The Best things to Do in The Isle of Wight

17 Fabulous Things to do in the Isle of Wight

Nestled just off the southern coast of England, the Isle of Wight is a vibrant jewel of natural beauty, historical significance, and endless adventure. This charming island, with its varied landscapes ranging from picturesque beaches and rugged cliffs to lush countryside and dense woodlands, offers a plethora of activities that cater to every interest. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the Isle of Wight delivers experiences that are as diverse as they are memorable. In this guide, we’ll explore the best things to do on the Isle of Wight, showcasing the island’s top attractions and hidden gems that promise to make your visit truly unforgettable.

From the opulent halls of Osborne House to the thrilling rides at Blackgang Chine, the Isle of Wight is a microcosm of wonders waiting to be discovered. The island’s rich history is etched into the walls of ancient castles and the fossil-laden shores of its beaches, telling tales of royal retreats, prehistoric discoveries, and maritime adventures. Meanwhile, its natural landscapes offer a playground for outdoor activities, for adults and children alike. From serene walks in Ventnor Botanic Garden to exhilarating water sports in the azure waters of its coastlines.

Join us as we journey through the Isle of Wight, uncovering the must-visit spots that define this enchanting island. Whether you’re planning a family holiday, a solo adventure, or a romantic getaway, the Isle of Wight has something special in store for you. Let’s dive into the best things to do on the Isle of Wight, where history, nature, and culture converge to create a destination like no other.

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Osbourne House (East Cowes)

Queen Victoria’s beloved Osborne House is a glimpse into the private life of the royal family during the Victorian era. Designed by Prince Albert and Thomas Cubitt, the house reflects Italian Renaissance styles and was intended as a rural retreat for the Queen and her family. The estate includes the sumptuous state rooms, the private family rooms, an extensive garden and grounds, and the Swiss Cottage, where the royal children were educated about the natural world. Queen Victoria’s Beach, where the Queen regularly bathed, is also open to visitors, so you can dip your toes in the seaside where she taught her kids to swim! 

Osbourne House - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight
Osbourne House - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight

Carisbrooke Castle (Newport)

This castle has been a central part of Isle of Wight’s history for over a thousand years, with its origins dating back to the Norman Conquest. It became a royal prison for Charles I before his trial and execution. The castle’s museum houses an array of artifacts related to its history, and visitors can explore the medieval walls, the Norman keep, and the well-house where donkeys still draw water, demonstrating the castle’s ancient engineering.

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

Waverley Park Holiday Centre is just a short distance from Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle. This makes it an  ideal base for visitors planning to explore these historic sites. 

The park itself offers a range of facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, bar, and café, and provides stunning views over the Solent, making it a great choice for those looking to combine comfort with convenience to local attractions. Additionally, its proximity to Osborne House means you can easily plan multiple visits to the house and gardens to fully appreciate the beauty and history of the estate.

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Preserving the island’s railway heritage, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway operates a section of the original Victorian railway line. Visitors can ride vintage steam trains through the countryside, experiencing the leisurely pace of travel from bygone days. The railway is also an educational resource, offering insights into the history of rail travel in Britain.

Steam Train Ride - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight
Steam Train Ride - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight

Old Shanklin and Shanklin Chine (Shanklin)

Old Shanklin is part of Shanklin Town and is home to the oldest houses in the Isle of Wight. Why not take an historic walk around Shanklin, the route reveals the changing history of the settlement from a small fishing village to a major sea resort town. Discover where Darwin, Dickens, Longfellow & Marx visited Shanklin. 

Shanklin Chine is a deep, narrow gorge has been a tourist attraction since the 18th century, carved over millennia by water erosion. It’s home to rare plants and wildlife, providing a tranquil spot to enjoy nature. Illuminations light up the chine at night during the summer, creating a magical atmosphere.

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

Ninham Country Holidays motorhome campsite is an excellent base for exploring the area around Shanklin. Nestled in a serene countryside setting, Ninham provides a tranquil retreat with facilities that cater to motorhome enthusiasts, including electric hook-ups and amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.

This campsite park is a good option for those that want to check out the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Old Shanklin from their list of things to do in the Isle of Wight. 

