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Getting to and around the Isle of Wight

Car ferries to the Isle of Wight

Red Funnel ferries to and from the Isle of Wight

Red Funnel ferries to the Isle of Wight

There’s a few different choices for getting to the Isle Of Wight. There are 3 car ferries:

– from Lymington in the New Forest to Yarmouth, IOW

– from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, IOW

– from Southampton to East Cowes, IOW

You can go as a passenger on these ferries, but there are also passenger ferries and a hovercraft which are all quicker than the car ferries.

Passenger ferries to the Isle of Wight

Hovercraft arriving at Southsea, Portsmouth from the Isle of Wight

Hovercraft arriving at Southsea, Portsmouth

The options for passengers only are:

Fast Cat from Portsmouth to Ryde Pier Head, IOW

Red Jet from Southampton to Cowes, IOW

Hovercraft from Southsea to Ryde Esplanade, IOW

Once on the Island you can get buses from Ryde or Cowes or a train from Ryde which takes you to Sandown and Shanklin.

Local transport connections

local transport Vectis Bus, Isle of Wight

Vectis Bus, Isle of Wight

Southern Vectis buses cover the whole of the Island. From Ryde Pier Head walk down the pier to the bus station, then catch a bus to Sandown, Shanklin, Newport, East Cowes or Bembridge. From Cowes, catch a bus to Newport and from there, to anywhere else on the IOW.

Island line trains run down the East coast of the Island. From Ryde Pier Head catch the train to Brading, Sandown, Lake or Shanklin. The trains are part of the UK rail network, so if you’re travelling by train from the mainland, tickets which include the passenger ferry from Portsmouth, can be bought from your local station to one of the stations on the IOW.

And of course there are always taxis to take you straight to your IW accommodation. These are particularly a good option if you’re arriving late, as the trains stop running after about 10pm and the choice of buses is limited.

Frequently asked questions

I’m coming by car from London to the IW, what’s the best ferry to catch?

Probably best to get the Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, the ferry takes about 40 minutes, then it’s around 25 minutes’ drive to the Sandown/Shanklin area.

The Red Funnel car ferry from Southampton to East Cowes is also possible, the ferry takes about 55 minutes, then it’s around 35 minutes’ drive to the Sandown/Shanklin area.

I’m coming on foot from London to the IW, what’ the best route to take?

If you’re visiting the East coast of the Island, the easiest way is probably by train, you can buy a train ticket from your local station to Ryde (via Portsmouth) which includes the Wightlink FastCat. Some resorts on the East coast have a train station (Sandown or Shanklin), so you can buy a ticket which takes you all the way there, the Islandline train connects up with the FastCat at Ryde Pier Head. If you’re visiting somewhere not on the train line (Ventnor, Newport or Seaview) walk down the pier from Ryde Pier Head to catch a bus, the bus station is at Ryde Esplanade.

If you’re visiting Cowes, or somewhere in West Wight, Red Funnel’s RedJet goes from Southampton to Cowes. The number 1 bus runs frequently to Newport. From Newport catch a bus to anywhere on the IW: Yarmouth, Freshwater, Brighstone, Ventnor, Sandown or Shanklin.

I’m coming by car from SouthWest England/Wales, what’s the best ferry to catch?

Probably best to get the Wightlink car ferry from Lymington in the New Forest to Yarmouth in the IW. The ferry takes about 35 minutes. Yarmouth is in West Wight, but it only takes around 50 minutes to drive to the Sandown/Shanklin area via Newport.

I’m coming by car from the Midlands/Northwest England/Scotland, what’s the best ferry?

Probably best to get the Red Funnel car ferry from Southampton to East Cowes, the ferry takes about 55 minutes, then it’s around 35 minutes’ drive to the Sandown/Shanklin area.

The Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne is also possible, the ferry takes about 40 minutes, then it’s around 25 minutes’ drive to the Sandown/Shanklin area.

I’m flying to Southampton airport, what’s the best way of getting to the IW?

Bus or taxi from Southampton airport to the Red Funnel terminal in Southampton, then the RedJet goes from Southampton to Cowes. The number 1 bus runs frequently from Cowes to Newport. From Newport catch a bus to anywhere on the IW: Yarmouth, Freshwater, Brighstone, Ventnor, Sandown or Shanklin.