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shanklin beach in the sunshine


Budget days out on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has plenty of fine dining and luxurious hotels, but it also has lots you can do without splashing out. We asked Robbie Lane from Isle of Wight Guru to choose some of his favourites.

vast sandy beach and blue sky at yaverland
quarr abbey
appuldurcombe house
seaside beach huts at colwell bay
vintage bus


Sandown and Shanklin’s long sandy beaches are ideal for hours of cheap larking around. Once you’ve buried everyone’s legs, head for the playgrounds and skate park of Sandham Gardens. Nearby Yaverland Beach is an excellent kite-flying location. Avoid running backwards over sunbathers whilst shouting “Up! Up! No, you’ve got it upside down!”.

Pop into the Garlic Farm, which is free to visit. Needless to say, there’s a large shop selling garlic-related-everything, so you may end up spending some money!

Picnic-supplying-supermarkets include Aldi and Morrisons in Lake or Lidl and Co-op in Shanklin.


By this point, you will be complaining about the amount of sand in your car. The solution is a potter around the various free things to do in Cowes, Newport, and the north Wight. 

The trails of Parkhurst Forest are a good spot for searching for red squirrels. They are notoriously shy, so don’t expect them to pinch your sandwiches. If you want to bribe your children into walking to a playground then start on Cowes esplanade and head towards Gurnard. 

Quarr Abbey has pigs to feed, woodland trails, and a small visitor centre (i.e. a small centre for visitors, rather than a centre for small visitors). Carisbrooke Priory is an historic nunnery worth a mooch, or English Heritage members get in free to Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House.

The Sir Max Aitken Museum in Cowes offers abundant curiosities. Highlights include relics from royal yachts and a cot that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Pick up lunch from Aldi in Cowes, or Sainbury's, Asda, Morrisons, or Lidl in Newport.


If you’re ready for another beach day, head for Compton Bay for bodyboarding. Colwell Bay and Totland Bay are idyllic at low tide. Freshwater Bay has sandy patches and is good for rockpooling.

Parking at the Needles Landmark Attraction is cheaper if you flash your National Trust membership. After that, it’s a pay-as-you-go deal, although you may be tempted to try the chairlift when you see how many steps there are! In summer, the free fireworks displays and live music are well worth the parking fee.

Picnic purchases can be made at Tesco or Sainsbury's in Freshwater.


It is not the done thing to mention the possibility of rain when discussing Isle of Wight holidays. Should such a thing occur then I would head for the free Isle of Wight Bus Museum in Ryde. Ryde’s Commodore Cinema is also excellent value at around £4. 

When the rain subsides, visit Bembridge Lifeboat Station or do a playground tour starting with Ryde esplanade and continuing to Puckpool Park.

Ryde has a mammoth-sized Tesco as well as a (*whisper it*) McDonalds.


What’s the best free day out in the South Wight? Is it the cutesy residents of the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary? Or the saucy history of Appuldurcombe House? Or the 360-degree views of The Pepperpot, a.k.a. St Catherine's Oratory?

Or what about the exquisitely kept Ventnor Park? Or Ventnor’s Seabreeze playground, which has the best views of any set of swings on the Isle of Wight? Or the gorgeous short walk from Ventnor to Steephill Cove?
I give up! You can make up your own mind on this one.

After all that money-saving, treat yourself to an outstanding ice cream from Crave in Ventnor.

Visit for more money-saving advice for your holiday.

For more Island inspiration, see our Explore section. 

Book your ferry travel to the Isle of Wight today!