Whether you’re planning a day trip to the Isle of Wight or looking for a longer stay, take a look at the top 10 sights and attractions you should see and do for yourself, all under an hours drive away:
Just an hour from Southampton by ferry, even quicker from Lymington or Portsmouth, it’s easy to see why the Isle of Wight has always been one of the UK’s favourite holiday hotspots.
The island boasts lush English countryside, world-class sandy beaches, and a variety of great attractions. There’s plenty of fun and adventure for thrill-seekers but, equally, there are lots of ways to recharge those batteries and take the time to simply sit back, soak up the scenery, and relax.
If you’re the sort of person who loves to explore, there are so many things to do on the Isle of Wight that you’ll find it hard to fit them all in during just the one trip. You’ll soon see why so many people return year after year.
If you’re planning a trip, we’ve assembled this handy guide to the island and its top attractions. Read on to find out more.
10 things to do on the Isle of Wight
1. Isle of Wight Zoo. Located within the ruins of a Victorian fort, the Isle of Wight Zoo is hugely popular among local residents and tourists alike. Here, you can drop in on a diverse range of animal residents, including rescued big cats as well as birds, farm animals, lions, lemurs and (everyone’s favourite) monkeys.
2. Amazon World. Home to a whole host of rare and exotic animals, Amazon World allows visitors to get up close and personal with creatures from across the animal kingdom – including ‘Meet the Animals’ talks where you can see them first hand.
3. Dinosaur Isle. Take a trip back in time (around 120 million years back in time, to be more precise) with a visit to Dinosaur Isle at Sandown. Thrilling and enthralling for both the young and the young at heart, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the dinosaurs that once walked the Isle of Wight.
4. Isle of Wight Steam Railway. For a rather more recent trip back in time, try the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Take a trip through five and a half miles of beautiful countryside in restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages.
5. Robin Hill Country Park. With a generous 88 acres of stunning countryside, Robin Hill Country Park is a massive draw. You’ll find everything from relaxing woodland gardens to falconry here.
6. Ventnor Botanic Garden. Situated in its own unique microclimate, the Ventnor Botanic Garden brings together a carefully curated selection of trees and shrubs. This unique garden is sheltered by chalk downs, protecting it from chilly northerly winds, and enabling it to play host to a remarkable outdoor collection of subtropical plants.
7. Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. Providing a welcoming home to rescued or abandoned donkeys and ponies, the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary allows you to meet and interact with the local animal residents, with a great programme of events.
8. Godshill Model Village. A labour of love since the late 1960s, Godshill Model Village features a charming range of 1950s-themed model buildings and figures, providing the perfect excuse to indulge in some highly agreeable nostalgia.
9. The Garlic Farm. For something distinctively quirky, pay a visit to the Garlic Farm. It’s a family-run business that’s been growing garlic for four decades, and invites you to learn about, experiment with and, of course, taste the produce.
10. Needles Old Battery & New Battery. Take in some fascinating military history as well as amazing views of the Solent and nearby countryside at Needles Old Battery & New Battery, a must-see for any visitor to the Isle of Wight.
Explore the best beaches on the Isle of Wight
Among the island’s various attractions, Isle of Wight beaches are particularly renowned and celebrated. The island boasts around 57 miles of charismatic coastline, with marvellous beaches easy to come by.
Here’s our quick and handy rundown of the very best beaches on the Isle of Wight:
- Sandown Bay Beach: A deserving winner of the 2019 Countryfile Awards Beach of the year with miles of golden sand backed by a pleasure pier. It’s about traditional bucket and spade fun here, but fossil-rich cliffs are just a short stroll away.
- Shanklin Beach: If you’re seeking a quintessentially English seaside experience, Shanklin Beach is the place to be. Not only does the beach feature an expanse of golden sand, but it’s right next door to a traditional seaside promenade with cafes, beach shops, and more.
- Freshwater Bay: For a more laid-back and picturesque bathing spot, the wonderful Freshwater Bay is the perfect choice. Notable for the flint and chalk pebbles that cover it, it also features sandy stretches below its low water mark and towards its eastern side.
- Ventnor Beach: Combining red shingle with golden sand, Ventnor Beach has won Blue Flag and Seaside awards. From the charming beach huts to the local amusement arcade, there’s everything you need for a wonderful day at the seaside (plus delicious ice cream).
- Ryde Beach: With long, lush stretches of golden sand, Ryde Beach offers outstanding views across the Solent towards Portsmouth as well as a great range of amenities – including those all-important deckchairs and sun loungers.
- Bembridge Beach:Situated along the coast near the spit at Bembridge harbour, Bembridge Beach is a stone and pebble beach with sand below the high water mark. In the summer months, there are great views of the boats heading in and out of the harbour.
- Yaverland Beach: A welcoming place to enjoy a quick dip, Yaverland Beach is a stone’s throw from Dinosaur Isle. It’s also one of the Isle of Wight’s ‘dinosaur’ beaches, so you never know when you’ll stumble across a real-life fossil!
