What's to See & Do
The Isle of Wight offers a wide variety of places to see and things to do: Stately homes, Roman ruins, Gardens, Animal sanctuaries. Visit the website www.visitisleofwight.co.uk for a complete list including all the family attractions. Here is a select list of our guests favourites places.
Osborne House (English Heritage) ‘It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot’ said Queen Victoria of the palatial holiday home Prince Albert built for her on the Isle of Wight. View the Stately rooms, private apartments and children's play-cottage for an intimate glimpse of royal family life. This was Victoria’s favourite House (and where she died in 1903). Stroll through the pergola and garden terraces with Solent views that reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples. Don’t miss the walled garden. And if you have time, walk or take the free coach down to the Swiss Cottage to see their private beach.
Osborne reflects Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's passions, tastes and style. Ornate furnishings and artefacts from The Royal Collection fill rooms and corridors where Victoria entertained heads of state, inventors, princes and princesses and ruled the vast British Empire. ‘Victoria & Abdul’ was filmed here. Allow at least 1-2 hours to see the House (guided tours available). Only 20 minutes drive away.
The Needles & Old Battery (National Trust) The Needles are a group of tall chalk peaks below the cliffs on the Western tip of the Island. One of the peaks was so sharply pointed it looked like a needle, until it crumbled into the sea during a storm. History: In 1863 the Military Battery on top of the cliff was completed to guard the West end of The Solent. The cliff top Military Road that offers the best views on the Island was built to move the troops. In 1897 Marconi broadcast the world’s first radio transmission from the Needles. Between 1955 and 1971 top secret missile and space rockets were developed and launched from here.
3 Options to view them:
Drive to the Alum Bay Needles car park along the beautiful Military Road. Then walk up the hill to the Old & New Battery (20 minutes) for wonderful views over the cliffs and lots of military history. The Battery has a charming 1940’s style Tea Room serving great lunches and homemade cakes.
Take the famous cable car over the edge of the cliff to the bottom and view the Needles and Rainbow Sands by boat. The Needles is a major tourist site with lots of shops & attractions for children, so expect crowds in Summer. (N.B. the 4D Dinosaur movie is pretty terrifying!)
Drive to Yarmouth Harbour and take the 1 hour & 45 minute boat ride to view the Needles, coastline and Rainbow Sands. (Maizie recommends) Book Coral Star Cruises: 01983 760212 Yarmouth PO41 0NT
Farringford & West Wight Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) the most famous Poet Laureate of the Victorian era, lived at Farringford for 40 years where he and his wife raised their family and enjoyed planting the gardens themselves. This Grade I listed building has been lovingly and accurately restored with fully furnished interiors, walled kitchen garden and historic parkland. In Tennyson’s top floor study you can listen to a recording of Tennyson himself reading one of his poems. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’
Dimbola Lodge originally the home of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), pioneer of photography as art (especially close up portraits of her famous friends like Tennyson).The house holds many of her most famous photos plus a few original rooms.
Tennyson Down a grassy, whale-backed hilly ridge of chalk which rises to 482 ft/147m above sea level (National Trust). Worth the robust walking effort for the beautiful views. Tennyson used to walk on this Down almost every day, saying that the air was worth 'sixpence a pint' (hence the monument). It is possible to walk all the way to the Needles Battery for tea.
The Hut Popular restaurant known for exotic cocktails and people spotting, overlooks the Colwell Bay, accessible by boat.
Shanklin OLD VILLAGE became a holiday destination during the 19th Century when Queen Victoria decided to build her own retreat on the Island: Osborne House. These quaint thatched houses offer a plethora of cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops.
Hope Beach: Shanklin boasts some of the best walks & cycling paths on the Island with stunning cliff paths, beautiful beaches, and promenade revetments by the sea. The lower esplanade also has many attractions for families and lots of water sports and boating.
Shanklin Chine dates back to 1817, making it the Island’s oldest tourist attraction. Accessed from the Beach or the Old Village, this pretty tree lined ravine contains waterfalls, lush vegetation, parrots and a quaint café. Near the beach entrance, discover a genuine old smugglers tavern ‘Fisherman’s Cottage’, now a pub right on the beach.