Isle Of Wight Holidays: Cheap & Free Things To Do IOW

If You’re Thinking About Or Planning Isle Of Wight Holidays, Here Are Some Fantastic Ideas On Places To Stay and Cheap and Free Things To Do On The IOW.


Island holidays UK
Island holidays UK

Getting To The Isle of Wight

If you’re taking the car over for your Isle Of Wight Holidays, you can get a ferry from Portsmouth – Fishbourne or Portsmouth – Ryde (see how much the ferry might cost).

If you need to rent a car, click here to see how much car rental might cost.

You can also go over as a foot passenger on the hovercraft.

I’ve separated this guide into geographical areas and some of the recommendations come from The National Trust and English Heritage. I’ve had both memberships in the past and they’re both equally as good. What I like about The National Trust is the free parking (once you’ve bought the membership) but English Trust properties are brilliant and there’s a big emphasis on kids. Each has its own benefit.

National Trust membership is currently £7-12 per month and English Heritage membership is currently £6-10 per month. Obviously, they’ll be subject to financial change but click through the links to examine what you get for each (all links open in a new tab).

Ryde Area

The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum

This museum is free to enter. There’s a place to buy a cup of tea and there’s also a shop. It is run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers but is only open on certain days, so check their website.

Ryde sands

The beach at Ryde is long, sandy and perfect for a spot of kite flying when the tide is out. From small family kites to massive power kites, the endless space and sky above is all you need to fill a fun few hours.

Ryde Pier

Ryde Pier is 681 metres long and looks out over Portsmouth. The area is very tidal and retreats by almost half a mile.  You have to pay to catch the train but you can walk its length for free.

Our Lady Of Quarr Abbey

Quarr Abbey is a working Benedictine monastery & home to a community of monks. At various times in the day, you can listen to the monks chanting, have a look in the bookshop, see a different art collection every week, have a look around the gardens or eat in the cafe.

Ryde Canoe Lake

Built in 1882, this lake is popular for paddle boats and canoes. At the western end there’s a cafe and the lake is across the road from Appley beach.

Appley Tower & Beach

Appley Tower is a Victorian mock castle tower on the esplanade overlooking the beach at Ryde. The tower was built as a garden folly about 1875. Beside the tower is a memorial to the HMS Sirius, which acted as an escort vessel for the first fleet from England to sail to Australia in 1787.

Puckpool Battery

Puckpool Battery is a battery located at Puckpool Point, close to the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It is one of the many Palmerston Forts built on the island to protect it in response to a perceived French invasion. Construction of the battery began in 1863 and was completed by March 1865. It operated as a mortar battery for thirty mortars and five guns.


Ryde Sands Isle Of Wight Holidays
Ryde Sands, Isle of Wight


St Helens Duver

St Helens Duver is a National Trust area and gives way to a beach, sand dunes with a royal history and great coastal views. Don’t forget to look out for The Fairy Tree.

Rock pools & crabbing

Bembridge Harbour is a great place to go crabbing. It even has its own Bembridge Harbour Crabbing Competition – (dates around) Sunday 20th August at the Duver Marina from 9am.

Bembridge Windmill

The only surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. Knowle Mill, better known today as Bembridge Windmill, is a Grade I listed, preserved tower mill. Built around 1700 this is the only surviving windmill on the Island and has most of its original machinery intact on four floors.

Bembridge Fort

Bembridge Fort is a fort built on the highest point of Bembridge Down.  It’s an unrestored Victorian fort set on dramatic chalk cliffs and open downland with coastal views.

Bembridge Bridges

There is a small bridge near Cachalot Charters in the marina but the highlight has to be the enormous causeway, called “Bench Duver” that traverses the marshland linking St Helens to Bembridge.


Isle of wight

Ventnor Area

Ventnor’s paddling pool

Located near the Haven on the Esplanade, the paddling pool (opens in new tab) costs £4 for 4-hours. In the middle of the paddling pool is a 3d map of the Isle of Wight which kids can play on.

St Catherine’s Oratory

This oratory may look like a poor attempt at rocket building but it’s actually a former lighthouse. The octagonal tower is all that survives of an oratory built here in 1328 as penance by a local landowner, who had plundered church property – casks of white wine – from a ship wrecked nearby.

The Garlic Farm 

The Garlic Farm is very popular to visit and for good reason (you can stay in accommodation here too). It is free and has a small children’s playground, garlic tasting, a shop, a restaurant and a woodland walk.  For a couple of pounds, you can have a 20-minute farm tour in a trailer pulled by a tractor.

Appuldurcombe Manor

This manor (opens in new tab) looks very grand from the outside but if you peek inside you’ll notice it’s a ruin. It’s an 18th-century building with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. It is owned by English Heritage, but is currently free to visit, regardless of whether you have membership or not.

Red Squirrel Parkhurst Forest

Parkhurst Forest near Newport is one of the best places to search for red squirrels as it has a log cabin hide and trail for visitors.

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival

The biggest walking festival in the UK, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival takes place every May and a further weekend in October. The festival boasts over 200 guided walks, taking in a range of themes.

Take part in a local carnival

The Isle of Wight has more than 15 carnivals throughout the year.

Steephill Cove

Some say this is the prettiest place on the island.  Steephill is a sheltered cove and makes a lovely place to sit and watch the sea, have a picnic or go canoeing.

Search for fossils 

Renowned as a Mecca for dinosaur hunters, many dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the cliff falls on the Island. You can even book Fossil Hunting walks which are led by a resident palaeontologist.

You can book fossil hunting tours here and here.

