Best Places to Stay on the Isle of Wight

For our latest post, we’ll be showcasing some of the best places to stay on the Isle of Wight.

As well as its stunning land and seascape, the island is also renowned for its attractive towns and picture-postcard villages. 

From the bustling yachting centre of Cowes to the sun-kissed beaches of Sandown, there’s a location to suit every taste. So let’s begin!

Ventnor

Ventnor is a delightful town on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, boasting a unique microclimate that attracts visitors throughout the year.

The warmer temperatures allow for an abundance of subtropical vegetation, making the Ventnor Botanic Garden a must-visit location.

This garden showcases species that usually wouldn’t thrive in the UK, providing a unique opportunity to explore diverse flora in a relatively small area.

The geography of Ventnor is also a point of interest for many. The town cascades down St. Boniface Down, the highest point on the island, leading to a seaside esplanade.

The beach is predominantly shingle but becomes sandy as the tide goes out, and is ideal for family outings and casual beach activities.

Ventnor offers a range of eateries from chic cafes to traditional pubs, many of which offer stunning sea views.

The food scene caters to a variety of tastes with a focus on locally sourced produce.

A visit to Ventnor wouldn’t be complete without sampling the locally caught seafood, which is a staple in many restaurants in town.

For those interested in the arts, the Ventnor Exchange offers a lively program of events including theatre, comedy, and music.

This multi-purpose arts hub includes a record store and a craft beer bar, catering to a diverse audience.

The town is also surrounded by some of the island’s most stunning walking routes, with trails that take in coastal views and inland beauty spots.

Walkers and nature enthusiasts will find Ventnor an excellent base for exploring the wider island.

Ventnor caters best to those looking for a relaxing break, outdoor enthusiasts, food lovers, and arts and culture seekers.

With its combination of natural beauty, unique climate, gastronomic delights and vibrant arts scene, Ventnor has something for everyone and is one of the best places to stay on the Isle of Wight, in our book.

Pros

  • Unique microclimate offers warm and sunny conditions
  • Ventnor Botanic Gardens
  • Dramatic and beautiful coastal views
  • Great selection of local eateries
  • Ventnor Exchange offers a diverse program of cultural events
  • Great base for exploring the island’s walking routes.
  • Beach is family-friendly

Cons

  • Steep layout may be challenging for those with mobility issues
  • Can be quieter in the off-peak season
  • Limited nightlife options
  • Better shopping elsewhere
  • Not all that easy to get too due to southern location

Ventnor Accommodation

  • The Royal Hotel
  • The Hambrough
  • The Leconfield
  • Villa Rothsay Hotel
  • The Wellington Hotel

Cowes

Cowes

Cowes, perched on the northern coast of the Isle of Wight, is a renowned destination, particularly among the sailing community.

The town is famous for the Cowes Week sailing regatta, a prestigious event that lures sailing enthusiasts from around the globe each year, infusing the town with a unique, vibrant atmosphere.

Cowes is split into two distinct parts: East Cowes and West Cowes, connected by the floating Cowes Chain Ferry.

This lends an interesting dynamic to the town, with each side having its unique charm.

West Cowes is the more vibrant of the two, with a high street filled with an array of independent shops, restaurants, and pubs.

In contrast, East Cowes is more residential and is home to the historic Osborne House.

Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s palatial holiday home, is a major draw for history buffs.

Here, visitors can step back in time and explore the ornate rooms, extensive grounds, and private beach, all maintained as they were during the Queen’s lifetime.

The town’s marinas are packed with sleek yachts and the seafront is lined with promenades, providing ample opportunity for leisurely walks with impressive views.

Cowes also offers access to various coastal walking and cycling routes, making it a great base for active travellers.
The town is well-connected by regular ferry services to Southampton, making it an accessible location for those travelling without a car.

The mix of nautical activity, historical interest and easy accessibility make Cowes a suitable destination for sailing aficionados, history enthusiasts and families.

Pros

  • Internationally recognized for its sailing facilities
  • Lots of historical sites
  • Vibrant town with a range of independent shops
  • Lots of good restaurants and pubs
  • Great location for water sports and outdoor activities
  • Regular ferry services make it easily accessible from mainland UK
  • Picturesque seafront with promenades and marinas
  • Diverse range of accommodations options

Cons

  • Can be crowded especially during Cowes Week and peak times
  • The divide between East and West Cowes can be inconvenient for some
  • Limited nightlife options
  • Limited sandy beaches – coastline mostly pebble and shingle

Cowes Accommodation

  • The Caledon Guest House
  • North House
  • Watch House Barn
  • Villa Rothsay Hotel
  • Endeavour House

Shanklin

Located on the Isle of Wight’s south-eastern shore, Shanklin is a prime spot for holiday-goers and one of the best places to stay on the Isle of Wight.

