Being beside the seaside is scientifically proven to be one of the ultimate mood-lifters, so taking a day trip away from it all to a beach-lined island which boasts a bustling autumn events calendar is perfect for keeping your happiness high as the days get shorter and winter draws in. The Isle of Wight is an ideal destination.
With just two changes between London and the island’s Ryde Esplanade, car ferries between Portsmouth and Lymington, and a streamlined public transport system covering the island, spending the day on the Isle of Wight couldn’t be easier.
1) Taking your time in Ryde
Ryde was my arrival point on the Isle of Wight, and it quickly became one of my favorite parts of the island, with a relaxing stroll to the shore along the pier from the Wightlink port, a vast expanse of serene sandy beach, and a lush little high street with great views of Portsmouth!
A highlight of Ryde is the Chocolate Apothecary, which drew me in with an interior of antique shelves stacked with all manner of eclectic tchotchkes, glass tables filled with coffee beans, and wide sunlight-luring windows. Their mint hot chocolate was to die for! And their selection of gluten-free cakes were a real treat. Perfect sanctuary come rain and shine.
Other eatery highlights included Three Buoys, a restaurant with great food and awesome panoramic views of the beach and mainland, and Olivo, specialising in Italian cuisine — you can’t go wrong with their prawn skewers and fungi risotto.
The design fanatic in me can’t brush over one of Ryde’s most unique attractions: the Donald McGill seaside postcard museum. McGill, an English graphic artist, made a name for himself with his saucy and obscene seaside artwork, which became a staple of every coastal gift shop’s postcard rack across the UK. This museum curates his work in one spot, and tells his story.
McGill created 12,000 postcard designs from 1904 through to his final days in 1962, and it’s estimated that over 200million copies have been printed! You can also pick up prints of his work in the museum’s gift shop. A highly recommended part of any Ryde itinerary.
2) Get lost in the historical Osborne House
Every history fanatic’s trip to the Isle of Wight should have Osborne House at its centre. Queen Victoria’s holiday home, where she’d retreat with Prince Albert and their nine children, is a stunning sight to behold. Victoria herself said that it’s “impossible to imagine a prettier spot.”
Visit Osborne from Tuesday 25th through Thursday 27th October to see the gardens in a seasonal light, with English Heritage’s ‘Autumn Adventures’ days.
3) Isle of Light
Robin Hill Country Park comes alive for the Diwali-inspired Festival of Light, every evening from 6:00pm to 10:00pm between 1st October and 5th November.
Before you make tracks home after your day on the Isle of Wight, wander through the park’s woodlands and experience exciting dynamic light effects inspired by the Hindu festival of Diwali, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness.
Take on the Color Run, a high-energy walk through the otherwise-dark woodland glades where bursts of colourful ‘Holi’ powder will be released at random, and visitors will emulate warding off evil spirits by throwing coloured powder into the air — and onto each other!
The Diwali theme will continue across all refreshments, with an enhanced authentic Indian menu of curries and kebabs, Asian sweets, and traditional teas.
There are also workshops for the youngsters, including lantern-making and Bollywood dance, offering insights into the wonders of Indian culture.
4) Explore Cowes and visit the Literary Festival
Cowes isn’t all about Cowes Week — no matter the time of the year, I’d say it’s always one of the most picturesque parts of the Isle of Wight.
There’s a charming web of winding shopping streets which are lined with quaint traditional British pubs for a round of pints, cafés brewing up fine teas and coffees, and restaurants serving the catch of the day, plus the most Instagrammable sunsets from the seafront!
Cowes is also home to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival, hosted at Northwood House, which runs from the 13th to the 16th October.
History lover Michael Portillo is billed to speak, on a guest programme which also includes novelist and gardening book mensch Alan Titchmarsh, children’s author and illustrator Chloë Inkpen, and former MarieClaire.co.uk editor Helen Russell, among countless others.
5) Take it all in at Alum Bay
Boat tours around the famed Needles rocks jutting out from Alum Bay continue to run into late October, and getting from the usual arrival points on the northern coastline of the Isle of Wight to Alum Bay on the western tip is easy and efficient thanks to the island’s tight-knit bus network — the open top breezer leg of the journey is an adventure in itself!
Alum Bay’s cliff faces are known for their multicolored sands. Be sure to get a glass ornament freshly-blown in the gift shop atop the cliffs, then fill it with layers of the colored sands to make for a truly unique souvenir.
Book boat tour tickets ahead of time through the Needles website, where you’ll also find details on getting to Alum Bay from your arrival point on the island.
Now’s the prime time to sort your trip across the Solent! Click through to the Wightlink website to book a ferry »