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Cycling Isle of Wight:
your ultimate guide

Have you ever cycled the Isle of Wight? If not, you’re missing out.

Lonely Planet listed the Isle of Wight number 1 in a list of 10 trips that should be on every cyclist’s wishlist. It said: “The Isle of Wight is a cycling paradise that is home to some of the UK’s most varied terrain: lush velvet hills rolling into the sea, narrow lanes through tidy hedgerows, deep and mysterious green gullies, and the island’s most striking feature, the ridge of white chalk cliffs stretching across its breadth.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

The Isle of Wight has branded itself “the cycling island” - and that’s very fair given the 200 miles of cycling routes (on an island that’s 147 square miles) and the annual Isle of Wight Cycling Festival.

It’s most famous for the Isle of Wight randonee sportive, the annual circumnavigation of the island by bike. But there are also lots of traffic-free cycle paths (many of which are navigable on a road bike), so it’s a great place to get the kids cycling.

Cycle the Isle of Wight, and you’ll find quiet, varied, signposted routes, a laid-back pace of life, and great places to stay and eat. More than half the Island is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and almost 30 miles of the seashore is Heritage Coast. It’s also one of the few places you can see red squirrels in the wild.  

Want to go cycling on the Isle of Wight?

You’re in the right place. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan unforgettable Isle of Wight cycling holidays: detailed information on the best Isle of Wight cycle routes plus where to stay, when to visit and where to rent a bike.

Read on and plan your next cycling adventure.

Isle of Wight cycling routes

Here are some rules of thumb to help you plan your Isle of Wight cycle routes.

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    The south and west sides of the Island are the least populated, so the roads will be quieter.
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    The biggest hills are in the south and west around Wroxall, Ventnor and Blackgang.
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    If you’re looking for one of the traffic-free cycle paths on the Isle of Wight, they run between Cowes in the North, Newport in the centre and then south to Shanklin and Sandown and east to Ryde. The only stretch of cycleway outside this is in the west between Yarmouth and Freshwater.
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    You’re likely to encounter traffic around the main towns, particularly Newport (centre), Yarmouth (west), Ryde (east) and Cowes (north).

Round the Isle of Wight cycle route

  • Distance: 109km
  • Elevation: 1,350m
  • Difficulty:
  • Epic rating:

South Isle of Wight in a nutshell

  • Distance: 35km
  • Elevation: 600m
  • Difficulty:
  • Epic rating:

Lighthouse, Needles and Downs

  • Distance: 88km
  • Elevation: 1,250m
  • Difficulty:
  • Epic rating:

Family bike rides

The Isle of Wight tourism office has information on short, easy Isle of Wight cycle routes that would be suitable for family bike rides. But watch out: many of these are on mixed terrain, some of which is not suitable for road bikes. 

Isle of Wight cycling events: Isle of Wight sportive and festival

The Isle of Wight’s round the island cycle is in May each year. Local club Wayfarers CTC organise it and you can either do a 100km ride (with approximately 1,500 meters of climbing) clockwise around the island or a 55 km loop clockwise in the east of the island.  It is free to enter (though you are encouraged to donate at the checkpoints). Book your place early.

The Isle of Wight Cycling Festival each September hosts a wide range of cycle-related events including plenty of additional routes suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. Sadly the event didn't happen in 2016, due to funding cuts, but it returned in 2017, and we hope it will continue.

And finally...

Accommodation

This section includes details of hotels and holiday homes we have either stayed in or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a booking, we may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.

When you’re thinking about where to stay, bear in mind what type of cycling you want to do. If you’re focused on cycling round the island, you’ll probably want to stay on or near the route. Our round the Island route guide should help you plan, and we think these accommodation options are particularly good:

Alternatively, if you want to access the traffic-free cycle paths, you’ll want to be close to those (see above). In that case, these accommodation options would suit you well:

Our quick guides to the Isle of Wight’s towns and beaches should also help you narrow down your choices!

Or read on for our top places to stay on the Isle of Wight.

Our choice: Pitts Keep, Bonchurch

Pitts Keep is a gem. We stayed for a week in this three-bedroom Victorian villa. The one-storey house is set around an enclosed courtyard and has a fabulous garden with lovely sea views. Inside it’s stylishly decorated, warm and cosy. We’d definitely recommend it to friends.

