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Incredible Isle of Wight Day Trip: Tips & Itinerary

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So, you’re probably reading this blog post because you’re wondering how to make the most of a fabulous Isle of Wight day trip. Yes? Awesome! We’ve got you covered.

We loved exploring this beautiful British island and we can’t wait to share our tips with you. In this Isle of Wight day trip guide, you’ll discover:

  • If one day is enough time to enjoy a trip to the Isle of Wight
  • How to get to the Isle of Wight from Southampton, Portsmouth and London
  • An example Isle of Wight one-day itinerary and recommended things to do

Ready? Let’s get to it!

Is One Day Enough Time for the Isle of Wight?

While there is plenty to see and do on the Isle of Wight, if you only have one day to spare and want to focus on the main sights and tourist hotspots, then an Isle of Wight day trip is possible.

But it’ll be a long one! A full 10-12 hour day trip will mean you can see and do more at a fairly relaxed pace. 

Hopefully, you’ll see what we mean once you check out our example one-day Isle of Wight itinerary below.

Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
Stunning coastal views from the Isle of Wight

Getting to the Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight Day Trip from Southampton

Southampton is one of the most common starting points for an Isle of Wight day trip.

The ferry crossing between Southampton and East Cowes takes about an hour with ferries running throughout the week.

Isle of Wight Day Trip from Portsmouth

Portsmouth is another popular starting point for a day trip to the Isle of Wight.

This time, the ferry takes you from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, taking about 45 minutes and also running through the week.

Isle of Wight Coastal Path
More beautiful Isle of Wight coastal views

Isle of Wight Day Trip from London & Beyond

Alternatively, if you’re living or staying in London and don’t mind a long day, then you can also do an Isle of Wight day trip from London.

From London, you’ll need to choose to catch a ferry from either Portsmouth or Southampton.

You can even join coach tours – like this one – to enjoy an Isle of Wight day trip from London as a group.

For those of you who are travelling from outside of London, there are ways to do an Isle of Wight day trip from many destinations.

But some places further afield will require more time to travel to and from the Isle of Wight, such as a long weekend. We have an itinerary and tips for that as well! Check it out here >>

Note: You may need to add an extra 15 minutes or so to either side of the journey times stated above to account for boarding and disembarking. But based on our experience, this part of the journey usually runs smoothly.

Isle of Wight Day Trip Itinerary & Things To Do

Morning

Osborne

Inside Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Inside the opulent Osborne House

Whether you have a full 10-12 hours to explore the Isle of Wight or just 3-4 hours, no Isle of Wight day trip is complete without a visit to Osborne in East Cowes.

Osborne was once owned by Queen Victoria to serve as her summer palace. It’s just five minutes away from the East Cowes ferry terminal and 15 minutes from the Fishbourne ferry terminal.

This palace and surrounding estate are just so stunning. And if you happen to visit on a sunny day, it’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to continental Europe such as Spain or Italy for the day rather than a British island.

Osborne House on the Isle of Wight
The Osborne estate is like being whisked off to continental Europe for the day rather than the UK

To fully appreciate everything there is to see across the Osborne palace and estate, you’ll want to set aside roughly 3-4 hours of your day.

Osborne is managed by the English Heritage. If you’re an English Heritage member, then you can visit Osborne for free. This is well worth considering given a visit to Osborne is just under a third of an annual English Heritage membership by itself.

Plan your visit to Osborne right now! >>

And if you want to join the English Heritage before your visit to Osborne and the Isle of Wight, then you can grab 20% off gift and annual memberships right now. Just click this link and use our exclusive discount code: WOWEHM20.

RELATED: English Heritage Membership Review – Make Your Membership Go Further!

Afternoon

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
Historic Carisbrooke Castle is well worth a visit

Once you’ve finished exploring Osborne, you might want to hop in your car and head to The Needles – another of the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmarks.

Along the way, you might also want to stop off at Carisbrooke Castle (another property managed by the English Heritage), which is about 20 minutes from Osborne.

Carisbrooke Castle is a historic motte-and-bailey castle, which once housed Charles I as a prisoner.

Views from Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight
Stunning views across the Isle of Wight from the top of Carisbrooke Castle

One or two hours spent here is enough time to see the best parts of this castle including the onsite Isle of Wight museum, tranquil Princess Beatrice garden and stunning panoramic views across the Isle of Wight from the top of the castle’s walls.

Learn more about Carisbrooke Castle now >>

The Needles

The Needles, Isle of Wight
Fabulous views of The Needles

Alternatively, you could drive straight to The Needles from Osborne. If you do that, then the drive will take you about 45 minutes, whereas it’s a 30-minute drive from Carisbrooke Castle.

Just in case you haven’t heard of The Needles before, it’s a natural landmark consisting of three chalk stacks off the western coast of the island.

And it’s one of the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmarks.

To see the best views of The Needles, you have two main options: The Needles Viewpoint overlooking Scratchell’s Bay, which is free to visit, or the “batteries”, which are free to visit for National Trust members.

Alongside The Needles, you can also admire the incredible coastal views from all around this part of the island. 

Well worth an al fresco coffee break if you have time (there’s a cafe inside the batteries), or you can grab one from The Needles Attraction Park, which is roughly a 5-minute drive away. Please note you have to pay for all-day parking at the attraction park.

RELATED: 11 Beautiful Places To Visit On The Isle of Wight

Evening

Shanklin and Shanklin Chine

Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Shanklin Beach on the Isle of Wight

If you’re staying on the Isle of Wight into the evening, then you might also want to check out Shanklin – a charming seaside resort town on the southeastern coast.

Shanklin has plenty of restaurant options for you to choose from, but there’s another reason why Shanklin is well worth a visit (if you’re visiting in the warmer months).

Once the sun sets, head to Shanklin Chine, which is a natural coastal ravine complete with waterfalls.

On summer evenings, the path is lit up with coloured lights. We couldn’t possibly think of a more magical way to finish your Isle of Wight day trip!

From Shanklin, it’s time to head back up north to catch a ferry back to the mainland. The Southampton terminal in East Cowes and the Portsmouth terminal at Fishbourne are both about 30 minutes away from Shanklin.

Read More About The Isle of Wight

If you’re tempted to stay on the Isle of Wight for longer than just one day, then it’s also a fabulous place for a relaxing weekend getaway. If that sounds tempting, then you might like to read our other Isle of Wight travel blogs:


And there you have it! Our tips and recommendations for how to make the most out of a fabulous Isle of Wight day trip. If you have any questions about your trip, then please leave us a comment below and we’ll reply asap…

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Fabulous Isle of Wight Day Trip Tips & Itinerary
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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