With 57 miles of stunning coastline packed with award-winning beaches, hidden coves, bustling harbours and spectacular cliffs, the Isle of Wight is a great destination for a short break away
Why visit the Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight has miles of wonderfully varied coastline and countryside, so if you want to spend quality time in the great outdoors, you’ll find plenty to fill your days here.
Relax on one of the island’s award-winning sandy beaches, or explore the island on foot, by bike or on horseback. Take in stunning views of natural wonders such as The Needles and spot seabirds, red squirrels and beautiful butterflies. If you enjoy watersports the island is an ideal choice, so take to the water and learn to sail at ‘the home of yachting’. Activity centres on the island also offer a range of popular watersports, including kayaking, surfing and paddleboarding.
England’s largest island boasts a rich heritage and you can explore its history, from prehistoric times to the present day, at museums and historic sites such as Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House. The Isle of Wight is known as the dinosaur capital of the UK and the whole family will love the life-size replicas of these prehistoric beasts on show at Dinosaur Isle and Blackgang Chine. The island has a great selection of other family attractions too, from Amazon World Zoo Park to the Shipwreck Centre, so you’ll find plenty to do whatever the weather.
As many of the island’s towns are on the coast, you can easily combine lazing on a beautiful sandy beach with browsing vintage boutiques, antique shops or one of the island’s many art and craft galleries. There are plenty of waterside eateries where you can take a break and enjoy a traditional cream tea, great home cooking or fine dining. In the evenings, you can relax at a waterside pub, enjoy live music with a group of friends, or take in some culture at one of the island’s theatres.
A brief history
It is thought the Isle of Wight was separated from the mainland around 7,000 years ago and it is renowned for the abundance of fossilized animal, plant and dinosaur remains discovered in the cliffs and on the beaches around its coastline. There are some fascinating Stone Age and Bronze Age sites to explore at Mottistone, Brook Down and Headon Warren, as well as the remains of Roman villas at Newport and Brading.
The Normans took control of the Isle of Wight following the invasion in 1066 and built Carisbrooke Castle and Priory. They remained in power until the island was sold to the crown in 1293.
The Isle of Wight was of strategic military importance, being vulnerable to attack from the French and the Spanish, and further fortifications were constructed by Henry VIII at Cowes, Fort Victoria and Yarmouth during the 16th-century. Osborne House was built for Queen Victoria between 1845 and 1851 and was used as a retreat for the royal family throughout her lifetime.
When is the best time to visit?
With its mild climate and wealth of visitor attractions, the Isle of Wight is great to visit at any time of the year. It also hosts some of the country’s best-loved festivals, so you may want to plan your weekend breaks to coincide with one of these fantastic events.
The season kicks off with the Acoustic Isle Festival at the end of February, which features an eclectic mix of musical entertainment from local musicians in pubs and venues across the island.
Walkers flock to the island for The Isle of Wight Walking Festival. It is the largest event of its type in Europe, with over 250 walks in May, including fossil hunting trips and literary trails, and more than 70 events during the Autumn Walking Weekend in October.
The Isle of Wight celebrates its maritime heritage at the Festival of the Sea in June, and with Cowes Week, the largest sailing regatta in the world, in August. Food lovers will not want to miss the Garlic Festival in August, which features live cooking demos, as well as hundreds of food and craft stalls.
Also taking place in August is the Bestival music festival, where past performers have included Stevie Wonder, Kraftwerk and The Cure. But the biggest festival of all has to be the world-famous Isle of Wight Festival, which takes place annually in June. From the legendary performances of Jimi Hendrix and The Who in 1970 to Amy Winehouse, Coldplay and David Bowie in the Noughties, the festival has hosted the biggest names in entertainment and is a mecca for music fans across the globe.
By ferry: There are frequent crossings from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington, linking to Ryde, Cowes, East Cowes, Fishbourne and Yarmouth.
By rail: There are excellent rail links to the major ferry ports from across the UK. On the island, the Island Line train runs between Ryde and Shanklin.
By bus: Portsmouth and Southampton coach stations are close to the passenger ferries providing easy links with the rest of the UK. There are regular local bus services running to destinations across the island, plus a hop-on, hop-off service and open-top tours. The island also has an excellent network of footpaths and cycleways.
Check out our hotels in the Isle of Wight and indulge in everything that this perfect getaway destination has to offer.