Pitts Keep, Bonchurch
Bedroom at Pitts Keep
Dinning room at Pitts Keep

What we loved

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    The location. The house is in the tiny village of Bonchurch. It’s a pretty, chocolate box place, with a traditional pub within walking distance, as well as a duck pond and café. You can also walk to the beach in 5-10 minutes. Hop in the car, and you’re in gorgeous Ventnor in 5 minutes.
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    Ample living areas, with a comfortable sitting room set around a huge stone fireplace, a dining room that adjoins the small kitchen and a conservatory (the quirky layout means this is accessed through a bedroom or via the courtyard, but it’s bright and lovely!).
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    Modern decor meets Victorian gothic elegance. The owners have carefully retained many of the house’s Victorian features, such as the dark wood flooring, arched doors and solid stonework. These have been expertly blended with white walls, modern art and mid-century furniture to give a relaxing, stylish aesthetic.
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    Idyllic outside spaces. The conservatory opens onto a sunny enclosed courtyard, which is great for children. At the front, there is a stone terrace that overlooks a pretty garden. Behind the house is a steep, terraced garden with many flights of slightly crumbly steps. Children should be kept away from here (the access isn’t super obvious so this should be realistic), but adults may like to hike to the top for more great views.
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    Parking. There’s room for two cars.
Twin room at Pitts Keep holiday home, Bonchurch
Kitchen at Pitts Keep, Bonchurch
Bathroom at Pitts Keep, Bonchurch

Things to know

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    Hills. Bonchurch is in the hilly south of the island. The house is about half-way up a steep hill, so expect a climb on your way in and out.
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    Bathrooms. There is only one bathroom (though it is lovely with wooden panelling and a free-standing bath). The shower room is in an odd location; in a conservatory that adjoins the dining room. There is also an additional toilet, just off the kitchen.
  • Conclusion

We would certainly return to Pitts Keep. It’s a stylish, comfortable house in a tranquil village, and a great base from which to ride the island.

The north: where to stay near Cowes

North House

Sun Hill, West Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7HY

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    A Grade II listed townhouse in the conservation area at the heart of Cowes Old Town. It’s five minutes walk to the high street and Red Jet Ferry Terminal.
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    Sympathetically renovated in seaside chic style, it’s fourteen bedrooms feature charming, original features and gallons of Farrow and Ball paint. It’s all in exceptionally good taste while maintaining a relaxed and informal ambience.
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    Luxurious features include Egyptian cotton sheets, roll-top baths, library complete with Chesterfield sofas and antique furniture, garden and small, outdoor, heated swimming pool.
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    The restaurant doesn’t disappoint and it’s even pretty family-friendly with additional beds available and children permitted in the Library, terrace, Orangery and swimming pool during certain hours.
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    When we asked about storing bikes, we were told: “We can store them in our back of house area which is not for the public, you can lock them up and they will be secure out of sight from the public eye.”

Caledon Guest House

59 Mill Hill Rd, Cowes PO31 7EG

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    A short walk to Cowes town centre plus five minute walk to the Red Jet terminal and ten minutes to the car ferry.
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    The friendly hosts have thought through the details. Rooms come with Nespresso coffee machines, Noble Isle Toiletries and local goodies.  Breakfast is a highlight with lots of local produce.
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    Decor is modern and comfortable.
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    When we asked about bike storage, we were told: “We have a really wonderful secure bike store to the side of the house specifically used for bikes with racks for up to 12 bikes.” The store is locked and you can also secure your bike to the rack.  

The east: hotels near Bembridge

Pilot Boat Inn

Station Rd, Bembridge PO35 5NN

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    This quirky pub with restaurant has five rooms and is located on Bembridge Harbour, close to the harbour, village and the beach.
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    In winter you’ll find a welcoming fire in the log burner, in summer there’s a sunny terrace at the back.
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    Rooms have a softly nautical theme, and three have views out to the harbour and sea.
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    In response to our enquiry about bikes, they said: “We are on the official round island route so get a lot of cyclists staying with us, we have secure bike lockers and a shed to put bikes in.”

Rosemary Cottage

Langbridge, Newchurch, Sandown PO36 0NP

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    A bed and breakfast with modern and comfortable rooms.
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    Lots of facilities for cyclists: a secure garage for bike storage, outside bike wash down facilities, utility room for drying clothes, cycle and puncture repair kits, track pump and ordnance survey maps. Washing, drying and ironing facilities are available on request. Cycle hire, repair and rescue and luggage transfer can also be arranged.
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    Pedallers cycle cafe next door to the guest house, located directly on the popular “Red Squirrel Trail” cycle route.

The south: hotels near Ventnor

The Royal Hotel, Ventnor

Belgrave Road, Ventnor PO38 1JJ

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    The grand dame of the Ventnor hotel scene, the building dates from 1883 and overlooks Ventor’s Esplanade and sea. The Riviera Terrace, on the other side of the quiet road, provides particularly good views.
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    Rooms are elegant and well-furnished in soothing, muted tones.
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    Food is a highlight. Choose from lunch, a sumptuous afternoon tea and/or dinner.
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    Regarding bike storage, we were told bikes couldn’t be stored in rooms, but they could be kept in a locked room which is only accessible by staff.

