The Isle of Wight is just a few miles off the UK mainland UK and boasts an abundance of culture, nature, and family-friendly activities. The island is easily accessible from the south coast of England via ferry, hovercraft, catamaran, or if you're fancy - a private yacht. The best part? You don't need a passport!
What is the best Isle of Wight ferry?
The earliest records of an Isle of Wight ferry go as far back as 1420! Various ferry operators currently operate six different routes. The best ferry for you will ultimately depend on the location you are departing, where you are going, and whether you are travelling with a vehicle or as a foot passenger.
All ferry operators have a seamless check-in process and contain facilities to entertain children and adults, including food and drink lounges, children’s play areas, and a sun deck.
Wightlink operates both car ferries and routes for foot passengers across three routes covering east to west Wight. For ferry prices, inquiries about purchasing a ferry ticket, or queries about car parking, check out the operator's website.
- Portsmouth to Fishbourne - The ferry service operated by Wightlink departs from Portsmouth harbour and docks in Fishbourne village on the North of the island. Fishbourne has many transport links to the neighbouring towns of Ryde and Newport - the Island’s capital town. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
- Lymington to Yarmouth - Wightlink’s fastest ferry crossing runs from Lymington to Yarmouth in under 30 minutes, weather permitting, while providing beautiful views of both coastlines. Yarmouth contains many transport links to the towns of Freshwater and Newport.
- Portsmouth to Ryde - Wightlink operates “Fast Cat” catamarans for foot passengers from Portsmouth to Ryde Pierhead with a crossing time of under 22 minutes. You can get to FastCat catamarans via both rail and coach services. When docked at Ryde Pierhead, passengers can use the train station at the end of the pier to travel to the various parts of the Island.
Red Funnel ferries:
Red Funnel is a passenger ferry that has been taking people back and forth from England to the Isle of Wight for over 160 years. Check Red Funnel’s website for ticket pricing, routes, and vehicle access.
- Southampton to East Cowes via Red Funnel - This ferry service operates between Southampton and East Cowes. The ferry crossing takes approximately one hour and can transfer over 200 cars per trip.
- Southampton to Cowes - As well as operating a large passenger ferry, Red Funnel also provides the "Red Jet” high-speed foot passenger service from Southampton to West Cowes, which takes around 25-30 minutes. The service is rather scenic, running down the river and through the Solent before arriving at West Cowes. It docks at the Red Jet terminal, which has a bus station just outside with connections to the rest of the island.
Hovertravel hovercraft service:
Hovertravel prides itself on operating the only foot passenger hovercraft service to the Isle of Wight. It goes from Southsea to Ryde Esplanade in just 10 minutes and is linked at Southsea by train and bus services from Portsmouth Harbour.
A UK island getaway is just a boat trip away!
And there you have it, the easiest and most accessible ways to reach the glorious Isle of Wight from mainland England. As always, keep an eye out for the best travel times as the routes from London and other parts of the UK to the ports can be rather busy. And, if you’re feeling festive, you should check out the Isle of Wight festival weekend in September - you won’t regret it.