- Alum Bay Beach: Nestled alongside the dramatic chalk stacks known as The Needles, Alum Bay Beach boasts inviting clear waters perfect for wading into. Other nearby amenities include a fully licensed tea room and shops.
- Cowes Beach: An intimate pebble and shell-covered beach with some sand below the low water mark, Cowes Beach is just a short walk from the town and is handy for a great range of restaurants and cafes. In the summer, it also provides a vantage point for watching sailing events.
The best walks on the Isle of Wight
If you’re the sort of person who loves nothing more than taking in the scenery and enjoying a relaxing, lengthy stroll, the Isle of Wight is just the place thanks to its breathtaking coastline and beautiful forests. There are hundreds of miles of walks. Isle of Wight coastal walks, in particular, are brilliant opportunities for exploring the island. The Isle of Wight Coastal Path encompasses 67 miles of walks, mostly easy to navigate with generally mild ascents.
In addition, there are plenty of Isle of Wight circular walks to enjoy. One of the more popular is the Warrior Trail, a relatively new route in the West Wight area. It’s named after a celebrated horse that served in some of the biggest set-piece battles of the First World War.
The Warrior Trail follows a similar route to that along which Warrior himself was exercised, while cyclists can branch off to explore the nearby villages of Brighstone and Yafford (the latter being Warrior’s birthplace).
10 places to visit on the Isle of Wight
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover or a culture vulture, there’s plenty to keep you busy on the Isle of Wight. Check out 10 amazing Isle of Wight attractions all less than an hours drive from one of our two hotels
1. Osborne House: The former family home of Queen Victoria, a visit to Osborne will soon show just why this magnificent mansion was so beloved of royalty. Explore its expansive gardens, or luxuriate in its lavish interiors.
2. Carisbrooke Castle: Having been everything from a royal summer residence to the prison of King Charles I, Carisbrooke Castle just oozes history. Here you can relive that history for yourself, including dressing up as a soldier and learning how to fire cannons.
3. Shanklin Chine: Celebrated by poets and once treasured as a place for natural healing, Shanklin Chine is a stunning wooden coastal ravine with lots of beautiful vegetation and waterfalls to explore. The Chine has a fascinating history too, having served as both a smuggling route and a spa at varying points.
4. Quarr Abbey: Situated between the villages of Binstead and Fishbourne, the Benedictine monastery at Quarr Abbey contains some of the most significant 20th century religious architecture anywhere in England. It features a visitor centre and exhibition space as well as a relaxing tea and farm shop.
5. Brading Roman Villa: In a stunning location overlooking Sandown Bay, Brading Roman Villa houses the ruins of a remarkable Roman villa dating from the middle of the first century. Here you can examine the villa’s stunning mosaics and learn more about the Roman empire’s history on the island.
6. The Needles: We’ve already mentioned the New and Old Batteries, but there’s much more to The Needles. These iconic chalk pillars (and their distinctive red-and-white lighthouse) form a striking natural landmark and have become a major draw for visitors.
7. Yarmouth Castle: Once an impressive Tudor castle as part of Henry VIII’s coastal defences, Yarmouth Castle now makes a wonderful picnic spot, offering beautiful views over the Solent.
8. Bembridge Fort: A Victorian fort built in the 1860s and currently in the process of being restored to its former glory, Bembridge Fort is open to the public for guided tours. Volunteers will talk you through the fort’s remarkable history.
9. Mottistone Gardens: Surround yourself with the enchanting, colourful beauty of Mottistone Gardens. The gardens are set around an Elizabethan manor house and include a traditional tea garden.
10. Monkey Haven Learn more about the important work of the team at Monkey Haven, which provides a home for rescued primates including gibbons, lemurs and capuchins. Other animal residents at Monkey Haven include owlets, snakes and meerkats.
Great Isle of Wight Festivals
Since the first-ever Isle of Wight Festival in 1968, the island has become renowned as a vibrant destination for music lovers. The Isle of Wight Festival was revived in 2002 after a 32-year absence, and is once again established as one of the major events in the UK summer calendar.In its original incarnation, the Isle of Wight Festival played host to some of the titans of rock and roll of the late 60s and early 70s. Most famously, Jimi Hendrix played his last-ever performance in England at the festival in 1970. Other world-famous names to have played there during this era included Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Doors and Miles Davis.
This fine heritage continues to this day, with the Isle of Wight Festival regularly drawing crowds in excess of 50,000 to watch diverse line-ups. The original festival has since been complemented by a whole host of others, including Jack Up the ’80s, an ‘80s nostalgia event which each year hoses some of the biggest musical names of the decade.
There’s also the more family-orientated Hullabaloo at Sandown Bay, at which a wide range of cultural activities take place every year – ranging from arts and crafts to scientific exploration. Best of all, it’s entirely free of charge for attendees.
If that’s whetted your appetite, book your dream Isle of Wight break today with Warner Leisure Hotels. Find out more about our local holiday accommodation at Norton Grange Holiday Village and Bembridge Coast Hotel.