The Best Things to Do in Isle of Wight

The Wight place to be: enjoy some Island fun

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The Needles, Isle of Wight, UK

So you spelt it Isle of White. So what? We all make mistakes; we’re not here to judge, but just to advise. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that whoever Wight was, they had a secluded and picturesque island in the English Channel. This scenic spot off the south coast of England was a top destination for affluent Victorians, who left hints and clues to their existence all over the place in the form of old-world pubs and cobbled lanes. 

It has also had something of a modern revival, with parts of the island becoming hubs of water sports and other outdoor activities. Festivals and events often take place in the wide open spaces of this little slice of England in the sea. And hey, it’s one of the few British-owned islands that are just off the coast, so you’ve got to take advantage. It’d take you much longer to get to the Falklands or Gibraltar. Anyway, let’s not get all political; the Plum Guide is all about the travel and we’re happy to share our expertise about things to do in Isle of Wight.

Cycling

If you're a bike person, cycling is one of the top things to do in Isle of Wight. Rent one from one of the stores on the island and zoom through the green and serene topography. This is one of the warmest and sunniest parts of the United Kingdom, so why not take on the Sunshine Trail? Disclaimer: this by no means guarantees a sunny day – in fact, it’s quite likely brooding clouds will try to muck up your day. But, even then, the coastal views become even better, with dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. The Sunshine Trail takes you through the villages of Godshill, Wroxhall and Shanklin, where you can stop for tea, check out the historic sights and enjoy the views. 

The Wild Life, Plum Guide home on the Isle of Wight

The Wild Life, Plum Guide home on the Isle of Wight

Other popular cycling circuits include the Troll Trail from Cowes to Sandown and the Round the Island Cycle Route that takes you on a 62-mile (100-kilometre) trip… around the island, as the name suggests. Then cycle back to your Isle of Wight Plum Guide home. We're particularly fond of modern farmhouse Wild Life and the opulent Colour Of Glass.

The Colour of Glass, Plum Guide home on the Isle of Wight

The Colour of Glass, Plum Guide home on the Isle of Wight

Admire the coastal scenery

Scenic walking routes are one of the most enjoyable things to do on the UK's south coast, and the Isle of Wight is no different. The aforementioned cycle routes will take you to some of the best natural features on the island. Visit some of the loveliest spots on the Isle of Wight for a sense of England’s true beauty (away from the hubbub, hullabaloo and any other funny words we can think of to describe the racket of the city centres). The Needles is among the most iconic sights, featuring in many a work of art or postcard. Trek on down to the western end of the promontory, and spot the rocks appearing to rise from the water. Get a closer look at the vestiges of the old sea fortress here, the Needles Old Battery. Study the Tennyson Down memorial to Alfred Lord Tennyson. 

The coastal path to Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight, UK

The coastal path to Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight, UK

Continue on your trip around the coast, stopping off at the Steephill Cove, which is particularly isolated and can only be reached on foot. Reach the Blackgang Chine gorge, which has the world’s oldest theme park. The gorge collapsed decades ago, but the roller coasters and themed worlds remain. 

The Shanklin Chine is another impressive gorge that is still intact, while the Alum Bay brightens up the island with its multi-coloured sand. If a coastal stay in the UK is sounding right up your alley, check out our guide to the UK's best coastal cottages.

Family fun

Start with the aforesaid Blackgang Chine theme park, slipping down the water slides and delving into its theme worlds. Enormous dinosaurs (models – not live ones, that’d be irresponsible) lurk between the trees, while an enormous whale (we don’t need to explain again, do we?) hangs in the Underwater Kingdom. Fairyland, Nurseryland, Pirate Cove and Cowboy Town make up the other fun and exciting sections that’ll keep the kids from getting bored of all the lovely nature stuff on the island.

The Robin Hill Country Park is another theme park with all sorts of worlds and rides. This one also has the Falconry section where you can get a closer look at the owls and hawks and watch the shows. Stop for a bite at the Oasis Café, the African BBQ or the African Trailer. 

Historical stuff

As we said, there’s lots of historical stuff on this island. One of the best historical things to do in Isle of Wight is visit the Nunwell House and Gardens, which puts on two tours of the estate each day. Learn about the history of this house, which survived the Edwardian and Jacobean eras among other periods named after kings and such. It was built in 1522 and has extensive gardens with views of Brading Haven and Bembridge Harbour.

Nunwell House and Parkland, Image courtesy of Nunwell House, Isle of Wight, UK

Nunwell House and Parkland, Image courtesy of Nunwell House, Isle of Wight, UK

Head down to the harbour to admire the deluxe yachts and views of the water. Watch the vessels turn to silhouettes against the red sky, as the sun descends beyond the horizon. Another historic highlight in the area if the Bembridge Fort, at the top of its namesake hill. Take a tour through the corridors and tunnels of this 19th-century structure.

Have some fun

OK, the things we’ve mentioned so far have been pretty fun, especially, in the family fun section, by its very nature. But what about boarding a hovercraft flight on the water? Or, if you’re going through a mid-life crisis, attending the Isle of Wight Festival dressed like you’re young again or something? And to top it all off, there’s nothing like a trip to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary or the Isle of Wight Zoo.

Sand to Glass, Plum Guide home in Dorset

Sand to Glass, Plum Guide home in Dorset

Looking for somewhere to stay on the South Coast? Our selection of rental homes are vetted by our fastidious home critics, so whether you're after a place on the water or a cosy family cottage, you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.

Simple Truths, PlumGuide home in Hampshire

Simple Truths, PlumGuide home in Hampshire

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