Shanklin Area

The Isle of Wight is a small island off the coast of Southern England and many people will tell you that Shanklin Chine, on the Isle of Wight, is a hidden gem. Shanklin Chine is an abandoned chalybeate spring that has been restored to its former glory. It’s one of the oldest attractions on the Isle, and it is a popular destination for people who love getting lost in nature.

The Chine is a beautiful nature reserve with loads for you and your family to enjoy. You can get lost in the maze, chase the trickling waterfalls, or wander from the old village, which is one of the UK’s most beautiful villages, all the way to the beach down below.

Shanklin Chine is the perfect destination for anyone who loves to explore and photographers will be in their element as there is so much beauty to capture. Although it’s not free, it’s cheap to enter. Adults are £6.95 each and children are £5.30.

Plus, the ticket entitles you to 7 days return for free! Once you’re done exploring the maze of wooden pathways that snake their way through the greenery, you can pay a visit to the site’s beautiful gift shop and charming Victorian tea room.

Recommended by Alice from Adventures of Alice

Other things to do in the Shanklin area include:

The Donkey Sanctuary

A haven for rescued donkeys & ponies where visitors can meet the animals. There’s also a cafe and a gift shop.

Shanklin to Ventnor Coastal Walk

A signposted 3.5-mile hike with some moderate hill climbs, a woodland section and fabulous views. Most of the walk is on fairly flat paths but there are some climbs so a reasonable level of fitness is required. You can get the bus back or return the same way.

Rylstone Gardens

The Gardens are free to access and there’s also a pitch & putt mini-golf when visiting the Rylstone Tea Rooms.

Yaverland Beach

Regularly touted as one of the best beaches for kids, this beach has a long stretch of sand and great swimming waters for children and families. There are also toilets and a beach cafe selling food, ice creams and beach gear.

Alverstone Mead Nature Reserve

This area is a lowland freshwater wetland nature reserve and part of the Alverstone Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest. The site is on the floodplain of the Eastern Yar and is a popular spot for birdwatchers.

Sandown Area

The Isle of Wight is a great place to try your hand at fossil or dinosaur bone hunting. The beaches here are renowned for their great fossils and there have been some amazing finds across the islands.

In fact, it’s become known as one of the best places in Europe to go fossil hunting. Yaverland Beach is one great stretch for spending time on looking for ancient finds, as is the stretch between Atherfield to Compton. This is definitely something you could do yourself if you spend some time understanding what you are looking for – the fossilised bones are honeycombed blackened little stubs.

The best way though is to join a group trip out to the beach with an expert from somewhere like ‘Dinosaur Expeditions’, who can show you exactly what to look for and then you are free to go yourself and know what you’re looking for.

If you’re in the area on an Isle of Wight family holiday this is a great activity to do with kids who will love spending hours sifting through the little pebbles to look for the treasure of an ancient fossil.

Written by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels

Book A Ticket Or Tour With Get Your Guide

Freshwater Area

The Needles is a distinctive stacks of chalk that lie off the western point of the Isle of Wight, located close to Alum Bay.

The Needles, which is managed by National Trust in England is definitely one of the most photographed groups of rocks in the world. The Needles was featured on the BBC as one of the seven natural wonders of Southern England.

The history of the needles dates back to the Iron Age, with evidence of settlement that was discovered through archaeology.  Originally, these three stacks were part of the cliff, but due to coastal erosion over time, these three rocks got separated from the mainland. It is also said there were actually four rocks and that the fourth rock looked was a needle-like pillar, but eventually collapsed in the sea, but the group of rocks continued to get the name Needles.

The Needles Lighthouse that stands majestically at the outer end of the formation is indeed a visual treat.  Take a boat tour to the Needles from Alum Bay or simply soak in the crystal clear waters of Alum Bay Beach. Overall, the Needles is a perfect day trip for all kinds of travellers.

It is free to enter the Needles. If you are arriving by car, there is a parking fee of £3 for an all-day ticket. If you are relying on public transport, there are frequent bus service (Bus no.7) that connects to Alum Bay. Alternatively, you can also walk down the steps or take the iconic chairlift from The Needles Park.

Contributed by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple

Newtown Area

The Newtown Nature Reserve is a beautiful place to visit on your trip to the Isle of Wight.

This is absolutely beautiful for hiking, enjoying nature and simply relaxing. You can come here year-round but it will definitely be most beautiful during the warmer months of June to August.
September and October can also be great choices especially if you’re going to be hiking a lot. Early fall has stunning foliage and will make your photos of the trip especially beautiful.

The Newtown Nature Reserve is also a great spot to come for bird watching. A lot of migratory birds come here seasonally so if you’re lucky you might be able to spot some rare species. Also make sure to visit the Old Townhall which is a great spot to learn more about the area’s history. It has existed since the 13th century and parts of it were well preserved.

Hiking is definitely the best way to see the Newtown Nature Reserve but there are also plenty of opportunities for biking. If you’re visiting during spring you can also enjoy the meadows of wildflowers which make this season especially beautiful. Definitely make sure to pack your camera so you can capture these special moments.

Written by  Victoria from Guide Your Travel


Isle Of Wight Holidays
Isle Of Wight Holidays

Download & Use This Map For Your Isle Of Wight Holiday

Feel free to download and use this map of the Isle of Wight.

Book Your Accommodation On The Isle Of Wight

You can use this interactive map to search for and book Isle Of Wight Holidays. It looks for accommodation across multiple platforms saving you time and money!

Planning A British Holiday?

Have a look below or here to see where else you could go in the UK. We have nearly one hundred posts from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales so fingers crossed there is something to inspire you.