The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel.
It has been a popular destination for centuries due its mild climate, stunning coastal scenery and lush green landscape.
Even throughout history, it has attracted some of the most influential poets such as Algernon Charles Swinburne and Alfred Lord Tennyson who spent much time there crafting their works.
Aside from its outstanding natural beauty, the Isle of Wight has also been home to many historical sites.
Queen Victoria chose Osborne House as her summer residence in East Cowes.
Here you can still find evidence of her life – from the royal apartments she shared with Prince Albert to the Swiss cottage they used as a playhouse for their children.
The house stands surrounded by one of its more iconic features, the Victorian Italian garden which is now open to visitors.
The Isle of Wight is also known for being an ideal holiday destination among tourists seeking peacefulness and tranquility away from mainland Britain.
From donkey rides along Sandown beach to abseiling down St Catherine’s Oratory on Steephill Cove – there are dozens of activities that can be enjoyed across this picturesque island at any time of year.
If you want to find out my favorite things to do in Isle of Wight, then keep reading!
Things To Do In Isle of Wight
1. Osborne House
Osborne House is a beautiful former royal residence located in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
It was commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845, with construction completed six years later.
The house was designed by renowned London architect Thomas Cubitt, with its grand style inspired by Italian Renaissance palazzos.
The estate consists of the main residence and its surrounding grounds, which contain landscaped gardens and parklands listed as Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in 1901, Queen Elizabeth II gave permission for the first floor rooms of the royal pavilion to be opened to the public.
Over time, new visitor attractions have been added such as an interactive museum about life during Victorian times and restored service wing buildings featuring original fittings from its military college days between 1903-1921.
Today, Osborne House is listed Grade I on the National Heritage List for England as one of Britain’s most important historic sites.
2. Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle stands proudly at the heart of the Isle of Wight.
It is a stunning fortress that has served as an artillery fortress, king’s prison, and even as a royal summer residence.
At the castle, visitors can take in the far-reaching panoramic views from the castle walls.
The castle grounds are full of fascinating things to explore, such as the unique moat that surrounded the castle at one point.
The moat has since been drained to reveal many artefacts and historic details like postern gateways and arrow slits used centuries ago by archers defending their land.
Another must-see is Princess Beatrice Garden – an area of gorgeous flowerbeds set around a tranquil courtyard.
Also on site is St Nicholas’ Chapel which was built in 1617 and houses priceless historical artifacts including Saxon coins and Roman pottery.
And lastly, no visit would be complete without meeting some of the friendly animals living on site!
Carisbrooke Castle is home to around twenty adorable donkeys – each with their own special story – who love nothing more than cuddles from visitors making them some special carrots!
3. Monkey Haven – Primate Rescue Centre
Monkey Haven, the Isle of Wight’s award-winning primate rescue centre, is an incredible place that allows visitors to meet a variety of animals including magnificent whooping gibbons, mischievous monkeys, naughty meerkats, awe-inspiring reptiles and beautiful birds of prey.
Not only does Monkey Haven provide a safe place for animals in need but it also offers many unique experiences for guests.
At this remarkable attraction, you can join keeper talks to learn about the creatures and watch as they are fed throughout the day.
Monkey Haven is additionally a registered charity and all proceeds from admissions are used to care for needy creatures.
As well as being able to experience these wonderful animals first hand, you can also take advantage of the wonderful facilities on offer including a lovely tea room with free wifi available so you can stay connected whilst enjoying your visit.
You will also find a great gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs of your special trip.
Plus there are lots of other things available such as free apps, kids’ play areas, stamper trails, pushchair friendly paths and full disabled access so everyone can enjoy their stay.
And if that wasn’t enough you’ll get free parking and be able to come back for seven days at no extra cost!
4. The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a unique destination located between Godshill and Ventnor, on the outskirts of Wroxall.
Established in 1987 with a single donkey called Dillon, the sanctuary has grown to be home to over 100 donkeys and ponies.
It became a registered charity in 1991 and moved to its current location in 1993, taking up residence in a sprawling 55 acre estate of picturesque countryside.
Open 7 days a week, all year round (except for Christmas day), from 10am until 4:30pm, visitors are invited to explore this wonderful sanctuary free of charge – there’s even free parking! Dogs are welcome too as long as they remain on their lead.
The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary offers much more than just donkey rides. Their mission is to provide a safe and loving forever home for unwanted, abandoned or rehomed donkeys and ponies alike.
All animals receive the same level of care and welfare regardless of circumstance, treated with respect and understanding by the team of expert staff and volunteers who tend to them daily.
5. Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Experience a piece of history when you visit the Isle of Wight Steam Railway!
The delightful heritage railway runs for 5+1⁄2 miles (9km) through the picturesque rolling countryside from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton Station, with stops at traditional rural stations.
Here you can step back in time and thrill to the sight and sound of powerful steam engines hauling beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages, dating back as far as 1876 and 1864 respectively.
Your journey will take you through ancient woodland where you might be lucky enough to spot some local wildlife.
6. Ventnor Botanic Garden
Ventnor Botanic Garden is a paradise for horticulturalists and nature-lovers alike.
Established in 1970, this remarkable garden contains a variety of temperate and subtropical trees and shrubs from all over the world, arranged according to their regions of origin.
Thanks to its unique microclimate, Ventnor Botanic Garden can boast an array of exotic plants that wouldn’t normally grow in the United Kingdom – including palms, banana trees, citrus fruits and even some tropical flowers.
The garden’s sheltered south-facing location at the bottom of Undercliff landslip means it benefits from warm temperatures and plenty of moisture, allowing it to host such a diverse range of flora.
