Early Morning: A Tasty Breakfast in Yarmouth
Start by taking the popular London Waterloo to Yarmouth route. On the mainland, you’ll arrive at Lymington Pier station, from where you’ll hop on the ferry for the Isle of Wight. Achieve this from start to finish in as little as two and a half hours. Alternatively, select the option “via Southsea Hoverport” on our journey planner. This takes you to Portsmouth & Southsea station for shuttle connections to the Hoverport.
Once you arrive at the Isle of Wight, most likely Yarmouth, stop for breakfast at one of the local cafes. Tuck into a Full English, or pick up a quick crab pasty to savour as you explore. Walk through the port and quaint streets of this sleepy town, appreciating the typically mild weather the island enjoys. Yarmouth Castle is well worth a visit. It also features a green picnic spot if you’ve brought your own food.
Late Morning: Soar Above the Needles
As the island springs to life, take a tour of the Needles, close to Yarmouth. Take an open-top double-decker bus, which will whizz you along the coast to this beauty spot. The beautiful offshore rock formation is among the most famous sights. For a thrilling overhead view, take the chairlift and soar high above the multicoloured sands, an unforgettable scenic experience.
As well as strolling across the surrounding Alum Bay area, there are a number of top attractions to enjoy at the Needles. Jurassic Adventure Golf is a fun group activity. Also, be sure to see demonstrations of local sweets and blown glass being made. Indeed, the area is known for its excellent glassware production, and this is a wonderful idea for a gift or souvenir. There are also teacup rides and carousels for the kids, so you’re never short of fun nearby. Plus, the 4D cinema is a riotous family experience.
For a recharge, stop for tea or breakfast at the Pantry Restaurant. Its outdoor terrace is ideal for relaxing in the sun. Alternatively, check out the other food and drink options spread out around the Needles area. You’ll no doubt want to spend time afterwards exploring the area and taking photos.
Early Afternoon: The Sights of the Capital
Head back to Yarmouth for a local bus transfer to Newport, the island capital. There’s lots to do in this town at the Isle of Wight’s heart, with many great places to stop for lunch. Thompson’s in the town centre is an excellent fine dining option, and it serves a great selection of cocktails. The Smokehouse Burger Co. is a top choice for relaxed bites, located on central Holyrood Street. There’s also a good selection of supermarkets and cafes for grabbing something to go.
Carisbrooke Castle is a gorgeous local landmark, built in 1100 and found in the nearby village of the same name. It has a dramatic history, including the imprisonment of King Charles I. You'll also learn about the noble families who have inhabited its halls through time. Closer by is Newport Roman Villa, much of which remains well-preserved. It was rediscovered in the 1920s and reveals a lot about the Roman way of life on the island.
There are many sights within the town centre itself, if your time is limited. Check out the Minster Church of Saints Thomas just off the High Street. That's plural 'saints', as it actually honours two saints of the same name. The original structure dates from the 12th century, and it features an architectural pipe organ. Walk to Quay Arts Centre on Sea Street, just across the bridge spanning the River Medina. Just a few minutes from the High Street, it's one of the Isle of Wight’s leading cultural centres. It features a permanent gallery and also puts on live arts events, and its cafe offers fine food and wine.
Late Afternoon: Seaside, the Monastery and More in Ryde
A local bus will take you from central Newport to the town of Ryde, on the island’s east coast. Its sandy beach is one of the most popular on the island, so you could opt to go for a sunset walk here. Alternatively, come earlier for a day of fun by the sea. Ryde Pier is the second longest in the UK, only bested by Southend’s. It’s an excellent place to get away from the crowds and take in the ocean air. Plus, you'll get panoramic photos out across the seafront.
One of the town’s main attractions is Quarr Abbey, a working Benedictine monastery. This is the ideal tranquil spot to stop for tea and other refreshments. Be sure to say hello and feed the pigs before you leave, and take in the extraordinary medieval architecture. If you’d prefer a tipple to tea by now, head to the nearby Isle of Wight Distillery in the Rosemary Vineyard. This is a superb place to pick up a bottle of local gin. It’s usually open until late, so stop for a drink or simply browse the great selection of hand-crafted products.
An Alternative Afternoon: South Coast Shanklin
If you’d like to see the best of the island's south coast, take the bus for an hour from Newport to Shanklin. The beach here is one of the most family-friendly on the island, and has a lift to take you down the hill to the sand. There’s a kids’ play area and lifeguarded waters, making Shanklin an excellent choice for young families. The Rylstone Tea Gardens and Crazy Golf will keep everyone happy for hours. Plus, the small nature preserve here offers a rare glimpse of red squirrels in the UK.
Early Evening: A Delicious Dinner in Town
Stay in Ryde or head back to Newport for supper, where you can't miss the fresh local fare. The Royal Esplanade Hotel in Ryde has a refined restaurant. Try the steak and ale pie, an Isle of Wight favourite. Alternatively, Long John Eater is ideal for fish and chips, with a very child-friendly menu. Newport also offers many options, including traditional English food at God’s Providence House. It’s also great for cream tea in the afternoon. The Original Phil’s Diner is a top choice for burgers, fries, and milkshakes.
Newport’s central pubs are also brilliant for dinner or drinks. They range from the cheap and cheerful Man in the Moon to the traditional Bargeman’s Rest. The latter is a local spot for live music performances. The last ferry and transfer back to London tends to leave around 7pm, so you may want to have dinner in town early before you head back.
Late Evening: A Night Out in Newport
If you opt to stay overnight in the Isle of Wight, Newport offers plenty of evening entertainment options. The Apollo Theatre puts on drama, comedy, and music performances, while Cineworld is great for catching the latest blockbusters. Fever & Boutique is the island’s most popular nightclub, perfect for dancing well into the wee hours. Alternatively, stay at the pubs for an evening of local-style music and drinks with friends.
The next morning, consider exploring any of the sights you may have missed in Newport the night before. Alternatively, head to a different corner of the island, perhaps the south towards Shanklin or to eastern Ryde.
The Isle of Wight is full of attractions, and this itinerary offers several ideas for making the most of it. While you could stay for a weekend or longer, the quick trains from London and great local bus services mean you’ll certainly see plenty in a day. You’ll no doubt feel inspired to take another Isle of Wight day trip in the future!