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Discover Cowes on the Isle of Wight

Situated on the most northerly point of the Isle of Wight, Cowes is a vibrant destination whatever the season.

A waterfront town with spectacular sea views, Cowes has long been known as the home of sailing thanks to a unique tidal system attracting amateur and professional sailors to its waters to race. The principal event in the UK’s sailing calendar is Cowes Week, established in 1826, a weeklong event that sees thousands of yachts compete on the Solent each year.

For those who prefer to keep both feet firmly on dry land, Cowes offers a buzzy atmosphere and spectacular foodie scene. Walking down the charming pedestrianised high street strung with bunting and lights, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to dine out, day and night. 

Cowes Week Sailing
Cowes Week Sailing

Unique experiences for foodies and shoppers

You’ll find every type of eatery from modern bistros and seafood specialists to Indian restaurants and the local chippie. And there are plenty of places to grab a drink along the way too, with traditional sailing pubs keeping the Dark & Stormies flowing through to contemporary cocktail bars that feel fresh out of the city. Cowes town has a buzz unlike anywhere else on the Isle of Wight, and truly comes alive in the summer months. A dream destination for those who like a little indulgence.

Alongside its hospitality, the high street offers a brilliant retail experience, with independent shops selling fashion, antiques, wine, watches, art, jewellery, children’s toys, books, pet supplies, homeware and more. While away the hours seeking out personal gifts or unique souvenirs to take home, with a number of coffee shops, cafés and bakeries along the way for when you’ve shopped until you’ve literally dropped. 

out & about in cowes

Just up from the high street in the centre of town, you’ll find Northwood House with its elegant gardens and tennis courts, tended to lovingly by local volunteers and open to the public. Once a grand manor house, Northwood House was gifted to the to the people of Cowes in 1929 by Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria, and it is still at the heart of the community today. Now an event space, Northwood House hosts several events throughout the year, from a 1920s gala in the ballroom to a Spring Garden Fair. Northwood House also boasts its own “Lawn Bar”, open spring and summer for drinks, pizza, live music, and DJ nights in a spectacular alfresco setting. Well worth a visit.

A walk along Cowes Parade, Esplanade and Green will have you as close to the water as you can get without getting wet! Follow the sea all the way to the pretty village of Gurnard, a totally flat waterfront walk popular with dog walkers and families with children on bikes. The walk will take you around 30 to 45 mins, with a village green, play park, beach and pub waiting for you in Gurnard – you may even find an ice cream van along the way!  The views at sunset are breath-taking along the waterfront, and The Woodvale is a great place to reward yourself with a tipple and a bite while you watch the sun melt into the sea. 

Getting to Cowes

From Southampton it takes just 28 minutes to get to Cowes on the Hi-Speed Red Jet service, on foot or with a bike, but you’ll feel miles away from the chaos of the city once you arrive. For exploring outside of the town, you’ll find regular buses from M&S Food, taking you to Newport in just 15 minutes. At Newport Bus Station, you’ll find onwards connections to the rest of the Island – just remember, you’ll always need the Number 1 bus from Newport back to Cowes.

Coming with a car, it takes just 1 hour from Southampton by ferry and you’ll arrive in East Cowes, just across the river from Cowes. From the Red Funnel terminal, head straight up the hill past Waitrose, before turning right back down the one-way hill towards Cowes Floating Bridge… The Floating Bridge does not run to a timetable but will go back and forth until midnight each day, just a 5 minute journey across the river to Cowes once you’re aboard – and a totally unique Island experience!

stay in cowes

If Cowes sounds like the place for you, why not book a stay at one of these delightful accommodation options – great for families and crews! 

When you book your stay direct with Red Funnel, you’ll save 25% on vehicle ferry travel whatever the time of year.

pebble cottage | sleeps 4

Pebble Cottage

A charming 2 bedroom cottage, just moments away from the towns cafes, pubs, restaurants, shops, marina and waterfront. Benefit from a king-size bed in the master bedroom with en-suite, and twin beds in the second room with a family bathroom downstairs. There is a sunny terrace garden through French doors from the lounge, and parking for one car. Wi-Fi is included, with children and dogs welcome.

seaview apartment | sleeps up to 4

Seaview Apartment

An elegant first floor apartment with sunny panoramic views of the Solent and just a short walk from the town. Sleeps up to 4 guests between 2 bedrooms, one large master bedroom with king-size bed and ensuite and a twin bedroom. There is also a family bathroom. Enjoy a spacious living area and a balcony overlooking the Solent. Parking for 1 car is available, Wi-fi is included and children aged 5 and over are welcome.

windward cottage | sleeps up to 5

Windward Cottage

A beautiful Victorian 3 bedroom house just a short walk from the heart of Cowes. Sleeps up to 5 guests with a spacious master bedroom with king-size bed, a double bedroom and a single. There is a large dining room seating six, a comfortable lounge and a sunny garden area. Children are welcome, Wi-Fi is included with children and dogs welcome. 

riggers rest | sleeps up to 6

Riggers Rest

A lovely renovated 3 bedroom house with a nautical theme, just outside the main town. The house sleeps up to 6 guests across three bedrooms, with a king-size master bedroom with ensuite, a second room with twin beds and a third with bunk beds. Downstairs you’ll find a family bathroom with walk in shower, an open plan living and dining area, a log burner and access to a good size garden with a BBQ and parking for 1 car. Wi-Fi is included with children and dogs are welcome.

firefly house | Sleeps up to 8

Firefly House

A spacious 4 bedroom house just a short stroll from the high street and conveniently located on a bus route – ideal for exploring the Island car-free. This stylish home sleeps up to 8 guests across 4 bedrooms with a double room with ensuite, 2 twin rooms and an attic bedroom which can be used as a king-size bed or two singles with its own bathroom. There is also a family bathroom upstairs, a lounge and snug room, a large dining room, a garden and parking for 2 cars. Wi-Fi is included, with children and dogs welcome.

the watch house | sleeps up to 10

The Watch House

Situated in the heart of Cowes and just a stone’s throw from the sea, The Watch House is an ex-HMS Customs House and forms part of Cowes’ town heritage. The house boasts two large roof terraces, with the Island Sailing Club on one side and views towards the Royal Yacht Squadron on the other. Set over 3 floors, the house sleeps up to 10 guests over 4 bedrooms, with a twin or king-size room on the ground floor, and spacious living areas. On the 1st floor there is a king-size room that could also be a twin with an ensuite. The third bedroom is a twin with an additional single bed if required. On the 2nd floor is a fourth room with 3 single beds, a shower room, and a lounge area with bifold doors onto the roof terrace, which leads to a second roof terrace with Solent views. Wi-fi is included, children are welcome. 

windchasers | sleeps up to 10


A recently refurbished and spacious duplex apartment, Windchasers sleeps up to 10 guests and is in the heart of the town. You’ll find 4 bedrooms, an open plan kitchen and an internal courtyard which seats up to 12 people with a hot tub. This is the perfect entertaining space! The first bedroom has 3 single beds close to the family bathroom and a separate walk-in shower. There is also a second internal courtyard on this floor. On the second floor there are two more rooms both sleeping 3 people, one with an en-suite. There is the added bonus of a rood terrace with a BBQ and sea views. Wi-fi is included, children and dogs are welcome.