Top 3 Towns and Villages on the Isle of Wight
I think the Isle of Wight is a brilliant place to get away from it all. Just a short ferry crossing from Southampton, it is quick and easy to get to whether you fancy a few days by the seaside or a longer holiday discovering the island’s different delights. No matter how long you’re going for, though, you really shouldn’t miss the chance to visit its towns.
This may sound strange at first, given the fact that the Isle of Wight’s best known for its coastline, but the below three towns all have something unique to offer (as well as great beaches, which is always a bonus!). I’ll tell you a little about each now, while you can get any information you need on local accommodation through Sykes Cottages.
As it’s the Isle of Wight’s most famous town, Cowes naturally tops my list. Celebrated for its annual sailing extravaganza Cowes Week, this destination has plenty to offer alongside its sailing attractions. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can do far more than simply watch boat races here; keen sailors can take the helm themselves, while novices can learn the ropes through organisations like the UK sailing academy.
But let’s take a look at what you might not know about this north coast town. First of all, it’s naturally divided in two by the River Medina; the part to the west is usually referred to as ‘Cowes’, with the eastern section being known as ‘East Cowes’.
This is also where you’ll find the island’s best shops, as well as some of its best loved attractions, like Osborne House (just outside East Cowes). This was Queen Victoria’s family home, and today is a real delight to explore both inside and out. As a quick tip, you can enjoy amazing views across the Solent from its scenic grounds.
Next on my list is lovely Sandown – a traditional seaside town with a beautiful beach and Victorian pier. In fact, there’s more than one great stretch of sand to enjoy here; the most central is the bucket-and-spade Sandown Beach, but Yaverland Beach (one of the best on the island) lies at the edge of town.
You’ll find Sandown on the south coast, and what I love most about it is that it combines traditional seaside attractions – like the amusements at Sandown Pier – with a variety of other places to visit. I mean, it’s not every coastal town that’s home to its own zoo.
The Isle of Wight Zoo houses everything from lions to meerkats, and makes for a fun day out. Just down the road on Culver Parade, meanwhile, is Dinosaur Isle. You might not know this, but many dinosaur remains have been discovered on the Isle of Wight, which has made it famous for certain species. You can see these – including neovenator and iguanodon – recreated in life-size models, alongside precious fossils.
Last on my list is the village and seaside resort of Shanklin, which is just south of Sandown. What most appeals to me about Shanklin is its mix of scenery – yes, there’s a great beach, but there are also beautiful parks and gardens, as well as an impressive backdrop of sandstone cliffs.
I recommend taking a trip to Rylstone Gardens (where, if you’re lucky, you can spot red squirrels), Big Mead and Tower Cottage Gardens. Shanklin Beach, meanwhile, currently holds a Seaside Award, and its clear waters are absolutely perfect for swimming.
Running behind the beach is the Shanklin Esplanade, which is home to some lovely restaurants, bars and amusements. An ideal spot for a walk, this promenade is a great place to relax and soak up the atmosphere of the town.
Photo credit: Ronald Saunders