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    Looking for the best towns and resorts on the Isle of Wight? A good place to start is to grab a map and take a look around its coast. The popular island off the south of England is famous for its beautiful beaches, rugged coastline and quaint seaside towns – all of which have their own unique character and charm.

    Whether you're travelling with your partner, family, in a group or on your own, you have an excellent choice of where to base yourself. From historic towns and picturesque villages to traditional seaside resorts centred around lively attractions and bustling piers, we’ve ‘gone to town’ on this one and have pulled together our guide to the best places to stay on the Isle of Wight.

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    Shanklin

    Traditional village meets bustling beachfront

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    Shanklin is a quaint and picturesque coastal village on the island’s southeast coast which has always been one of the Isle of Wight’s most popular holiday hotspots. Despite its popularity, it’s still maintained a traditional charm with its picturesque Old Village lined with thatched-roofed tea rooms, pubs and restaurants.

    The town is famous for the enchanting Shanklin Chine – a stunning geological paradise hidden within a coastal ravine – and its beautiful long stretch of golden beach. Stay in one of the many sea-view hotels and be sure to visit the superb Shanklin Theatre for a great night of entertainment while you’re there.

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    Ventnor

    A historical gem with its very own microclimate

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    The traditional seaside town of Ventnor has a rich Victorian history, a bustling beachfront promenade, and its very own microclimate. Located on the island’s southern coast, the town’s streets are lined with vintage boutiques, independent galleries, and inviting restaurants and pubs.

    Soak up the rays on the suntrap beach, indulge in a luxurious afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel, tuck into fresh crab pasties at the nearby Steephill Cove (the Isle of Wight's best-kept secret) and walk among subtropical plant species at the famous Ventnor Botanic Garden.

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    Yarmouth

    Easily explore the sights of West Wight

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    As the name suggests, Yarmouth is a picturesque port town situated at the mouth of the River Yar. Home to some of the Isle of Wight’s most ancient architecture, fascinating heritage and plenty of attractions nearby for families to enjoy, its convenient location on the northwest coast makes it one of the gateways to the island, just a short ferry crossing from Lymington.

    Staying in Yarmouth puts you in prime position to meet the animals and experience the fun and games at Tapnell Farm Park, take in the fabulous sea views from the historic Yarmouth Castle and even take a boat ride to the Needles for a close-up of the dramatic rock formation.

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    Sandown

    A seaside town that’s a firm family favourite

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    Sandown has everything you could possibly want from a traditional seaside getaway and is always a popular choice when it comes to beach holidays on the Isle of Wight. Sheltered in a broad bay of the same name, Sandown is the bigger and busier neighbour of Shanklin, famous for its beautiful golden beach that stretches between the 2 resorts.

    It's worth looking at hotels in Sandown if you're travelling with kids because as well as the great beach, you'll find top attractions such as the Isle of Wight Zoo, the Amazon World Zoo Park, the awesome Dinosaur Isle museum and all the amusements of the pier, too.

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    Ryde

    Immerse yourself in the island’s biggest town

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    Ryde, the largest town on the Isle of Wight, is less about olde-worlde charm and more about having an abundance of amenities and attractions right on your doorstep. Located on the north coast of the island, one of the most popular things to do is take to the waters and experience a super-fast Hovertravel crossing between Ryde and Portsmouth – a must if you choose to book one of the many hotels that you’ll find here.

    When you’re not whizzing across the water, you can visit the Haven Falconry Bird of Prey Centre, explore the magnificent Quarr Abbey or simply browse the shops and wander along the esplanade, soaking up the atmosphere of Ryde’s vibrant beachfront.

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    Cowes and East Cowes

    Stay in a town adored by royalty

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    The seaport towns of Cowes and East Cowes are located on the Isle of Wight’s northern tip, the gateway to the island from Southampton. With an attractive seafront and a blanket of yachts for as far as the eye can see, it’s a relaxing place to stay – and convenient, too, given its close proximity to the mainland.

    The 2 towns are home to their fair share of hotels, inns, and B&Bs, so you can get off the ferry and settle straight in for a relaxing break. Nearby attractions include the Wight Military and Heritage Museum, the Sir Max Aitken Museum and the superb Osborne House – the former residence of Queen Victoria and arguably one of the island's top things to do.

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    Freshwater

    Surround yourself with natural beauty

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    Freshwater is a photographer's dream, with several points of interest nearby all boasting staggering natural beauty. Located to the west of the island, this large and popular village is best known for the spectacular Freshwater Bay, with its sweeping shoreline and dramatic chalk clifftops that lies just south of the village.

    Besides Freshwater Bay, you've got Tennyson Down rising over the village, with its unrivalled coastal views, and the famous Needles landmark is just a short drive away. There's a selection of hotels throughout Freshwater and the surrounding parish, but why not check out one of the ones overlooking the bay itself?

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    Newport

    Experience the charm of the island’s capital

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    The idyllic town of Newport can be found just north of the Isle of Wight’s centre, where the River Medina’s tidal estuary flows north towards Cowes. Often referred to as the capital of the island, the town is a hub of activity and plays host to the annual Isle of Wight Festival.

    Take a stroll through the town, admiring the picturesque quay and the charming Victorian and Georgian architecture. Visit Monkey Haven and be sure to discover Carisbrooke Castle while you’re there too. You won’t struggle to find a range of accommodation to suit all budgets in Newport – just make sure you book well in advance if you’re planning on visiting when the festival is taking place.

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    Bembridge

    Get a taste of traditional village life

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    Bembridge is a peaceful village on the easternmost tip of the Isle of Wight where people come to relax, unwind, and get the feel of the fresh sea air on their skin. It has the right mix of having plenty to do along its beautiful stretch of coastline, but not being too overrun with visitors, helping it maintain its original charm.

    Spend time on the villages 3 beaches, take a walk to the Bembridge Windmill, explore Culver Down and discover the fascinating work of the team at the Bembridge Lifeboat Station. The village has a handful of hotels, plus many independent shops and high-end seafood restaurants.

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    Brighstone

    An ideal base for outdoor enthusiasts

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    The village of Brighstone on the Isle of Wight’s eastern coast boasts undeniable beauty, with its thatched-roofed cottages and traditional stone architecture. If you have a passion for the great outdoors, then you'll feel right at home here, as many cyclists and walkers choose the village as their base to explore the island further.

    Visit the impressive Dinosaur Expedition Centre, head along the coast to the breathtaking Compton Bay and take home your own unique piece of jewellery from Isle of Wight Pearl, perched on the clifftop just outside the village and boasting incredible views across the English Channel. There aren't many big hotels nearby, but you'll find some B&Bs and self-catering options.

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    Sadie Geoghegan-Dann | Meie autor

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