Home to sandy beaches, fresh green hills and more unforgettable days out that should fit on just one island, it’s easy to see the Isle of Wight as not just a county, but the biggest holiday park in Britain. With so many fantastic things to do, and never enough time to do them in, we don’t want you to waste any time wondering what to do next. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you, and tracked down the very best things to do on the Isle of Wight.
Best things to do in the Isle of Wight
- The Needles Landmark Attraction
- Isle of Wight Steam Railway
- Dinosaur Isle
- Isle of Wight Zoo
- Isle of Wight Beaches
- Ventnor Botanic Gardens
- Carisbrooke Castle
- Tapnell Farm Park
- Blackgang Chine
- Monkey Haven
The Needles Landmark Attraction
Best for: A must-see sight
Pick up a postcard on the Isle of Wight and it will almost definitely be a picture of the Needles. These three immense stacks of chalk, rising from the water on the islands western tip, are one of the most visually stunning sights in Britain. They’re so captivating, in fact, that they have a certificate to prove it, being officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The area is owned by the National Trust and there is an entrance fee. However, you can visit the viewpoint near the former rocket test site, where there’s no charge. You can also explore the wider Alum Bay. Easily the most picturesque part of West Wight, the bay is home to world-famous coloured sands, which come in 21 different shades.
Where to stay: Needles Cottage is a modernised coastal cottage overlooking Alum Bay.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Best for: Some utterly English romance
We’re travelling back in time again for our next attraction, to an age of bowler hats, handkerchiefs and handlebar moustaches, with the iconic Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Whether you’re a rail enthusiast or not, this enchanting attraction is not to be missed. There’s a romance to steam railways that no other mode of transport can capture.
Smell the smoky whir of the engines, hear the sharp ring of the train whistle and see the puffs of English steam spill onto the platform’s edge. Settle back in a beautifully restored Edwardian carriage and enjoy a view of the island’s gorgeous countryside when seen from a steam train window.
Where to stay: Osbourne View is a stylish lodge full of luxurious modern amenities.
Best for: A prehistoric adventure
London is renowned for its culture, the Lake District for its stunning views but the Isle of Wight is the undisputed ‘Dinosaur Capital of Great Britain’. Home to hundreds of prehistoric attractions, the island is coated in fossilised fun. One of the most impressive days out is Dinosaur Isle in the South East, the museum that has housed the Isle of Wight’s vast fossil collection for almost a century.
Here, you can step back almost 150 million years, and see artefacts from the most recent Ice Age, to the Cretaceous period. Best of all, there are plenty of life-sized models to help you immerse yourself in ancient history.
Where to stay: Creek Watch offers simple, homely furnishings and a view over Wootton Creek.
Isle of Wight Zoo
Best for: Finding furry friends
If you prefer live animals to fossilised ones, perhaps the Isle of Wight Zoo is the place for you. Home to all manner of critters, from the cute and cuddly to the big and spikey, the residents of this family-friendly attraction will both charm and amaze you. Running shows, safaris and feeds throughout the day, check the zoo’s website so you can catch your favourite creatures in action.
Best of all, this zoo is also a registered charity, working as the internationally renowned Wildheart Trust. Dedicated to improving the well-being of animals in human care, as well as being a great day out, a trip here does a little something for animal welfare across the globe.
Where to stay: 3 The Priory is a luxury Victorian apartment beside Sandown Bay.
Isle of Wight Beaches
Best for: Part of every Isle of Wight vacation
Few people come to the Isle of WIght and don’t set aside at least a day to explore one of its many beautiful beaches. While the sandy Shanklin and the south-facing Ventnor are the tourist’s favourites, here at Snaptrip we say head to Reeth Bay.
A true hidden gem, Reeth Bay is nestled at the end of a long woodland track, far away from prying eyes. If you’re looking to escape the noise of the tourist hot spots, this is the beach for you. Home to crystal blue waters and some of Britain’s most stunning sunsets, this secret hideaway is your new safe space.
Where to stay: Beachside Bluff is a cosy studio retreat for couples.
Best for: Family-friendly adventure
Welcome, to the Land of Imagination. In 1840, Blackgang Chine opened its doors to the public. Today, 180 years later, it has given tens of thousands of tourists and locals an incredible day out and shows no signs of slowing down.
Officially the oldest theme park in the UK, Blackgang Chine is home to dozens of state-of-the-art attractions, entertainment, rides and slides, and even its array of fantastic characters, from the bumbling law-man Sheriff T.W.I.T. to the mystical Blackgang Fairies. A place that mixes family-friendly fun with adrenaline-pumping adventure, and adds a hefty dollop of local history, Blackgang Chine is not to be missed.
Where to stay: Mill Cottage is a secluded woodland retreat.
Ventnor Botanic Gardens
Best for: Travelling to the tropics
Leave the Isle of Wight behind and journey to the tropics. With an average rainfall of just 28 inches (compared to around 46 in the rest of the UK), the microclimate of these award-winning gardens is similar to that of the Mediterranean. Spread across 22 acres, Ventnor hosts an almost unrivalled collection beautiful, curious and often downright weird plants.
As well as gasping at the incredible shrubbery, while here, make sure you also visit the Plantation Tearoom. Sit out on the balcony, a glass of wine in hand, and listen to the birds and bees overlooking the historic Palm Garden.
Where to stay: Gurnard Cottage sits beside a gorgeous lighthouse.
Best for: Acting like royalty
Settled peacefully amongst the trees, looking as if it had simply grown out of the wilderness, Carisbrooke Castle is one of the most romantic structures in Britain. Over the centuries, this beautiful building has been an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a king’s prison and even a royal summerhouse.
Today, it’s Princess Beatrice Garden (based upon the original garden retreat of Queen Victoria’s daughter and designed by TV Gardener, Chris Beardshaw), is officially known as the Best Small Tourist Attraction in the Isle of Wight. While here, make sure you spare the time to meet the castle’s resident donkeys, who have been drawing up water in the well-house for hundreds of years.
Where to stay: 16 Marinus sits above the Medina River, a few steps from the high street.
Tapnell Farm Park
Best for: All-weather fun
Located on a former dairy farm, in the middle of miles of open green fields, Tapnell Farm Park is the definition of wholesome family fun. Whether you’re heading down for a furry meet and greet in the Farmyard Barn, or the chance to wander amongst wallabies in an afternoon Walkabout, Tapnell is worth a visit, whatever the weather.
If you’re travelling with little ones, we suggest planning your trip in time for the Wild Woodland Weekend. One of the park’s most popular annual events, the weekend is your chance to hop over the hedgerows and meet Peter Rabbit himself, for an afternoon of fun, games and amazing photo opportunities.
Where to stay: Brixton Barn has a jacuzzi bath and heated marble floors.
Best for: Posing with primates
In 1999 an animal lover called Dan Walser bought a muddy field on the Isle of Wight. He had a plan. He wanted the space to be a haven for rescued monkeys and birds of prey in need of a new home and a helping hand. His local community thought he was crazy, but today, this adorable animal sanctuary is one of the top attractions on the Isle of Wight.
Home to everything from pocket-sized primates to the most exotic eagle owls, the best thing about the Monkey Haven rescue centre is all of its residents are smiling. Check the park’s online schedule and you can swing by one of the fascinating keeper talks, or pose for pictures with your favourite furry friends..
Where to stay: Marina View sits beside the water, near the isle of wight ferries.