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What to do on the Isle of Wight - Heritage, Museums, Cinemas, Galleries and Theatres

Information on this page is now out of date - please see VisitIOW website for up-to-date information on the Isle of Wight

Heritage, museums, cinemas, galleries, theatres


Osbourne House, East Cowes

Carisbrooke Castle

Yarmouth Castle

Quarr Abbey, Ryde

The Needles Old Battery & New Battery

St Catherine's Lighthouse Visitor Centre, Niton

Classic Boat Museum, Cowes

Bembridge Windmill

Appuldurcombe House, nr Ventnor

Bembridge Fort


Godshill Model Village

Fort Victoria Model Railway, nr Yarmouth


Needles Landmark Attraction

Calbourne Water Mill


Sir Max Aitken Museum

Cowes Maritime Museum

Di,bola Museum, Freshwater

Newtown Old Town Hall

Museum of Island History, Newport

Island Planetarium, nr Yarmouth

Sunken Sectres Archaeology Discovery Centre, nr Yarmouth

Brading Roman Villa

Newport Roman Villa

Bembridge Lifeboat Station

IOW Bus & Coach Museum, Ryde

Calbourne Water Mill

Bembridge Heritage Centre

Ferguson Family Museum, Freshwater

Brighton Village Museum

Ventnor Heritage Centre


Cineworld, Newport

Leo Leisure Cinema, Ryde

Needles Landmark Attraction 4D experience

Arts & galleries

Quay Arts


Shanklin Theatre

Osborne House, East Cowes

Heritage building

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House, her palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight. Visit Victoria and Albert's private apartments, their bathing beach and children's play-cottage for an intimate glimpse of royal family life. Then stroll through the garden terraces where the stunning views across the Solent reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.

Osborne reflects Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's passions, tastes and style. Ornate furnishings and artefacts from The Royal Collection fill rooms and corridors where Victoria entertained heads of state, inventors, princess and princesses and ruled the vast British Empire.

Things to see and do:

  • State rooms

  • Family rooms

  • Queen Victoria's beach

  • Swiss Cottage

  • Garden and grounds

  • Food and drink

  • Playgrounds and trails

  • Royal collection

  • Regular themed events throughout the year

For families:

  • shingle / sand beach for paddling & swimming (with shuttle bus)

  • Two playgrounds: at the visitor centre, by Swiss Cottage

  • Swiss Cottage, including the Childhood at Osbourne exhibition

  • Family themed events

  • Children's trail - Noble Quest

  • Victorian activities: including Punch & Judy shows, quoits, skittles

  • Picnic benches

  • Cafes with child-sized portions, lunch boxes, highchairs, & children's cutlery 

Carisbrooke Castle


The quintessential romantic castle, Carisbrooke has been an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a king's prison and a royal summer residence. Here you can meet the loveable donkeys and see them work, visit a fascinating museum and see the Castle’s Edwardian garden. Experience far reaching panoramic views from high castle walls and place yourself at the very heart of the Isle of Wight’s History.

What to see and do

  • Conquer the castle

  • Meet the donkeys

  • Explore royal connections

  • Norman keep & wall walk

  • Princess Beatrice Garden

  • Exhibition & Castle Museum

  • Chapel

  • Castle Tearoom

  • Regular events including plays, knight school, jousting and spooky castle

Yarmouth Castle


Yarmouth Castle, Isle of Wight provides a magnificent picnic spot, with views over the Solent for a lovely relaxing family day by the sea. Step inside and discover the atmospheric recreation of how the rooms were used in the 16th century, and see the exhibition about the many wrecks which occurred in the treacherous stretch of sea which the castle overlooks. 

This was the last and most sophisticated addition to Henry VIII's coastal defences; it was completed after his death in 1547, with the first new-style 'arrowhead' artillery bastion built in England.

Quarr Abbey, Ryde


The Visitors Centre is a small attempt to communicate the life of Quarr to the many people who come each year. 

