Many people have heard of the Isle of Wight, but few know why – or how it became – so famous. Here is the answer.
The Isle of Wight is the largest island in England and is known as one of the country’s favorite holiday destinations. It lies between two and five miles off the south coast of England and has been a holiday resort since Victorian times. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the picturesque Isle of Man which is actually a country everyone forgets.
The Isle of Wight is loved for its mild climate (although the south of France and Spain are even better) and is a beautiful landscape of Chinas and picturesque fields. It is part of the historic county of Hampshire and is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Why the Isle of Wight is so popular
Entering this splendid island, it becomes clear why it is considered the perfect holiday destination for Britons (who cannot make it to the Mediterranean). It is only a two hour drive from London and offers plenty of activities in all seasons.
It was highly regarded – even Queen Victoria built her summer residence there – the Osborne House. Plus, it’s home to ancient Roman villas and there’s Carisbrooke Castle to explore.
In 1970, the island hosted the biggest rock music event ever – the Isle of Wight Festival. In addition, this remarkable island has some of the richest cliffs in England and is one of the best sites for dinosaur fossils in Europe.
- Cut: 150 square miles or 380 square km
An unusual fact on the north coast of the island is that it has four high tides every day, with a double high tide every twelve and a half hours. This is due to the particular shapes of the channels that surround it.
On another note, throughout its history it has boasted of a maritime and industrial tradition that has built British seaplanes, hovercraft and even space rockets.
Getting to the island and its attractions
The fastest way to get to the island is by hovercraft from Ryde to Southsea. There are also three vehicle ferry services and two catamaran services connecting the island to the English mainland.
The island has beautiful beaches (English quality), miles of scenic footpaths and cycle paths that wind through the garden-like countryside.
Despite its small size it is often called “England in miniature” so maybe it is a good destination if you want to see all of England in a short time? 🙂
Of particular interest are the coasts and cliffs of the Isle of Wight. To the west, the coast is dominated by the chalky ridge of the lowlands, which crosses the island and ends with the needle piles.
- Blackgang China: Had a reputation for shipwrecks, gangs and smugglers – now houses a theme park
- Ryde: The largest city, has large Georgian and Victorian buildings. As well as lively pubs and a seaside promenade.
Some of the more popular towns to visit are the southeastern towns of Sandown and Shanklin. And to the north are the towns of Cowes and Newport.
- Season: In England summer is always the best, but many of the Isle of Wight attractions are open year round
Some of the places to visit during your stay are Dinosaur Isle, Osborne House, Blackgang Chine, The Needles, Monkey Haven, Carisbrooke Castle, and Yarmouth Castle.
Osborne House is the former royal residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, their summer home and rural retreat. Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. The best palace (and movie favorite) would be Blenheim Palace in England – and you can visit it).
- Built: Between 1845 to 1851
- Queen Victoria: Died at Osborn House on January 22, 1901
- Adult: £ 19.00 ($ 25)
- Child: (5-17 years old) £ 11.40 ($ 16)
- Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located in the heart of the island is Carisbrooke Castle. It is a historic motte and bailey castle located in the village of the same name. For history students, this is where King Charles I was imprisoned after losing the English Civil War and before being tried and executed. He tried to escape from the castle in 1648 but was unable to break through the bars of his window.
Around 1000 AD, a wall was built to defend against Viking raiders and over the centuries it was improved and enlarged. It has become the strongest castle on the island. From 1896 to 1944 it was the home of Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria.
Today it is a tourist attraction drawing vacationers to the island and is under the control of English Heritage.
- Adult: £ 11.30 ($ 15)
- Child: (5-17 years old) £ 6.80 ($ 10)
- Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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