for concessions, and children are free with a paying adult.
Learn more about English Heritage membership here.
There’s an amazing amount of quirky accommodation in the Isle of Wight. Everything from seaview campsites, to wooden lodges, to helicopters. Here are just a few of the sleeping options on the island, and a bit of a to do list for me as I’ve only ever stayed at Tom’s.
These circular huts are the perfect choice for your Isle of Wight break. Each one comes with a little kitchen option, and has everything you need for a wonderful night’s stay. King size beds, in a countryside retreat in the heart of Ryde – sounds fab hey?!
All your childhood teenage dreams can be realised with this two-bed in Whippingham. LOOK at the WINTER PIC. Looks magical.
Whitecliff Bay glamping bell tents
Make like a fancy festival goer and book a stay at the Whitecliff Bay glamping bell tents. You’ll get everything you need inside, with a modern toilet and shower block nearby. Dreams!
I stayed at Tom’s Eco Lodge, and even made a video about it. It really is a wonderful place, and great for kids. There’s plenty of space to run around and there are animals at the adjoining Tapnell Park Farm too.
The Garlic Farm I mentioned in the top foodie things to do also has accommodation on site – and a restaurant and a tennis court actually. It’s well located just 5 miles from Sandown Bay, and a few minutes drive from the Isle of Wight Zoo.
There are cottages, farmhouses and even a milking parlour to stay in, with stunning views out over the Isle of Wight countryside.
Oh these airstreams are awesome. Vintage Vacations have got a bunch of them lined up for you to hire with your mates. You’ll have everything you need in the airstream with views over rolling downlands on the outside.
You’ll get a few deckchairs, access to firewood and a BBQ to hire, for the ultimate in outside adventure. Yet, still nice and cosy.
The Windmill campsite on the Isle of Wight is awesome. As well as the genuine, renovated helicopter option for some shut eye, there’s also shacks, huts and campervans for hire. This place is so cool and so unique. Camping pods, hobbit houses and wildlife make this a really fun place to stay on the Isle of Wight.
Hovercraft to the Isle of Wight
Apparently, the hovercraft which shuttles between Ryde and Southsea is ‘the last remaining commercial hovercraft service in the world‘. It’s also the quickest way to get from mainland England to the Isle of Wight.
It takes around 10 minutes from Southsea seafront to Ryde, and costs upwards of £15.
TOP TIP: When you’re looking at trains to Southsea, type in Ryde as your destination, rather than Southampton or Portsmouth, and you may get a discount on your hovercraft. If you have a Network Railcard this is definitely true. Even coming from Fratton, the next station north of Portsmouth, I can get a discount on the hovercraft with my Network Railcard – and remember Network Railcards cover two people too!
You can also get a discount on Isle of Wight travel by signing up to HampshireAttractions.co.uk. Right now they’re offering 20% off the Wightlink and the Hovercraft – who knows how good the deal will be by the time you book?!
Car ferries to the Isle of Wight
If you want to take the ferry to the Isle of Wight you have a few options.
You can either go from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, which takes around 45 minutes and costs from £45 for a car.
Or, you can go from Southampton to East Cowes, which takes around an hour.
The quickest car service is from Lymington to Yarmouth, which takes around 30 minutes.
You can see a few pics from my ferry crossing from Southampton to East Cowes with Red Funnel in my write up of a day on the Isle of Wight, and the Fishbourne to Portsmouth route back again.
Foot passenger Isle of Wight ferries
As well as the car ferries above, foot passengers can also go from Portsmouth to Ryde on the FastCat catamaran foot passenger service, which takes 22 minutes.
Getting from London to the Isle of Wight is easy
If you’re coming in from London and want to travel to the Isle of Wight, it’s really not hard. As I mentioned above, make sure to put Ryde as your final destination to get the best deal on the ticket.
You’ll travel direct from Waterloo to Portsmouth and Southsea Station. You can then either pick up the bus that’ll take you right to the hovercraft, or just walk the 20 minutes over. Then it’s 10 minutes on the hovercraft and you’re there.
Takes around 2.5-3 hours from Waterloo.
Isle of Wight weather
The weather on the Isle of Wight is generally better than the rest of the UK, thanks to its location. I mean, it’s closer to France that it is Manchester.
The Isle of Wight is hottest in August, and coldest in January. It doesn’t really suffer extremes of weather, meaning it’s a good time to visit all year but if you want to sunbathe – aim for the summer months.
Visiting the Isle of Wight for a holiday
The Isle of Wight has more visitor attractions per square mile than anywhere else in the UK. That’s pretty impressive to start, right?
For an island of 147 square miles, there are a lot of things to do on the Isle of Wight. You can get pretty much anywhere within 25 minutes from the centre. It’s a fact that the Isle of Wight has more sunshine than (most) of the UK, and a good 500 hours a year more than London.
With 500 miles of footpaths there’s plenty to satisfy the walkers among us, and with over 750 restaurants, lots of places to try to keep you satiated too.
The small county of the Isle of Wight, only connected to the rest of the UK via hovercraft and ferry, really is a fascinating and fun place for your holidays.
Let me know in the comments below!
Different areas of the Isle of Wight
– Totland Bay
– East Cowes