Isle Of Wight holidays

Experience Isle Of Wight

Best Places to Visit

The Isle of Wight has long been a popular and easily accessible seaside destination for holiday makers from around the UK. With a mild climate suitable for a host of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, swimming and sailing, it is easy to understand why the island is such a popular getaway.

Ryde is the largest town on the Isle of Wight and is the first stop for many visitors. This Victorian town attracts tourists with its long stretch of beach, perfect for that sun-soaked summer holiday that many British vacationers seek out. The Esplanade area is a favourite spot for its cafés and recreational areas.

Ryde features a steep high street which is lined with traditional retail shops, souvenir shops, a cinema, and pubs and bars. A day could easily be spent ambling downwards from the top of Ryde’s high street, stopping off at the pubs, eateries and bars along the way before hopping back on a ferry in the evening.

In the centre of the island, the administrative capital of Newport is an interesting town filled with shopping areas and great restaurants. Although it is located inland, the River Medina connects the town to the northern coast. Along this river is Newport Quay, which has recently been developed into an area of art galleries, cafés and hang-out spots.

Those visiting during the first week of August may want to head to Cowes on the northern coast to witness Cowes Week, the world's oldest regatta. This large event hosts 8,500 competitors, from weekend sailors to Olympic professionals.

Families on holiday can visit Sandown as it offers many things to see and do which are geared towards children. The Isle of Wight Zoo with its tigers, lions and jaguars, as well as the dinosaur museum of Dinosaur Isle, can be found in Sandown.

Holidaymakers seeking a secluded holiday spot will want to explore Steephill Cove, located in the southernmost part of the Isle of Wight, close to Ventnor. The cove can only be accessed on foot, thus making the Bay noise- and pollution-free. Along the bay is a nice restaurant as well as a bed and breakfast.

As for beaches, it does not get better any than Shanklin, located in the south-east of the island. This seaside resort town has a sandy beach, along which are hotels and restaurants. Other attractions in Shanklin include the Old Village and the Shanklin Chine, a ravine filled with lush vegetation and waterfalls.

Top Landmarks

There are many tourist attractions on the Isle of Wight, which are worthy of a visit by travellers of all types. To explore the Isle of Wight's historical structures, travellers can visit Carisbrooke Castle, located close to Newport, in the centre of the island. This historic castle is home to the Isle of Wight Museum, which features exhibits about King Charles I, who was once imprisoned here.

Another large historic structure on the Isle of Wight is Osborne House, the beautiful provincial retreat of Queen Victoria. The complex features a walled garden, a reception area filled with exhibitions and a dining and display room with many Indian artefacts.

As far as natural landmarks go, the Isle of Wight has plenty to fill any holidaymaker's itinerary. The Needles are a row of chalk stacks that rise out of the water near Alum Bay. The name comes from the fourth rock formation, called Lot's Wife, which before it sank to the sea was the most prominent feature of the site.

Alum Bay is famous because when conditions are right, the picturesque sands, cliffs and rock formations here show distinct layers of vivid colour. Indeed, the island is famous for its coloured sands, which can be purchased as souvenirs in many island shops.

While in Ventnor, an Isle of Wight landmark worth a visit is the Ventnor Botanic Garden, which has its own warm microclimate, allowing plants such as banana trees, cactus and palms to flourish. The area is often used as a substitute film shooting location for the south of France.

Entertainment

Being a popular holiday destination, the Isle of Wight has plenty of entertainment options. The island is home to cinemas and theatres, play areas and sports and leisure centres, but actual night entertainment venues are thin on the ground.

Many of the cinemas and theatres on the Isle of Wight are located in the two major towns of Ryde and Newport. In Ryde, visitors can watch films at the Commodore Cinema, hear live music at the Venue Ryde Theatre and even play bingo at the Commodore Bingo Club. In Newport, Medina Movie Theatre and the modern Cineworld Multiplex Cinema with its luxury stadium seats as well as bar and games area are popular cinemas.