This attractive location provides an alluring mix of beautiful beaches, a lively town scene and an intriguing history.

Parallel to the beach is a bustling esplanade filled with various entertainments, arcade and a selection of places to eat and drink.

A major visitor attraction in Shanklin is the Shanklin Chine – a stunning gorge with lush vegetation, waterfalls, and winding footpaths.

At over 300 years old, it’s the oldest tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight, drawing visitors with its natural beauty and unique night-time illumination during the summer months.

The Old Village area in Shanklin provides a distinct contrast to the beachside bustle. This part of the town is characterised by thatched cottages, an assortment of shops and traditional tea rooms, creating an appealing, old-world charm.

Shanklin offers an enjoyable blend of nature, coastal entertainment, and historical intrigue, making it an ideal stop for families, lovers of nature, or those who appreciate the classic British coastal holiday experience.

Pros

  • Broad, family-friendly beach
  • Shanklin Chine
  • The Old Village area provides a charming, historic atmosphere
  • Good selection of restaurants and cafes, many of which offer sea views
  • Great base for exploring the eastern side of the Isle of Wight

Cons

  • The town can become crowded during peak months
  • Not as many high-end dining options as in some other locations
  • Some may find it too quiet during the off-peak season

Shanklin Accommodation

  • The Havelock
  • The Clifton
  • Shanklin Beach Hotel
  • The Birkdale Guest House
  • The Miclaran Bed & Breakfast

Yarmouth

Yarmouth

Yarmouth is a compact yet charming seaside town positioned on the northwest coast of the Isle of Wight. It has a unique aura that combines historical appeal with a laid-back, maritime lifestyle.

Upon entering Yarmouth, the first sight that greets visitors is the impressive Yarmouth Castle. This historical fortification, a creation of Henry VIII, provides breath-taking vistas over the Solent.

Due to its close location to the ferry terminal and its intriguing displays, it’s a top attraction for those intrigued by history.

Yarmouth also offers an attractive harbour area, which hosts a vibrant marina filled with yachts and small boats.

Adjacent to the harbour lies an inviting beach, an ideal spot for serene walks or picnics, while enjoying picturesque seascapes

Yarmouth houses a variety of unique shops and art galleries, where visitors can secure distinctive souvenirs.

For food enthusiasts, Yarmouth provides an impressive selection of pubs and dining establishments, many of which specialise in tantalising local seafood cuisine.

Even with its small footprint, Yarmouth bustles with several events across the year.

One of the highlights is the Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival, an event that exhibits gaff-rigged vessels and includes a variety of street performances.

In terms of visitor appeal, Yarmouth is a hit with those looking for a bit of history, boating, seafood and a slower pace of life. The coastal walks are also fantastic.

Pros

  • Historic appeal, including the well-preserved Yarmouth Castle
  • Compact size makes it easy to explore on foot
  • Vibrant marina and attractive harbour
  • Good selection of restaurant
  • Regular ferry service to the mainland, making it accessible for day trips

Cons

  • Limited options for shopping.
  • Can become quite busy at peak times and during major events.
  • Limited nightlife options.
  • Accommodation options not as plentiful as the larger town
  • Beach is mostly shingle and not as large as other Isle of Wight beaches

Yarmouth Accommodation

  • The George Hotel
  • Yarmouth Harbour Lodge
  • The Bugle Coaching Inn
  • Solent View Cottage
  • Windrush Guest House

Sandown

Nestled on the Isle of Wight’s eastern shoreline, Sandown provides a captivating mixture of scenic allure, historic appeal and attractions geared towards all ages.

One of Sandown’s standout features is its expansive sandy beach, adored by sun-seekers and families alike.

Its smooth gradient into the sea makes it a perfect spot for a swim, constructing sandcastles, or just unwinding under the sun’s rays.

For visitors fascinated by the world’s ancient history, Sandown presents an unforgettable journey.

The Dinosaur Isle Museum houses an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and interactive exhibits that fascinate both kids and adults.

Sandown’s coastline is a renowned site for fossil hunting, making it an exciting locale for aspiring paleontologists.

The town offers a diverse range of attractions beyond the beach and fossils.

Sandown Pier boasts traditional seaside amusements, while the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary and Sandown’s Discovery Bay provide further interest for holiday-goers.

Sandown is a versatile destination that’s popular with families thanks to its safe swimming beach and kid-friendly attractions.

History and nature enthusiasts will also find plenty to engage them, from fossil hunting to coastal walks.

