The Isle of Wight is a peerless choice for a fun-filled family holiday in the United Kingdom. From coast to coast you will find an inspiring choice of visitor attractions to hit – whether you’re a young family or a retired couple there is something to enchant all those who holiday on the island.
This is a guide to some of the Isle of Wight’s very best places of historical interest, activity centres, theme parks and events that all guarantee fun days out. Also visit our guide to Yarmouth, the best walks, and the best cycling trails to enhance your holiday experience.
The Needles are an iconic national landmark, easily associated with their location off the West Coast of the Isle of Wight. Like gigantic white teeth emerging from The Solent, these giant chalk structures are an eye-catching spectacle. You can book a boat tour that gets you up close to The Needles for grand photo opportunities during the warmer months.
At the Landmark Attraction you can take a chairlift down to sea level to see some entertaining craft demonstrations like glass blowing or sweet making. You can visit the sand shop and buy a keepsake full of the unusual sands found at Alum Bay. Also enjoy Jurassic Adventure Golf and a carousel, as well as open top bus rides and boat trips.
Osborne House is a former royal residence and it has proven itself to be a major draw for visitors to the Isle of Wight since it was first opened to the public following Queen Victoria’s death. The elegant house is managed by English Heritage nowadays. The house also saw a period of change when some of its outbuildings became the Royal Naval College Osborne, and an officers’ convalescent home during the first world war. You can see the gardens, a private beach which includes Queen Victoria’s personal bathing machine, and the Swiss Cottage. Many of the state and family rooms are also open for viewing pleasure.
This superb visitor attraction is an activity park for families that love to get involved with the great outdoors. Children and adults of all ages can enjoy sports, thrill rides, tree walks, trails, and challenges of all sorts. It’s also home to Eklektica – the Isle of Wight’s newest and upcoming music festival. With a line-up that could compete with the gigantic Isle of Wight Festival, Eklectica is one to keep an eye on when it pops up in the calendar each September.
Other attractions include a swinging galleon boat ride called Colossus, a toboggan run, a treetop trail, tots’ play area, a falconry, Run Rabbit underground tunnel network, an activity obstacle course with zip wire and scramble net, and that’s just a few examples of what’s on offer. You can buy a combined pass for here and Blackgang Chine (at the time of writing).
Amazon World Zoo is the largest collection of domestic, rare and exotic animals on the Isle of Wight. Over 200 different species of mammals, reptiles, birds, marine creatures and insects live here and it’s a truly immersive experience for visitors of all ages including very young children.
You can learn about the Zoo’s conservation efforts and about the real-life Amazon Forest whilst absorbing this carefully curated and recreated environment. You can book ‘Animal Experiences’ to meet some of the creatures in residence - like tapirs, meerkats, and armadillos, to name the main candidates.
The remains of the Roman Villa in Brading is one of the Isle of Wight’s best-loved historical archaeological sites. Rediscovered in 1879 by a local farmer who was digging on his land, 12 rooms of a large villa remain with mosaic flooring. Other Roman artefacts located onsite include Samian pottery, jewellery and games. There are images of Bacchus, a gladiator, gods, goddesses, Medusa and land and sea scenes. The mosaic floor is housed inside a modern visitor centre, other facilities include the Forum Café and useful facilities. This is a real treat for anybody with a general interest in ancient history.
This attraction is a must-visit for all railway locomotive fans. Five miles of track span the distance between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton. You can connect with the electric Island Line at Smallbrook that runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin.
The Isle of Wight Light Steam Railway has a headquarters, station, and depot at Havenstreet. The railway is home to several steam locomotives and a handful of diesel hunters, the trustees are also amid several interesting restoration projects. The railway is of interest because the engines and rolling stock are older than most of the other heritage lines in England. A relaxing and informative all-weather day out for family enjoyment.
This annual music festival is one of the biggest and best in the British Isles. Originally a counter-culture event that enjoyed an initial run between 1968 to 1970. Revived in 2002, it has grown year-on-year to be a calendar event for music lovers. Since its revival is has rocked the island to its rock strata from Seaclose Park on the outskirts of Newport. Attendance in 2017 was in the region of 60,000 with headliners that included Rod Stewart, Run DMC, Kaiser Chiefs, Arcade Fire, Bastille, Skepta, and Rag & Bone Man. Having won and been nominated for many awards this annual event, held each June, is a brilliant excuse for heading to the Isle of Wight.
One of the Isle of Wight’s biggest sporting events on a national scale. Every August all eyes are on Cowes Week, a sailing event like no other. First established in 1826, the event involves yachts and sailing craft of varying classes competing with one another over a series of courses. Around 8000 competitors participate with everyone from Olympic yachtsmen to weekend sailors. There’s a vibrant atmosphere onshore as well as some years the event attracts around 100,000 spectators and revellers. There is a firework display on the final Friday of the week-long event.
If you're looking to stay during this fantastic event, check out our cottages available for Cowes Week.
An opportunity for small kids to feel like giants, Godshill Model Village is over 65 years old and counting. Children and adults alike love model villages and they are a very special kind of family day out. Traditional in every sense, the attraction is set in the former gardens of a rectory and features a recreation of Shanklin, Godshill and other parts of the Isle of Wight as they’d have appeared in the 1950s. A family-run business, it’s a small-scale delight – 1960s TV fans may be interested to know that some models were made by a company based at Pinewood Studios.
The tiny buildings are nestled in some lovely gardens with a beautiful diversity of trees and plants. They are a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Partner Garden too, so at the time of writing, members get free entry. There is an onsite café for light refreshments too.
Please check the appropriate websites for opening times and current information.
We have some lovely holiday cottages all over the Isle of Wight, conveniently located for enjoy a day trip at any of the above attractions. Why not visit our collection of Isle of Wight accommodation to inspire your holiday?