Nightlife on the Isle of Wight is limited. However, visitors can still treat themselves to night-time entertainment in some venues. In Ryde, they can go to the Qube Nightclub, a huge music venue with a capacity of 700 people, or to Liquid Lounge, a late-night bar. Those in Sandown can head to Colonel Bogey's for drinking and dancing.

Families on holiday can take their kids to a couple of play areas on the island, namely the Appley Kids Play Area and the Peter Pan Playground, both of which have children's rides and playgrounds. Both of these play areas are located in Ryde.

Finally, the more sports-minded of holidaymakers will be glad to know the Isle of Wight has an array of sporting locations to offer in its many towns. There are bowling venues, yacht clubs, golf courses, football centres and horse riding clubs.

Dining Out

There are some excellent locations to dine and drink on the Isle of Wight. Visitors are afforded a host of local and international choices, from local fare, continental food, Indian food, Thai food, tapas, French, kebab, steak and fine dining, all the way to the simple and reliable quintessential English fast food - fish and chips.

Wherever holidaymakers are on the Isle of Wight, traditional tea houses are a good choice to relax and unwind. In many tea shops, visitors are encouraged to while away the hours while sipping teas and snacking on scones with clotted cream and jam.

As for value for money, it does not get any better than the traditional English pub, which not only serves beers but also hearty English pub food. Here, tourists can enjoy pies, steaks and fish with a side of chips or salad. Visitors will want to take advantage of the bakeries on the island, too, where they can get bread, sandwiches and rolls to take to beach for a picnic.

The best dining on the Isle of Wight can be had, however, at the many seaside bistros and restaurants as they naturally offer visitors magnificent vistas of the coast. In Ryde, seaside establishments can be found on Union Street, where classy eateries and fine dining restaurants abound.

Beach

Beaches on the Isle of Wight are located mainly on the eastern and northern coasts, with a couple of beaches in the far west. The most popular ones are Alum Bay with its multicoloured sands and rocks, and Shanklin's three beaches-Appley, the Esplanade and Hope-which are good for swimming and sunbathing.

Romance

While the Isle of Wight is a widely popular destination, couples on a romantic holiday will still be able to find seclusion here. The peace and quiet offered by Steephill Cove comes highly recommended. A dinner in any of the Isle of Wight's seaside restaurants is a good option for a romantic date on the island.

Family

Families holidaying on the Isle of Wight can simply head to the island's many beaches to let the kids play in the shallow waters or build castles in the sand. The long sandy beaches of Sandown are perfect for relaxing family activities. When done with the beaches, a daytrip to the Isle of Wight Zoo and Dinosaur Isle is recommended.

Adventure

The words 'sports' and 'holidays' come together in the perfect setting on the Isle of Wight. A number of sports and recreational facilities are available for holidaymakers on the island. Sailing is especially popular owing to the fact that the oldest regatta in the world is hosted by the town of Cowes. Other sports visitors can engage in on the Isle of Wight include rowing, hockey, football and cricket.

Need to know

Language

As the Isle of Wight lies within the United Kingdom, English is the main language spoken here. Locals have a distinct accent, however, which is related to the traditional Hampshire dialect. Consonants are sometimes dropped and long vowels emphasised. Distinct local vocabulary is used here as with many regional areas in the UK; for example, a grockel is a visitor while a nipper is a young person.

Currency

The currency used in the Isle of Wight is the British pound (GBP). For those not familiar with English slang, a British pound is very often called a quid by the locals on the Isle of Wight, and indeed throughout the UK. ATMs are widely available around the island and machines dispense in £10 and £20 notes. Maestro, Visa and MasterCard are accepted at many establishments, including hotels, restaurants and shops. As cashpoints are as accessible on the Isle of Wight as they are in most regional towns, travellers from the UK won’t need to worry about bringing extra cash.

Visas

The Isle of Wight is a part of the UK so entry requirements for the UK apply. British citizens do not need to present any documentation to travel to the Isle of Wight. Nationals of other countries should check visa requirements with the UK Border Agency before arrival in the UK. Citizens of EU and EEA countries only need to present a national identity card or valid passport for stays of unlimited duration.