Pros

  • A large, sandy beach that’s perfect for families and sunbathers
  • A range of attractions, including Dinosaur Isle, Sandown Pier and Zoo
  • Opportunities for fossil hunting along the coastline
  • A variety of accommodation and dining options
  • Good transport links, including a train station

Cons

  • Can become quite crowded during the peak summer season
  • Limited nightlife options
  • Town lacks the traditional charm found in some of the  smaller villages
  • Some amenities might feel a bit dated

Sandown Accommodation

  • The Wight Bay Hotel
  • The Sandhill Hotel
  • The Belmore B&B
  • Melville Hall Hotel
  • The Montpelier

Bembridge

Bembridge

Bembridge, situated on the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight, is a picturesque village known for its unspoilt natural beauty, scenic harbour and rich maritime history.

A key feature of Bembridge is its harbour, a hub of activity where sailing boats rest at anchor.

Here, you can catch a glimpse of local life, watch the comings and goings of boats, or simply soak in the beautiful views.

The harbour also hosts the annual Bembridge Harbour Food Festival, a haven for foodies.

Bembridge offers several stunning beaches with a mix of sand and pebbles, perfect for peaceful strolls, picnics, or fossil hunting.

The beaches also serve as excellent launching spots for watersports such as sailing and kite-surfing, attracting adventure-seekers.

The village is home to the Bembridge Windmill, the last surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight and a place where history enthusiasts can explore the island’s agricultural past.

Nature lovers will appreciate the Bembridge and Culver Downs, an area of outstanding beauty that offers panoramic views over the island and the Solent.

Bembridge caters best to those seeking a quieter, more relaxed pace. It’s perfect for nature lovers, history buffs, and sailing enthusiasts.

Its array of independent shops and eateries also make it a lovely spot for those who enjoy exploring local cuisine and crafts.

Pros

  • The village’s slower pace of life offers a peaceful getaway
  • Unique natural beauty, including stunning beaches
  • Rich maritime history
  • Array of independent shops and eateries showcasing local products and cuisine
  • Offers a range of activities, from fossil hunting to sailing

Cons

  • Public transport links are less frequent than other locations
  • Limited nightlife options
  • The quieter pace might not appeal to everyone
  • Fewer accommodation options compared to larger towns
  • Amenities such as supermarkets and high-street shops are limited

Bembridge Accommodation

  • The Spinnaker
  • Mulberry Cottage B&B
  • The Pilot Boat Inn
  • 5 The Nab House
  • Lincombe Manor

Ryde

Ryde, found on the Isle of Wight’s north-eastern coastline, is among the island’s major towns. It’s celebrated for its broad beaches, delightful Victorian-era architecture, and excellent transportation connections.

A prominent attraction in Ryde is its beach, the island’s most expansive, which reveals an extensive sandy expanse during low tide, making it perfect for beach sport, sunbathing and swimming

The town’s esplanade is laden with recreational facilities, featuring a bowling alley, a boating lake and a swimming pool, ensuring a wide range of activities to keep the entire family entertained.

Ryde has a vibrant town atmosphere, with an assorted mix of shopping options, from boutique outlets and antiquities stores to familiar high street brands.

Additionally, the town prides itself on a diverse selection of dining venues and pubs, offering a wealth of choices for a meal out.

For those drawn to history, Ryde’s abundant heritage is on display, seen in landmarks like Ryde Pier, one of the UK’s oldest seaside piers, and the elegantly refurbished Royal Victoria Arcade.

Also, the nearby Quarr Abbey, with its stunning architecture and serene surroundings, makes for a peaceful retreat.

Ryde caters to a wide range of visitors. Its diverse amenities and attractions make it suitable for families, while its historic landmarks and architectural beauty appeal to history buffs.

Shoppers will enjoy the variety of stores, and food lovers will appreciate the town’s dining scene.

Pros

  • Large sandy beach and numerous seaside amenities
  • Excellent transport links, including ferry and hovercraft to mainland.
  • Wide variety of shops, restaurants and pubs.
  • Rich history and heritage, with notable landmarks like Ryde Pier
  • Proximity to other attractions on the island thanks to central location

Cons

  • Can be busy, especially in the summer months.
  • High-end dining options may be limited
  • Some parts of the beach can become very exposed at low tide
  • May lack the quiet charm of the smaller villages
  • Some attractions may be seasonal

Ryde Accommodation

  • The Crown Hotel
  • Yelf’s Hotel
  • Lakeside Park Hotel
  • The Boat House – Seaview
  • Dorset Hotel B&B

Freshwater

Freshwater, tucked away in the western corner of the Isle of Wight, is a village famous for its natural beauty, inspiring cliffs and unique cultural heritage.

