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Isle of Wight
Separated from the rest of the British Isles by the Strait of Solent, the Isle of Wight is a lovely island in the English Channel. Because of its mild climate, it is a popular resort and beach destination for many people taking trips from the mainland. Its attractions are essentially the many outdoor activities that can be done in this small island. Going around in your own pace via car hire is definitely recommended.
Who to Book With
The capital of Newport, located in the centre of the island, is home to many of the car rental offices. A few are scattered around major stops such as Cowes, Sandown, Ryde and Shanklin. The car hire firms found here are mostly local brands, including Value Rent a Car, Top Gear Vehicle Rentals, South Wight Rentals and others. Booking ahead via online sites when possible is a good idea.
Best Time to Go
Although the Isle of Wight’s climate is milder than that of the rest of Britain, it is best to come here in the very pleasant summer months if you want to really enjoy the outdoors and the main attractions of the island. Summer temperatures average around 23°C.
Need to Know Essentials
Upon collection of the rented vehicle, renters must provide:
- Identity proof (Photo ID)
- Driving licence (UK or International)
- Credit card
- Rental confirmation
The main towns and villages along the coast are connected by a fairly sufficient network of roads, while the more rural spots are connected to the main network by small roads. Several car parks are set up around the island, both for long-stay and short-stay parking. Fees range from around £1 to £2 for an hour of parking.
Ferries are the main mode of transport for entry into the island. Passenger and car ferries sail from Lymington, Southampton and Porthsmouth. Train services are limited and cover only the eastern towns and villages, while buses are the main form of transport with a fairly comprehensive network. A number of private taxi companies operate on the island with fixed fares for set destinations.
There is a service from Ryde to Shanklin, running twice every hour. The service is operated by Stagecoach Island Line, with a one-way ticket from Ryde to Shanklin costing around £4, or less for destinations between the two terminals. A summer service is run by Isle of Wight Steam Railway from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton. The basic fare is £8.
Several cab companies, such as A.S.A.P. Taxis and Cowes Taxi and Mini Coach Service have offices on the Isle of Wight, providing transport in standard cars, 16-seater shuttles and even coaches. A ride from Cowes to Newport begins at around £10, with surcharges for waiting and night services.
Buses are the main form of transport on the Isle of Wight. The network comprehensively covers the main towns and villages, with many buses running regular services, except in the southwest area. Southern Vectis is the main operator here, providing basic fares for around £4 and one-day passes for £10.
Holidaymakers on the Isle of Wight will discover that the island’s attractions are mainly based around its scenic outdoor areas. Natural attractions abound, but the same goes for historic sites and manmade tourist spots. Those looking for a bit of seclusion will certainly find it here at areas such as Steephill Cove. Driving around the island is easy, as the roads are very quiet.
The Needles (pictured above) - This is a row of chalk stone stacks jutting out from the sea in the far west of the island near Alum Bay. They are arguably the top tourist attraction of the Isle of Wight. It is also worth spending a few hours in the beautiful seaside area of Alum Bay. The sand here takes on different colours depending on the weather.
Steephill Cove - This is a bay near Ventnor offering breathtaking views of the sea. The southernmost part of the cove provides seclusion, with some areas only accessible on foot. A fantastic seafood restaurant is located in the cove, making this the perfect spot for couples.
Osborne House - This is Queen Victoria’s retreat on the island. It is worth the trip to see this historic mansion and its nicely kept grounds, which are open for visits year-round.