Hillside Hotel, Ventnor

151 Mitchell Ave, Ventnor PO38 1DR

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    A family-run, 12 bedroom hotel built in 1800 that sits on the side of a hill, on the outskirts of Ventnor.
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    It’s a pretty place with refreshingly simple, Scandinavian inspired decor and a good dose of modern art too. The sun terrace overlooks gorgeous gardens with views across the town to the sea.
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    Dinner is available, though it has to be ordered in advance.
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    We were told we would be able to store our bikes in their locked garage.

A final thought: we love the look of The Hambrough, Ventnor. Unfortunately, however, we were told it wouldn’t be possible to keep bikes in our room; the only place they can be stored is an outside courtyard.

The west: B&B near Freshwater, Yarmouth, the Needles

Moons Hill, Isle of Wight PO39 0HF

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    A historic manor house built in 1871 and situated on top of a hill, close to the Needles. It’s run as a comfortable B&B by warm and caring owners. Self-catering is also available.
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    In response to our enquiry about road bikes, we were told: “We have secure parking for bicycles in a locked stone built out building. If you feel this is inadequate then we can have your bicycles in our part of the Manor with us...”.

Sentry Mead

Madeira Rd, Totland Bay PO39 0BJ

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    A Victorian villa that offers comfortable bed and breakfast, 120 yards from Totland Bay beach.
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    The hotel confirmed we could keep bikes in our room or in a back corridor within the hotel (staff only access). Their website sports a large “cyclists welcome” logo and facilities for drying clothes are also available.

Bike hire: Isle of Wight

This information is offered as an indicative guide only: we periodically update it but prices, services and bike brands may change. Please let us know if you find anything that is incorrect.

Most of the cycle hire on the Isle of Wight is for leisure bikes; the Isle of Wight’s bike paths make it great for family cycling. We’ve included those bike shops in the list below as you may be on the Isle of Wight with family and so want to hire bikes for the kids.

We’ve highlighted yellow the bike rental shops that offer road bike hire.

Bike hire Cowes

Isle Cycle

Top Gear Cycle Hire, 1 Terminus Road, Cowes, PO31 7TX

Isle Cycle is solely focused on bike hire. No road bikes but a wide range of other bikes for hire including adult bikes, kids bikes, tag-a-longs, trailers and a tandem.

Deliver across the island. Offer a one-way (branch to branch) hire (as they also have a branch in Sandown - see below).

Can supply helmets, locks and tools.


Prices range from £12.50-20 for a day or £55-105 for a week.

Ryde bike hire

Tav Cycles

140-140a High Street, Ryde PO33 2RE

This bike shop in Ryde offers bike sales, hire and repairs.

Hybrid bikes for hire plus trailer bikes, child seats and child trailers. Bikes come with a lock, puncture repair kit and a pump.


Hire a bike from half a day (£10) to two weeks (£99).

Tackt-Isle Adventures

Woodnutts Yard, The Duver, St Helens PO33 1YB 

No road bikes but you can hire mountain bikes and children’s bikes.

They supply a helmet, back pack, lock, and route map.


Hire a bike from one hour (£3-6) to three days (£21-42).

Bike hire Shanklin

Route Fifty 7

Lower Hyde, off Landguard Manor Road, Shanklin, Isle of Wight (Next to Lidl)

Offer bike hire, including road bikes (also electric bikes, trail bikes, mountain bikes, leisure bikes, child bikes, tandems and child trailers).

Will deliver bikes to your accommodation for £2 (24-hour minimum).

Offer island-wide recovery between 9 am and 5 pm should you have any problems.


You can hire from half a day (from £8 for a child bike) to two weeks (from 60 for a child bike).

Sandown bike hire​​​​

Isle Cycle

1st Call Cycle Hire, 15 Marsh Close, Sandown PO36 8EU

See details under the Cowes bikes shops listing above.

Sandown bike and beach

Esplanade, Sandown, PO36 8JS

Offer Raleigh hybrids, kids bikes, tagalongs and Dutch Cargo Bikes.


Free helmets and locks are provided. Panniers are £2 per hire per day. £1 per day for extra days.

Ventnor bike hire

Church Street Motorcycles

Church Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight PO38 1SW

Ghost hybrid bikes.


£20/day, £35 for two days, £75 for a week.

Hire includes repair kit and helmet.

