The incomparable Isle of Wight

The incomparable Isle of Wight

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

For a tiny piece of land parked off the southern coast of England, the Isle of Wight is jam-packed with Victorian charm and history, ancient artifacts and abandoned and haunted buildings, and it is home to an epic music festival every year. It’s no wonder this spectacular little island captures the imagination and attention of visitors from around the globe. As the U.K. slowly emerges out of lockdown, it’s one of the amazing places within the country to check out.

Isle of Wight is accessible via a ferry ride from the southern city of Portsmouth, clocking in at just over an hour. Once on the island, there are plenty of things to see and do. Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, there is no shortage of scenic beauty spots. Hiking trails encircle and traverse across the land in varying degrees of difficulty. Walking along the pebbly shores, the turquoise waters are reminiscent of the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. Beachcombers and novice archeologists can often spot small dinosaur fossil fragments dating back millions of years.

History buffs should definitely check out Osbourne House near East Cowes. Queen Victoria loved the island so much that she had a holiday residence built there. She often visited during the cold, winter months and is also where she died in 1901. Poets and authors such as Lord Alfred Tennyson and Charles Dickens are known to have taken inspiration from the area and written some of their famous literary works while in residence. Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, constructed the world’s first radio station on the western edge of the island. While the station is no longer, visitors can check out the Marconi Monument in Needles Park.

During the summer, Isle of Wight is home to several large events and festivals. From July 31 through Aug. 7, one of the world’s largest sailing regattas is scheduled to be held. Cowes Week is an annual sailing competition in which sailboats stretch along the horizon as far as the eye can see. More than 8,000 sailors enter the weeklong competition. The infamous Isle of Wight Festival is also scheduled to take place this year from Sept. 16–19. Dating back to 1968, this epic music fest headlines major artists (this year’s headliners include Liam Gallagher, Snow Patrol, David Guetta, The Script and Duran Duran) as well as up-and-coming musicians. Tickets are currently available at isleofwightfestival.com. Dates and events are subject to change and cancellation depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.

From scenic coastal hikes to thrilling cliff adventures and a plethora of historical sites to see, there is something for everyone on the Isle of Wight.

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