Hi my lovely readers!
The Isle of Wight is the largest island in England and a popular holiday destination due to its mild climate.
As you know, the summers are not that long and hot here in the UK and a visit to the Isle of Wight, especially in August, allows you to extend that summer feeling just a little longer.
There is plenty to see and do on this little island and one visit over the weekend is certainly not enough. I know I am going to go back for sure.
But if you are planing on spending a weekend there, here is some inspiration on how to make the most of your time and explore the island over two days.
HOW TO SPEND YOUR WEEKEND ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT – DAY 1
8 AM FERRY CROSSING
To make the most of my weekend trip, I decided to get up early and catch the Red Funnel Ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight at 8 am. The crossing doesn’t take long at all, just one hour. I was over on the other side in no time to start my day and my island exploration.
Due to Covid, I had a timed ticket for my first attraction Osborne House. I had to make sure I get there on time, hence I took an earlier ferry. Normally, taking the 9 am ferry which would arrive at 10 am at the island would work just fine as the majority of attractions open around this time, too.
10 AM OSBORNE HOUSE
As I have the English Heritage membership, I decided to visit Osborne House, the former holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This visitor attraction is the most popular one on the Isle of Wight and opens around 10 am. It’s located close to the ferry terminal, therefore a perfect starting point for a fun filled weekend.
Osborne House definitely has a summer vibe to it. The architectural style reminds you of mansions found in the Mediterranean. The inside though looks like that of a palace with all the family and staterooms, especially the Durbar Room.
When you step into the room you would think it’s covered in ivory. On a closer look though, you can see that the walls are plastered and carved in an Indian-style that makes you think of the palaces in India.
The Durbar Room was used for banquets and as an entertainment venue during Queen Victoria’s time. More recently, it was used to serve as a backdrop in the 2017 movie “Victoria and Abdul” by Universal Studios.
After the house exploration, you can take a stroll around the grounds and explore the beautiful gardens and head down to the beach to go for a swim if you wish, just like the royals used to around 100 years ago.
12.30 PM LUNCH
After an early start to the day and a few hours of Osborne exploration it would be time for lunch. I would recommend a picnic at Osborne House. There are plenty of beautiful spots across the grounds either by the beach, in the gardens or even just across the meadow. You can bring your own picnic like I did or buy some food from the restaurant and cafe on side.
Alternatively, there is always the option of heading to the next town to have lunch in a pub or heading to the beach to grab some fish n’ chips.
2 PM HOTEL CHECKIN
After lunch, it’s time to go to the hotel to check-in, unpack and relax a little if you fancy. I stayed in the Premier Inn Isle of Wight Sandown (Merrie Gardens) hotel close to Shanklin beach.
I find Premier Inn always reliable. It’s not fancy by all means, but it’s always clean, the hotel standard is always the same and it makes for a great budget hotel. Furthermore, the staff is really nice and very helpful and the breakfast is simple, but tasty. All in all great for a budget hotel.
3 PM SHANKLIN EXPLORATION
I would recommend a visit to Shanklin beach. It’s nice to take a stroll along the beach front and just go for a walk to take in the views and fresh sea air.
Alternatively, you can of course sit by the beach for a beach day, sun tan, go for a swim, build a sand castle or play some arcades and mini golf. It’s a typical English seaside town. There are also water sports activities that you can try out such as jet skiing.
You can find plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars by Shanklin beach with views of the sea. Some of them play live music, which is lovely.
7 PM DINNER TIME
As I went to the Isle of Wight during Covid, I headed back from Shanklin beach to my hotel for dinner. Normally, I would have had dinner in one of the restaurants or pubs by the beach as it was a lovely setting, but it was a bit packed for my liking when I went last year.
Close to the Premier Inn I stayed at are several supermarkets, including Aldi and Morrisons. There was also a KFC. For the that evening, my partner and I decided to opt for KFC for convenience. Again, not my preferred choice, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I must say, from time to time I enjoy a nice chicken burger from a fast food chain.
After dinner, we just stayed in and took it easy. I took a nice long shower, we planned for the next day ahead and watched a movie.
