Our Guide To The Best Historical Isle Of Wight Tourist Attractions
The Isle of Wight has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times and of course, the Island is known for its picturesque beaches and seafront promenades, but there is more to it than people realise. Whilst it measures just 23 miles by 13 miles and it is the second smallest county in the country, the Isle of Wight is steeped in history, from the Royals to the Romans and fossils to architectural wonders.
There are actually a number of historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions to visit and you can travel back in time to soak up the past and get a real insight into the Island’s role throughout history. So, if you’re looking to learn more about the Island’s culture and heritage but you’re not sure where to even start, keep reading today. Below is our guide to the must-visit historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions.
Castles and fortifications
When coming to the Island, the majority of people will take the time to visit the castles and famous fortifications. These are probably some of the most popular historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions and if you should be sure to visit;
- Carisbrooke Castle – a historic motte-and-bailey castle located in the village of Carisbrooke
- Yarmouth Castle – an artillery fort built in 1547 to protect Yarmouth Harbour from the threat of French attack
- Bembridge Fort – an unrestored Victorian fort set on the chalk cliffs that was called into action in both World Wars
- The Needles Battery – two military batteries built above the Needles to guard the West end of the Solent
- Fort Victoria – a former military fort also built to guard the Solent
Some of these historic attractions will be free to visit and others will have an entrance fee. Many of these attractions are however owned by the National Trust, so if you’re planning to visit a lot of them, it may be worthwhile looking into getting a National Trust membership.
Royal residences, churches and gardens
It is fair to say that the Island might not be as popular as it is now if Queen Victoria didn’t make her family home here, so you undeniably have to visit some of the royal residences when you’re on the Island. It is also worth seeing the traditional churches and beautiful gardens too, so make sure the following are on your ‘to see’ list;
- Osborne house – a former royal residence in East Cowes that was built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home
- Farringford House – a Grade 1 listed house in Freshwater that was home to the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Quarr Abbey – a working monastery that is home to a small group of Benedictine monks
- Ventnor Botanic Garden – a botanic garden located in Ventnor
- Shanklin Chine – a breathtaking geological feature
Both the stunning architecture and the beautiful outdoor spaces alike make visiting the Isle of Wight so memorable and whether you come during the summer of winter months, it really is worthwhile getting out and about to see as much as you can.
Museums and railways
Many famous people, from poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and photographer Julia Margaret Cameron to socialist philosopher Karl Marx and writer Charles Dicken, spent time on the Island and they are to thank for some of the amazing museums you can visit now. There are also a few other brilliant historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions you really should see too, including;
- Dimbola museum – the home of Julia Margaret Cameron and now a museum featuring a gallery of her work
- Newport Roman Villa – the site of a Roman farmhouse and a now a museum
- Brading Roman Villa – a museum featuring some of the best-preserved Roman mosaics in Northern Europe
- Dinosaur Isle – a dinosaur museum located in Sandown
- Isle of Wight Steam Railway – a traditional railway with restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages
It is also worth noting that if you are interested in fossils and fossil hunting, then it is worth visiting some of the beaches too as the Island is widely regarded as the best place in Europe to find dinosaur fossils.
Visiting the best historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions
Hopefully, you will now know more about the many different historical Isle of Wight tourist attractions and if you’re wanting to swap a day at the beach for something a little bit more educational, you’ll know exactly where to start. It goes without saying that even if you don’t necessarily enjoy learning about history, it is still worth visiting some of these tourist attractions, they really can be breathtakingly beautiful.
If you’re currently planning a trip to the Isle of Wight and you’d like to find out more about the Island in general, please feel free to explore the rest of our site. You can rely on us to provide you with a range of information about the Island and help you to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything that it has to offer.