The Isle of Wight Bucket List: 35 Epic things to do on IOW
With just a ferry ride away from the south – coast of British mainland, is an island that has a rich historic past, and host to uniquely diverse landscape. Once home to terrifying predators about 125 million years ago, the Island now boasts natural landmarks, ancient woodland, truly stunning coastlines, dramatic white cliffs, magical sunsets, medieval castles, three hundred year old windmill and, Victorian seaside towns that are alive with so many stories to be explored. The Isle of Wight is one of England‘s best haven, with much to do either on a day trip, a short-break or a longer visit Here’s a comprehensive guide to the epic Isle of Wight bucket list of things to do during a visit.
The Isle of Wight is a perfect destination for a vacation by couples, coastal adventurers, families, photographers and just about anyone who enjoys an island getaway. Whilst there are multitude of things to do in this island of outstanding natural beauty, it would be impossible to compile an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, here is a guide for you – an Isle of Wight bucket list of 35 epic things to do in this stunning island (along with some valuable tips) to select from and to build your itinerary to suit your visit.
ALUM BAY – ISLE OF WIGHT BUCKET LIST OF THINGS TO DO
1 | The Needles Rocks, Alum Bay | Isle of Wight bucket list
The Needles is one of the most iconic natural landmark in Britain and surely one of the most photographed group of rocks in the world. The distinctive row of three sea stacks of chalk rising-up as a cone at about 30 metres out at sea together with the Needles Lighthouse is one of the main attractions on Isle of Wight. This Isle of Wight bucket list destination draws up to half a million visitors a year.
2 | Needles Lighthouse, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Alongside The Needles sea stacks, stands the formidable lighthouse, Needles Trinity Lighthouse. At 33.25 metres (109.1 ft), Trinity stands against the howling gales at the end of the outermost chalk stack overlooking the Solent. Built in 1859 and has been automated since 1994.
2.1 | How to experience the Needles rocks and lighthouse?
Recommended read: Very best views of The Needles – 4 viewing points on the Isle of Wight
3 | Needles Old Battery and New Battery, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Famously known as “Palmerstone’s Follies” the Old Battery was built in 1860s but never used for its original purpose as defence to the French invasion which did not take place.
A little further up is the Needles New Battery. The New Battery is a small site but home to some fascinating stories of secret rocket testing during the Cold War (1950s – 1970s).
4 | Alum Bay coloured sand cliffs, Isle of Wight
Alum Bay is famous for its multicoloured sand and makes the Isle of Wight bucket list. Uniquely formed out of three minerals, felspar, mica and quartz, they are white in their pure state.
There was a time when visitors were allowed to scrape off the sand from the cliffs to take home as souvenir but this is no longer allowed. These days you could visit the Sand Shop at Alum Bay and have a bottle filled with the various colours to take back as a souvenir.
5 | Alum Bay Glass, Isle of Wight
The glass factory, Alum Bay Glass is quite amazing. It is world famous for unique handmade British fine quality glassware which has fascinated visitors since it began. Watch the skilful art of glass blowing and see a range of crafted glassware.
6 | Other activities at Alum Bay
6.1 | Alum Bay Sweet Factory
If you have a sweet tooth or you are just craving for some sugar, head towards the Sweet Factory and taste a sample – and you will walk out with a bag or two of different varieties 🙂
6.2 | Amusement Park
There is an amusement park in Totland to entertain both the young and adults.
Timeless Travel Steps Best tips:
BEMBRIDGE – UNMISSABLE ISLE OF WIGHT BUCKET LIST THINGS TO DO
7 | Bembridge Windmill | Isle of Wight bucket list
What used to be known as Knowle Mill, the Bembridge Windmill is a Grade 1 listed structure and is the last surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. Built in 1700s, the windmill has most of its original features intack over four floors. The floors are accessible via a series of steep stairs. It was a working windmill until 1913 and it was given to the National Trust England in 1971.