Yarmouth bike hire

White Cycle Hire

Yarmouth Station, Station Rd, Yarmouth PO41 0QT

Housed in the beautifully restored Yarmouth station buildings on the Yarmouth to Freshwater cycle path.

Offer road bike hire and repairs.

Their range includes road bikes as well as hybrids, mountain, electric, tandems, children’s bikes, trailers, tagalong and child seats.

Island-wide mobile support.

Deliver across the island. The minimum hire fee to include the delivery and collection is £50. After that it is free.

Guided rides offered.


You can hire from half a day (from £8 for a child bike) to two weeks (from 60 for a child bike).

Bikes come with helmets and (on request) a puncture repair kit, pump and lock.

Newport bike hire

Red Squirrel Electric Bikes

The Guildhall,  Newport PO30 1TY

Electric bikes only.

Island-wide delivery is available.

Riders must be over 14.


A half day hire is £20, full day is £35. This is based on one bike; discounts for multiple.

Hire includes a helmet and safety equipment, island-wide mobile support and a map.

Tips:

  • - Book your bike in advance, particularly in peak season and if you want a road bike during the Isle of Wight cycle sportive (the round the island randonee).

  • - Remember to bring your pedals and shoes. This packing list may help!

Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this.

Other Isle of Wight bike shops

You won’t find bike hire in the shops listed below, but they could be useful to know about if you have a mechanical while you’re on the island. Remember also that some of the hire shops listed above also do repairs.

Bike hire shops Isle of Wight

Bike shops Cowes

Spy Velo, Isle of Wight
Ferry Office, Medina Rd, Cowes PO31 7BX

A bike shop in Cowes with a workshop and coffee house. They offer a comprehensive range of bike servicing.

Bike shopS Sandown

Al’s Bikes Sandown
Senator Trading EstateCollege Close, Sandown

Sales and repairs. Offer three levels of serving.

Pedallers Café
Langbridge, Newchurch (PO36 0NP) (on the Red Squirrel Trail)

Ample cycle parking and a cycle repair station for free cycle maintenance.

Bike shops Ventnor

Bike Jockey Isle of Wight
Unit 1, Dean Farm, Whitwell Road, PO38 2AB

Repairs and servicing.

Bike shops Newport

Island Bikeworks
Great Whitcombe Cottage, Whitcombe Road, Newport, PO30 3DY

Mobile cycle mechanic offering island-wide repairs.

Halfords
5, East Retail Park, 28 Docks Way, Newport NP20 2NW

Bike repair and bike build available.

Wight Bike eco-solutions
Perreton Farm East Lane Merstone PO30 3DL Arreton

Bike sales and repairs.

Bike shops Yarmouth

Adrian’s Bike Shop
The Coach House, 131A School Green Road, PO40 9BB Freshwater

Bike servicing, bike fitting and bike builds. New bikes for sale.

Wight Cycle Hire
Yarmouth Station, Station Rd, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, PO41 0QT

Island-wide servicing and repairs.

Wight Cycle Works (sister company to Wight Cycle Hire)
The Old Works, Station RdYarmouth

Sales and repairs with a full workshop.

When to go

It is well known that the Isle of Wight (and particularly the southeast of the island) has a milder climate and is sunnier than other areas of the UK. Towns such as Ventnor also have favourable microclimates due to their sheltered position under cliffs.

That said, don’t expect Mediterranean weather; this is still the UK, after all.

So, the big question. When to go.

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    If warm weather is a priority: June or early July (but avoiding school half term), when everything is busy, but the schoolchildren haven’t yet arrived.
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    If you aren’t fussed about the weather: Spring (April-May) and Autumn (September-October) with May and September being the ideal months.
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    If you don’t mind whether attractions are open and love solitude and the open road, the depths of winter can work well (November - February). We had a fantastic few days in January when it felt like we had the island to ourselves and enjoyed quiet roads, cafes and walks on the beach.
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    If you’re tied to school holidays: Easter or the summer term half term. Everything will be pretty busy, but prices shouldn’t be as high as in August.

It comes down to your priorities. We hope this colour-coded chart will help you decide.

January

Winter.

You’ll be cycling in full winter kit, but the roads will be quiet so you can appreciate the splendid scenery without being disturbed by tourist traffic.

Ferry crossings and accommodation will also be significantly cheaper than in high season.

If you’re planning to spend much time off the bike, note that many attractions and restaurants shut between November and March.

February

March

April

Spring and early summer.

Out of school holidays, you can appreciate the quiet roads and lower ferry/accommodation prices while not feeling like the whole Island is shut up for winter.

Attractions and restaurants will certainly be open by Easter, and the weather should be picking up. Rain stays relatively low between May and August, and temperatures start to creep up as Spring progresses into Summer.