7. Wildheart Animal Sanctuary
Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is a unique animal rescue centre located in Sandown Fort.
Formerly known as the Isle of Wight Zoo and Sandown Zoo, Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is home to some of the world’s most endangered species.
Here, tigers, lions, lynx, primates, and Madagascan animals are all given a permanent home and safe haven.
The sanctuary has experienced success breeding several species of Madagascan animals.
This includes the critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemur as part of its European Endangered Species Programme.
Visitors can witness these majestic creatures playing with each other in their natural habitat within the sanctuary grounds.
Moreover, three tigers and four African lions have been rescued from a Spanish circus and housed at Wildheart Animal Sanctuary.
They have plenty of space to roam freely and enjoy life in their new home while being carefully monitored by trained professionals who ensure they are well looked after at all times.
In addition to big cats, visitors can also see ring-tailed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, spider monkeys, capuchins, vervet monkeys and common marmosets playing in their enclosures or happily snoozing away in the sun.
8. The Needles
The Needles are a remarkable geological formation located on the westernmost tip of the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England.
Rising up to 30 metres out of the sea, these three chalk stacks form a captivating landscape that is one of the United Kingdom’s Seven Natural Wonders.
With their unique shape and imposing presence, The Needles have become a symbol of the island and its dramatic coastal scenery.
The light at the apex of The Needles was built in 1859 and is still operational today. It stands as an iconic reminder for sailors and seafarers who rely on it for navigation around this dangerous coastline.
The waters around The Needles contain diverse marine life, making them part of the Needles Marine Conservation Zone, while the shore forms part of Headon Warren and West High Down Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The formation takes its name from what used to be a fourth needle-shaped pillar known as Lot’s Wife which collapsed in a storm in 1764.
Despite being broken down into three stacks, The Needles’ beauty has remained intact over time with their jagged cliffs and eroded formations adding an extra layer of texture to the landscape.
Their distinctive shape makes them easily recognisable both up close and from afar, seen by ferry passengers coming across from mainland England or further away by people taking boat trips around the Isle of Wight.
9. Shanklin Chine
Shanklin Chine is an awe-inspiring geological feature and tourist attraction located in Shanklin.
This splendid wooded coastal ravine captivates visitors with its meandering streams, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation.
Besides the stunning scenery, this 500 meter long (0.3 mile) ravine has a remarkable history of more than 10,000 years.
First inhabited by small agricultural and fishing communities during pre-Victorian times, it was also widely used by smugglers who sought to avoid detection.
Today, visitors can enjoy the spectacular views of this natural wonder while strolling down the footpaths or visiting the heritage centre which provides information on the site’s cultural legacy as well as Nature trails where one can explore local flora and fauna.
The ravine offers breathtaking views of several drops with a total descent of 32 m (105 ft).
Throughout the year, thousands flock to Shanklin Chine to take advantage of its beautiful surroundings such as viewing banks of azaleas in spring or snuggling up for a romantic picnic at sunset.
10. Blackgang Chine
Blackgang Chine is a living piece of history and the oldest amusement park in the United Kingdom, having opened its doors to the public all the way back in 1843.
It’s named after a now-destroyed coastal ravine located 6 miles from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, and has been owned by the Dabell family since its inception.
The park is well known for its unique attractions where visitors can explore Pirate Cove and Restricted Area 5, as well as Fairy Land and Village for those looking for something more lighthearted.
Unfortunately, Blackgang Chine is prone to occasional landslides due to unstable ground.
This means certain attractions must be moved to safer ground every so often.
Despite this, however, it still remains one of the most beloved attractions on the Isle of Wight and continues to draw in crowds year after year thanks to its beautiful landscaping, classic rides and captivating atmosphere.
11. Quarr Abbey
Quarr Abbey is a monastery located between the villages of Binstead and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight.
It belongs to the Catholic Order of St Benedict and is Grade I listed, meaning it is a protected building due to its historical significance and architectural value.
This stunning monastery houses an impressive church made of Belgian brick in a style combining multiple architectural elements such as French, Byzantine, and Moorish influences.
Quarr Abbey is currently maintained by a small community of fewer than a dozen monks who also run an attached farm for self-sufficiency purposes.
This monastic lifestyle allows them to dedicate their time to prayer, manual labor, and spiritual contemplation.
12. Godshill Model Village
Godshill Model Village is an enchanting and unique attraction located in the picturesque Isle of Wight.
Nestled in two acres of landscaped gardens, this model village gives you a glimpse into a bygone era with its scale replicas of Shanklin and Godshill villages from the 1920s.
Wander through the village and marvel at the intricate miniature cottages, pubs, churches and gardens that have been carefully crafted to create an atmosphere of nostalgia.
Take a ride on the Model Railway which has been painstakingly created to resemble the old Isle Line railway.
The RHS Partner Garden provides a further stunning backdrop to this extraordinary miniature world; with 3,000 trees and shrubs planted on site, some of them sculpted individually over 40 years to retain their scale next to the model houses.
13. Amazon World Zoo Park
Amazon World Zoo Park is an amazing tropical animal wonderland.
It’s the island’s largest exotic animal attraction and a great place for visitors to get up close and personal with some of the most rare, interesting and exotic animals from around the world.
Families can immerse themselves in a jungle rainforest to see toucans, marmosets, penguins, flamingos, otters and ocelot frolicking amongst its vibrant flora.
They can also enter ‘Madagascar’ where lemurs jump across branches and explore ‘The Lost Temple’ hidden among desert sand.