If you are planning your visit in the peak seasons, then it is best to book in advance, as the motorhome site gets booked up because of its close proximity to these attractions as well as being well situated to enjoy walking and cycling. 

Ventnor Botanic Gardens (Ventnor)

Lying in a sheltered microclimate on the island’s south coast, Ventnor Botanic Garden showcases plants that would not survive elsewhere in the UK. The garden’s collections include plants from Mediterranean climates, tropical species, and a range of temperate environments, reflecting the diversity of plant life that thrives due to the unique local weather conditions.  

Blackgang Chine (Ventnor)

Founded in 1843, Blackgang Chine is considered the world’s first theme park. It has evolved from a Victorian curiosity into a land of fantasy, with dinosaurs, pirates, and fairy tales brought to life. The park’s cliff-top location offers spectacular views over the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight.

Godshill Model Village (Ventnor)

Opened in 1952, Godshill Model Village perfectly captures the essence of the Isle of Wight in miniature. The models include replicas of the churches, cottages, and buildings found around Godshill and Shanklin, painstakingly recreated with attention to detail. It’s a charming attraction that appeals to visitors’ sense of wonder and nostalgia.

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

The nearest motorhome campsite to Ventnor, offering a scenic and convenient base for exploring this charming coastal town on the Isle of Wight, is Appuldurcombe Gardens Holiday Park. Located in the picturesque surroundings of Wroxall, just a short drive from Ventnor, Appuldurcombe Gardens provides an excellent location for those wishing to visit the town’s beaches, botanical gardens, and enjoy the scenic coastal walks.

This is  great place to stop to allow you to visit the attractions in Ventnor, such as the Botanical Gardens, Black Chine theme park if you have kids and also Shanklin, it that is on your list of things to do in the Isle of Wight.

The park itself is set in the grounds of the historic Appuldurcombe House, which really is quite a unique place to stay. It’s a great choice for motorhomers that want to explore Ventnor’s attractions. This includes the Ventnor Botanical Gardens, Steephill Cove, and the Ventnor Esplanade. Even though you have all this on your doorstep, it feels like you are staying in a quiet, rural location. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the town and its beautiful coastline, allowing you to stay in one place, whilst ticking off the your list of the best things to do in the Isle of Wight! 

The Needles (Alum Bay)

The Needles are a series of three distinctive chalk stacks rising from the sea, accompanied by a 19th-century lighthouse. This natural wonder is named after a fourth needle-shaped stack called “Lot’s Wife,” which collapsed in a storm in 1764. The Needles Battery, a Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site during the Cold War, offers an intriguing glimpse into the island’s military history.

The Needles - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight
The Needles - Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight

Yarmouth CastlE (Yarmouth)

Constructed by Henry VIII in 1547, Yarmouth Castle was part of the king’s coastal defenses against French invasion. The castle features a unique square platform and a later addition of a Master Gunner’s House. Visitors can explore the castle’s history, enjoy the views over the Solent, and learn about the lives of its garrison.

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

For those looking to stay close to the iconic Needles on the Isle of Wight, The Orchards Holiday Park is a fantastic option. Located in Newbridge, near Yarmouth, it’s on the west side of the island, making it relatively close to the Needles and Yarmouth Castle. The park offers a range of facilities, including indoor and outdoor pools, a shop, and a takeaway, making it a comfortable and convenient base for exploring the western part of the island

While The Orchards is not the only campsite in the area, its comprehensive amenities and picturesque setting make it a popular choice for motorhome travellers. From here, you  can easily access the Needles Park, taking a chairlift for fantastic views of the Needles Rocks and Lighthouse.

Old Shanklin - The Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight
Old Shanklin - The Best Things To Do On The Isle of Wight

Robin Hill Country Park (Downend, Newport)

Combining adventure play with beautiful landscapes, Robin Hill Country Park offers something for everyone. With its mix of woodland walks, outdoor adventure activities, and themed gardens, it’s a place where nature and adventure meet. The park’s “Electric Woods” event series transforms the gardens with stunning light displays, creating an enchanting evening experience.

