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Trips to the Isle of Wight from London
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Travel / Tours / England / Isle of Wight
Visit the Isle of Wight
  Ferry crossing
  Osborne House
  South-west coast
  Further information


This page is a brief guide for visitors to the Isle of Wight: a small island off the coast of South England, near Southampton and Portsmouth.

Isle of Wight: The Garden Isle
(guide book for tourists)
Publisher: J Salmon
Date: July 2003
Isle of Wight
(guide book for tourists)
Authors: Jackie Parry, Chris Parry
Publisher: Landmark Publishing Ltd
Date: March 2004

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There are ferry services to the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth, Southsea, Southampton and Lymington. These make the short crossing over the sheltered water known as the Solent.

This ferry crosses the Solent to the Isle of Wight

Enjoy the views from the deck if it is fine

The Solent is one of the most popular places in the UK for sailing. There are famous yacht races each year at Cowes.

Boat near the oil refinery at Southampton

Speed boat

Sailing near the Isle of Wight

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Osborne House is a palace where Queen Victoria spent many of her holidays (featured in the film Mrs Brown). It is located near East Cowes. The rooms are beautifully decorated, and there is also an attractive garden. The property is managed by English Heritage. In the winter months the property can only booking a special guided tour in advance: between mid-November and the end of December these one-hour tours (given by costumed guides) show how Queen Victoria celebrated Christmas here. For visitor information, see:

(c) English Heritage
Osborne House: view from outside ...
(c) English Heritage
... and inside the Drawing Room

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About 30 minutes' drive from Cowes is Godshill. This village gets its name ("God's hill") because it has a church which is built on top of a hill (not necessarily a good idea, because the tower has been damaged by lightning several times). Most of the present building is about 650 years old, and there has been a place of worship here for about 1,000 years. Godshill Church is popularly known as the "Church of the Lily Cross" because it contains an old wall painting showing Jesus being crucified on a three-branched lily (a symbol of purity). This is the only remaining wall painting of this type in the UK or Ireland, and is believed to date from about 1450.

The church - built on a hill - gives the village its name

Wall painting inside the church

From the entrance to the church you can look down on the attractive straw rooves of the six original thatched cottages in the village. During the rest of your time here you can visit the souvenir shops, or enjoy tea in one of the old buildings or gardens. Alternatively, you can pay a small entrance charge to visit the model village. This contains models of the villages of Old Shanklin and of Godshill itself - so you can find a model of the model village inside!

One of the thatched houses in the village

Entrance to an attractive tea garden

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About 15 minutes' drive from Godshill is the seaside town of Shanklin. There is a path through a garden and down some steps which takes you down to the sea. Take a towel with you if you want to paddle in the sea (or a swimming costume if you want, although the water can be quite cool - there are beach huts which you can rent where you can change your clothes). Enjoy walking along the beach, or eating an ice cream from one of the shops along the seafront.

View from the path down to the sea

Relaxing in a deckchair

Enjoying a local ice cream

Shanklin played an important role in the "D-Day" operation during the Second World War: PLUTO ("Pipe Line Under The Ocean") was a pipeline from here to Normandy, which was used to supply the army with oil after it landed in France.

Building a sandcastle

Beach hut with a view out towards France

The Old Village contains several attractive thatched houses, and many places to buy souvenirs or to have a meal. The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stayed at the Crab Inn in 1868.

The Crab Inn

One of the thatched rooves

Time for tea ...

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From Shanklin it is about an hour's drive along the south coast to Freshwater Bay. The white cliffs are made of chalk (made from the skeletons of dead sea animals which became compressed under the sea). There are white cliffs like this along several parts of the south coast of England.

At the most westerly part of the island is Alum Bay. The cliffs here are made of layers of sand of many different colours: shades of red, yellow and white. Sometimes part of a cliff collapses, because of erosion by the sea. From Alum Bay it is possible to take a boat trip to see The Needles: several small chalk islands which used to be part of the mainland. A lighthouse (built in 1859) warns passing ships about rocks which are hidden under the water.

(c) Isle of Wight Tourism
View of Freshwater Bay
(Photo: Isle of Wight Tourism)
(c) Isle of Wight Tourism
Alum Bay (left); The Needles & lighthouse (foreground)
(Photo: Isle of Wight Tourism)

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On the north-western coast of the Isle of Wight is the historic town of Yarmouth. It contains a small castle which was built by Henry the Eighth as part of England's defences against invasion from France. It is a popular centre for yachting, and is also a ferry port (car ferries travel from here to Lymington). There are open-topped buses which take visitors from Yarmouth down to Alum Bay and the Needles.