There are guided visits every first Tuesday of the month, and every Tuesday through July and August. Just turn up at the Monastery Shop. The visits take in the pilgrim chapel and the church, and tell you about Saint Benedict, the history of the community, the architecture of the church and the daily life of the monks.

  • The Quarry Abbey Monastery Shop offers a wide selection of goods including cards, religious items, CDs, souvenirs and books.

  • The Tea & Farm Shop is open daily

  • Art Gallery exhibitions are open to the public from Thursdays to Tuesdays

  • Some areas of the wider estate have been allocated for visitors to enjoy. The woodland walk and wildlife hide is a trail that meanders through some of our beautiful woodland and gives visitors the chance to catch a glimpse of the native Red Squirrel. There is a hide with a viewing area and Quarr Explorers Kits are available to borrow to really make the most of the trail. 

The Needles Old Battery and New Battery

Heritage building

The Needles Old Battery is a great place for families both inside and out.


With its mixture of ruins and restored buildings, displays and models there's lots for children to explore and do.


Combine your visit to The Needles Old Battery and New Battery with a short stroll on the downs or a more bracing cliff-top hike to the Tennyson Monument.

The Needles New Battery is a small site, further up the headland from the Old Battery. Its two underground rooms tell the fascinating story of British space rockets which were secretly tested here between the 1950s and 70s.

St. Catherine's Lighthouse visitor centre, Niton

Heritage building

Located on the picturesque southern tip of the Isle of Wight, St. Catherine's Lighthouse offers tours that overlook the Channel.


A light to warn shipping was first established on the Southerly tip of the Isle of Wight in 1323. Today the distinctive octagonal tower of St. Catherine's Lighthouse provides a waymark for vessels navigating in the English Channel and a guide to vessels approaching the Solent.

Each tour is approximately 40 minutes.

Classic Boat Museum, Cowes and East Cowes


The Classic Boat Museum has been telling visitors and Islanders its wonderful maritime story since 1996.


Today the museum is growing with a new location opening this summer (July 2017) to exhibit its impressive collection of classic yachts and lifeboats. The new location in West Cowes will complement the existing museum located in East Cowes.  


We are looking forward to your visit when we are sure you will enjoy, learn and come to understand the quintessential Cowes story told through its maritime heritage. 

Bembridge Windmill

Heritage building

This little gem is a Grade 1 listed building and one of the island's most iconic images. Built around 1700, it last operated in 1913 but still has most of its original machinery intact.


Start your visit by climbing to the top of the windmill's four floors. Then you can follow the milling process as you come down.  With the help of our model of Bembridge Windmill and a short film about milling, you can find out how the windmill worked before it closed in 1913.

Just in case exploring the windmill is not enough to keep young children occupied, we have hidden six millers inside for them to find. Don't forget to pick up your free trail sheet before going into the windmill.

Several footpaths pass the windmill, making it a good place to either start your walk from or to visit as you go by. The kiosk sells hot and cold drinks and ice creams, so it's also a useful refreshment stop.

If you're visiting during the school holidays try one of our family nature trails around the windmill grounds. 

Appuldurcombe House, near Ventnor


Once the grandest and most striking house on the Isle of Wight, Appuldurcombe's 18th century baroque elegance is still notable today in the partly restored shell of the building. Admire the delightful east front and stroll peacefully through Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's 11 acres of grounds. Treat yourself in our well stocked and attractive souvenir shop. Our Historic Exhibition is over the shop. A perfect place for a picnic and the grounds are a haven for wildlife.

Falconry Centre with Little Owls Soft play area with goats, chickens, rabbits and guineapigs.

Shop, cafe, museum 

Bembridge Fort


Bembridge Fort is situated on top of Bembridge Down. It was built in the 1860s at the same time as the Needles Old Battery but inside it is very different, both in its layout and general condition.

Part of Bembridge Fort is occupied by an industrial tenant and the remainder is generally in a poor condition. It is not open to the public and access is currently by pre-booked guided tour only (every Tuesday at 2pm from April to October).


