Top five scenic drives on the Isle of Wight

If you’re a sucker for scenery, here’s how you can find some of the Isle of Wight’s top viewing spots. Following one – or all five – of our scenic drives, you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views, clifftop stops, ocean drives and quiet countryside. One of our routes was even included in the Telegraph’s 10 great European road trips you must do in your lifetime. Happy motoring…

Middle Road

Starting on the outskirts of Newport, Middle Road offers a journey through the heart of the Isle of Wight, serving up views of the surrounding countryside. Before setting off, enjoy brunch at Quay Arts, the widely-loved harbourside gallery with a welcoming café at its centre.

The brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea menus here boast some of the best healthy homemade vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food on the Isle of Wight, sourced from the farmlands surrounding Middle Road.

Once you’re on the road, impressive arching woods and incredible rolling hills will lead you past the edge of Freshwater — near the Isle of Wight Festival’s original site — and wind a route past Tapnell Farm, home to The Cow Co., a restaurant with a focus on the best local beef, cheeses, and dairy products.

The Cow Co. offer a wide choice of meat dishes and vegetarian options for evening meals, and have a beautifully rustic bar serving coffee, cake, and cocktails. Refuel, finish the venture down Middle Road, take a left, and end the day with stunning seaward views from Freshwater Bay’s clifftops.

The esplanade of East Cowes

Beach huts on East Cowes Esplanade, Isle of Wight

This coast-edging road is perfectly-positioned if you find yourself in Cowes — it’s a stretch of esplanade bordering the forested slopes and charming suburbs.

Thread yourself along the seaward road to discover a lesser-known remote stretch of beach, which boasts a playpark and paddling pool for the youngsters.

Before or after you head along the path, pay a visit to the Classic Boat Museum, and venture a little further into East Cowes to dine and drink at The Lifeboat pub on the marina.

Military Road

This route has history: Military Road was built by German prisoners of war during World War II. It runs parallel with the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, from Freshwater near the western tip to Chale on the southern tip.

Having Freshwater Bay as a starting point means breakfast in potentially one of the most charming eateries on the island: Piano Café. Pain au chocolats and croissants, homemade American pancakes and natural yoghurts, full English breakfasts and bacon sandwiches, and plenty more, all prepared with local produce where possible.

A little way down Military Road are the Compton Bay and Downs, home to a beautiful beach, clifftop views, and the prime place to surf on the Isle of Wight. iSurf Mobile Surf School are located down on the beach below the bay parking area, if you’re looking to learn!

Drive the full length of the coastal road and you’ll find yourself in Blackgang Chine — an ideal destination for families. The oldest amusement park in the UK, Blackgang Chine has rides, coasters, and live performances themed around cowboys, pirates, dinosaurs, fairies, and more.

Yarmouth to The Needles

Yarmouth bridge on the Western River Yar, Isle of Wight

After grabbing breakfast at Off The Rails — a railway station lovingly transformed into an authentically-themed eatery — drive across Yarmouth’s harbour bridge, taking in the views across to the New Forest on the mainland, and bear onto Halletts Shute, keeping to right turns as you venture south down the island.

Follow signs for Alum Bay and The Needles, as you cut through a mix of countryside and residential stretches of road, before arriving at the western tip of the Isle of Wight, parking up, and riding the suspended chairlift from the clifftop to the waterfront.

Take a calming boat ride out to The Needles, absorbing the sea air, admiring the intriguing geography and its resident lighthouse, and gazing back at the handsome multi-coloured sands of the cliffs. When you’re back, retrace your route north, eventually taking a series of lefts to reach The Hut, arguably the best evening eatery for watching the sun go down.

Animals and airplanes — Bembridge to Sandown

Start the day in Sandown and end the day in Bembridge, and make Sandown Road your route between the two. Spend the morning and afternoon at the widely-loved Dinosaur Isle and Wildheart Animal Sanctuary, exploring the Isle of Wight’s prehistoric history and seeing one of Britain’s largest groups of tigers.

Vast rolling hills will embrace you as you drive away from the beach and begin the drive along Sandown Road. You’ll hit Bembridge Airport first — an intriguing sight to take in. Park up beside The Propeller Inn, grab a bite to eat from their quintessentially British menu, and, if you’re in luck, you’ll see a plane landing on or taking off from the airstrip!

The next sight to behold on the Sandown Road route is Bembridge Windmill, the last windmill left on the Isle of Wight. Drive beneath a stunning wooded canopy and then take a left turn detour. Climb to the top and see how the windmill would have worked back in the day, and explore the surrounding nature trails and relaxing picnic areas.

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