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Dinosaur hunters, beach lovers and festival-goers have long flocked to the Isle of Wight. Less than 5 miles from Hampshire, the island shimmers in the English Channel and is venerated for its pristine beaches, idyllic countryside and elegant sailing towns. As soon as you hop off your Solent ferry crossing from the mainland, you’ll see why Queen Victoria described the Isle of Wight as her 'paradise'.
Whether you are interested in the island's rich heritage, its natural beauty spots, or you simply want to have fun with the family, there's no shortage of places to visit on the Isle of Wight. From animal adventures to music festivals, theme parks to bike rides, we’ve put together a list of the top days out on the Isle of Wight to inspire your holiday.
With 57 miles of sand and shingle beaches, rugged cliffs, hidden coves and crystal-clear waters, you’re never far away from a beautiful beach on the Isle of Wight. While many visitors head to the popular stretches of sand at Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor, there is a lesser-known gem that is only accessible by foot. Tucked away amidst Ventnor’s Undercliff, Steephill Cove boasts a secluded location, breathtaking natural scenery and unspoilt waters for swimming.
Arguably one of the prettiest destinations on the island, this secret spot is the place to be for a peaceful day out on the Isle of Wight. Colourful deckchairs flutter in the breeze, whitewashed fishermen’s cottages overlook the cove and as there’s no access to the sand by road, this is a walkers’ haven. Spend the morning paddling in the sea and exploring the rock pools, then enjoy a lunch of freshly-caught crab at the beach café.
Discover more about this picture-postcard beach with our guide to Steephill Cove.
Stay nearby at: Britannias Beach Apartment | Sleeps 5 + 1 dog
The Isle of Wight is uniquely known as Dinosaur Island as it is one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in Europe. Walk in the giant footsteps of the T-Rex and take one of the many guided fossil tours along the coast or visit the Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown for an educational trip back to the days when the island was essentially ‘Jurassic Park’.
At low tide, dinosaur footprints are visible at Compton Bay – budding palaeontologists of all ages can follow this 11-mile stretch of coastline to Sandown and spend the day searching for prehistoric treasures to take home as a keepsake. Fossilised dinosaur bones and teeth are commonly excavated in this exciting dino-hot spot.
Our guide to Compton Bay offers more useful information for fossil hunting adventures.
Stay nearby at: Romany Cottage | Sleeps 6
Prefer friendlier wildlife? There is a brilliant variety of animal attractions, wildlife parks and zoos to be enjoyed on a family-friendly day out on the Isle of Wight. Children of all ages can try horse riding across the Island, or spend the day hanging out with some cute and cuddly wallabies, meerkats, donkeys and alpacas at Tapnell Farm Park.
The Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown and Amazon World near Arreton are the places to go if you’d like to get up-close to some of the world’s most beautiful and rare animals, or you can swing on by to Monkey Haven near Newport and meet mischievous monkeys, whooping gibbons, and a host of other energetic primates at this award-winning sanctuary.
Need somewhere to stay? Read our guide to the best family-friendly cottages on the Isle of Wight.
Stay nearby at: Beaulieu Cottage | Sleeps 5
Why not take your own little monkeys to see Queen Victoria's beloved family holiday home, Osborne House? We guarantee you will be amused. This ornate summer palace managed by English Heritage, is a great place to visit on an Isle of Wight day out as there is so much to see and do. Designed by Prince Albert in an Italian Renaissance palazzo style, Victoria once stated that “it’s impossible to imagine a prettier spot."
Wander around the staterooms and private quarters; many of the rooms are just how the royal couple left them, decorated with ornate furnishings. It’s easy to imagine the children playing in the nurseries. Outside, the sweeping grounds are home to colourful gardens, incredible sea views and a beach, where the Queen regularly bathed, and her children learned to swim.
This historic house is one of many great things to do on the Isle of Wight, discover some more with our comprehensive guide.
Stay nearby at: The Indian Summer House | Sleeps 2 +2 dogs
Cowes Week Regatta
The world-famous Cowes Week is not only a huge Isle of Wight event, but it’s also one of the biggest and most celebrated sporting events in the UK. Hosted in the town of Cowes for over a century, this annual sailing regatta sees around 1,000 boats make their way across the Solent to take part in races, from sleek, ultra-modern craft to well-loved, wooden, vintage boats.
There are up to 40 races a day throughout the week in August, with competitors ranging from amateurs to Olympic champions. If you prefer to enjoy the fun on dry land, you can watch the dinghies, gigs, and yachts out in the blue from the comfort of a harbourside pub, or you can try out the many shoreside activities. There’s plenty of live music, food stall pop-ups, a series of bars, and an unmissable firework display on the last night.
Browse our things to see and do in Cowes guide for more inspiration.
Stay nearby at: High Rising Cottage | Sleeps 6
Blackgang Chine Adventure Park
Calling all fairies, pirates, sheriffs, and dinosaur hunters – a whole day of fun awaits at Blackgang Chine Adventure Park. At this extraordinary land of imagination, kids can dodge the swashbucklers in Pirate Cove, gather their posse for a Wild West showdown, or experience the magic of being a fairy princess in their very own castle.