Volunteers are working hard to clear out years of accumulated debris and also to restore some of the rooms. Other volunteers now bring the history of the fort to life on guided tours.

Godshill Model Village

Model village

Our Model Village in Godshill is a 1/10th scale version of the village of Godshill and Shanklin Old Village and Chine, two of the oldest tourist areas on the Isle of Wight.   You can find all of our houses, cottages, churches and pubs in real life for a proper Gulliver experience!  Our models are fantastic replicas of these real buildings, made with sand and cement so they weather as they age. We even thatch them just like the real thing using authentic materials and methods.

We’d recommend that you allow an hour here to fully appreciate the details of the little scenes around the model houses.   On a sunny day you can join us for a cup of tea then wander around agin to catch the little details you missed first time.   So you could easily combine a visit to us with a leisurely wander around the real Godshill village and take a day here.

Shop & cafe

Picnic area (including bring your own picnic, borrow a rug)

Under 3s free

All admission tickets are valid for 7 days as long as you have it validated at the Entrance Kiosk

Fort Victoria Model Railway, near Yarmouth

Model Railway

At Fort Victoria, just outside Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, we have an indoor model railway and shop which is open to the public most of the year. The railway has been at the Fort for the past fifteen years, but under new ownership for only five years. The layouts have been completely altered although the controls of the Continental trains are still by computer programme. A new British layout is under construction, and this will be run by an infra-red system.

Sir Max Aitken Museum, Cowes


This magnificent 18th Century, Ratsey and Lapthorn sail maker’s loft, was acquired and restored by Sir Max Aitken in 1947. Today, with its traditional splendour, the building boasts Sir Max’s personal collection of historic and nautical artefacts.

Highlights of the museum include:  a Gaff from the Royal Racing Yacht Britannia, museum tables made especially for the room by Lallows in the 1960s, a French Empire cradle, reputed to belong to Napoleon Bonaparte and Princess Marie Louise of Austria, many artefacts relating to Nelson and other exhibits include several models and half models of various yachts, junks, clippers, yawls etc.

Cowes Maritime Museum

Museum in Library

The Museum displays a selection of objects and images which help to tell the story of Cowes and its important maritime heritage.

You can see Uffa Fox’s dinghy, Avenger and models of vessels built by J. Samuel White & Co Ltd of Cowes.

Entrance to Cowes Maritime Museum is free of charge.

The museum is situated within Cowes Library, which also houses a collection of maritime related books.

Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Freshwater

Heritage Building, Museum & Galleries

Dimbola Lodge was the home of the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. It is now a Museum and Gallery dedicated to her life and work, which also showcases contemporary exhibitions from photographers around the globe.

Inside the house now are preserved features including Gothic carvings, William Morris wallpaper, her original design stairway, Victorian glass and a re-creation of her bedroom.

  • Tower Gallery and Cameron Galleries

  • Victorian Dressing Up Room

  • Olympus & Charles H. Cameron Galleries

  • Solo Isle of Wight Festival Gallery

  • Julia’s Bedroom

  • Seasonal exhibitions

  • Tearoom

  • Giftshop

Newtown Old Town Hall

Heritage buildings

Although small, the Old Town Hall contains a wealth of political and local history within its quirky, sloping walls. Take time to discover the story it tells.


A set of Hogarth prints on display in the Mayor's Parlour give a satirical view of politics in the 1750s. Other documents and artefacts tell the story of this former Rotten Borough, once represented by two MPs.


Discover first hand the mysterious and eccentric Ferguson Gang. Find out who they were and how they saved the Old Town Hall by reading a copy of their minute book, 'The Boo'.

Seasonal exhibitions 

Museum of Island History, Newport


Designed by John Nash and built in 1816, the historic Guildhall is home to the Museum of Island History.

Discover the Island from pre-historic past to the present day with:


  • Touch Screen Computers.

  • Hands on Exhibits.

