Things to do on the Isle of Wight

Take a boat trip around the iconic Needles, chill out on sandy beaches, come face to face with a dinosaur or relax at one of the island’s many waterside restaurants

The great outdoors

The Isle of Wight, which is just  a 40-45 minute boat ride from either Portsmouth or Lymington, boasts 57 miles of stunning coastline, a wealth of award-winning beaches, bustling historic harbours and beautiful hidden coves. As a result, the Isle of Wight is a wonderful destination for lovers of the great outdoors.

A visit to the island would not be complete without a trip to The Needles, voted one of the UK’s most beautiful places. You can enjoy wonderful views of this iconic landmark by taking the chairlift from Alum Bay clifftop to the beach below, or an exhilarating boat trip around the rocks and lighthouse.

The Isle of Wight is a walker’s paradise and boasts more than 500 miles of walking routes, as well as a walking festival that takes place twice a year. There are also over 200 miles of cycling routes and bridleways.

Famous for its sailing, the island is known as ‘the home of yachting’ and there’s no better place to learn to sail or improve your skills. You’ll also find activity centres offering kayaking, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.

The island is a haven for wildlife and nature lovers will find plenty to see, from native red squirrels to beautiful butterflies and many interesting species of birds.

Island heritage

The Isle of Wight is England’s largest island and boasts a rich heritage, which can be explored at its family-friendly museums and historic sites. Delve into the island’s history from prehistoric times to the present day at the Museum of Island History or visit the impressive Carisbrooke Castle, where you can walk around the battlements and enjoy panoramic views from the castle keep. Osborne House was the holiday residence of Queen Victoria and is one of the island’s most popular attractions. The island’s mild climate is perfect for exotic plants and the house’s gardens produce a riot of colour throughout the year.

Days out with the kids

With a wealth of interesting attractions, families will never be short of things to do on the Isle of Wight. Visit Dinosaur Isle and Blackgang Chine, where you’ll find life-size replicas of dinosaurs, or the Shipwreck Centre & Maritime Museum, where you can see treasure salvaged from Spanish galleons. Kids will also love the animals at the Isle of Wight Zoo, Monkey Haven and Amazon World Zoo Park.

Retail therapy

Whether you’re looking for unusual gifts, locally produced food or something a little different for your home, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in the island’s thriving towns. Ryde sits on the edge of a sandy beach and has a good selection of specialist and independent shops. It’s a great place to browse art and craft stores, antique shops and boutiques. Newport is the island’s biggest shopping area with a mix of well-known high street names and locally owned shops. And if it’s retro you’re after, then head to the Victorian resort of Ventnor where you’ll find some lovely vintage boutiques and antique shops.

Food and drink

Take some time out during the day at one of the island’s tearooms and cafes. Try the Old Thatch Teashop in Shanklin for traditional cream teas, Wonky Cafe in Bembridge for all-day breakfasts with a view, or The Blue Door in Newport for a well-earned break after a morning’s exploring.

The island has some fabulous restaurants. You can enjoy great home-cooking at Bellamy’s Bistro in Shanklin, wonderful local produce at the family-run Mojac’s Restaurant in Cowes, and Mediterranean specialities at ADA Mediterranean Kitchen in Ryde. For fine dining, head for Thompson’s Restaurant in Newport or The Royal Hotel in Ventnor – both great destinations for a special occasion. You’ll also find plenty of traditional fish and chip shops and a great selection of Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants.

A must-visit for foodies is The Garlic Farm in Newchurch, home of the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. The farm shop has an enormous range of garlic-inspired products and an excellent cafe and restaurant.

Nightlife

In the evenings, you’ll find no shortage of things to do. The Isle of Wight has a great mix of traditional pubs and waterside bars. Popular waterside venues include the historic Spyglass Inn at Ventnor and the Steamer Inn on the esplanade in Shanklin. Both make a great destination for a relaxing drink at the end of the day. Many pubs across the island feature live music with local bands playing on many nights of the week.

The Shanklin Theatre is one of the Isle of Wight’s best-known venues. First opened in 1879, it presents a wide range of music, comedy, dance and theatre productions and has hosted some of the biggest names from the world of entertainment.

You’ll find comedy, music and live performance at the Medina Theatre in Newport, while Quay Arts, also in Newport, hosts many live shows and events. The Anthony Minghella Theatre was named after the British film director and playwright who was born in Ryde.

If you’re looking for a destination that has something for all the family, then take a look at our hotels in the Isle of Wight for your trip away.