The best attractions on the Isle of Wight

Days out, Family

Posted by Elianne Reed on 7th July 2020

The spectacular Needles Lighthouse
The spectacular Needles Lighthouse

The Isle of Wight is one of the UK’s most idyllic holiday destinations due to its glorious parks, rolling countryside and spectacular beaches. Just a short ferry ride away from the mainland, it makes a wonderful escape for couples looking for a weekend away, friends after a fun holiday and families planning their annual vacation by the sea.

The island not only hosts hugely popular seasonal events such as Cowes Week and The Isle of Wight Festival; it is also home to a great variety of fun attractions, historical buildings and wonders of nature. Whether you are looking for free things to do on the Isle of Wight, fantastic Isle of Wight days out or Isle of Wight points of interest,  we have picked some of the best things to do on your trip to the Isle of Wight.

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Family-friendly attractions on the Isle of Wight

Blackgang Chine

Become a pirate for the day
Become a pirate for the day

Let your imagination run wild at the UK’s oldest amusement park, one of the top Isle of Wight attractions. Set on the cliff tops with spectacular sea views and just 6 miles from the popular resort of Ventnor, this 175-year-old attraction is packed with lots of brilliant things for all the family to do, including having fun in the Hall of Mirrors, checking out the Musical Pet Shop and exploring a sunken shipwreck in the theme world, Underwater Kingdom. Popular children’s activities include becoming a fairy princess in your very own castle and fighting pirates onboard your own ship. Adventurous types will love heading outside to try the Waterforce and Cliffhanger rides. Whatever the weather on the Isle you will find something fun to do at Blackgang Chine.

Prices: Peak advanced tickets, bought online: Adults £25, Saver ticket (four people) £76, under 4s free.

Opening times: 10am – 5pm from March to October

Facilities: Lots of places to eat including Chine Café, Ice Rush, and Chocabloc. Family-friendly, although more suited for children between 4 and 12, with some height restrictions on rides. Dogs on leads are welcome in the park.

Stay nearby: St Catherines Cottage, Niton Undercliff | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Robin Hill Country Park

Nature trails are great fun for kids
Nature trails are great fun for kids

This gigantic theme park located just outside of Newport offers one of the most fun days out on the Isle of Wight. Set in 88 acres of spectacular countryside and woodland, it hosts a marvellous variety of daytime and evening activities for both adults and children including falconry, nature trails and a tractor train. It is home to the island’s biggest rides including the alpine toboggan run and there are lots of play areas and a giant maze to keep little ones entertained, making it one of the best things to do with toddles on the Isle of Wight too. 

Prices: Peak advanced tickets, bought online: Adults £23, Saver ticket (four people) £88, under 4s free.

Opening times: 10am – 5pm from March to November, with some late-night openings.

Facilities: Lots of places for picnics as well as two cafés, plus a couple of ice cream stops, and a sizzling African BBQ during the summer months. Lots of activities for toddlers up to teenagers and children’s meals are provided at the café. Dogs on leads are welcome but not in cafés or children’s play areas.

Stay nearby: Knighton Gorges Cottage, Newchurch | sleeps 10 + 2 dogs

Isle of Wight Light Steam Railway

Hop aboard a vintage locomotive
Hop aboard a vintage locomotive

For something a little more tranquil, hop aboard a fascinating vintage steam locomotive that will take you on a relaxed journey between Smallbrook and Wootton, drinking in the unspoilt countryside of the island as you go. Choose one of the restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages and breathe in the evocative smells of the steam railway as staff in traditional uniform help you onboard. Take in the quiet rural stations on the way and stop off for a countryside walk if you wish – the train will wait for you! With the oldest locomotive in the collection dating back to 1876, this is a great trip for not only train enthusiasts but also keen historian as it's one of the oldest Isle of Wight tourist attractions. 

Prices: Standard return ticket, bought online: Adult £13.50, Child £6.50, Infant free, Family £33.00, Dog £3.00

Opening times: Booking office from 9.45am to 5.15pm. For timetables, please see the website.

Facilities: The Refreshment Rooms at Havenstreet Station provide just the spot for lunch or afternoon tea and the T-Junction Refreshment Kiosk and Ice Cream Parlour are both great places to grab a quick ice cream or drink. Children will love this adventure and there are baby changing facilities at some of the stations. Dogs on leads are very welcome and can travel on the railway with an All-Day Rover ticket.

Stay nearby: Iona Cottage, Seaview | sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Natural attractions on the Isle of Wight

Cowes Week

Sailing at Cowes
Sailing at Cowes

A day out at Cowes is fantastic at any time of year, but if you can visit during the famous Regatta, even better. In fact, it's one of the Isle of Wight's best attractions, known all over the world, and every August, hordes of visitors descend on the town to watch the plethora of wonderful sailing boats competing. Over 100,000 spectators and 8000 competitors make for a vibrant atmosphere and there is also a whole host of events that take place in and around the harbour. The firework display on the final Friday of the weeklong event is a much-loved tradition.

Prices: Free to spectate.

Opening times: Cowes Week is held for a week in August every year and races take part daily.

Facilities: A great variety of restaurants, cafes and pubs as well as lots of stalls with tempting treats to sample as well as a hugely popular beer tent. Family Day is a popular event which helps children get the most out of their time at the regatta. Dogs are welcome all year round at Cowes, but it may be better to plan only taking them during quieter times at Cowes Week.

