Isle of Wight travel guide and visitor information

Isle of Wight, Isle of Wight

Visit Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is an island situated a few miles off the coast of Hampshire (southern England) and separated from the mainland by the Solent. It is a small island at just 23 miles east to west and 13 miles north to south, with the southern coast facing the English Channel.

A signifcant part of the island, most of the western part, is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and approximately half of its 60 mile coastline has been designated as a protected heritage site.

The Isle of Wight is very popular with visitors, predominantly because of (a) its seaside resorts and (b) the opportunity to walk and cycle through such impressive scenery. It is also a very highly regarded sailing centre, especially around the town of Cowes.

While the scenery of the island is remarkably diverse given its small size, with moorland, woodlands, farming areas and attractive coastline it is for the dramatic cliffs that it is best known, especially those to the west of the Isle of Wight, with the area around Alum Bay and the dramatic rocks of the Needles being the highlight (these are found at the most western point of the island). The east of the island is more developed with several popular resorts found along the south-east coast in particular.

Isle of Wight villages and towns

The most important towns on the Isle of Wight are Yarmouth and Freshwater (to the west), Cowes and East Cowes (northern coast), Newport (capital of the island, in the central region), and Ryde (the largest town on the Isle of Wight), Pembridge, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor (moving north to south along the eastern side of the island).

Other significant towns include Calbourne and Brighstone (eastern-central), Wootton (north-east), Bembridge and Brading (east) and Saint Lawrence to the south. Elsewhere across the island there are also many smaller towns and villages to explore, often very picturesque

Attractions and stately homes

  • The most important stately home on the Isle of Wight is Osborne House (near Cowes), 19th century summer residence and home to Queen Victoria. Osborne House is a substantial stately home in an unusual style that takes many elements of its design from Italian palazzos.
  • Close to Newport, Carisbrooke Priory and Carisbrooke Castle (10th-14th centuries) are both interesting monuments.
  • Appuldurcombe House, a partly restored 18th century mansion near Wroxall and Godshill

Garden enthusiasts will also find much to enjoy on the Isle of Wight, including the pretty mediterranean gardens and manor house at Mottistone Manor and the extensive Ventnor Botanic Gardens.

There are also many other 'man-made' attractions: animal and wildlife parks, theme parks, steam railways etc across the island to ensure children are entertained while adults might prefer disovering some of the traditional country pubs tucked away in the Isle of Wight villages.

Isle of Wight ferries

To reach the Isle of wight it is necesary to take one of the very frequent ferries or hovercraft that operate from Southsea, Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington.

Map of Isle of Wight and places nearby