Good to know info:
Address: High Street/Mill Road, BEMBRIDGE, Isle Of Wight, PO35 5SQ
Tel: 01983 873945 | Awards: Green Island Awards, 2008
|Ticket Type||Ticket Tariff|
|Adult GAOE||£6.50 per ticket|
|Adult Group||£5.20 per ticket|
|Adult Standard||£5.90 per ticket|
|Child GAOE||£3.25 per ticket|
|Child Group||£2.60 per ticket|
|Child Standard||£2.95 per ticket|
|Family GAOE||£16.25 per ticket|
|Family Standard||£14.75 per ticket|
Prior booking is no longer required but expect a small queue during high season typically during summer holidays.
*Visit length is 45 minutes
8 | Bembridge Heritage Visitor Centre | Isle of Wight bucket list
The coastal position of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight inspired and still does, contribute to boat building, yacht design, sailing and fishing. The village was vital during the World Wars as well.
The Bembridge Heritage Visitor Centre brings together all of these stories on social, seafaring, military and development and displays them so visitors could learn about the diverse stories of this beautiful seaside village.
Good to know info:
Address: Unit 1B Weaver’s Yard, Lane End Road, BEMBRIDGE, Isle of Wight, PO35 5US
Free entry. Donations welcome.
(1 Apr 2022 – 31 Oct 2022)
Monday – Closed
Tuesday: 10:00 – 15:00
Wednesday: 10:00 – 15:00
Thursday: 10:00 – 15:00
Friday: 10:00 – 15:00
Saturday: 10:00 – 15:00
(1 Nov 2021 – 31 Mar 2022)
Wednesday: 10:00 – 15:00
Saturday: 10:00 – 15:00
9 | Whitecliff Bay, Bembridge, Isle of Wight
Whitecliff Bay Bembridge is on the easternmost point of Isle of Wight. A diamond in the rough, it boasts a secluded beach, a sandy bay with shingles and a picturesque setting. Home to Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park offering an array of self-catered accommodation to suit along with a myriad of evening entertainment as well. The beach is a busy place during the day. Access down to the beach is through two-steep concrete tracks.
Whitecliff Bay is a fantastic location in Bembridge. There’s plenty to do here, come rain or shine! It makes a perfect base from whence you can explore all nearby attractions
10 | Earl of Yarborough Monument Culver Down Bembridge
The tallest monument on the island, the Earl of Yarborough Monument is a historic site and definitely one for the Isle of Wight bucket list to tick off. Dedicated to Charles Pelham of Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire, who was created 1st Earl of Yarborough in 1837. He was an influential figure on the island and was held in great affection by the islanders.
The Yarborough is a striking landmark that forms part of the skyline on the east of the island and was once upon a time a seamark for shipping. Climb the hill to reach this monument and you will be rewarded with spectacular views over Culver Cliff.
Address: Culver Down, BEMBRIDGE, Isle Of Wight, PO36 8QT
11 | Quiet Walks on the Beach in and around Bembridge
There are a number of beaches in and around Bembridge for quiet walks that are ideal Isle of Wight bucket list. Try St Helens, a pretty green village that sits on the eastcoast of Isle of Wight between Bembridge and Seaview.
Seaview is another delightful coastal village worth exploring.
BRADING, ISLE OF WIGHT
12 | Roman Villa and Coastal Views at Brading, Isle of Wight bucket list
Brading is one of the oldest towns on the island and sits on the east side, nearby to Ryde. Located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the town is pretty with cottages boasting original architecture and a Norman church, St Mary’s. There is also the Brading Roman Villa that offers insights into the Roman period on the island. If you enjoy walking and exploring, Brading Downs offer some spectacular views across Culver Down and Sandown Bay, a delightful Isle of Wight bucket list item to cross off.
Brading Roman Villa
Address: Morton Old Rd, Brading, Sandown PO36 0PH
Tuesday to Saturday
Hours: Generally 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
BRIGHTSTONE, ISLE OF WIGHT
13 | Traditional farmhouses and cottages at Brightstone Village, Isle of Wight bucket list
Brightstone sits on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight, and offer extensive footpaths and bridleways. You could easily explore the open downs, coastal cliffs and beaches.
Brightstone Village is famous for its picturesque traditional farmhouses and thatched cottages. The cottages here are built from local ‘clunch’ stone. The Village is also home to a 800-year old church that is open to the public daily.