Stay nearby: Spinnaker View, Cowes | sleeps 6

The Needles Landmark Attraction and Alum Bay

The Needles
The Needles

One of the most popular things to do on the Isle of Wight, the spectacular Needles consists of a row of three magnificent stacks of chalk rising approximately 30 metres out of the sea.  This iconic national landmark, sitting off the west coast, is just 3 miles from Freshwater and offers fun boat rides out to sea as well as a 4D cinema experience, Jurassic adventure golf and an impressive chairlift which takes you from the top of the Alum Bay cliffs down to the beach below. The chairlift gives you a great opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the rocks and lighthouse but if you want to experience the coloured sand cliffs and sparkling aquamarine waters of Alum Bay for yourself, stop awhile and take the chairlift back later in the day. Don’t forget to visit the sand shop to buy a souvenir of the multi-coloured sands to take home.

Prices: Dependent on activity – see details here.

Opening times: 10am – 5pm (weather dependent).

Facilities: A restaurant and tea rooms, as well as various kiosks so you can pick up an ice cream in the summer season. Lots of rides and attractions for children while the chairlift and boat ride are both good for older children. Little ones will love filling up glass bottles with sand in the shop. Dogs on leads are allowed on all external areas of The Needles and onto the beach but if you want to go on the boat trip or chairlift, best leave your pooch at home.

Stay nearby: Tennyson Wing Cottage, Alum Bay | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Historic attractions on the Isle of Wight

Osborne House

Osborne House
Osborne House

Queen Victoria stated, ‘It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot’, and who are we to argue? This delightful former royal palace, used as a summer residence for the queen and her family, is situated in East Cowes, just over the river from the famous regatta town of Cowes. Here you can step back in time and visit the royal couple’s private apartments, the beach where they used to paddle in the water, and their children’s play cottage. View the ornate furnishings, typical of Prince Albert’s style, and drink in the beautiful views across the Solent from the garden terraces which were said to remind the prince of the Bay of Naples. It's one of the most breathtaking days out on the Isle of Wight. 

Prices: Adult £15.20, Child £9.10, Concession £13.70, Family tickets £24.30/£39.50, English Heritage members go free.

Opening times: 10am – 5pm daily from April to October; seasonal hours outside of this.

Facilities: The Terrace restaurant and Orangery as well as a café, cake shop and ice-cream parlour. Outdoor picnic areas are on hand for sunny days. There are baby changing facilities, children’s meals and outdoor play areas for little ones. Dogs on leads are allowed in certain areas of the grounds. There is a dog walker’s map available on the English Heritage website if you want to plan your walk in advance.

Stay nearby: Middle Barn, East Cowes | sleeps 5

Brading Roman Villa

An example of a Roman Mosaic
An example of a Roman Mosaic

If you're wondering what to do on the Isle of Wight when the weather isn't so great, Brading Roman Villa should be top of your list. The remains of this beautiful villa overlooking Sandown Bay is one of the finest Roman sites in the UK. Its award-winning Visitor Centre and Museum provides visitors with an insight into Roman life, with beautifully preserved mosaic tiles and an amazing collection of Roman artefacts. Rediscovered by a local farmer in 1879, the 12-room villa really is the most spectacular place to visit. Walk around the extensive grounds which include a meadow trail and Roman Garden or watch a film in the dedicated cinema.

Prices: Adults £9.50, Concessions £8.75, Children £4.75, Family £25

Opening times: 10am – 4pm

Facilities: The stylish Forum Café serves locally sourced food and drink and is open all year round with panoramic views overlooking the bay. Children will love the exhibits and educational interactive displays and there are many other fun activities that will keep them entertained. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the museum.

Stay nearby: Beaulieu Cottage, Borthwood | sleeps 5

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle

This romantic castle now managed by English Heritage has had a chequered past. Not only was it an Elizabethan artillery fortress, it has also been a king’s prison and royal summer residence. Discover the fascinating 1000 years of history at the museum and visit the Edwardian-style garden, based on the original garden retreat of Queen Victoria’s daughter Beatrice. Drink in the views towards Carisbrooke and beyond from the high castle walls then visit the gorgeous donkeys and see them drawing up water in the well-house. This is one of the places to visit on the Isle of Wight that should be top of your list. 

Prices: Adult £11.30, Child £6.80, Concession £10.20, Family tickets £18.10/£29.40, English Heritage members go free.

Opening times: 10am – 5pm daily from April to October; seasonal hours outside of this.

Facilities: A pretty tearoom as welll as benches and picnic tables for dining alfresco. There are lots of things for children to do, including meeting the donkeys and dressing up as Norman soldiers or Civil War troopers in the gatehouse. Dogs on leads are welcome in most of the gardens and grounds of the castle.

Stay nearby: Dairy Cottage, Carisbrooke | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

View the top Isle of Wight attractions on a map

Stay with us on the Isle of Wight

If you're visiting the Isle of Wight, you might also want to read our guides to what else you can do on the island:

If we have inspired you to take a holiday on this wonderful island, why not have a look at our selection of holiday cottages on the Isle of Wight? From coach houses to stable cottages and garden lodges to beach houses, you will find your perfect property in our collection.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.