A break to the Isle of Wight isn’t complete without an afternoon in Cowes. Renowned as the sailing capital of the world, this small island town really buzzes in the summer months. With a huge diversity of independent shops and restaurants and the added bonus of hopping on the high speed ferry for a quick trip to Southampton, Cowes offers plenty of things to do.
Always a hit with sailors the world over for its nautical history, Cowes is known locally as a great place to live and visit because of the sheer variety of shops and restaurants you’ll find along the winding streets. Most of the high street is pedestrianised so you can wander wherever you want, taking shopping and exploring at your own pace.
The main shopping area stretches along the sea front, with occasional glimpses of the sea through the gaps in between the shops. You might even find the odd bench near some of the best vantage points. Some of our favourite shops in Cowes can be found at the west end of the high street. Live Like This has beautiful jewellery, homeware and gifts for adults and Little Live Like This is a children’s paradise. Here you’ll find all manner of toys and games for little ones. For gift ideas and home and kitchenware, Buff is the best, filled with quirky lamps and objet d’art to boot, you’ll be spoilt for choice on presents for Granny.
Live the sailing lifestyle with a quick trip to Musto, Henri Lloyd, Fat Face and many others. As long as you remember some stripes, you’ll fit right in with the rest of the visiting crews. All that’s left is to find a boat to get aboard.
When it comes to eating in Cowes, you’re spoilt for choice. Visiting sailors love the crispy bacon baguettes at Tiffins. On a warm day, you’ll love the frozen yoghurt shakes, topped with fruit and a flake, to cool you down in the sunshine. For a quick coffee, we’d recommend French Franks next door to the terminal building – perfect for a quick stop on day trips to Southampton on the high speed ferry.
If you plan on heading into Cowes for the evening, you’ll find that the town remains fairly busy. From traditional pubs to curry houses, there’s some wonderful places to grab a bite to eat or a cheeky drink at the end of a long day. Catch the last of the evening sunshine on the new roof terrace garden at The Globe, complete with fake grass, bean bags, deck chairs and incredible views of the Solent. For busy, vibrant spots, The Coast is a must visit. Always busy but open all day with great menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this is a firm favourite for our Isle of Wight team. Another favourite is the Mess Canteen and Bar, an ideal place for lunch or your favourite cocktail, served up vintage-style in jam jars.
If you want a quiet evening woo-ing your significant other, book a table at Jolliffes. The interesting old building sets the ambience for the venue. Prepare yourself for a romantic evening of delectable dishes, low lighting and a cocktail or two.
Keeping with the nautical theme of Cowes itself, this post wouldn’t be complete without a few sea-themed spots to explore. Pier View is at the heart of the town and attracts locals, sailors and holidaymakers alike. The diversity makes it an ideal place to strike up a conversation and make some new friends while you’re visiting the Isle of Wight. Opposite Tiffins, The Anchor brings in a similar audience and is one of the closest pubs to the marina. There’s a large patio at the back and live music throughout the year, perfect for the warmer months.