  • Quizzes and Games.

  • Microscopic Exploration.

The museum has a small temporary exhibition gallery.

Island Planetarium, near Yarmouth


The Island Planetarium offers a fascinating journey through time & space; stimulating your imagination & mind, in our Astrodome theatre & exhibition.

This man-made Universe will take you places you have never been before, from the surface of the Moon to the depth of outer space in our immersive ASTRODOME 360 STAR-THEATRE.

Make sure you leave time to explore the various space-science displays and exhibition dedicated the great scientist/inventor Robert Hooke, born in Freshwater in 1635.

Fort Victoria Country Park is a Dark Sky Discovery Site.  At the Island Planetarium we offer various evening and weekend stargazing courses.

The Planetarium is located at Fort Victoria Country Park which has several attractions, cafe, woodland/beach walks.

Sunken Secrets Archaeology Discovery Centre, near Yarmouth


The Sunken Secrets Archaeology Discovery Centre and exhibition will bring you closer to the Island’s fascinating past; with famous shipwrecks and submerged landscapes, a gift shop and hands-on family workshops, there's something for everyone.

  • Investigate the Island’s ingenious military inventions, its tragic shipwrecks and important sea battles

  • Follow the ongoing rescue of a stone age settlement from the sea 

  • Explore how maritime archaeologists work to protect our earliest evidence for the Island’s boatbuilding industry beneath the Solent. 

  • Stimulate your senses through artefact displays, videos, interactive games and activities to discover the intriguing history of Fort Victoria as a coastal battery, a sea mining depot, and a base for military power boats.

  • New for 2017 Wonder at the engineering and shipbuilding glory of the Cowes Hammerhead Crane

  • Family workshops

  • Giftshop

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Brading Roman Villa


Brading Roman Villa is one of the finest Roman sites in the UK. Our award winning Visitor Centre and Museum offers a unique insight into Roman life in Britain from beautifully preserved mosaic floors to an extensive collection of Roman archaeology. 

Award winning museum, licensed café, shop, meadow trail and garden – Open Daily 10am-5pm.

Regular touring exhibitions and film showings

Newport Roman Villa


Discovered in 1926 when the owner of a nearby house sank foundations for a garage, subsequent excavations revealed extensive remains of a late Romano-British farmhouse built around 280 AD.

Newport Roman Villa is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of the Isle of Wight Council Heritage Service.

The well-preserved remains at Newport Roman Villa provide a fascinating insight into country life in third century Britain. The Villa has a superb bath suite with, under floor heating and remnants of mosaic floors.

Bembridge Lifeboat Station


A visit to our very impressive Offshore Lifeboat Station is not to be missed!  For individual visits, just walk down to the boathouse when its open - a volunteer member of the Guild will be on duty to explain things and answer any questions. 

Isle of Wight Bus and Coach Museum, Ryde


The Museum has a display of around 20 historic vehicles, transport artefacts, displays, photographs, a tea bar and a shop.

The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum was established in 1997 and was originally situated in two IoW Council owned buildings on Newport Quay, later this was reduced to one building and a Museum was created opening to the public during the summer, where a collection of vehicles and associated artefacts grew into an impressive display, to show the Island’s transport heritage.


The Museum is open on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until Sunday October 29th 2017 when we close for the winter. 

Calbourne Water Mill & Rural Museum

Woodland, Water Mill, Adventure golf, pedalos

Set in 35 acres of stunning rural landscape, Calbourne Water Mill contains one of the oldest working water mills in the country, dating back to the Domesday Book.

You’ll be surprised at quite how much there is at Calbourne Water Mill, apart from feeding the peacocks, geese, ducks, moorhens and doves there is a beautiful ancient oak woodland which is home to badgers, red squirrels, foxes and many many more birds and small mammals, with a stream which is home to eels.

  • small but very interesting war museum

  • many little rural museums, displaying a selection of memorabilia from a bygone age (such as Granma’s kitchen, Granfer’s Shed, Fire Station, Old Bakery and much more!)

