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Pocket Guide: Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight lures in an impressive number of visitors each year. Leaving from ports across the south of England, ferries carry holidaymakers across the glassy Solent to this unique and enchanting island. Awaiting them is a wealth of world-class beaches, a glut of fascinating attractions and a diverse spread of towns, both bustling and sleepy. To complete the package, the Isle of Wight is home to some of the most exquisite hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts in the United Kingdom.

Step On to Dry Land at Lively Cowes

One of the most popular landing spots on the Isle of Wight is the northern town of Cowes. From the minute you approach Cowes on the ferry, it's plain to see that the bustling town has a strong nautical identity. Host to the famous Cowes Week, the town operates as a hub for dinghy and yacht racing all through the year. Come rain or shine, the smattering of yachts that sit alongside the town on the River Medina make a picturesque backdrop all year round.

Heading into Cowes itself, visitors will find a variety of independent shops and excellent places to eat and drink. Wandering round to the northern edge of the town, the esplanade offers a glorious view back across the Solent to the mainland. There's even a small beach which is equally good for swimming and watching the races.

Hotels near the Needles

The Isle of Wight boasts some spectacular and dramatic coastal scenes, but none so well known as the iconic Needles, on the eastern tip of the island. This quiet part of the island is all about natural beauty, from the multi-coloured sands of Alum Bay to the clean sea air of Tennyson Down.

The Highdown Inn offers a quaint and traditional stay, within easy reach of all the eastern attractions. Those who are keen to centre their holiday around the beautiful beach at Freshwater Bay can choose from a number of hotels on the Isle of Wight, including the Albion Hotel and Freshwater Bay House.

Embrace the Island's History

The seemingly timeless countryside of the Isle of Wight belies a fascinating and rich history. From castles and Roman Villas to dinosaur museums and fossil expeditions, there's plenty of historic attractions for those with an interest in the past.

However, the bulk of the island's historical attractions lie in the east. The towns of Shanklin and Sandown offer the best variety of hotels and B&Bs for those keen to explore these exciting sites.

The Peaceful Victorian Town of Ventnor

Islanders are spoiled for panoramic ocean views, but there's no denying that some of the best are off to the south, across the Channel. Among the best places to take in these views is the Victorian seaside resort of Ventnor.

The small town is peppered with exquisite bed and breakfasts, many of which are houses in stunning period properties. The Wellington Hotel and The Royal Hotel both capture the town's charm, and offer easy access to the seafront esplanade. As with most towns on the island, Ventnor is an easy place from which to explore the rest of the island's delights and attractions.