HOW TO SPEND YOUR WEEKEND ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT – DAY 2
8:30 AM WAKE UP
As there is so much to do and see on this tiny island, I would recommend an early start once more. The hotel offers breakfast normally, which you can add to your booking at the point of check-in if you wish, or you could go to the Aldi or Morrisons next door and grab some Croissants, readymade sandwiches, some fruits and a few drinks such as juices and coffee.
In fact, that is exactly what I did, again as a result of Covid. I had my picnic basket with plates, cutlery and glasses with me and I just bought a few items and had breakfast in my hotel room. I also bought plenty of goodies for a picnic by the beach for later, which was so nice, handy and super tasty.
10 AM HOTEL CHECK OUT AND COASTAL PATH
After breakfast and collecting everything from the hotel room, it’s time to checkout and explore the island some more.
The Isle of Wight has a coastal path that goes fully around the island. You do not have to walk the entire path, but just a small section gives you different views of the island. You will pass different cute little dreamy towns and villages along the way, pass green fields and see interesting rock formations in the water.
I loved the coastal walk. It was so pleasing and relaxing to listen to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks and seeing the lush green landscape.
11 AM VENTNOR BOTANIC GARDEN
As a next stop I can recommend a visit to Ventnor Botanic Garden, also known as Britain’s Hottest Garden due to the microclimate it sits in.
The garden is divided into several areas or zones that have different themes and plant collections from all over the world.
My favourite part was walking through a section of beautiful and colourful hydrangeas and seeing the Amazonian Giant Waterlily, which I have never come across before. No matter how many botanical gardens you are visiting, there is always something new to see and learn.
You can easily spend a few hours in Ventnor Botanic Garden and there are plenty of picnic spots around the garden to have a small bite before moving on to the next stop. If you are really hungry and want to fill up your tummy, you can go to the restaurant ang grab a bite there.
On your way out, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to buy some souvenirs. Furthermore, look out for the fresh produce that they grow in the garden and harvest for sale onside. I bought some spring onions, which were super delicious.
2 PM STROLLING THROUGH VENTNOR
From Ventnor Botanic Garden, you can walk into Ventnor for some lazy afternoon shopping. The walk takes around 20 – 30 min each way. On the way, you will pass Ventnor Park, which is a lovely little park to take a small break.
The town has lots of curious and independent shops of all sorts. You can find seaside related items, souvenirs and lots of little bits and pieces from those shops that you would rummage through.
4 PM COMPTON BAY
Compton Bay is a stunning place to visit. It’s one of the famous beaches where people go for surfing and long beach walks. The view of the coastline from the beach is breathtaking and it’s a great location for a picnic along the different rock formations and pools.
The beach is not as busy as many of the sandy beaches on the island such as Shanklin beach. Thus, you can find a reasonably quiet spot for your picnic.
On the top of the cliffs you can can find several trails that are totally worth exploring as you get to see the cliffs and beautiful landscape from a different perspective, especially the white cliffs of Tennyson Down. The trails take you right along the edge of the cliffs so just be careful.
5:30 PM TENNYSON DOWN
Tennyson Down is named after the poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson. He used to take walks across the downs to get inspired and write poems during Queen Victoria’s time. He loved the downs so much, the landscape and the views that he could be spotted here almost every day.
A monument was build for him and nowadays everyone can walk up the downs and follow in Tennyson’s footsteps. The views from the downs are simply incredible and you can even hear the waves from the top and watch the birds.
Just sit down for a few minutes, close your eyes and be silent. It will be the most peaceful moment you can have, I swear. Take of your shoes and feel the grass under your feet, the warmth of the sun on your face and listen to the sound of the waves hitting the cliffs. The best moment ever.
7:30 PM FERRY BACK TO SOUTHAMPTON
After two busy days of sightseeing, good food and scenic walks, it’s time to head back home. A good time to take the ferry back to Southampton is 7:30 pm. You should have enough time to walk up to Tennyson Down and get back to the ferry terminal in time to catch it.
If you are getting a bit peckish around that time, there is a sort of cantina on board where you can normally buy hot food. There is also a shop that sells coffee and some nibbles such as muffins, chocolate bars etc.
And that concludes the weekend trip!