Half-term on a budget as kids go free to the Isle of Wight

It can be a challenge to organise family fun during the school holidays. Luckily, Wightlink is here to tell you how to get the best from the Isle of Wight, the family-friendly destination on your doorstep.

There are plenty of low-cost family activities to enjoy, making it a great day trip option. So, take your family to create magical memories together this half-term.

During every school holiday, kids go free* when you travel on foot with Wightlink. Tickets for under-fives are always complimentary, but during May half-term, two children aged 5-15 can travel for free with every adult or senior.

Families can be on the Isle of Wight in just 22 minutes using the FastCat foot-passenger sailings between Portsmouth Harbour railway station and Ryde.

1.    Cycle rides

Take your bike for free with Wightlink when you travel as a foot passenger. The whole family can get active and cycle together through some of the most scenic countryside in the UK. Wightlink’s website has loads of suggested cycle routes, so whether you’re a family that already cycles together or if you’re just starting out, you’re bound to find the best trail for you.

2.    Bring fido

It doesn’t stop there – dogs travel free on all Wightlink’s ferry routes too. They are able to wander around the top decks or in inside the ferries’ dedicated pet areas, before exploring one of the most dog-friendly places in Britain. There are dog walks for days, through enchanting woodland, vast beaches and stunning countryside, with lots of opportunities for refreshments at dog-friendly cafes.

3.    Famous landmarks

Check out the famous Needles rock formation – one of the Isle of Wight’s most iconic sights and a unique part of Britain – and capture the perfect family photo. You can get the best views from a nearby hilltop (try Headon Warren viewpoint) or by walking down the 185 steps to Alum Bay – where you’ll be mesmerised by the multi-coloured cliffs.

4.    Sandy shores

Golden sandy beaches are just a short walk down Ryde Pier from Wightlink’s FastCat. There’s a large expanse of sand, particularly at low tide, offering loads of room to play. The waters are shallow and warm, making it great for little ones and there are several amusements and playparks just off the beach. Check out the fairytale-style tower at Appley too.

5.    Fossil hunting

The Isle of Wight is famed for its dinosaur heritage, earning the name ‘Dinosaur Island’, and kids can find their very own fossils when they visit the island. Book a fossil tour with a dinosaur expert or hunt on your own as a family. Explorers can also discover huge fossilised foot casts preserved in the rocks on the beach on the west of the Island.

6.     See donkeys

The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is home to over 100 rescued donkeys, mules and Shetland ponies. It’s free to enter, there’s free parking and you can bring your own picnics, making it a low-cost day out for the whole family. The animals live in a loving forever home, in 55 acres of countryside in the Wroxall valley. Book one of the free ‘Meet Our Donkeys’ tours for a guided walk around the sanctuary – you may just be tempted to adopt a donkey to help the sanctuary provide care.

7.    Garlic everywhere

Get the full garlic experience at a beautiful farm on the Isle of Wight for free – we’re talking country walks, garlic folklore, tasters and tractor rides! You can add on family farm tours for £5 per adult during half-term (children under 14 go free). Garlic can be seen growing in the fields from March to August and there’s play equipment for young children, with lots of space for running, rolling and playing while you are visiting the restaurant.

8.    Visit a monastery

Not far from Wightlink’s ports at Fishbourne and Ryde, you’ll find Quarr Abbey which is home to a small group of Benedictine monks. It’s situated within 200 beautiful acres of pasture, woodland, coastline and formal gardens. Follow the walking trail past the old Abbey ruins as it meanders through a beautiful forest. Children can borrow Quarr Explorers Kits to really make the most of the trail. You can also visit the visual arts gallery, walled garden, café, farm shop and resident pigs.

9.    Learn about lifeboats

Bembridge Lifeboat Station is housed in an impressive offshore boathouse on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight. And when better to visit their station and two lifeboats – a Tamar Class All Weather Lifeboat and a D-Class Inshore Lifeboat – than the RNLI’s 200th year of lifesaving? It’s free to enter and you might be lucky enough to catch a training launch.

10. Spot red squirrels

Wild red squirrels live on the Isle of Wight and, with a little patience and stillness, you may see one of these shy creatures on your travels. If you’re serious about spotting them, Parkhurst Forest in the island’s northeast is the perfect location as it has a mixture of trees and a log cabin hide for you to shelter in.

Book now

To book your crossing to the Isle of Wight for half-term fun and adventures, visit the website

*Full offer terms at wightlink.co.uk/kgf