There is an abundance of rides to jump on and water slides to fly down, including the renowned Cliff Hanger which speeds along the edge of a cliff upside down – not for the faint-hearted! And while it’s easy to spend a full day here, you can also combine this attraction with its sister park, Robin Hill Country Park for more exciting rides, falconry displays, woodland play areas and more.
For more top attractions on the Isle of Wight, have a peruse of our guide.
Stay nearby at: The Lookout – Ventnor | Sleeps 6
The Needles and Alum Bay
One of the best days out on the Isle of Wight has surely got to be a visit to the iconic natural landmark, The Needles. This spectacular rank of three jagged chalk rocks rises from the sea like shark’s teeth at the edge of the dramatic cliffs that mark the most westerly point of the Island. They can be admired in a variety of fun ways: on foot from the cliffs, courtesy of a thrilling ride in a chairlift or up close via a boat trip from the jetty.
One of the most exhilarating experiences is the chairlift, where you’ll rise high over the treetops, float over the cliff edge and get a bird’s eye view of the stacks as you descend gently to the unique coloured sands of Alum Bay below. After spending an hour or so down on the beach, you can take a brisk stroll up to The Needles Old Battery (National Trust), or enjoy the other attractions here including the 4D cinema experience, Jurassic golf, a traditional carousel, and the Sand Shop where you can pick up a souvenir vial of coloured sand.
Stay nearby at: Little Halt Cottage | Sleeps 10 + 1 dog
Did you know that there are over 200 miles of cycle paths on the Isle of Wight? The island has even been named by the Lonely Planet Travel Guide as one of the top 10 destinations in the world for cycling. There are a number of places to hire a set of wheels, so exploring the island’s lush velvet hills, stunning white chalk cliffs and sparkling coastline couldn’t be easier.
For a gentle day out cycling, you could choose the Red Squirrel Trail which stretches from coast to coast through the centre of the Island for just over 23 miles. As the name suggests, there is the chance to spot the Island’s elusive red squirrels along the way. More advanced cyclists looking for an adrenaline rush could tackle the challenge of Chalk Ridge Extreme, which offers a 50-mile track around the island’s striking cliffs, over chalk ridges and along wooded bridleways.
To make sure you get the very best cycling experience, have a read of our guide to the best cycling trails on the Isle of Wight.
Stay nearby at: Godshill Park House Wing | Sleeps 3
Isle of Wight Festival
Nothing captures the spirit of summer more than the vibrant celebration of music at the world-famous Isle of Wight Festival at Newport. As the island pulsates with the sound of iconic acts and ground-breaking artists, thousands of fans arrive for an atmospheric few days of live entertainment to kick off the UK festival season.
Having been headlined by some of the biggest names in music including The Who, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Paul McCartney, the event has cemented its place as one of the top festivals in the country. And who says you need to end the night in a cold tent? With non-resident tickets available, you can enjoy the fun before heading back to your comfortable accommodation (with proper toilets!).
Check out our guide to the best events on the Isle of Wight for more days out to add to your itinerary.
Stay nearby at: Virginia Cottage | Sleeps 6
Isle of Wight Coastal Path
With more than half the island a Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, one of the most popular things to do on the Isle of Wight is to take in the mesmerising views with a walk. The 67-mile Isle of Wight Coastal Path is a great place to start as it’s suitable for all fitness levels with various sections of different terrain to choose from.
Pack a picnic, pull on your hiking boots and enjoy a day out soaking up the fresh sea air on this well-signposted trail. As you traverse the clifftops from one bay to another, you’ll pass by some of the awe-inspiring coastal panoramas that have graced Isle of Wight postcards for generations including The Needles, St. Catherine's Lighthouse, and Tennyson Down – don’t forget your camera!
With over 500 miles of footpaths, there are many more walks to enjoy on the Island. Discover some of the best walks on the Isle of Wight with our guide.
Stay nearby at: Driftwood Cottage At Forelands | Sleeps 4
Dog-friendly Isle of Wight
You didn’t think we’d leave out your four-legged companions, did you? There are a whole host of choices when it comes to dog-friendly days out on the Isle of Wight, so you needn’t worry about leaving Fido behind. Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill Country Park both welcome dogs on leads, so they can watch you zooming past on the rides, or for a historic day out, treat them to a scamper around magnificent Carisbrooke Castle.
If you were hoping to see the sights with a journey via steam train then you’re in luck, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway welcomes dogs aboard for £3 each. And when your hound needs to burn off their own steam, there are miles of footpaths across the coast and downs. Some of our favourite pet-friendly beaches on the Isle of Wight include Bembridge, Mounts Bay and St Helens.
Stay nearby at: Dairymaid Cottage | Sleeps 4 + 3 dogs
If we have inspired you with some of the most popular days out of the Isle of Wight, then you’ll need somewhere comfortable to relax after your adventures. Our cottages on the Isle of Wight are the perfect base for island exploration whether you’re travelling as a couple, family or bringing the dog.
Some of our self-catering accommodation even boasts hot tubs, sea views and roaring log fires, so have a browse and start planning your escape to this beautiful holiday destination.