When most people think of visiting England, the bustling capital of London is probably the first destination to come to mind, with its historic buildings, tourist destinations, and Buckingham Palace. But there is so much more to this country than that. One such unsung destination is the Isle of Wight, in Hampshire county.
Also known as the IOW, the Isle of Wight is the largest island in the British Isles. It has an area of 147 square miles and is located about five miles off the country’s south coast, with a population of approximately 140,000. During the summer months, that number increases by around 2 million, as it is a popular vacation spot for those living in the UK as well as travellers in the know.
What makes the Isle of Wight popular is its wide variety of beautiful scenery. From the breathtaking sandy beaches (a rarity in England, where many beaches are rocky) to the picturesque cliffs and some of the most beautiful gardens in Hampshire. Because of this natural beauty, much of the region has been designated as a heritage coast. The agreeable climate on the IOW is also one of its main draws (the mild temperatures have given the island the nickname “the Garden Isle,”) as is the dazzling array of wildlife, from endangered birds to sea life and flora, that can be found here. In a country known for its grey, drizzly days, the Isle of Wight is certainly a bright spot.
Visitors to this region have a wealth of choice when it comes to accommodation. Whether you prefer to stay in a high-end hotel or a locally owned and run family bed and breakfast, the Isle of Wight has a place just waiting to welcome you. No matter what your travel budget, there’s a comfortable bed and a hot meal waiting for you on the Isle of Wight. And the best part is, because of the plethora of beautiful scenery in the region, there’s almost certain to be lovely view outside your window.
If you’re looking for a good meal, the Isle of Wight has something to satiate every taste, too. They have a wide variety of restaurants and pubs (in fact, there’s about one pub for every square mile of real estate on the island!) If you’re a seafood lover, the Isle of Wight is paradise, as many of the local restaurants here specialize in dishes centred around freshly caught fish and seafood. Here, you’ll also find all different ways to whet your whistle, too, from award-winning breweries to ciders and wines of all descriptions (Note: in the UK, “cider” denotes an alcoholic drink, not the juice-like drink that is popular in North America).
In terms of activities, sailing tops the list of things to do on the island. Visit during Cowes Week for a celebration of the sport in a week-long regatta held on the Solent. The event is one of the biggest sailing-related events on the planet, attracting nearly a half-million visitors from all over the world each year. If sailing isn’t your thing, the IOW is also home to many music festivals, with such headlining acts as the Rolling Stones.
The next time you are planning a family vacation, consider the Isle of Wight. And don’t forget to bring your camera!