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Isle of Wight Guide

Great days out by train

You can reach the Isle of Wight from London in just two and a half hours, so there’s no excuse not to visit this gorgeous island, famous for its visitor-friendly attractions and stunning natural geography.

Simply jump on a train to Portsmouth, catch a ferry or hovercraft across the Solent, and from there you’ll be able to explore the Isle of Wight using Island Line.

Alternatively if your destination is West Wight you can travel from Lymington Pier to Yarmouth on Wightlink’s car ferry. For Cowes simply take a train to Southampton Central and then the free City Link shuttle bus to Town Quay. For more information about our ferry links to the Isle of Wight see here.

Once you’re there, you might want to spend your time on land and not railway, but if trains are your thing, then step aboard the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Pass through the villages and countryside on this completely volunteer-run service and take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

Get some inspiration on what to do when visiting Isle of Wight from our list:

1. Island Line

Island Line on the Isle of Wight is our eight and a half mile railway that serves the island towns of Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. Connections to Portsmouth and the mainland can be made at Ryde by using Wightlink’s services - either via catamaran or car ferry.

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2. Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Isle of Wight Steam Railway operates on part of what was once 54 miles of railway on the Isle of Wight, most of which was closed between 1952 and 1966. However, its unique atmosphere has been perfectly preserved by this largely volunteer-run railway, which began operating trains in 1971. Take the Island Line train to Smallbrook Junction and enjoy five and a half miles of unspoilt countryside to Wootton station, passing through the small village of Haven Street where the line has a station, headquarters and depot. 

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3. Isle of Wight Zoo

There are lots of animals to see at the Isle of Wight Zoo from monkeys and lions to rabbits and goats. However, there is also a range of activities you can get involved with, giving you the chance to find out about the animals too. The Isle of Wight Zoo specialises in the care of tigers and lemurs.

The zoo put on presentations everyday about the different animals they look after, educating visitors about their welfare - you may even be lucky enough to see some of the animals being fed.

Visit the Zoolitte Farm, which is home to rabbits and goats and other farm animals or take a trip to the Handling Zone to learn how to care for your pets at home.

If you get hungry during your visit, dine at the Zootique café or one of the outlets, which are situated throughout the zoo so wherever you are, you're catered for at the zoo.

Plus make sure you pick up a free stamp passport from the entrance and collect animal stamps around the zoo on the Stamp Trail. The animal stampers are hidden so make sure you keep your eyes pealed.

From Sandown station on the Island Line, there is a walk of 20-30 minutes to the zoo.

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4. Shanklin Chine

Enjoy the unique tranquillity of Shanklin Chine Historic Gorge, the Isle of Wight’s oldest tourist attraction, which first opened in 1817. This famous leafy gorge is much loved by poets, artists and writers. The winding woodland, with its steep sides is a magical place for rare plants, wildlife and enchanting waterfalls. The Chine is famous for its flora and fauna. There are at least 150 varieties of wild plants and more than 50 species of moss and liverworts have so far been recorded, some of them extremely rare.

For more information about Shanklin Chine, visit their website.

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5. The Needles

The world famous coloured sand cliffs overlook the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmark – The Needles Rocks and Lighthouse. The Needles Park offers a range of attractions including the spectacular chairlift to the beach, Alum Bay Glass and Sweet Manufactory; the perfect packed day out for all the family.

Guess what? The park is free to enter! For more information about visit The Needles, visit their website here.

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6. Osborne House

Osborne House was Queen Victoria’s much-loved summer home, and the place where she died in 1901. It was conceived by Prince Albert in grand Italian Renaissance style as a bolt-hole fit for a queen. This is. Visitors peeking at the personal memorabilia are offered a fascinating insight into the domestic arrangements of a royal family. From Portsmouth Harbour you can take to Wightlink catamaran to Ryde and then the No 4 bus to Osborne House or from Southampton go across to East Cowes to Osborne House.

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Getting to the Isle of Wight

Simply jump on a train to Portsmouth Harbour, catch one of Wightlink’s catamarans  across the Solent, and from there you’ll be able to explore the Isle of Wight using Island Line.

Or if you'd rather experience a hovercraft, why not travel to the Isle of Wight to Ryde Hoverport with Hovertravel - the foot passenger hovercraft from Southsea to Ryde seafront in less than 10 minutes. Leave the train at the Portsmouth and Southsea station and then follow the signs to the connecting Hoverbus shuttle service, which will take you to the Hovercraft terminal in just 5 minutes free of charge with your through rail ticket to Ryde Hoverport.

You can also travel to the Isle of Wight with Red Funnel. Their high-speed ferry service runs between Southampton and Cowes frequently (every 30 minutes at peak, 60 at off peak), taking only 25 minutes.

Alternatively if your destination is West Wight you can travel from Lymington Pier to Yarmouth on Wightlink’s car ferry. For Cowes simply take a train to Southampton Central and then the free City Link shuttle bus to Town Quay. For more information about our ferry links to the Isle of Wight see here.

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