Things to do on the Isle of Wight

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the needles isle of wight

Looking for things to do on the Isle of Wight? Explore our recommendations for kid-friendly, outdoor activities ranging from arts and culture to history, beaches and museums

From historical days out to coastal walks, the Isle of Wight has a wealth of things to keep you busy when you visit.

Whether you're on a day trip from Portsmouth or a week-long holiday, get information on the best attractions and events you can enjoy as you explore the Isle of Wight.

Travel to the Isle of Wight

An island location doesn’t come without its challenges (namely: how to get there), so it’s worth considering your travel options before you embark on a visit to the Isle of Wight. Whether your preference is for a foot-passenger ferry, a car ferry or even a speedy hovercraft service, there are several options when it comes to how to visit this diamond-shaped isle. Be mindful of weather conditions, high winds can mean slower crossing times and revised timetables.

Ferry travel

wightlink ferry

There are several options for ferry travel across the solent including:

Lymington to Yarmouth with Wightlink – 40 minutes
Portsmouth to Fishbourne with Wightlink  – 45 minutes
Southampton to East Cowes with Red Funnel – 55 minutes

Each of these routes gives you the option to bring your vehicle with you, so if you intend to explore the island by car or motorcycle, these ferries may be the best choice for you. 

Hovercraft and fast travel

isle of wight hovercraft

For foot passengers, there are a couple of speedier options at your disposal, including: 

Southsea to Ryde with Hovertravel – 10 minutes
Portsmouth to Ryde with Wightlink FastCat – 22 minutes
Southampton to Cowes with Red Funnel Red Jet – 25 minutes

If you’re looking to cross in a hurry, HoverTravel may be the route for you, but make sure to explore all your options before making your decision. And remember, as a Boundless member, you can enjoy 20% off crossings to the Isle of Wight when you book with Wightlink, plus many more savings. Click here to find out more.

Kid-friendly activities

mother and son on slide at blackgang chine

Not just for adults, there are lots of exciting activities on the Isle of Wight for visitors of all ages. From steam trains and dinosaurs to castles and theme parks, there’s something for everyone on a visit here. 

Steam locomotives on the Isle of Wight

Things to do on the Isle of Wight: Steam locomotive

Sit back and let somebody else do the driving on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Take a ride in Victorian and Edwardian carriages as you’re pulled along behind one of the beautifully restored steam locomotives.

Isle of Wight dinosaurs

Isle of wight dinosaur

Sometimes given the moniker ‘Dinosaur Isle’ by palaeontologists, the Isle of Wight is second only to Dorset when it comes to cretaceous fossil finds, so there are plenty of dino-derived activities on offer. Budding palaeontologists will enjoy guided fossil walks, dinosaur footprints and undertaking their own hunts on Compton Bay or Yaverland beaches.

And if you prefer your dinos to appear in a more Jurassic Park-style scenario you can meet life-size models in a recreated landscape at Dinosaur Isle, or enter ‘Area 5’ at the award-winning Blackgang Chine, the UK’s oldest theme park.

Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House

Things to do on the Isle of Wight: Carisbrooke Castle

Want to learn about local history? We recommend a trip to Carisbrooke Castle, one of the Isle of Wight’s most important historical sites. It was used principally as a prison for important royalists during the Civil War, including King Charles I before his execution in 1649.

In search of something a little lighter? Visit Dimbola Lodge and learn about the life and works of Julia Margaret Cameron, a famous Victorian portrait photographer, credited with taking the first photographic close-up portraits. Or visit Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s favourite summer home, the stunning Italianate Villa, Osborne House.

Kids pass

If you’re looking to save up to 57% on family activities across the UK, as a Boundless member you can make use of Kids Pass for discounts, deals and savings on all kinds of days out. Click here for more information.

Key landmarks

The Isle of Wight is also home to a vast array of natural wonders to explore. From the rare flora and fauna of Shanklin Chine to the arresting coastal views of The Needles rock formation, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the key landmarks on this historic island.

The Needles, the best beaches and Shanklin Chine

shanklin chine isle of wight

The Isle of Wight has everything you need to immerse yourself in all that Mother Nature has to offer, for avid explorers and nature newbies. You can walk around the entire island on the Isle of Wight’s Coastal Path and enjoy its beautiful beaches along the way. The island currently has three award-winning beaches: Springvale, Shanklin and Seagrove.

Visit Shanklin Chine, a haven for rare plants and animals, including the red squirrel. While the gorge is enchanting during the day, we recommend seeing it by night when the Chine is illuminated by a multitude of colourful lights, making for a truly ethereal experience.

You can’t miss The Needles, three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise like jagged teeth out of the sea. For the best views, take the chairlift from the top of the Alum Bay cliffs and back. History buffs should check out The Old Battery, a Victorian coastal defence site also located nearby.

Top Places for food on the Isle of Wight

Things to do on the Isle of Wight: Seafood

Of course, the Isle of Wight has a wealth of seafood on offer. Try The Little Gloster – this family-run restaurant’s menu changes almost daily and includes a number of Scandinavian-inspired dishes made with fresh seasonal produce and wines sourced from small, artisan growers.

If you want to sample some of the local wines, Rosemary Vineyard offers free guided tours every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. See how the wine is produced and sample some of their products, from fruit juice to cider, liqueurs and wines.

Isle of wight ice cream

And what seaside sojourn would be complete without ice cream? The Isle of Wight Ice Cream Company has a number of outlets across the island, and has recently joined forces with Minghella Ice Cream. The dairy ice cream is produced less than two miles from where the fresh milk is sourced; pop in for a scoop, or try a sorbet.

tastecard and Coffee Club

And remember as a Boundless member you now have unlimited access to a vast array of discounts on independent local and chain restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafés and tearooms, courtesy of tastecard including Coffee Club. Click here to find out more.

Do more with Boundless

To benefit from amazing offers, along with dozens of other deals on holidays, days out, experiences, shopping and more, join Boundless today. To find out how, visit

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