I’ve seen lots of people asking for tips when planning their adventures cycling on Isle of Wight (IoW), a small island off the south coast of England, and it kinda piqued my interest. However, I’m not the biggest fan of hills and it became clear that IoW has amazing views but it’s also very hilly and can be extremely windy in parts.
MUST READ: How To Tackle Hills In Cycling
With the Isle of Wight cycling loop being around 65miles / 105km, it’s doable in a day, so perfect for a day trip. However, I envisage leaving plenty of time to enjoy the views, stop for cake, coffee and food as well as enjoying the evenings without having to rush for a ferry back home.
So while I set about dreaming and planning my own Isle of Wight cycling adventure, I’ve documented everything I’ve learnt here in this post so you can plan an adventure to suit you too.
Although I’m predominately a road cyclist, IoW also comes highly recommend for off road riding. So I featured a few nuggets of information related to off road riding a little later in the post.
“There are so many great places to visit, so many more trails to explore, the road surfaces are amazing and the drivers are extremely courteous. And the sun shone all weekend!”
Here’s some of what I’ve covered:
- How To Get To Isle of Wight
- Parking Your Car
- Where To Stay
- Isle of Wight Bike Hire
- Isle of Wight Cycling Routes
- Isle of Wight Cycling FAQ:
- IoW Randonnee
- Strava Cycling Route Ideas
- Trails & Off-Road Routes
- Where To Stop For Coffee, Snacks & Food
- Final Tips For Your Ride
Before I dive into the detail, a huge shout out needs to go to Becca who provided all the images shared in the post. Check out her Instagram to follow her cycling journey and adventures.
MUST READ: Cycling London to Paris for Beginners
How To Get To Isle of Wight
First things first, you need to get to the Isle of Wight and to do that you have a few options. If you’re going over on a day trip then you can travel just you and your bike as a foot passenger otherwise you can book and travel across with your car.
Whichever option you choose, there are regular services from the south coast of England to ports on the north side of the Isle of Wight.
- Southampton to East Cowes; up to 1 hour
- Southampton to Cowes; under 25 minutes
- Portsmouth to Ryde; approximately 22 minutes
- Southsea (Portsmouth) to Ryde; 10 minutes
- Portsmouth to Fishbourne; approximately 45 minutes
- Lymington to Yarmouth; 30 minutes
If you’re coming from further afield, the majority of the trains from London (and surrounding) to Southampton and Portsmouth accommodate bikes. Pre-book all your train tickets (and bike spots) and ferry tickets to ensure you get on.
A good tip – something I learnt when riding London to Paris – is to carry cleat covers to make the stairs on the ferry a little less lethal.
Parking Your Car
If you’ve chosen to drive, you can park your car before you get on the ferry or use the car ferry to travel over to IoW.
A few people recommended JustPark and Your Parking Space to find local secure car parks to leave their cars, before a short cycle to the ferry terminal.
Be aware that if you’re travelling rom Southampton and are trying to park on a day Southampton FC are playing at home, anywhere near the stadium on match day is a no go. There are a few extra options including the Triangle car park next to the ferry terminal or multi-storeys at Ocean Village and Eastgate St.
Where To Stay
Personally, I’m keen to find a base on Isle of Wight where I can relax each evening and cycle from each day (if I choose) so I’ve collated a few recommend options for places to stay on Isle of Wight.
- this house in Bembridge which sleeps 12
- a campsite with unique options situated in the centre of the Isle of Wight
- a bike friendly tiny eco home in the woodlands
- BoSun’s Lodge B&B
- Goshen’s Farm B&B, Newport
It’s been suggested that the best location to stay would be somewhere south of Cowes / Newport where you can access both sides of the island fairly easily.
There’s always good ‘ol booking.com for accommodation too. It’s a useful site to check prices, pictures and reviews but consider booking direct too.
Isle of Wight Bike Hire
If you choose not to take bike or you’re actually on a regular vacation and fancy a ride if you can squeeze one in, one option is to hire a bike.
It seems there aren’t a huge amount of options on the island itself but check out Adrian’s bike shop in Freshwater, Tavs Cycles in Ryde, or Sandown Bike Hire. You may also be able to hire from either Portsmouth or Southampton depending on your route too.
Isle of Wight Cycling Routes
Okay, so now we’re getting down to the actual cycling on Isle of Wight part – the juicy bit! The two main options are the full ‘Round the Island’ route, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. There is also a little chain link very in Cowes that you’ll need to get on – or go via a footbridge.