14 | Isle of Wight Pearl
The Isle of Wight Pearl is a family owned and run business which has been operating for thirty plus years. Home to a spectacular collection of oyster pearls, this destination offers spectacular clifftop views as well. It is worth bearing in mind that the pearls are not from Isle of Wight.
Take the Hovercraft to the Isle of Wight
COWES – ISLE OF WIGHT BUCKET LIST ATTRACTIONS
Located on the west bank of the estuary of River Medina, Cowes is home to the oldest and biggest sailing regatta in the world. In addition, Cowes is also rich in culture and history. It is connected to the smaller town of East Cowes sitting across on the eastern estuary of River Medina.
15 | Cowes Week – Isle of Wight bucket list experience
One of the most popular sailing regattas in the world takes place in Cowes during Cowes Week. It is the busiest time of the year on the Isle of Wight and takes place over 7 days.
Traditionally, Cowes Week takes place on the Saturday after the last Tuesday in July but this also depends very much on the tides.
Future Cowes Week dates are as follows:
2022 – July 30 to August 6
2023 – July 29 to August 5
2024 – July 27 to August 3
There are other regattas sprinkled throughout the year where you shall find anything from classic yachts to power boats taking part.
16 | Cowes Yacht Haven | Isle of Wight Bucket List
Cowes Harbour is home to 4 marinas and a visit to Cowes Yacht Haven on West Cowes is recommended. A world-class marina with easy access to the heart of town for pubs, restaurants and shops.
Address: Vectis Yard, High St, Cowes PO31 7BD
Access – All year round
17 | Osborne House, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight is well-known for its royal connection – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cemented their love affair of the island by building Osborne House, their palatial summer home. Take a glimpse into the private lives of the Victorian family at Osborne House when visiting this stunning island.
18 | St Mildred’s Church East Cowes – Queen Victoria’s Church
St Mildred’s Church was a favourite of Queen Victoria and she, along with her family worshipped here during their summer vacations. The church was redesigned to incorporate unique features. Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice was married here to Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885. Both were laid to rest in the cemetary at St Mildred’s.
Address: Beatrice Ave, East Cowes PO32 6LW
Open: Monday to Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
19 | Egypt Point Cowes
Egypt Point is the northernmost point on the Isle of Wight and has a lighthouse that is rather unique. The Egypt Point Lighthouse is located at the bottom of Egypt Hill, on the side of Egypt Esplanade. It was built in 1897 to guide those navigating the Solent and did so for almost a century when it was discontinued in 1987. The name ‘Egypt’ is derived from a colony of gypsies that lived in the area around the 16th century.
Egypt Point is perfect for sunsets. Take the coastal path from Cowes to Gurnard and pass Egypt Point with the sea always in view. Or watch the sunset over the Solent from the terraces of Best Western.
Recommended read: Isle of Wight and 10 Victorian Love Affair Experiences
20 | The Sir Max Aitken Museum, Cowes
For a glimpse into the world of marine history, visit the Sir Max Aitken Museum conveniently located on the highstreet at Cowes. The museum is housed in an 18th century Ratsey and Lapthorn sailmaker’s loft.
Highlights at the museum include, the Gaff from the Royal Racing Yacht Britannia dating from the 1920s and a French Empire Cradle believed to belong to Napoleon Bonaparte for his son, “The Infant King of Rome ”.
Address: Sir Max Aitken Museum
The Prospect, 83 High Street,
Isle of Wight,
FRESHWATER, ISLE OF WIGHT BUCKET LIST
Freshwater Bay is located to the south of Freshwater Village and offer an all year round pebble beach which is ideal for swimming, walks and boating. Accessible from Freshwater Village is Tennyson Down, a grassy hill that rises to 147m (482 feet) above sea level. It is a steep climb but worth the effort!
21 | Stag and Mermaid rocks | Isle of Wight
The ‘Stag and Mermaid’ rocks that sits at the edge of the Freshwater Bay coast is a popular tourist attraction as well as a compelling destination for photographers.
There are some rock formations here that form local landmarks. The ones to look out for are the Arch Rock, Stag Rock and Mermaid Rock.
