Located off southern England, the Isle of Wight is not only a destination for UK school children but a quaint little get away, especially from London. Catch the train down to either Southampton or Portsmouth and make a day of it or a short weekend away.
There are three main companies to travel to the island. You can travel as a foot passenger or via vehicle barge.
Southampton <> East Cowes (vehicle or bicycle)
Southampton <> West Cowes (foot passenger)
Portsmouth <> Fishbourne (car ferry)
Lymington <> Yarmouth (car ferry)
Portsmouth <> Ryde
Portsmouth <> Ryde
You can travel around the island by car, limited train routes or by using the Southern Vectis buses. There are single trips and day pass's available.
Now you are on the island, it is time to discover the town which make up the majority of the population. Let’s start off with the centre town, Newport.
After your journey you may be a little hungry so I will suggest stopping at Town Choice Café to beat the hunger. My recommendation would be the baguettes made to order by the friendliest staff around.
Once you have your strength back, it’s time to head back in time and visit the Carisbrooke Castle. The castle dates back to the Saxon era and was once home to Charles the first who was held as a prisoner here before his execution. It costs Pounds 8.30 to enter and houses a café, restaurant and gift shop. The opening times can change throughout the year but will most likely be open from 10.00-16.00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Back in the town and you will find the Quay Arts centre. Take a class, workshop, pick up a crafty gift, artwork or enjoy a meal. There is also high street shopping and local pubs to check out. From Newport, you can get the bus anywhere on the island.
Out to the West you will find Alum Bay. This bay is home to coloured sand caused by the oxidisation of iron compounds. It sounds complicated but is a nice sight to see. Take a short chairlift ride down to the pebble beach to gain a closer look and the opportunity to tour the attraction known as ‘The Needles’. The naturally formed rocks are some of the most photographed in the world. It is open 10AM – 4PM year round with a later closing time during the summer months.
On the opposite side of the island you will find the towns of Sandown and Shanklin. Sandown is a classic English beach resort. The promenade straddles the pebble beach with ice cream booths along the way. Choose between old school arcade games, mini golf or head to the Sandown Zoo.
You will be surprised to know the Roman Empire reached out as far as the UK, even making a settlement on the Isle of Wight. Located not far from the town of Brading, you can visit the old Roman Ruins. It costs £9.50 for entry and is open 10AM to 5PM daily.
If you are in the sailing community, you will have heard of Cowes. The town is home to the Royal London Yacht club and for a week each year, it is the home to sailing. During August, 100,000 people descend for Cowes Week - a week of races and celebrations. It is here you can find some of the local music talent playing to the crowds. One musical artist who regularly makes an appearance is Alex Katsikides. Check out the website to get the latest gig dates for a great live show.
The Isle of Wight has the honour of opening the English Summer festival season. The Isle of Wight Festival attracts some pretty big headliners with bands like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and The Police playing in the past. Later on in the year the island hosts Bestival. It is a multi-award winning festival held in September. Join in the thousands of revellers and dress to match the theme. You will be the odd one out if you don’t.
In the southern part of the island you can find Ventnor – a pristine seaside town, Godshill – famous for arts, craft and delicious treats and Blackgang – a town close to a site for dinosaur fossils and a small theme park.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.