The Garlic Farm (Newchurch)

The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight is all about garlic. They grow lots of different types and make all kinds of garlic products, like sauces, chutneys, and even garlic beer and ice cream. It’s a cool place to learn about how garlic is grown and its history. There’s also a restaurant where you can try dishes made with their garlic. It’s a great spot for anyone interested in garlic or looking for a unique visit on the Isle of Wight.

The Garlic Farm is also a working farm, which means they’re actively growing garlic right there on the land. Visitors can see first-hand how garlic is planted, grown, and harvested. The farm tours give you a peek into the day-to-day operations and the hard work that goes into producing their garlic. It’s a real-deal farming experience, showing that it’s not just about selling garlic products but also about the whole process of growing them from the ground up. 

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

Just on the outskirts of Newchurch, Isle of Wight is Southland Club Campsite. It is a great choice for an Isle of Wight campsite. It has flat, level, well drained meadowland pitches as well as a large playground and play areas. The campsite is convenient for all parts of the island if you want to stay in one place for your entire holiday, and it is a reasonable price too.

Quarr Abbey (Ryde)

Founded in 1907, Quarr Abbey is a working Benedictine monastery offering peace and tranquility to visitors. The Abbey’s Romanesque Revival architecture is impressive, and guests can explore the abbey church, the monks’ garden, and the art gallery. The farm shop sells products made by the monks and local artisans, and the café serves dishes using ingredients from the abbey’s grounds.

Isle of Wight Distillery (Ryde)

The Isle of Wight Distillery, the island’s first and only distillery, is a beacon of local craftsmanship and sustainability. Famous for its Mermaid Gin, which features a blend of locally foraged botanicals and a distinctive, marine-inspired bottle design, the distillery showcases the unique flavours and spirit of the island. 

Visiting the distillery offers an insight into the island’s dedication to quality, community, and the preservation of its natural beauty. We had the taster paddles of gins which were just delicious, but some were really strong! Definitely don’t be driving your motorhome straight after this! We have two of the lovely bottles in the van! Both empty now unfortunately. 

Bembridge Windmill (Bembridge)

The only remaining windmill on the Isle of Wight, Bembridge Windmill dates back to the early 1700s. It has been preserved by the National Trust, allowing visitors to explore its interior and learn about the milling process and the life of a miller.

Motorhome Campsite Nearby:

For motorhome camping near Ryde on the Isle of Wight, St Helens Coastal Resort is one of the best options to consider. St Helens Coastal Resort offers a range of facilities suitable for motorhome travellers, including pitches with electric hook-ups. The resort is well-maintained and has a peaceful setting that’s close to the coast. You can enjoy the nearby St Helens beach and the Duver, which is a local area of natural beauty that’s great for walks and picnics.

The resort’s location also makes it easy to access Bembridge, with its harbour, lifeboat station, and the iconic Bembridge Windmill, managed by the National Trust.

Dimbola Lodge (Freshwater)

Once the home of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the most important figures in the history of photography, Dimbola Lodge now serves as a museum and gallery dedicated to her work and life. Cameron is celebrated for her pioneering portrait photography and contributions to the art form during the Victorian era.

Isle of Wight Zoo (Sandown)

Specialising in the care and conservation of big cats and lemurs, the Isle of Wight Zoo focuses on rescue and education. The zoo provides a sanctuary for animals that have been rescued from circuses and private ownership, offering them a safe and caring environment.

Discover Dinosaur Fossils at Compton Bay (West)

The Isle of Wight is often referred to as “Dinosaur Island” due to the significant number of dinosaur fossils found here, one of the best places in Europe! Compton Bay, on the west coast, is a hotspot for fossil hunters, where erosion reveals dinosaur footprints and fossils. Guided fossil walks are available, offering a chance to discover remnants of the island’s prehistoric past.  If you fancy a bit of surfing, then this is the best beach on the Isle of Wight.

Concluding our Best Things to do in the Isle of Wight

There is more than enough to keep you busy on this tiny but packed island.  From walking, entertaining the kids, going to concerts and immersing yourself in history, the Isle of Wight sure packs a punch when looking at possible destinations for a road trip or long weekend.  Whether you go by car, motorhome or campervan, there is more than enough to keep you occupied for several days and more. 

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