The caves at the bottom of the white cliffs were once used by smugglers when the tide was down. Best way to explore these caves is with an expert guide on a kayak.
22 | Tennyson Monument | Isle of Wight
At the highest point in Tennyson Down , stands a memorial dedicated to the Victorian Poet Laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson. The Tennyson Monument is a striking granite cross and an impressive structure, standing proudly in an area best loved by the laureate himself. If you can make the climb, you will be rewarded with striking views that this spot commands.
Recommended: The Needles Headland and Tennyson Down coastal walk > Read: 4 key ways to explore the Isle of Wight
GODSHILL, ISLE OF WIGHT
23 | The picturesque Godshill Village, Isle of Wight bucket list
Godshill is the ultimate in quintessential English Village on the island. The Village boasts some of the oldest architecture, picturesque thatched roof cottages and delightful winding street lined with tearooms that beckons a stop for some traditional English Cream Tea.
NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT
Newport is the main town on the Isle of Wight. This historic town boasts both Georgian and Victorian architecture. The town centre has numerous shops and eateries. You could also find some high-end fashion labels here. The unmissable places for your bucket list around Newport are the 12th century fort, Carisbrooke Castle and Robin Hill, 88-acres of rolling hills and natural woodland.
24 | Carisbrooke Castle | Isle of Wight
Near the town of Newport and strategically located is this prominent hilltop structure, Carisbrooke Castle which dominates the centre of the island.
A centre of power and defence for over 1000 years, it was a Saxon fortress, an Elizabethan fortress and a King’s prison, eventually a summer residence to the Governor of Isle of Wight, Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter to Queen Victoria.
When you are at Carisbrooke Castle, walk through the main gates and take your time in exploring this quintessentially romantic castle which still has working donkeys to work the Well-House. There is a museum and a chapel here for you to learn more about this Castle. Take the wall-walk and enjoy the breath-taking views of the island that it offers. There is plenty of space to roam around especially if you are visiting with kids.
Read the complete guide on Carisbrooke Castle >> Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
25 | Robin Hill, Isle of Wight
Robin Hill offers some incredible adventures and experiences in its eighty-eight acres of woodland, parks and rolling hills. Home to some incredible red squirrels, tree top canopies and epic rides, it is a destination suitable for all ages.
26 | Blackgang Chine
Blackgang Chine is the oldest amusement park in the UK and a land of imagination. With fun rides, slides, dinosaurs, cowboys and so much more for a perfect day out for families with children.
27 | The Longstone, Mottistone | Isle of Wight
Simply known as “The Longstone” the stones are of Neolithic origin of at least 6,000 years old. It is believed to be the entrance to a communal long barrow of 31 metre long, 9 metres wide and 2 metres high used for burying the dead. People may have worshipped the sun and moon during the Neolithic times which is one reason why the Longston is aligned west-east.
On the other hand, there is an interesting legend associated with The Longstone.
Legend has it that St Catherine and the Devil himself fought over the Isle of Wight as to who would control it. During the struggle, St Catherine threw the 4 metre and 2 metre wide stone that bears her name. It landed decisively into the ground. The Devil threw a mere 2.9 metre high and 1.2 metre wide smaller stone, thus losing to St Catherine. Hence, symbolising the victory of good over evil.
The stones were most likely moved during the Saxon times and it was certainly moved in the 19th century by Lord Dillon. Lord Dillon excavated the grounds but found nothing. There were further excavations undertaken in 1956 which exposed kerb stones and a ditch that ran around the mound.
The Longstone is a key place of worship by the Druids. Significant gatherings take place during notable dates such as the summer solstice.
RYDE, ISLE OF WIGHT
If you are looking for some offbeat fun, Ryde is the place to be! You will find beautiful sandy beaches along with traditional seaside fun, Victorian architecture and some hidden gems.
Ryde is home to the longest running carnival on the island which takes place at the end of August. Perfect for strolls along the beachfront, Ryde also offers plenty to do in this part of the island. You could go G0-karting, Climbing, explore the many independent shops or visit Quarr Abbey, a Benedictine monastery.