  • family Clay-play area (We use air drying clay, so you can take home what you make  (£2 per child).

  • lego Tables and Giant Chalkboard 

  • adventure golf (£3.00 per person)

  • punts for a relaxing float down the stream

  • Pedalos  (£7.50 per punt/pedalo for 30 minutes).

  • croquet & petanque (£1 per person)

  • fully licensed café serving a delicious menu of daily specials, sandwiches, freshly made soup, pancakes, as well as a children’s selection

  • gift shop selling souvenirs, hand-made Water Mill Pottery, muesli and flour

Bembridge Heritage Centre


The Bembridge Heritage Society on the Isle of Wight was formed in 1996 to record and present the rich history and heritage of Bembridge and its surrounding areas. 

The Centre was once part of the Village School and is located at the rear of what is now the library in the old part of the village. Displays cover much of Bembridge’s early history, not only in photographs, paintings, maps and written descriptions but also through the many artifacts and medals that have been donated to the Society.

Information can be found not only about the village itself but of wider industrial and archaeological interest within the Parish such as Bembridge Fort.

Ferguson Family Museum, Freshwater


The collection celebrates the life and achievements of Harry Ferguson. It depicts his life and interests in the world of agriculture, aviation and motor racing. He is nowadays most famous for his “Little Grey Fergie” tractor.  However many people are unaware of his engineering achievements in the worlds of aviation and motorsport. His vision saw a legacy of invention and design which are still an integral part of modern tractors, cars and aeroplanes. 

The museum contains numerous unique exhibits and photos and museum curator, Peter Warr, who worked for Harry Ferguson for many years, provides a wealth of information and anecdotes that bring the museum alive.

The museum is open by appointment only but warmly welcomes enthusiasts and clubs by prior arrangement. We

Brighstone Village Museum


Brighstone Village Museum in North Street can be accessed through the adjacent Brighstone Community Library on Tuesday mornings, Thursday afternoons and all day Saturday.

Situated within a row of traditional cottages owned by the National Trust, it is run by the Brighstone Museum Trust and provides a fascinating view of  village life in the 19th century.

Ventnor Heritage Centre


The Heritage Centre, with its museum and shop, is also the headquarters of the Ventnor and District Local History Society.

Here the Heritage Centre carries visitors back in time to explore Ventnor’s origins and the way it grew at phenomenal speed to become a premier Victorian resort town.

Cineworld, Newport


​RealD 3D, 2D screens, Baskin Robins, Bar

Leo Leisure Cinema, Ryde


​70's style old cinema, with 3 screens.  Tickets are good value.

The Needles Landmark Attraction - CINEMA

Attraction park

Guests can immerse themselves in an interactive 4D Cinema experience showing the Lost World.

Quay Arts, Newport

Art Centre

The Quay Arts Centre is situated in a converted 19th-Century brewery warehouse complex at the head of the River Medina in the centre of Newport.

The Centre’s gallery spaces and Café wall show a varied, engaging and regularly changing programme of visual arts. The work, sourced from artists on the Island, mainland and internationally, is always of the highest quality. 

The superbly equipped theatre at Quay Arts, named after Island-born, Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, and is one of the best venues on the island to see live performances. An outstanding programme of events offers theatre, comedy, music, dance, children’s entertainment and literature, and cinema evenings that show the best in world and classic film.


The popular Café Bar also doubles as a live venue, where you can see established and emerging artists performing just a few feet away. While enjoying a range of locally sourced wine and beer from the bar.

A short way down the river from Quay Arts is Jubilee Stores. Here, passionate professional artists work in a huge range of media including jewellery, pottery, printmaking, textiles, sculpture and painting. 

Shanklin Theatre


The Theatre remains open throughout the year where it hosts events ranging from a Christmas Pantomime, a professional summer season, local amateur dramatics, a children's stage school, the Isle of Wight Dance Festival and workshops for visiting school parties.

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