Isle of Wight ferry and hovercraft guide
Even though the Isle of Wight has a tiny airport and a few helicopter landing pads, the vast majority of visitors to the island travel cross The Solent on a passenger/vehicle ferry or hovercraft. The three main ports on the mainland are Southampton, Lymington, and Southsea in Portsmouth. Red Funnel services the route between Southampton and East Cowes, Wight Link services the route between Lymington and Yarmouth, and a hovercraft service between Portsmouth (Southsea) and Ryde.
There are frequent sailing times to and from all of the ports.
Isle of Wight ferry crossings on all three main routes are available at preferential prices to all visitors booking a holiday with Island Cottage Holidays. This discount doesn’t apply to the hovercraft service.
To book your ferry at a reduced rate please contact our customer service team on 01983 215740.
The Isle of Wight is served by three car ferry routes. Two are operated by Wightlink between Lymington to Yarmouth and Portsmouth to Fishbourne. A further service is operated by Red Funnel between Southampton and Cowes. Island Cottage Holidays can book ferries with your holiday at reduced fares on all routes.
Wight Link serves Yarmouth in the northwest of the island and is handy if you are based near Freshwater or Alum Bay. When large events are in progress like the Isle of Wight Festival or Cowes Week you can avoid the road congestion around Newport and Cowes by using this route over the Solent.
Red Funnel serves East Cowes and is half way along the north coast, at the mouth of the Medina River. Disembarking at East Cowes is helpful if you are staying anywhere on the eastern coast of the island and you can link into the main road network that centres around Newport (the Isle of Wight’s main shopping and entertainment destination).
The ferry generally runs at least every half hour, at quarter to and quarter past the hour and is most accessible to those travelling to the Isle of Wight from the New Forest region, Bournemouth, Poole and other locations in Southern Dorset. The crossing time is around 35 minutes and passengers are advised to be at the port 30 minutes prior to departure.
This ferry generally runs every half hour at peak times, on the hour and the half hour, and is most accessible from the East and North of England but also from London. The journey time is around 40 minutes and passengers are advised to be at the port 30 minutes prior to departure.
This ferry generally run every hour on the hour and is most accessible from the West and North of England. The journey time is around 55 minutes and passengers are advised to be at the port 30 minutes prior to departure.
If you fancy leaving your car behind and can reach your island holiday home by public transport, bike or taxi then hovercraft is the cheapest and fastest option for getting to Isle of Wight. From the beach at Southsea, a hovercraft to East Cowes with Hovertravel takes just over ten minutes. A train service runs from the pier head down the east coast of the island that stops at Bembridge, Sandown, Shanklin and one or two minor stops.
There is a chain ferry service that links Cowes and East Cowes for pedestrians, cars and cyclists. Spanning the River Medina locals can save themselves a 20-30 minute drive around via the road bridge at Newport by using this regular service.
Linking the far end of the Isle of Purbeck peninsula the Sandbanks Chain Ferry is a handy short cut for visitors coming in from the east. Travel down through Poole to the sunny suburb of Sandbanks to make the very short journey across the entrance of Poole Harbour. A local bus also uses the ferry to make the journey between central Poole and Swanage. The ferry cancels out the 25-mile round trip to Swanage and Studland via Wareham coming in from the west.
All information is correct at the time of writing. Please check details when you book and again before you travel with your travel provider’s website.
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Wight Link Ferries | Red Funnel Ferries