10 fantastic ideas for family day trips to the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight offers you a chance to really get away from it all – even if it’s for a spontaneous family day trip.
Just book online, load up the car and hop across the Solent – Wightlink’s Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferries take just 45 minutes. Prices start from just £55* for a midweek day return with the car in school holidays.
Or travel on foot on Wightlink’s FastCat and you’ll find that Kids Go Free* all through the school summer holidays. Everyone can bring a bicycle for free, so the whole family can get active and cycle through some of the most scenic countryside in the UK together.
Book today at wightlink.co.uk/family
*offer terms and conditions apply, visit wightlink.co.uk/family
Here are 10 fantastic ideas for family day trips to the Isle of Wight
1. Cruise across the Solent
There’s something special about stepping on board a Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth – be it on foot or with your car – as it signals the start of your Isle of Wight adventure. You might only be staying for a few hours, but as you wave goodbye to the mainland you can literally feel your troubles lifting from your shoulders.
2. Fossil hunting
The soaring coastline at Compton Bay can be a fossil-finder’s delight, with dinosaur footprints visible at low tide. Hailed as ‘the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe’ means you automatically up your chances of getting lucky with a find. And, if your young fossil hunters don’t strike lucky, whisk them along west to Hanover Point where they can ‘discover’ huge, fossilised foot casts preserved in the rocks on the beach.
3. Shanklin Chine
If you’re looking for a truly unique and historic island experience – it’s been going more than 200 years – follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen and Queen Victoria and take a tour of Shanklin Chine. This tree-lined gorge winds its way from Shanklin Old Village to the beach below via a stunning waterfall and, at night, magical illuminations.
4. Family bike rides
Whether you’re a family that cycles together at home or your kids are just starting out, the Isle of Wight is the perfect place for a family bike ride. From riverside pedals with stops for takeaway coffee and cake (the Medina Greenway Breeze) to a flat seafront route with plenty of opportunities for ice cream (Sandown to Shanklin), you can enjoy time as a family in the great outdoors.
5. Wildheart Animal Sanctuary
This beautiful sanctuary is a little oasis by the sea, built within the ruins of a Victorian Fort at Sandown. The sanctuary has a variety of animals, but the experts from the Wildheart Trust specialise in two particular areas - tigers and lemurs. You’ll also find meerkats, wallabies, birds, lions, monkeys and reptiles here.
6. Beach days
Being an island means we’ve got more than our fair share of coast – from sunny, sandy, traditional family beaches to wild cliffs and secluded coves. Choose the wide sandy beaches of Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin or Yaverland for a traditional British seaside experience – perfect for buckets and spades, paddling and picnics.
7. Robin Hill
Robin Hill Country Park boasts 88 acres of parkland with stunning woodland, open countryside, and water gardens. For adventurous families, there are also treetop canopy walkways, adventure nets, a quarter-mile downhill toboggan plus loads of rides and slides to enjoy.
8. Connect with nature
Go hunting for red squirrels (although shh! as they can be shy and easily disturbed by noise). Try Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve near Sandown, the woodland around Newtown, the Mottistone Estate or in Parkhurst Forest. Or take a stroll around Newtown Creek, the Island’s own National Trust Reserve, looking out for visiting birds, waders, and waterfowl, as well as summer orchids and wildflowers.
9. The UK’s oldest theme park
At Blackgang Chine you can walk the dinosaur trail, search for your favourite characters in Nurseryland, enjoy a cowboy adventure, explore the Crooked House, and reflect on life in the Hall of Mirrors. Blackgang has plenty of great rides and slides, including the Waterforce and the Cliffhanger rollercoaster although, as with all parks, height restrictions apply.
10. Donkey sanctuary
The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary looks after 97 donkeys and 26 ponies, all of whom are either rescued or abandoned. They are given a ‘forever home’ in 55 acres of countryside in the Wroxall Valley. Admission is free but because the centre relies on donations, they hope you’ll enjoy a bite in their café, buy from their shop or adopt a donkey – as well as meeting their beautiful residents.