The Isle of Wight is the largest island in the UK and welcomes tourists of all ages to visit it. Spending a long weekend on this island will convince you that it brings entertainment and education. You can catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight on a Friday and return home on Monday the next week, filled with the joy this island gives you during your stay.
The below guide will offer recommendations on how best to spend an Isle of Wight long weekend, including where to stay, the best restaurants to eat, and the activities you can complete. You can be guaranteed a thrilling adventure no matter whom you visit the island with, friends or family.
Day 1 – Friday
Getting to the Isle of Wight
You can only get to the Isle of Wight via a ferry. However, the upshot of this is that ferries depart from multiple ports across Southern England at various times throughout the day. For example, the ferry I caught departed from Southampton on Friday afternoon, courtesy of Red Funnel Ferries. Each ferry journey lasts one hour and will take you across The Solent Channel to East Cowes.
Ferries for the Isle of Wight can also be caught from Portsmouth and Lymington using Whitelink Ferries (arriving at Fishbourne, Ryde and Yarmouth). The journey length of the ferry you catch depends on where (and possibly when) you depart. You can check the ferry websites for more details on the journey times and dates.
Where to Stay on the Isle of Wight
After arriving on the Isle of Wight, you will probably want to check in to your accommodation. Where to stay on the Isle of Wight is a great question. The Isle of Wight has plenty of hotels, campsites, and holiday parks, the majority of which are located on the coast and provide coastal views to wake up to.
Some of the best examples of accommodation on the Isle of Wight are as follows:
- Shoreside Inn – A small welcoming family-run inn in Shanklin, this is the ideal place to stay if you are after something cosy and comforting. All rooms at this inn are en-suite and include breakfast and free private parking.
- Lakeside Hotel and Spa – Those who wish to add a more luxurious touch to their stay on the Isle of Wight will love this hotel. It is situated right next to the Old Mill Pond and has easy links to Fishbourne (handy if you are visiting from Portsmouth).
- Wight Camper Site – Campsites on this island can be very popular, especially during the Isle of Wight Festival weekend. This camper site is fit for those who wish to pitch their tents and caravans and do not wish to splash out on a room in a fancy hotel.
- Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat – Holiday parks like this example offer a range of on-site facilities, including a restaurant, bar, and gym. Find a holiday park by the coast, and you could wake up to a beautiful sunrise view from your lodge/caravan.
After checking into your accommodation, it will be a good idea to relax as much as possible after a long journey getting there. You can also take your time to explore the surrounding area and treat yourself and others to a refreshing pint of local ale.
Day 2 – Saturday
Spending Your First Full Day On The Isle of Wight
Upon waking up to a (hopefully) gorgeous Saturday morning, you will most likely want to carry out an activity of your choosing. Hiking is one of the best ways of getting some fresh air, and taking in some spectacular views will undoubtedly show you the true beauty of the Isle of Wight and its countryside.
One of the best hikes you can adventure on is located in the area of Bembridge. This hike will take you from Bembridge to the Culver Downs and offer some fine coastal views for you to look over. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you can see over towards France with these views. However, they are stunning nonetheless.
This is a hike I thoroughly recommend myself, as it is complete with charming views over Bembridge, which you can enjoy taking in from the Culver Downs. Other walks are also available to embark on, and you can click here to view the full range of routes on the Isle of Wight.
Experiencing a Saturday Isle of Wight Night Out
I’m sure you will want to get a taste of the nightlife on this island, and its capital, Newport, is the hotspot just for this.
Why not begin your night with a meal at one of the town’s excellent restaurants, such as Hewitt’s Restaurant & Rooms? A delicious cocktail and three-course dinner here will fill you up for the next bar you visit, be it the Weatherspoon’s pub just around the corner or a bar with local artists performing their music, such as Strings Bar and Venue.
There will be a lively atmosphere wherever you go to have a drink or two. There may also be people who want to strike up a conversation with you and find out how long you are staying on the Isle of Wight. Of course, nights like those become wholesome when you make friends in this part of the UK.
You could even take it one step further and visit the Fever Nightclub, located just outside of the centre of Newport. This venue, open until 3 am, has a lavish touch, which will be a perfect way to end your night. If you are up for doing this, you can also strut your stuff here to the music played until Sunday morning’s early hours. Fever Nightclub is the perfect place to finish an Isle of Wight night out.
Day 3 – Sunday
Exploring the Island’s Seaside Towns
As you wake up from a night of exploring the nightlife of Newport, it won’t be a surprise if you fancy an easy day, a day of taking a stroll in one or two seaside towns. Two examples of these towns worth the visit are Sandown and Shanklin, which have sandy beaches. Sandown is home to one of the Isle of Wight’s most popular beaches, Yaverland Beach. It even has its own yachting club, which is on hand for thrill seekers.
Sandown boasts its own amusement pier, which is open in the summer for those who wish to stroll to the very end of it. If it is closed when you visit, you can at least make the most of the amusements in the central part of the pier and score some pars on the indoor mini-golf course.
Shanklin is a resort town where everything by the beach is enough to entertain everyone who visits, especially the kids. This includes the two main golf courses: Pirate Cove and Jurassic Bay, which will be very busy at peak times, but there’s no doubt you will be willing to complete all 18 holes regardless.
Walking along the Esplanade, away from all the action, you will find the quieter part of Shanklin, which includes a selection of hotels, pubs, and restaurants, such as The Waterfront Inn.
As it is a Sunday, you may wish to treat yourself to a delicious Sunday lunch on the seafront in the town and a pub/restaurant of your choosing. An example includes a Sunday lunch at The Ocean Deck Bar and Restaurant, served from 12 pm until 3 pm. This is run in the form of a carvery, and you have the choice of either a small, medium, or large carvery. Of course, the prices here will vary depending on your appetite.
After another day of exploring the Isle of Wight even further, you may wish to settle down for your final night there or even pop out for another drink somewhere local to your accommodation. The choice here is yours.
Day 4 – Monday
Before You Go…
We come to the final day of your 4 days on the Isle of Wight. As you wake up in your accommodation, you can enjoy your final breakfast before having to check out. You may want to squeeze in an activity before you catch your ferry back to the mainland.
If you have a passion for all things monkey-related, then it will be worth spending a couple of hours checking out Monkey Haven – Primate Rescue Centre. This sanctuary relies heavily on the donations received from tourists, which allows the rescue of more primates from reaching a dangerous level of becoming endangered.
Fun for all the family, you can truly get an education on the names of these primates and the dates of when they were rescued and from where. This is thanks to the animal talks, which are available throughout the day. Not only are there monkeys and gorillas of all kinds but there is also a reptile house and a meerkat enclosure to add variety to this Rescue Centre.
After your visit, you have the opportunity to donate to the charity supporting this Rescue Centre. You could also provide support by adopting one of the monkeys, ensuring they are looked after well. Even buying something in their gift shop will ensure that some of your purchase is donated to charity.
As you slowly approach your departure point to return to the mainland, you can use this opportunity to explore the town you are departing from. Then, when you board your ferry, you will be sure to reflect on how well you spent your Isle of Wight long weekend and how much you are yearning to return to do it all again.
Louie Amos is a freelance travel writer currently operating in the UK. Having achieved his BCJ Diploma in Travel Journalism, he regularly posts articles on his website The Travelling Foodie, as well as Everything UK Travel