Freshwater Bay, the village’s pebbly beach, is framed by striking chalk cliffs and offers an impressive view of the English Channel.

It’s a popular spot for paddle boarding, fishing, and boating, providing plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts.

On the cultural front, Freshwater is known for Dimbola Lodge, the former home of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

It’s now a museum and gallery that showcases her pioneering work. Literature lovers will appreciate that the renowned poet Alfred Lord Tennyson lived nearby and that his former home, Farringford House, is open to the public.

The surrounding countryside offers ample opportunities for walkers and cyclists with scenic routes, including the Tennyson Trail, which boasts panoramic views over the island and sea.

Freshwater is ideal for visitors seeking a quiet retreat close to nature. It’s great for outdoor enthusiasts, photography and literature lovers, and those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Pros

  • Stunning natural beauty, including the bay and countryside
  • Top historical attractions such as Dimbola Lodge and Farringford House.
  • Numerous walking and cycling trails, including the Tennyson Trail
  • Quieter pace of life, providing a tranquil retreat
  • Local shops and eateries offering locally sourced products

Cons

  • Limited public transport links compared to other locations
  • Limited nightlife options
  • While the bay is beautiful, the pebbly beach is not be ideal for families
  • Fewer amenities compared to the larger towns
  • Some attractions like Farringford House are open seasonally

Freshwater Accommodation

  • The Bay Boutique Bed & Breakfast
  • Freshwater Bay House
  • Weston Manor Bed & Breakfast
  • The Havelock
  • The Highdown Inn

Newport

Carisbrooke Castle

Situated at the heart of the Isle of Wight, Newport acts as the island’s primary town and pulsating centre.

It brims with a diverse blend of historic elements, shopping venues, and engaging activities that cater to a broad spectrum of preferences.

The town is a treasure trove of retail outlets, ranging from familiar high street stores to unique independent boutiques, making it a magnet for shoppers.

Beyond its retail offerings, Newport stages an energetic market each Tuesday, where a myriad of local produce and handcrafted items can be found.

For those seeking a spot of history, the town offers the Newport Roman Villa, which provides a fascinating insight into the island’s Roman past.

Close by is Carisbrooke Castle, a historic motte-and-bailey castle famous for imprisoning King Charles I.

Nature lovers will appreciate the town’s close proximity to the island’s stunning countryside, with excellent walking and cycling routes available.

The Newport to Sandown cycle track provides a safe and scenic route through the heart of the Isle of Wight.

Newport’s central location and transport links make it an excellent base for exploring the rest of the island.

The town appeals to a variety of visitors, from shoppers and history enthusiasts to nature lovers and those looking for a convenient base.

Pros

  • Central location with excellent transport links
  • Variety of shopping options, including a lively market.
  • Plent of historical visitors attractions like Carisbrooke Castle
  • Close proximity to the countryside, with excellent walking and cycling routes
  • A range of dining options, from cosy cafés to sophisticated restaurants

Cons

  • Lacks a beach, unlike many other towns on the Isle of Wight
  • Can be busy, particularly during market days
  • Parking can be challenging during peak periods

Newport Accommodation

  • The Wheatsheaf Hotel
  • One Holyrood
  • Castle Lodge guest house
  • Newport Quay Bed and Breakfast
  • The Small B&B

Godshill

Tucked away in the centre of the Isle of Wight,  Godshill is a picture-perfect English hamlet that captivates guests with its enchanting thatched cottages, tearooms and ancient church.

Inside, the church houses a renowned medieval wall painting and offers stunning views over the village.

Another popular feature is the model village, a meticulous 1/10th scale replica of Godshill and Shanklin’s old village, which delights both children and adults alike.

Godshill is home to a number of traditional tearooms and pubs, offering visitors the chance to indulge in delicious homemade cakes, cream teas, and locally brewed ales.

With its fairy-tale charm and peaceful ambiance, Godshill is best suited to those seeking a quiet, relaxing retreat.

It caters especially well to history lovers, families, and those who appreciate traditional English villages.

Pros

  • Picturesque village with charming thatched-roof cottages
  • Historic attractions such as All Saints Church and model village
  • A variety of tearooms and pubs offering local cuisine
  • Peaceful, rural setting ideal for a tranquil retreat
  • Easy access to nearby walking trails and countryside

Cons

  • Less frequent public transport links than larger towns
  • Limited shopping options, mostly catering to tourists
  • Can get crowded during peak tourist season
  • Less suitable for those seeking a beach-focused holiday

Godshill Accommodation

  • Koala Cottage
  • The Taverners
  • Brookside Cottage
  • Appuldurcombe Holiday Cottages
  • Godshill Park Cottages

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Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.