The best Isle of Wight attractions

Days out, Family

Posted by Ed Roberts on 10th January 2023

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 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 to relax and play on the Isle of Wight's best beaches, we have picked some of the best things to do on your trip to the Isle of Wight.

To fully discover the Isle of Wight, we think the very best way to enjoy your holiday is to stay at one of our holiday cottages. We have a large variety of properties to suit everybody from couples to families. Click the button below to browse our collection of self-catering holiday accommodation on the Isle of Wight.

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Family-friendly attractions on the Isle of Wight

Become a pirate for the day

Blackgang Chine | Best Isle of Wight attraction for kids

Let your imagination run wild at the UK’s oldest amusement park, Blackgang Chine, near Ventnor, 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.

Good to know

  • Prices: All standard tickets include 7-day returns from £60. For more ticket information, visit the website.
  • Facilities: Lots of places to eat including Chine Café, Ice Rush, and Chocabloc. Family-friendly, although more suited to children between 4 and 12, with some height restrictions on rides. Dogs on leads are welcome in the park.
  • Stay nearby: St Catherines Cottage | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Ventnor cottages

Nature trails are great fun for kids

Robin Hill Country Park | Best Isle of Wight attraction for adventure

Robin Hill Country Park is a gigantic theme park located just outside of Newport and it offers one of the most fun days out for families 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 top things to do on the Isle of Wight.

Good to know

  • Prices:  Adults £28, Saver ticket (four people): £102. For more ticket information, visit the website.
  • 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  | sleeps 10 + 3 dogs

Newport cottages

Hop aboard a vintage locomotive

Isle of Wight Steam Railway | Best Isle of Wight attraction for countryside views

For something a little more tranquil, hop aboard a train on the fascinating vintage Isle of Wight Steam Railway that will take you on a relaxed journey between Smallbrook near Ryde, 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 historians as it's one of the oldest Isle of Wight tourist attractions. 

Good to know

  • Prices: Standard return ticket, bought online: Adult £13.50, Child £6.50, Infant free, Family £33, Dog £3. For more ticket information, visit the website.
  • Facilities: The Refreshment Rooms at Havenstreet Station is 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 | sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Ryde cottages

Popular attractions on the Isle of Wight

Sailing at Cowes

Cowes Week | The best annual event on the Isle of Wight

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, Cowes Week is one of the best days out on the Isle of Wight; it's known all over the world. Every August, hordes of visitors descend on the town to watch the plethora of wonderful sailing boats competing. Over 100,000 spectators and 8,000 competitors make for a vibrant atmosphere and there are also a whole host of events that take place in and around the harbour. The firework display on the final Friday of the week-long event is a much-loved tradition. Another great annual event for music lovers is the Isle of Wight Festival.

Good to know

  • Prices: Free to spectate. View the website for race fixtures.
  • Facilities: A great variety of restaurants, cafes and pubs as well as lots of stalls with tempting treats to sample, and 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 to take them during quieter times than Cowes Week.
  • Stay nearby: Spinnaker View | sleeps 6

Cowes cottages

The Needles

The Needles Landmark Attraction, Alum Bay | Best Isle of Wight attraction for awesome sea views

One of the most popular things to do on the Isle of Wight, the spectacular Needles Landmark Attraction and Alum Bay consists of a row of three magnificent stacks of chalk rising approximately 30 metres out of the sea. Possibly the Isle of Wight's biggest tourist attraction, this iconic landmark, sitting off the west coast, is just 3 miles from Freshwater. Here you can enjoy 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 a while 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 sand to take home.

Good to know

  • Prices: Dependent on activity – visit the website for current information.
  • 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 | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Freshwater cottages

Historic attractions on the Isle of Wight

Osborne House

Osborne House | The best Isle of Wight attraction for stately homes and gardens

Queen Victoria stated, "It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot", and who are we to argue? The delightful former royal palace of Osborne House, 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 places to visit on the Isle of Wight. 

Good to know

  • Prices: Adult £21, Child £12.60, Concession £13.70, English Heritage members go free. For more ticket information, visit the website
  • 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 | sleeps 5

East Cowes cottages

An example of a Roman Mosaic

Brading Roman Villa | The best Isle of Wight attraction for history buffs

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 sit overlooking Sandown Bay, it 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. There are lots of all-weather/rainy day attractions to visit on the Isle of Wight

Good to know

  • Prices: Adults £11.49, Children £5.94. For more ticket information, visit the website.
  • 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 | sleeps 5

Sandown cottages

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle | Best Isle of Wight attraction for a family day out

Romantic Carisbrooke Castle near Newport is now managed by English Heritage, having 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 1,000 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. A visit here is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Wight; for even more English Heritage and National Trust properties on Isle of Wight, visit our guide.

Good to know

  • Prices: Adult £12.80, Child £7.60 - English Heritage members go free. For more ticket information, visit the website.
  • Opening times: 10am – 5pm daily from April to October; seasonal hours outside of this.
  • Facilities: A pretty tearoom as well 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 | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

View the top Isle of Wight attractions on a map

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Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight

Now that 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.

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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.