If you fancy leaving your car keys at home for your net family holiday, or don’t have your own transport, the Isle of Wight could be the perfect choice! Just jump on a ferry across the Solent & start discovering the Isle of Wight on foot (or bike, train, bus!) for your next family holiday adventure.
Regular Ferries & Hovercraft depart from Southampton, Portsmouth, Southsea & Lymington daily arriving in Cowes, Yarmouth, Fishbourne & Ryde. From these ports you have a choice of continuing your journey by bus or train. Wightlink run 150 crossings a day, foot passengers can take bikes free of charge and kids travel free with very foot paying adult. Red Funnel Ferries and Hovertravel also run regular services.
The bus service reaches almost all corners of the island & bus stops are easily accessible from all the foot passenger ferry ports, making arriving without a car easy. Check out Southern Vectis the island bus service who have been running since the 20s.
The island ‘Breezer’ (open top) buses are a wonderful way for your family to get around the island with amazing views from the top deck. Your accommodation might be able to provide you with a bus pass or you can easily buy a rover or multi day ticket.
The train service runs along the east coast from Ryde to Shanklin & the journey takes about 25 mins. The most notable point about this train journey is that the train is a vintage 1938 London underground train!
Once you’ve arrived at your family holiday destination, you then have the additional choices of cycling & walking to get around.
The Isle of Wight is a cyclist’s paradise and has been described as one of the 10 best destinations in the world for cycling (the Lonely Planet Guide). There are miles of safe cycleways with stunning scenery.
There are also many places to hire bikes, so it’s not essential that you transport your own bikes over. There are many different types of adults & children’s bikes available and if you’re feeling a little bit lazy(!) you can also hire e-bikes, with many charging points around the island.
There are many cycle routes: a good family friendly cycle trail is the Sunshine Trail– named because of the record amounts of sunshine this part of the Island receives;
Length: 12 miles following National Cycle Network Route 23
Time: A slow ride with a family takes approx 2 hours, including stops.
Difficulty: Easy riding and for little legs, you can shorten the route by catching the train between Sandown and Shanklin. Much of this family-friendly cycle route runs along sections of the Island’s former railway track. The section between Merstone and Newport features specially commissioned Troll sculptures with picnic benches along its length. There are also lots of wildlife friendly installations to encourage birds and other wildlife.
Or why not go in search of the Red Squirrel on the Red Squirrel Trail ? 32 miles of mainly car free cycling routes taking in the countryside, coastal views, estuaries, woodland etc. You can join the route in various places details can be found on the Red Squirrel Trail website.
You can also get up close to the Islands amazing scenery by walking – more than half of the Island has been designated an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are more than 500 miles of well-maintained footpaths, so if you’re looking for a short family stroll or a more challenging walk the Isle of Wight definitely has a walk for you. Many walks are family friendly & suitable for pushchairs.
Another popular event is the walking Festival;
The Isle of Wight walking Festival is one of the UKs longest running walking festivals, with over 100 walks on offer (the walks are guided and there is a charge). The dates for next years festival are 2nd– 17thMay 2020. Get those legs warmed up!
The child-friendly holiday accommodation on Holiday Tots on the Isle of Wight encourages holidays makers to visit the island without their cars. The owners can provide all the large baby essentials so that you are able to travel light – steriliser, bath seat etc. There is something for every family here, from a family run farm-stay with lots of animals to feed to a lovely country house with outdoor swimming pool.
Both have been awarded the Green Star Gold Award due to their sustainable approach to tourism, including;
- A free pick up service from Shanklin station.
- Part of the Visit Isle of Wight scheme, providing 4 all island bus passes to lend to their guests so they can enjoy free transport during their stay – including the open top “Breezer” buses that cover the most scenic routes including the needles.
- Good recycling
Nettlecombe is a working farm, in the heart of the Isle of Wight countryside, with 9 self-catering holiday cottages.
When you stay here, you’re welcome to meet the animals – chickens, geese, turkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits and even reindeer
Nettlecombe have compiled a comprehensive walking guide with a variety of spectacular routes for their guests to enjoy. They also have many routes on Strava for their guests to access.
In regards to cycle hire, Nettlecombe recommend Wight Cycle hire to their guests and they will deliver bikes to their customers.
Nettlecombe have electric car charging points and also offer fresh water & a toilet to walkers and cyclists.
Lyon Court is a beautiful country house, split into 4 lovely family-friendly holiday apartments, overlooking Shanklin downs. The landscaped grounds have a pool & play equipment and you can walk to the old village and beach.
Lyon Court have a special deal with a local bike hire firm – routefifty7.com (their next door neighbours!) Guests can get 25% off cycle hire when booked in advance.
The pool here is heated by an air source heat pump and has a solar cover, which is a good energy efficient way to heat a pool.
There are definitely lots of family-friendly holiday & travel options if you want to leave the car behind and explore the Isle of Wight 😊
Main Needles image : By Mypix – Own work wiki