Just off England’s south coast, the Isle of Wight is a country in its own right and the largest island of England. It is accessible by both ferry and hovercraft services from the mainland to harbours at Yarmouth, Ryde, Fishbourne and Cowes – only two hours from London, which makes for an ideal day trip with numerous such tours offered.
The Isle covers an area of 380 square kilometres and with its central, hilly spine, visitors can view different sides of the island from the same vantage point.
Best known for 1970’s Isle of Wight music festival which brought Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, numerous other bands and some 600,000 spectators to the island for five days of music, festivals are still a main attraction here, including the updated Isle of Wight Festival, relaunched in 2002.
Queen Victoria herself was a frequent visitor, building her summer residence, Osborne House, at East Cowes. The Victorian Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, lived at the western point of the island at Freshwater.
Things to do on the Isle of Wight
Walkers and bicyclers alike enjoy the Isle of Wight with numerous well-kept footpaths and cycleways, including a 62 mile ‘Round the Island’ route for cyclists and 67 miles of long-distance coastal footpath.
It remains festivals, however, which attract the largest numbers, big crowds piling onto the Isle during the summer months.
‘Cowes Week’ is perhaps the famous sailing event in the UK, with the regatta taking place each August.
There’s one type of festival or another almost every summer weekend, be that music, literature, the arts, food… even garlic. The island’s microclimate suits it well for growing garlic bulbs. The annual Garlic Festival at Newchurch provides the opportunity to sample both traditional and more exotic culinary expressions – including garlic beer and garlic ice cream.
Top Destinations on the Isle of Wight
Carisbrooke Castle – Now an English Heritage property, the castle was once a prison for the beleaguered King Charles I during the English Civil War. Tours of the castle and grounds are a must for visitors to Isle of Wight and include some of the best views on the island.
Osbourne House – Queen Victoria’s favourite summer retreat, the house is open to the public as a museum displaying all sorts of royal ephemera. In the gardens of the main house, lies the Swiss Cottage, a home-in-miniature for Victoria’s nine children.
Blackgang Chine – This popular family amusement park developed in an area supposedly known for its smuggling activities. Due to the instability of the coastline and the continual threat of landslides, the attractions are continually being moved inland onto firmer ground.
Bembridge Lifeboat Station – Boats still run aground on this particularly dangerous rocky outcropping on the eastern tip of the island.
The Needles – An iconic image from the Isle of Wight, this series of remarkable chalk stacks sit out to sea at the western-most point of the island. The red and white striped Needles Lighthouse stands at the end of the line of rocks.
A perfect three-day weekend on the Isle of Wight features guided visits to Osbourne House, the Needles as well as the on-island Bombay gin distillery.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Wight
Looking for Isle of Wight cottages? We’ve got you covered!
From holiday cottages in Cowes to seaview Isle of Wight accommodations, there are some incredible properties.
Sea View Lodge (Ventnor)
Newly renovated and right on the water with tons of natural light. Flat walk to the beach and easy walk to all nearby amentities.
Luxury Waterfront Apartment (Cowes)
Luxury waterfront apartment in Cowes. Enjoy views of the harbor from the balcony. The main bedroom has a substantial en suite.
Solent Landing (Bembridge)
Seaside home moments from the beach in Bembridge. Garden and beach fronted terraced townhouse with storage for kayaks, paddle boards, bikes, etc. Panoramic views of the Solent and Bembridge harbour.
Brambles Farm Bungalow (West Wight)
Peaceful rural location with lovely sea views. Beautiful views of the sea and short walk to the beach. A tranquil option that's still an easy walk or drive to nearby attractions. Great affordable option with room for the whole family/group.
Solent Views Townhouse (Cowes)
Located on prestigious Castle Road, the townhouse overlooks the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal London Yacht Club and Royal Ocean Racing Club. Two minute walk to the beach.
Cliff Top House (Sandown)
Enjoy uninterrupted seaside views from this cliff top house between Sandown and Shanklin. Walk to either from the Wight Coastal path just outside the house.
St. Davids Coastal Home (Yarmouth)
Detached coastal home with expansive views overlooking the Solent. Just a short walk from Yarmouth, the house has been fully refurbished. Spacious dining area and a conservatory.
Modern Seaside Home (Cowes)
Sleek, modern home with stunning views. Relax in luxury with high-end furnishings and underfloor heating. Roof terrace expands the already incredible views from the other floors.