Climate

The climate of the Isle of Wight is characteristic of the southern climes in the UK. Although the UK isn’t renowned for good weather, summer months can see very pleasant days and the weather here is milder than the rest of the country. High temperatures in the summer average at 23°C and in the winter, low temperatures average at 8°C. This mild weather has made the Isle of Wight a popular seaside holiday spot in Britain, especially as an enjoyable alternative to costly summer holidays abroad. The best time to visit is in the summer when activities like swimming, camping, hiking, biking and sailing are possible, and tourist spots are open longer.

Main Airports

Although the Isle of Wight has a couple of airports, they don't receive commercial flights. The closest commercial airports to the Isle of Wight are in London, including London-Heathrow and London-Gatwick, and at Southampton, with passengers arriving at these airports using buses, trains or car hire to connect with ferries which cross the Solent.

Flight Options

Southampton Airport is the airport closest to the Isle of Wight. It receives flights from Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Channel Islands, as well as from flight hubs in Europe such as Barcelona and Amsterdam. The main carrier flying to and from Southampton is low-cost regional airline Flybe. London's airports offer an even wider flight selection.

Travel Advice

A popular destination among tourists due to its natural beauty and wealth of attractions, travel to the Isle of Wight can prove nice and competitive. During the summer months in particular, it can pay to shop around for a deal.

Other Transport Options

Ferries crossing the Solent are the only way to reach the Isle of Wight as it is not connected by road or train. There are several points in mainland UK from which to take ferries. In the east, Hovertravel Ferries sail from Southsea to Ryde Esplanade, while Wightlink Ferries sail from Portsmouth to Ryde Pier Head as well as from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. The Southsea Hovertravel is a fast ferry service at just 10 minutes between the two points, running regularly throughout the day, with the last ferry back to Southsea at 21:45. From Southampton, travellers can take Red Funnel ferries to West Cowes or East Cowes. In the west, Wightlink ferries sail from Lymington to Yarmouth.

Getting Around

There are no internal flights on the island as the Isle of Wight is small enough to be covered overland. Buses are a good way to get around, even if they are expensive by local standards. The rail line running in the Isle of Wight only covers the eastern part of the island. Driving a private or rented vehicle is a good way to explore the island without having to rely on public transport.

Car

A good way of getting around the Isle of Wight is to use a private or rented vehicle. Ferries from the mainland can carry cars. Otherwise, there are local companies that rent cars, vans, motorbikes and bicycles.

Train

The Isle of Wight has a single public rail service running north to south in the eastern portion of the island. The rail service is run by Island Line and ferries passengers from Ryde Pier Head to Sandown and back.

Bus

Expensive by local standards, buses are nevertheless a popular way of getting around as the network covers many towns in the Isle of Wight. The main bus line is run by Southern Vectis. Its open-top buses are a good option for sightseeing. Buses are also run by Wightbus to Ventnor, Havenstreet and Brading.

MAP

FACTS

  1. The Isle of Wight is host to two huge annual festivals – Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival – along with a few smaller ones, too. Previous stars to grace the island’s festivals have included Outkast, Fleetwood Mac, Blur and the Prodigy.
  2. Many believe the island’s name to be a different spelling of the word “white”, referring to the colour of its cliffs. In fact, “Wight” derives from the Saxon word “whit”, meaning a creature or living thing.
  3. Due to its separation from the mainland, a maximum-security prison was established on the island in 1863 (HM Prison Parkhurst, now part of HMP Isle of Wight).

FACTS

  1. The Isle of Wight is host to two huge annual festivals – Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival – along with a few smaller ones, too. Previous stars to grace the island’s festivals have included Outkast, Fleetwood Mac, Blur and the Prodigy.
  2. Many believe the island’s name to be a different spelling of the word “white”, referring to the colour of its cliffs. In fact, “Wight” derives from the Saxon word “whit”, meaning a creature or living thing.
  3. Due to its separation from the mainland, a maximum-security prison was established on the island in 1863 (HM Prison Parkhurst, now part of HMP Isle of Wight).

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