Church tower: a local landmark

Romantic view of the marina

One-man-band entertains

Yarmouth castle: protection against French invasions

Yarmouth Harbour

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There are many locally made foods and products which will make good souvenirs for your visit. At the Rock Shop in Shanklin Old Village you can buy shortbread cut in the same shape as the Isle of Wight, or brightly coloured sticks of "rock". Rock is a traditional type of sweet sold in English seaside towns since Victorian times - the name of the place where it is sold can be read at the ends and continues all the way through the stick. Local agricultural products can be bought at farmers' markets.

Shortbread in the shape of the island


Local honey

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* Booking a tour

The easiest and cheapest way to visit the Isle of Wight from London for a day-trip is to take a guided coach tour.
Most of the photos shown on this page were taken during a tour operated by Anderson Tours.
For dates of the next tour and to book your place, see: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours

* Visitor information

These websites provide more information about the Isle of Wight:
Isle of Wight tourist information:
Isle of Wight council:
The Needles:
Isle of Wight Festival (an annual music festival in June):
Cowes Week (an annual sailing regatta in August):
City guide:

* Independent travel to the Isle of Wight

Decide if you want to arrive at Yarmouth (in the west), Cowes (in the north) or Ryde / Fishbourne (in the east)
Choose appropriate train or coach journeys to connect with the ferry/hovercraft service you need (see below for more information).

For train timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/TheTrainline.
You are recommended to take the train to Portsmouth - if in London leave from Waterloo - then catch the Portsmouth-Ryde ferry, and use the train service between Ryde and Shanklin; note that you can buy a train ticket directly to Sandown or Shanklin, including the ferry journey.

For coach timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/NationalExpress.

Car ferry returns to the mainland

Map showing the ferry ports and other major towns

Wightlink ferry services:
- Portsmouth to Ryde: 15 minutes, for foot passengers only
- Portsmouth to Fishbourne (near Ryde): 35 minutes, for cars / foot passengers
(from London by train, take the train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour)
(from London by coach, take a National Express coach from Victoria Coach Station to Portsmouth - The Hard interchange)
- Lymington to Yarmouth: 30 minutes, for cars / foot passengers
(from London by train, go from London Waterloo to Lymington Pier)

Red Funnel ferry services:
- Southampton (Red Ferry Terminal 2) to West Cowes: 20 minutes, for foot passengers only
- Southampton (Red Ferry Terminal 1) to East Cowes: 55 minutes, for cars / foot passengers
(from London by train, go from London Waterloo to Southampton; there is a free frequent CityLink bus service between the train station and the ferry terminals)
(from London by coach, go from London Waterloo to Southampton; there is a free frequent CityLink bus service between the train station and the ferry terminals)

Hovertravel hovercraft sevices:
- Southsea to Ryde: 10 minutes, for foot passengers only
(from London by train, go from London Waterloo to Portsmouth And Southsea station)
(from London by coach, go from Victoria Coach Station to Southsea - Clarence Pier)

* Transportation
On the Isle of Wight there are Island Line trains serving Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin:
(take a ferry to Ryde - from Portsmouth or Southsea - if you want to use these train services to see the east coast of the Isle of Wight)
Bus services on the Isle of Wight are operated by Southern Vectis:
Open-topped bus services run from Yarmouth to Alum Bay, where you can see the Needles

* Weather/tide forecast for Cowes
7-day tide timetables (HW=high water, LW=low water):

* More photos
360 degree panoramic pictures:

Lonely Planet verdict: The Isle of Wight
"Quiet, contemplative and utterly relaxing, the Isle of Wight may only be a couple of miles off the Hampshire coast, but it is a world of its own. Over a third of the island is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are 25 miles of clean and unspoilt beaches. Another big plus is the weather, which is more clement here than anywhere else in Britain "
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2007
Lonely Planet England
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: March 2007
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Anderson Tours: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours
Blackpool: Travel/Tours/England/Blackpool
Brighton: Travel/Tours/England/Brighton
UK ferry transport: Travel/Transport/Ferry
Water sports: Life/Sport/Water

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