The festival season starts in May - don’t miss the Isle of Wight Randonnee - and two major events, the Isle of Wight Festival and Round the Island Race, takes place in early to mid-June.

May

June

July

Peak season.

The weather should be warm and rainfall low. But as soon as schools break up in late July, ferry and accommodation prices shoot up, and roads and cycleways get busier. Popular attractions start to burst at the seams.

There are also loads of carnivals and events in August: from the National Trust sandcastle building competitions to town carnivals, the Garlic Festival and of course Cowes Week in early August.

August

September

Autumn.

Similar to Spring and early summer - but with statistically more chance of rain in October.

October

November

Winter.

You’ll be cycling in full winter kit, but the roads will be quiet so you can appreciate the splendid scenery without being disturbed by tourist traffic.

Ferry crossings and accommodation will also be significantly cheaper than in high season.

If you’re planning to spend much time off the bike, note that many attractions and restaurants shut between November and March.

December

Tips and articles

This section includes details of products we have either used and liked or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a purchase, we will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.

For practical advice on visiting the Isle of Wight, try:

For history and quirky facts about the Island, The Little Book of the Isle of Wight by Jan Toms is a good bet.

If you are looking for a novel set on the Isle of Wight, these are a good starting point:

Want to watch a film?

The 1997 film Mrs Brown starring Judi Dench and Billy Connolly was partially filmed at Osborne House.

Victoria And Abdul, also starring Judy Dench, was filmed on the island.

Isle of Wight cycle map

Bicycle Island map, featuring:

  • • Over 500 miles of cycle paths, byways & bridleways
  • • Routes - uncover the Island roads of the Isle of Wight with the Taste Round the Island Route, Red Squirrel Trail and Chalk Ridge Extreme
  • • Services such as bike hire, repair, bike buses and electric charge points

Try Outdoor Leisure 29 for a highly detailed 1:25,000 scale, or OS Landranger Map sheet 196 The Solent and Isle of Wight at 1:50,000.  These are particularly worth buying if you want to find alternative routes/take diversions from the round island route

Good to know

Practical advice

  •  Just in case you were wondering... You don’t need a passport to get to the Island; it is a county in the same way that Surrey is a county!
  • It’s Isle of Wight, not Isle of White!
  • • Join Facebook group Isle of Wight Cycling for up-to-date information about events as well as people posting to see if anyone wants to do a ride.
  • If you want to know which island roads on the Isle of Wight are currently being resurfaced or are restricted/shut, check out this useful website: http://www.islandroads.com

Fun facts

  • • The Isle of Wight is the twelfth biggest British island by size and fourth by population.
  • • The National Trust owns more than a tenth of the island.
  • • Almost half the island has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • • There are no motorways.
  • • An estimated 25,000 people visit the island's annual garlic festival.
  • • Around 3,000 Cyclists take part in the Round the Island Randonee each year.
  • • The Isle of Wight is the dinosaur capital of the UK. Over 25 different species have been discovered including the UK’s largest dinosaur the Sauropod.  The remains of a little dinosaur, Yaverlandia, found on the Island, is the only specimen in the world and is displayed at the Geology Museum at Sandown.  In 2009, 5-year old Daisy Morris discovered the fossils of a previously undiscovered species on Atherfield Beach, which has since been named after her.

Famous people

  • • Charles I was held at Carisbrooke Castle from 1647-1648 before his execution in London.
  • • Bob Dylan played at the Isle of Wight music festival in 1969 (to a crowd of 150,000). The next year, the festival attracted 600,000 people and included Jimi Hendrix in the line up.
  • • Island-born celebrities include Oscar-winning film director, Anthony Minghella, Mark King, lead singer/bassist in pop/funk band Level 42, Jeremy Irons, an actor born in Cowes, Bear Grylls, the adventurer, writer and television presenter, yacht designer, Uffa Fox, and actress Sheila Hancock.

The eight wonders of the Isle of Wight (there are various versions of this!)

  1. Cowes you cannot milk

  2. Freshwater you cannot drink

  3. Lake you can walk through and stay dry

  4. Needles you cannot thread

  5. Newport you cannot bottle

  6. Newtown which is old

  7. Ryde where you walk

  8. Winkle Street where there are no winkles

Enjoyed our guide?

We'd love to hear from you - comment below or drop us a line.

Want more? Don’t miss our guides to the best Isle of Wight cycling routes and other articles on the Isle of Wight, below.

Want to check out some other destinations? Search by the month you want to travel or cycling destination you want to visit, here.

Banner photo credit: Jerry Syder/Shutterstock.com

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