From picking up fresh fish for dinner in Ventnor Haven to the thriving Ventnor Fringe Festival, there’s tons to do in this classic seaside town. On the south of the Isle of Wight, Ventnor used to be a hotspot for Victorians looking to soak up the sun in a private, luxurious seaside resort. This part of the island still has much of the original Victorian buildings, promenades and details, making it a beautiful nostalgia-filled place to spend a day out while on holiday.
Ventnor benefits from a pretty town centre with lots of independent cafes, restaurants and shops to explore combined with the stunning south coast location on the island. The sheltered location keeps the town fairly warm all year round and creates a microclimate for the beautiful landscape to flower and flourish in the spring and summer.
Things to do outside
If you love the Great Outdoors, the Isle of Wight is built for you. The cycle tracks and coast paths are kept in excellent condition and the island’s strong community keep these routes clear and safe for visitors. From Ventnor, you can easily get on to the coastal path and follow it all the way around the island. For a shorter walk, you might want to visit Niton and St Catherine’s Lighthouse at the southern tip of the island.
In Ventnor itself are the botanical gardens. A beautiful place for a wander and a picnic. There are events here throughout the year, such as yoga classes in the gardens and an outdoor cinema in the summer months. The restaurant and shop are also well worth a visit. You can easily spend a day just in the gardens. Many of my summer afternoons have been spent playing in the gardens as a child.
Arts enthusiasts will be right at home in Ventnor in the summer. The Fringe Festival brings together hundreds of artists for performances, showcases and exhibitions in various locations across the town. Flanked by the International Festival and the Isle of Wight Film Festival, both also using locations in Ventnor, August makes this part of the island buzz. Outside of festival season, Ventnor Exchange is a thriving arts hub in Ventnor, helping to support local artists with their work.
Places to Eat
With plenty of choice for places to eat, it really depends what you’re looking for and when you’ll be planning on eating. For classic pub food, the Spyglass Inn has an excellent reputation for tasty meals and a good selection of drinks behind the bar. If you’re looking for dishes that ooze elegance and style, book a table at The Royal Hotel. The two AA rosettes give you a good idea of the service and food at this beautiful restaurant. A quick bite can be picked up at The Bistro, whether you’re looking for lunch food or a slice of cake in the afternoon, you’ll find something yummy here.
The part of Ventnor that’s beside the sea is known as Ventnor Haven. If you venture down to this part of the town you’ll find stretches of beach for walking by the sea. Sit and watch the fishing boats coming in and out at Ventnor Haven fishery and pick up some fresh fish to take back to your holiday cottage for dinner.
If you’re spending your holiday in Ventnor and would like to see a little more of the island, it’s fairly easy to get around. St Catherine’s Lighthouse is just around the corner in Niton and to the west of that is Blackgang Chine, a fun family friendly attraction to keep kids entertained all day long.
Part of the thriving seaside resorts to the east of Ventnor, Shanklin is made up of the old town with thatched roofs and little gift shops and the new town with a beautiful theatre and plenty of shops and cafes to keep you busy for the day. Shanklin Chine, on the coast, is a beautiful attraction built into the natural curves and gaps in the cliff. At night this lights up and is wonderful on a summer evening.
Godshill, a classic chocolate box village, is to the north of Ventnor. This village is all about thatched roofs and tea gardens. Come for afternoon tea and pick up some goodies and gifts to take home in the shops.
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