Isle of Wight
Award-winning beaches, idyllic countryside and a stunning coastline
ross the half a mile of water that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland and you’ll discover dinosaur footprints, traditional seaside resorts, world-renowned sailing villages, idyllic countryside and miles of stunning coastline. And it couldn’t be easier to explore the island with over 500 miles of footpaths and plenty of award-winning beaches perfect for a cooling dip when the sun gets too hot.
History and Heritage
What do you get if you cross a dinosaur, a Roman villa and a monarch? Fascinating history, that’s what. As you wander the island’s coastline, you’ll come across the footprints and fossilised remains of dinosaurs that roamed the island over 120 million years ago. See where Charles I was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle , soak up maritime heritage at Cowes and explore the Roman Villa at Brading.
Must See Attractions
Take the spectacular Needles Park chairlift down past the coloured-cliffs to the attractions before joining a boat trip around the island's most famous landmark. Making the most of Undercliff’s microclimate, the Ventnor Botanic Garden is a horticultural haven for those passionate about plants. To experience the joy of steam head to Havenstreet and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway .
Food and Drink
Cook your own steak on a hot volcanic brick at Yarmouth’s On the Rocks or let Michelin Star chef Robert Thompson show-off his skills at The Hambrough in Ventnor. For a relaxed vibe and top food head to Seven in Brighstone, or make your way to Steephill Cove near Ventnor for a delicious freshly-caught crab pasty.
With more than 500 miles of footpaths, ramblers should be raising their walking poles in joy at the prospect of exploring the Isle of Wight’s coast and countryside. From scenic off-road routes to gentle trails through nature reserves, mountain bikers are spoilt for choice. Want more? Cowes is an international sailing hot spot whilst the long beaches and rolling hills are perfect for watersports and paragliding.
Queen Victoria loved the island so much she built her summer home, Osborne House , at East Cowes. The stunning scenery also worked its magic on creative types from the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson who lived at Freshwater to the Oscar-winning film director Anthony Minghella who was born at Ryde. Even Karl Marx visited while writing The Communist Manifesto. Bumbling psychedelic popsters The Bees also hail from the island.
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival in May is the UK’s biggest and best – from falconry to fossil hunting these guided walks redefine what it is to take a stroll. With nail-biting races, thousands of beautiful boats and shore side activities, the Cowes Week international sailing regatta is the highlight of the summer. And a colourful carnival kicks off the Ryde Arts Festival and Regatta in style every July.
Music and Nightlife
The Isle of Wight Festival sees big guns like Jay-Z and the Strokes trying to recapture the magic of Hendrix’s legendary 1970 performance. Each September, Rob da Bank’s Bestival brings a diverse line-up of acts and thousands of merry pranksters with a penchant for fancy dress. Catch a gig at the Venue at Ryde Theatre and Shanklin Theatre , or rip up the dancefloor at the Balcony Nightclub in Ryde.
Stare up into the terrifying gnashers of the dinosaurs that once roamed freely across the Isle of Wight at Dinosaur Isle in Sandown. For a splash-about or a serious swim, Sandown’s gently sloped sandy beach is ideal for all the family whereas thrill-seekers should have a scream at Blackgang Chine Fantasy Park . The little ones can dress up as soldiers at Carisbrooke Castle or meet the animals at the Isle of Wight Zoo .
Psst... Handy Hints
Walk along the sea front at Ryde to get great views of Portsmouth across the water.
When fossil-hunting be sure to keep your eyes peeled for small jet black rocks – these are dinosaur bones.
Be sure to take the free horse-drawn carriage ride down to the Swiss Cottage.Osborne House
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