Manchester to the Isle of Wight

Travelling from Manchester to the Isle of Wight is straightforward either by plane, train, coach or car. Flying between the two cities can take less than 1 hour which means you can be on the Isle of Wight in just over 2 hours if connecting with the Red Jet Hi-Speed ferry which takes 23-25 minutes from Southampton to West Cowes. Such a short journey time makes the Isle of Wight the perfect holiday island and a great destination for a weekend break.

Manchester to the Isle of Wight by plane

Flybe typically operates 4-5 return weekday flights and up to 2 flights at weekends between Manchester Airport (MAN) and Southampton Airport.

Usually departing from Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport, flights normally take 55-65 minutes which means you can be on the Isle of Wight in 2-2½ hours when connecting with Red Funnel's Red Jet Hi-Speed ferries from Southampton to West Cowes.

Options for transfering from Southampton Airport to the ferry ports at Town Quay: -

  • TRAIN from Southampton Airport station to Southampton Central. Change here for Quayconnect shuttle bus to the ferry terminals
  • TAXI from the airport to the ferry terminals. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes and costs in the region of £20
  • BUS (U1 & U1N services) from the airport's rail station to Red Funnel's Town Quay ferry terminals operate every 15 minutes during the week and every 20 minutes at weekends & public holidays. The journey typically takes 39-44 minutes. More info...

Manchester to the Isle of Wight by train

Cross County Trains operate approximately 1 direct train per hour from Manchester Piccadilly to Southampton Central station with the journey time taking as little as 4 hours 14 minutes. When connecting with Red Funnel's Red Jet Hi-Speed services to West Cowes, you can reach the Isle of Wight in under 5 hours.

Alternatively, Virgin Trains operate up to 2 direct trains per hour between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston taking as little as 2 hours 7 minutes. On arrival at Euston take the Northern Line, platform 1 or 2 (southbound via Charing Cross) to Waterloo. Here you should alight to catch a South Western Railway service (up to 2 direct trains per hour) to Southampton Central. The combined journey time, allowing 50 minutes to cross London is 4 hours 11 minutes.  

Through rail tickets,which include the ferry to Cowes East or Cowes West on the Isle of Wight, can be purchased from any British Rail station ticket office and many rail ticket machines.

First and standard class coaches are available on the Southampton route and most trains offer a trolley buffet service and WiFi. All services are non-smoking. Cycles are carried subject to availability.

Manchester to the Isle of Wight by coach

National Express operate 1 direct coach service per day from Manchester Coach station to Southampton Coach station, which takes from 8 hours 10 minutes.

There are also up to 12 connecting National Express coach services per day from Manchester Coach station to London Victoria Coach station. Here you can connect with onward coach services to Southampton Coach station. Combined journey times can be as little as 7 hours 20 minutes. If required, you can change in Southampton for National Express services to Portsmouth and Southsea.

Megabus also operates a cheap direct coach service between Manchester's Shudehill Interchange and Southampton's Queensway. There is typically 1 service per day which takes approximately 6 hours. Coaches have toilets & some have FREE WiFi. Fares can be as little as £5 each way if booked online in advance. 

Manchester to the Isle of Wight by car

The 226 mile journey from central Manchester to Southampton by car using the A5103, M56, A556, M6, M42, M40, A34 and M3 takes about 3 hours 52 minutes depending on the traffic. Red Funnel operates frequent 24/7 car ferries to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight from Southampton with a journey time of about 55 minutes.

An alternative to using the A34 dual-carriageway between the M40 and the M3 is to continue along the M40 towards London, join the M25 at junction 16 and travel anti-clockwise to junction 12 from where you should join the M3 towards Southampton. The 258 mile route will typically take 4 hours 15 minutes. 

Should I travel via Portsmouth? The shortest distance from central Manchester to Portsmouth is 243 miles using the A5103, M56, A556, M6, M42, M40, A34, M3, M27 & M275. It does therefore take longer than travelling to Southampton.

To avoid the A34, you can continue along the M40 towards London, join the M25 at junction 16 and travel anti-clockwise to junction 12 from where you should join the M3 towards Southampton. At junction 14 on the M3 take the M27 eastwards towards Portsmouth and then the M275. The 276 mile route will typically take 4 hours 24 minutes. 

Manchester to the Isle of Wight by bicycle

Cycling the 226 miles between Manchester and Southampton is not for the faint-hearted yet the Isle of Wight is a fantastic place for cyclists so here are the travel options: -

Small Foldable Cycles (i.e. the ones that fold in-half by means of a link in the main frame and are carried in a purpose made padded bag or hard case): Such cycles are carried FREE but space is subject to availability (first come first served) on the National Express services to London and Southampton; Virgin Trains services to London Euston, South Western Railway services to Southampton, Cross Country Trains services from Manchester to Southampton and on both Red Funnel's ferry routes from Southampton to East Cowes and West Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Non-Folding Cycles: Cross Country Trains and Virgin Trains carry standard bikes for FREE but a reservation must be made in advance on trains from Manchester to Southampton and London. South Western Railways also carry cycles for FREE but space is subject to availability on a first come first served basis. Red Funnel carries all types of cycles for FREE on its Southampton to East Cowes vehicle service.

Arriving in Southampton by Public Transport

The FREE Quayconnect Shuttle Bus connects Southampton's Central Rail Station (short walk from the coach station) to Red Funnel's ferry ports for IoW ferry sailings to East and West Cowes. Alternatively, there is a taxi rank at the station for the 5-8 minute journey to the ferry terminals. It's about a 12-15 minute walk.