The Round the Island route is well signposted – just follow the blue and white signposts. If you ride clockwise, you get the best views with the biggest group of hills being at the start of the ride.
The clockwise signposts are a white bike on blue diamond on white sign, whilst the anti-clockwise route is the opposite – blue bike on a white diamond and blue sign.
I’ve heard that the worst of the climbs is up Blackgang Road but it’s a long drag rather than being particularly steep.
With the route being so well signposted, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting lost but you can download some of the Strava routes from this post to have on your GPS device just incase.
Apparently, you should pick your riding direction depending on wind direction along south coast, as the rest of the route is better protected. The ideal is having a tailwind along the south coast i.e in a westerly wind go anti-clockwise and in an easterly wind rid clockwise.
Isle of Wight Cycling FAQ:
The full Round The Island route is approximately 65miles or 105km with approx 4500ft or 1400m of climbing.
This depends on how fast you cycle and how many stops you make. Account for your average speed dropping ~2mph, so if you’re typically a 13mph average, calculate using 11mph as the average. So 6 to 6 and a half hours including short stops. If you have a ferry to catch, it’s better to air on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of time incase of delays.
This will depend on whether you need a foot passenger ticket or a car / vehicle ticket. As a foot passenger you can expect to pay between £15 and £25 for an adult return ticket. For a car (carrying multiple passengers) you could pay as little as £50 in low season (winter) or anything up to a few hundred pounds in Summer months.
With more than 100 sailings a day, and 3 ferry operators, getting to and from the Island is quick and easy.
If you’re looking for an organised events then check out the IoW Randonnee. It’s a locally organised event suitable for all levels of cyclists. Usually you have a choice of several different routes, ranging in distance from around 50 to 100km with a set time limit to complete your ride.
The Isle of Wight Randonnee is an annual event that takes place on the Sunday before May Day Public Holiday so the next one takes place on Sunday 30th April 2023. It’s free to enter but you’re encouraged to make a donation if you can to support the event to remain free. The Randonnee follows the Round The Island cycle routes in a clockwise direction.
Strava Cycling Route Ideas:
- 55km Randonne – Clockwise
- IoW Randonne Clockwise from Yarmouth
- Easy Yarmouth to White Mouse Inn (24km)
When choosing or planning your route, don’t forget to take into consideration the elevation and pace. I know that when I go, I’ll be riding party pace with lots of stops for pictures, coffee and snacks.
Where To Stop For Coffee, Snacks & Food
I know that when I make it to the Isle of Wight the first thing I will be doing is checking in with the Breeze Network Isle of Wight as I heard that they’re fans of cycling, chatting & drinking coffee. Perfect. They’re gonna know all the best spots, right?!
Plan to stop to refuel around 6 or 7 times over the 100km, so around every 10miles.
- the Llama farm
- Brighstone Newsagents Cafe
- Chessell Pottery cafe at about 65km clockwise
- Pedlars along the cycle track near Newchurch is a main stop
- Newclose Cricket Ground welcomes cyclists just off of the cycle path heading in to Newport
- lunch in Ventnor
- Bembridge Village Bakery
It’s best to plan your stops as there isn’t much in the way of coffee stops outside of the main towns, so take this into consideration when planning your route.
Trails & Off-Road Routes
If you’d rather ride some gravel or are riding with family, it’s worth considering the traffic free off road routes on Isle of Wight.
The Red Squirrel Trail seems to be a popular trail route perfect for a gravel bike, mountain bike or hybrid. The route is around 20miles and mostly flat, running down the centre of the Island from Cowes to Sandown.
There’s supposed to be a garlic farm on route prefect for a lunch stop.
There’s also the Tennyson Trail over the top along the coast, and the more challenging Chalk Ridge Extreme route crossing the Island with all its ups and downs and beatiful views.
Final Tips For Your Ride
Before I leave you to decide on the final touches of your Isle of Wight cycling trip, here are a few things to think about.
Firstly, the weather can be very mixed on the island so make sure you pack your sunscreen and a wind or rain jacket too.
Don’t forget to take some cash with you to buy cakes if somewhere doesn’t take cards and… make sure you dont leave the island without stuffing yourself with ice cream, fish and chips!
So when are you going?! Any other tips to add?!