25th June 2017
The Isle of Wight is not a big Isle; at just 13 by 23 miles, it’s like a pocket-sized version of England. You’ll discover here the chalky cliffs similar to Dover, the patchwork quilt of rolling yellow and green hills you discover in Yorkshire and Somerset, and the sandy beaches of the Cornish coast and North-west wrapped up in a single destination. Youll find you can also drive from one side of the island to the other within a mere hour.
Yet despite its small size, there is so much to do here you can’t fit it all in within a day or two. A week would be an ideal amount of time for a holiday, however this still would not be enough time for me if you have the good old English weather on your side!
The isle offers plenty to do, affordable accommodation and some decent food at what is considered good value for money by my English standards. When I say something is good ‘value for money’, I mean in terms of both the portion sizes and quality meals, which are actually harder to come by in the UK than you would think in the average restaurant. Thankfully, we are not known for great hospitality or impeccable food, we leave that to the Italians and French. But what we do offer are plenty of historical places of interest and beautiful countryside like no other, so that’s ok.
The isle is also famous for hosting the annual Isle of Wight music festival which kicks-off the festival season in the UK at the beginning of June and *touch wood* it has normally come with some good sunny weather. I would definitely look in to coming here for this and stay a few days longer to enjoy what the rest of the isle has to offer for an enjoyable week-long holiday or break 🙂
Check out the website here for more details on what this wonderful yet underrated part of the UK has to offer.
The only way to get to the Isle of Wight is by Ferry. Southamption, Lymington and Portsmouth all offer frequent ferries in the summer season (April-October) and in Winter, just a little less frequently. The time varies between 25-60 minutes so it does not take long. Alternatively there is a teeny tiny airport for air transfers.
Things to do:
Luckily there is a great supply of things to do for all ages, couples, families and even solo travellers looking to get some quiet time. Here are some of my recommended favorites – click on them to be taken straight to the websites for more information!
1 Osborne House
2 Carisbrooke Castle
3. Yarmouth Castle
4. Steam Train
5. Visit the Beach – Seriously, if you have the weather the beaches here are gorgeous.
6. Visit the Needles
7. Visit Godshed – a picturesque little village a short drive from the center of the isle!
8. Visit Shanklin Chine or Blackgang Chine
9. Doll House. This one is great for children.
When to Visit?
As the isle is small it is definitely more geared up for visitors during the summer season. I would recommend visiting from May – September, with June, July and August being the height of summer season for the UK. Perhaps visit in April or October if you don’t mind some unpredictable weather! I mean it could be either a gorgeous sunny day or windy and rain. It’s a throw of the dice in the UK during early spring/ late autumn.
My boyfriend, Jamie and I arrived into Cowes ferry docks at 10am sharp after boarding the 9am ferry at Southamption, and headed straight to our first stop for the day; gorgeous Osborne House! Fortunately it is located only a few minutes’ drive from the ferry terminal, and it opened at 10am so it was very quiet when we arrived. Even better, as we have recently joined the English heritage membership scheme for a year, entrance was free! After spending an hour exploring the house we ventured out into the gorgeous landscaped gardens, where I spent at least another hour taking pictures before we walked down to explore the doll house. We finished wandering around the estate around 1pm, and decided to grab a quick, cheap lunch on the move to our next point of call; Carisbrooke Castle.
The drive from Osborne to Carisbrooke took around 20 minutes following a short stop for lunch at the supermarket, and we spent a few hours wandering the old castle walls and exploring all the nooks and crannies this wonderful piece of history bestowed on us. We even managed to get a demonstration of how the castle donkeys used to bring up water from the well, however as opposed to the hours of gruelling work the donkeys were once subjected to, these days they are expected to put in 30 seconds of work a day. If they feel up to it. Not too bad a life for them now hey 🙂
By the time we were done with Carisbrooke, we headed to Shanklin Chine where we bought return tickets to pop back after dinner and see the place at night for the ‘Shanklin Illuminations’ display.
TIP: There is no parking at Shanklin Chine, so park along the beach or in one of the nearby carparks and walk the short distance (1-10 minutes).
TIP 2: There is a short but steep uphill walk for about a minute to get to the Shanklin Chine, and the chine itself is full of dips and short climbs and steps, so if you are travelling with someone who has walking difficulties I would not recommend you visit this particular place.
TIP 3: During the Summer Shanklin Chine turns on ‘Shanklin illuminations’ of an evening. Buy a return day ticket for £5.50 per person and see it during the day and return again at night to see it in both ways. Check out the website here for details.
The walk around the chine takes around 30 minutes, so after seeing it through daytime eyes we proceeded to walk back down to the beach and decided to have dinner at a restaurant called The Steamer Inn.
TIP: I would highly recommend visiting The Steamer Inn for for dinner! Offering Tasty meals at value for money prices, and if you wish to sit outside facing the sea all the better.
The food was the best value for money and quality meal my partner and I have had in the UK for quite some time, and that is saying something considering we have just travelled around the UK for two weeks to the Lake District, Scotland and Yorkshire! For £36 we had a glass of wine, pint of cider, and a main course each which was so delicious and filling we wouldn’t have managed to finish if we had decided to order starters, so I am glad we didn’t! And a massive dessert to share. Dessert portions were just as generous as the main courses, and after seeing the sundaes the table next to us ordered we decided to share a toffee Sunday. Which was enormous and we struggled to finish between us. Highly recommend this place if you ever visit, and they offered a fab veggie selection too – so glad we came here!
After dinner and full to bursting point, we wandered back up the road to Shanklin Chine to see it lit up at night, followed by a walk back along the beach and stopped in an old arcade – you know with the 2p machines kids are addicted to. Well some of us just never grow up – my boyfriend proceeded to win 4 keychains before we could leave.
By this time it was 9:30pm and our ferry back to Southampton was at 10:30pm, so we drove back to the ferry point at a leisurely speed listening to Ed Sheeran live at Glastonbury and watching the sky change colour by sunset, making a mental note to remember to get tickets to see him live next time they go on sale.
I had such a lovely day visiting the Isle of Wight, and I would highly recommend making a here if you are visiting the UK; or even if you live here but have never been! It is a beautiful little gem of a place with a much more leisurely pace of life than the rest of the UK has to offer. Food and accommodation is affordable and decent, and there is plenty on offer to keep families, couples or even some ‘me time’ occupied. I can’t wait to come back for a long weekend again soon!
I hope this have convinced any doubters the isle is certainly worth a visit, either for a 2 night stay or week long holiday with the family 🙂