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Move Over London! This Destination Was Just Named The Best In The UK

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If you’ve always dreamt of visiting the UK then that picture probably involves Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and London’s other main attractions.  

But it’s time for London to step aside.  

There’s a new UK hot spot in town to add to your bucket list!  

Aerial view of Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has been named the ‘Best UK Destination of the Year’ in the Group Leisure and Travel Awards.  

The island beat London, Leicestershire, my hometown of Norwich, Wiltshire, and York to lift the trophy.  

Here’s why this idyllic island is well worth visiting:  

Getting To The Isle Of Wight  

As the same suggests, the Isle of Wight is an island. It lies in the English Channel off the southern coast of England.

The island is separated from the mainland by a strait called The Solent.

But don’t let the fact that it’s an island fool you into thinking the Isle of Wight is hard to get to.  

Ventnor harbour Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is only around 2 hours door-to-door from London via a combination of car or train and then ferry or hovercraft.  

Traveling via ferry is the cheapest way to get to the island, but the hovercraft is so much more fun!  

I have fond childhood memories of my Grandma taking me to the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth for day trips via hovercraft.  In fact, I remember the excitement of the journey more than I remember what we did when we got there!  

An adult day return hovercraft journey costs £31.50 ($40.35) or if you’re staying for longer then a period return is £40.40 ($51.70)  

The Portsmouth to Isle of Wight hovercraft crosses the Solent between Ryde on the Isle of Wight and Southsea.

Hovertravel is the world's only year-round scheduled passenger hovercraft service, so it is well worth paying an extra couple of bucks for the experience!  

So what do you do when you get on the island? Despite only being 23 miles long at its widest point, the Isle of Wight is packed full of activities!  

Breathtaking Beaches  

As you would expect from an island, the Isle of Wight is packed full of beautiful sandy beaches, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Alum Bay is one of the most picturesque beaches on the Isle of Wight, while Steephill Cove is a tucked-away patch of paradise.

Although this beach is only accessible on foot, it’s worth the walk!  

Dramatic chalk cliffs at Freshwater Bay on the Isle Of Wight England UK Europe

For something a little different, head to Compton Bay and Yaverland Beach. These beaches are famous for the dinosaur remains and fossils that can be found here, and fossil hunting in the sand is a great (and free!) activity if you’re traveling with kids.  

One of my favorite things to do on the beaches of the Isle of Wight is to sit on a traditional striped deck chair and relax.  

You’ll find fishermen still active here and lobster pots and fishing tackle dotted along the shore, which adds to the authentic feel of the area (and makes you hungry for a seafood supper!)  

Beach Huts and deckchairs at empty Shanklin Seafront, Isle of Wight. UK

The Iconic Needles Landmark Attraction  

One of the most famous and iconic attractions on the Isle of Wight is The Needles.

The Needles are a row of 3 chalk stacks that tower out of the sea, reaching heights of around 30 meters.

The Needles and The Needles Lighthouse, on the Isle of Wight

They have been turned into a tourist attraction and focal point on the island, and taking a boat ride around The Needles is officially the most popular thing to do on the Isle of Wight.  

If you prefer to stay on dry land, then you can take a chairlift ride from the top of the colored sands cliffs above the Needles down to the beach. A return ride will cost £8 ($10) or you can buy a ‘ride all day’ ticket for £12 ($15).  

Down by the beach you’ll find children’s rides including a traditional Victorian Carousel, a 4D cinema, and you can watch local sweet makers at work in the Isle of Wight Sweet manufactory. 

It’s all the fun you’d expect from a traditional British seaside experience and a great way to spend a day.

Fabulous Isle Of Wight Festivals 

One of the things the Isle of Wight is most famous for is its epic festivals and if you can, you should time your trip to coincide with one of these.  

The most famous is the Isle of Wight festival, a music festival which is held on the island in June each year.

Headliners for 2024 were The Prodigy, Pet Shop Boys and Green Day, their only UK festival for the year.  

Pink gate ' All the Young Dudes', Isle of Wight Festival

From July 11-13 the Big Beach Weekender is a festival of music, dancing and comedy with the byline of ‘exceptional talent in an exceptional setting’.  

But what really makes the Isle of Wight unique is its abundance of lesser-known, and dare I say random, festivals and events. Garlic Festival anyone? Held on the third weekend in August every year you’ll find live music, celebrity chefs, and plenty of garlic!  

There’s also an annual International Scooter Festival, The Great Wight Bite food festival, and regular bonfires and fireworks throughout the year too.  

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