28 | Quarr Abbey Isle of Wight
Pronounced as “Kwor”, Quarr Abbey is a working Benedictine monastery and is set amongst acres of stunning and peaceful surroundings, just outside of Ryde.
Founded in 1132, the monastery ultimately fell victim to King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1907, a group of French Benedictine monks were exiled to the island. They established a kitchen garden and started rebuilding the Quarr. The present monastery is built entirely by the efforts of the local islanders.
Quarr Abbey makes the Isle of Wight bucket list not just for the tranquility that it boasts but also for its incredible architecture along with its 900 years of monastic history.
Quarr Abbey is nestled between Ryde and Wootton on the northern coast of the Isle of Wight.
Quarr Rd, Ryde, PO33 4ES
Sandown, Isle of Wight
29 | Dinosaur fossil expeditions on Isle of Wight – an incredible bucket list experience everyone!
Best areas to find dinosaur bones in Isle of Wight are at Yaverland beach near Sandown and on the south-west coast of the Island, stretching from Atherfield to Compton.
30 | Shanklin Chine
Shanklin Shine is one of Mother Nature’s best geological feature on the Isle of Wight. A popular attraction, Shanklin Shine features waterfalls, lush vegetation and wooded coastal ravine along with footpaths and walkways. It has a heritage centre and a gift shop. The beautiful tea garden has a Victorian tea room, serving cream tea, light lunches and meals.
VENTNOR | ISLE OF WIGHT
31 | St Catherine’s Oratory
Standing at four storeys high, the octagonal shaped tower is the only surviving medieval lighthouse in England. It was built by Walter de Godeton, Lord of Chale as contrition for stealing wine from a shipwreck in 1313. A replacement lighthouse was planned in 1785 but this was never completed.
St Catherine’s Oratory is affectionately known by the islanders as “Pepperpot” due to its shape and the remains of the replacement lighthouse as the “Salt Cellar”.
Accessible by a footpath from the end of Upper House Lane in Chale.
32 | Ventnor Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1970, and located close to sea, the Ventnor Botanic Gardens enjoys a micro-climate weather all year round. Home to an incredible range of flora, and fauna, along with rare butterflies and insects. A popular visitor destination on the Isle of Wight.
33 | St Katherine’s Lighthouse
Sitting on the southern tip of Isle of Wight, St Katherine’s Lighthouse was built by Trinity House in 1838 to guide ships in the Solent. The height of the tower is 27 metres and has 94 steps to reach the lantern.
St Katherine’s Lighthouse has been a weather reporting station for some years and has been automated since 1997.
COASTAL WALK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT
The Isle of Wight coastal path is divided into six sections and takes you the full circumference of the island. You will pass through busy harbours, fishing villages, sailing towns, sandy beaches, white cliffs, wildlife haven and so much more.
Georgina: Although I did not complete the whole 64 miles of the designated coastal footpath, I did some, and left some to be continued on another visit.
Coastal walks are the best ways to appreciate the incredible Isle of Wight. I was totally distracted with the breath-taking views of the English Channel and watching the ships across the Solent which is mesmerising while the sun sets.
34 | White Cliffs at Isle of Wight
The White Cliffs are a beautiful sight and it is one that you should not miss if you are planning on a coastal walk.
35 | Victoria’s Island Trail
You can follow Queen Victoria’s footsteps – the Victoria’s Island Trail and visit the places around the island that were important to the Royal family. A key favourite is Victoria’s church, St Mildred’s, where she worshipped and the yacht club which was specifically built for Queen Victoria.
finally …on Isle of Wight bucket list
Wherever you are on the island, you know that you are never too far from the sea. The island has 57 miles of coastline and offers great opportunity to explore at every turn. The sights are unique with different soaring cliffs, secluded coves for rock-pooling and nature trails and hikes. Over half of the island has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
For me, though, after spending almost a week here, I did not do everything the island offered. As for my highlights of the visits, where shall I begin…The Needles, the Coastal Walk, Osborne House, Whitecliff Bay, Cowes, the Pearl factory, watching fishermen come in with their catch of lobsters and crab…
If you are considering an island to explore in England, I would highly recommend the Isle of Wight.
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Have a great time exploring the Isle of Wight, xoxo