The Isle of Wight is a British island in the English Channel, located about four miles (6km) from the south coast of Hampshire county. The southern situation ensures that the Isle of Wight has a milder climate than other areas in England, making it a popular holiday destination for sun-seekers. Boasting relatively mild winters and a surprisingly low annual rainfall average the climate borders on sub-tropical with occasional Mediterranean hints, evident in the vegetation. The weather aside, the island's natural beauty and Victorian architecture is popular with holidaymakers, and it has been the home of eminent Britons including Queen Victoria, acclaimed 19th-century poet Lord Alfred Tennyson, and more recently Dame Ellen MacArthur, the record-breaking sailor.
Isle of Wight © Pedliano
The origin of the world's first hovercraft, and a key player in the testing and development of Britain's space rockets, the Isle of Wight also has a number of resorts and towns that host thousands of visitors each year. The most developed towns are Newport and Ryde, both with a wide range of facilities for tourists to enjoy, and popular seaside resorts include the towns of Sandown, Cowes, Yarmouth and Ventnor. These south coast resorts often top the sunlight chart for the UK, and unsurprisingly the most popular time to visit is summer, between June and August.
The island has an array of tourist attractions, with everything from regal homes to dinosaur fossils to see, and is a popular destination for upmarket seaside holidays from mainland England. The international sailing centre in Cowes is a popular tourist hub, as are the Newport Quay galleries and museums, and Sandown's Dinosaur Isle Geological Museum. The Ryde waterfront boasts an 800m-long pier, the waterfalls of Shanklin Chine are an awe-inspiring sight, and Osborne House - Queen Victoria's summer residence in Cowes - is another excellent sightseeing attraction. The Isle of Wight Needles, protruding chalk formations off the western coast, are another famous feature of the island.