England’s largest island, the beautiful Isle of Wight, is the perfect place for a holiday, and has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times. Its location in the English Channel means that it has mild weather throughout the year, and it’s really easy to reach from the south coast of England by either ferry or - more excitingly - hovercraft! The Isle of Wight also plays host to a range of events throughout the year, from music festivals like Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival through to Cowes Week, the longest-running sailing regatta in the world, so book your cottage in plenty of time and enjoy your holiday on this truly magical island!
Fun Facts about the Isle of Wight
- Every year the Isle of Wight holds its own Garlic Festival! You can even try garlic ice-cream!
- The Isle of Wight is supposed to be the most haunted island in the world! There are said to be everything from ghost monks, poltergeists and grey ladies to phantom smugglers and soldiers wandering the island!
- The Isle of Wight is one of the only places left in the UK where you can see red squirrels - most of the native population on the mainland has been ousted by the imported grey squirrel
Where to Stay on the Isle of Wight
The island is scattered with attractive towns and villages, and the island’s small size means that wherever you choose to base your accommodation you can still explore the whole island. The capital, and main shopping centre, is Newport, situated in the middle of the island. However, the chances are you will want to be within walking distance of the sea. We recommend looking at holiday homes in Ryde, on the north east coast. It is a very pretty town with some lovely independent shops and boutiques. If you’re travelling with children, consider renting a cottage in Sandown, which has a real “traditional seaside resort” feel including a pier, and tons to do for all the family. If you are interested in sailing, then make sure you are based in Cowes in the north of the island. Booking through Wimdu means that you can specify exactly what sort of accommodation you are looking for, whether that is a self-catering guest house with a swimming pool for a family holiday, or a cliff-top cottage for a romantic weekend away.
Things to Do and See on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight may be compact, but it has a huge variety of activities to do and sights to see. One of the most famous beaches, and an absolute must-visit is Alum Bay which is famous for the different colours of sand on the beach. You can buy a glass paperweight with stripes of coloured sand, and take it back to your cottage as a souvenir. From Alum Bay you can also see The Needles, the famous offshore rocks off the western coast. You can also walk up to the Needles Old Battery, which was an early sea defence.
If you are on a family holiday, make sure you take the kids to Blackgang Chine. The “Chine” is an old Isle of Wight name for the gorge through which you could walk to the sea, but it collapsed many years ago. It is now a very strange but quite enchanting theme park - in fact it is the oldest theme park in the world! Another fun family trip is to take a ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway which recreates an old branch line from the early 20th century.
For a more sedate day out, head to the south coast of the island and have a wander through the Ventnor Botanic Garden - the climate is so warm on that side of the island that palm trees and cactus grow quite happily, as do banana trees! The Botanic Garden is often used in TV dramas as a stand-in for the South of France!
Festivals on the Isle of Wight
Throughout the year the Isle of Wight offers a packed schedule of events! If you are a music fan, then you should seriously think about booking accommodation during the Isle of Wight Music Festival, an institution on the island since 1968! In 1970, when Jimi Hendrix headlined, the festival attracted 700,000 people to the island, despite the population of the island being only 100,000 at the time! Bestival is also worth the journey - although it has only been going since 2004 it has already become a fixture in every serious festival-goer’s calendar!
And of course, no serious sailing enthusiast would miss bringing their boat over to the island for Cowes Week. This is the one of the longest-running sailing regattas in the world, with 40 daily races involving a thousand boats! Whether you sail or not, booking a bed and breakfast during Cowes Week will put you right in the centre of one of the greatest maritime spectacles in the UK!
Unless you have your own boat, you will arrive at the island from Portsmouth or Southampton by either ferry or hovercraft. Once you are on the island, we recommend hiring a bike - often self-catering accommodation will come with a bike or two, so check with your Wimdu host! The Isle of Wight has over 200 miles of cycle paths both on and off road, so perfect for a healthy holiday! If you would prefer to use public transport, there is a good bus service, and also there is a single railway line, which runs between Ryde and Sandown and Shanklin. If you’re not bringing a car and don’t want to cycle then make sure your holiday home is within walking distance of a train station or bus stop! However you decide to travel we know you will love your island holiday and will be coming back time and time again!