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Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Manchester, United...
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Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

I’ve been visiting the Island for nearly 40 years on family holidays, day trips, motorcycle tours etc. If, like me, you like to get the feel of a place in order to appreciate what might not seem obvious to the casual visitor then I think you need to do a bit of preparation prior to exploring the Island. The diversity of interest in such a limited space is staggering and a bit of prior research would pay dividends when it comes to making the most of your visit.

For a short break I suggest a visit to both the Manx Museum in Douglas and its sister, the House of Manannan in Peel, as your first ports of call. These are without a doubt my two favourite museums anywhere, and a day spent here would give you a fabulous start when it comes to adventures in the field. If time is really limited then I would at least try to spend a couple of hours in one of them: Manx Museum for natural history, geography , agriculture, history of tourism/TT, art, literature and music; House of Manannan for Celtic & Viking history, the fishing industry and the Island’s maritime heritage.

If you have time to do a bit more “homework” prior to setting out on your trip to the Isle of Man, then there are many useful publications worth seeking out as well as online info (the various Manx forums can be useful for details but as with any of these you do tend to find more than your fair share of grievances being aired!). There are also a number of good DVDs on various aspects of the Island including geography, tourism, walking, shipping, the Tynwald parliament and, of course, the TT races. If you really wish to get a feel for the Isle of Man in all its multiplicity, then my absolute favourite publication is “Portrait of the Isle of Man” by E.H. Stenning. Although out of print for many years, it is usually available online, often for pennies, and it can be found in many second hand book shops and occasionally in local libraries. The book is as comprehensive as the Isle of Man is diverse. Although somewhat out of date regarding the Island’s status as a centre for tourism it is a mine of information (pun intended) on the Island’s industrial, prehistoric and historic heritage and its geography, geology, flora and fauna. It is a good source of information on Manx customs and folklore and gives an insight into the language and culture of the Manx people. Above all it is a well written book that is a pleasure to read; not overly scholarly but crediting the reader with some degree of intelligence.

My advice as to which attractions to visit would depend on your interests and, if time is short, which features could be combined into a single outing to maximise your enjoyment. In the following lists I have placed these ideas in MY order of preference and indicated where it is possible to combine them. Some of these are quick visits to interesting places. Others are longer, sometimes full day excursions. I’ve also added [B]Bus, [ER] Manx Electric Railway and [SR] Isle of Man Steam Railway labels for those without cars or who wish to take advantage of the historic railways or excellent bus services.

1. Douglas to Ramsey on Manx Electric Railway. Victorian tramway which hugs the coastline for most of the way. Spectacular views throughout. Best viewed from the open sided trailer cars if you don’t mind a bit of breeze. Worthwhile stops en-route are: Laxey for the Lady Isabella waterwheel and the Mines Trail; Cornaa for Ballaglass Glen and Cashtal-yn-Ard (see below).

2. Douglas to Port Erin on the Isle of Man Steam Railway. Break your journey at Castletown for Castle Rushen (see below).

3. Visit Peel Castle [B]. Seals are often seen from the breakwater, the rocks behind the breakwater (through arch in wall near takeaway kiosk) and from Peel Hill overlooking the castle (breathtaking views). Seals often follow fishing boats into harbour in the evening. Basking sharks can frequently be seen just off-shore. Catch the spectacular sunsets over the sea. If you haven’t already done so, visit House of Manannan.

4. Walk through Ballaglass Glen to the “lagoon” at Port Cornaa [ER]. Whilst in the area visit Cashtal-yn-Ard, the remains of a stone-age chambered tomb in a very picturesque setting (follow road downhill from Cornaa railway halt and after around 500 yards follow footpath on right past ruined cottage to field containing monument).

5. Visit Castle Rushen in Castletown [SR] [B]. Mediaeval castle in remarkable condition, many rooms are furnished as a museum.

6. Drive around TT course. Thirty seven miles long, the current lap record is around 17 minutes; it will probably take you 60-90.

7. Visit Calf Sound at the very Southern tip of the Island [B]. There is a café and visitors centre here with stunning views across to the Calf of Man. Look out for seals. Combine this with a visit to Cregneash, a traditional Manx village, preserved as a museum.

8. Visit Laxey for Mines Trail including Lady Isabella waterwheel [B] [ER].

9. In clear weather take the Snaefell Mountain Railway from Laxey [B] [ER] to the top of Snaefell for stunning views. You can leave/rejoin the tram at Bungalow station if you wish to walk the final few hundred feet of ascent to the summit.

10. Stroll along Marine Drive between Douglas Head and Port Soderick. Fabulous cliff top views.

Edited: 24 November 2012, 03:21
Isle of Man
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1. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Great advice!!

County Cork, Ireland
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2. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Thanks for info. Are some services and attractions closed during the winter?

County Cork, Ireland
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3. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Hi again !

Just looking for a bit of last minute advice !

In January is it best to hire a car or use the bus service on the Isle of Man ?

What no. bus do you take at the airport to get to the Palace Hotel on

Central Promenade in Douglas ?

Thanking you.

Liverpool, United...
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4. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

It would be best if you start a new topic, but here's the bus timetable to get from the airport to Douglas:

gov.im/lib/…routes121112.pdf

www.gov.im/publictransport/Bus/maps.xml

Little Sutton...
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5. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

A great post from nsa66,we too have been long time visitors to the Island,it is a wonderful place,I would like to suggest a visit to the Gaeity theatre,the place is stunning & the tour well worth the money.

I always advise people to do homework for their holidays to make sure you get the most out of it,totally baffles me how many people work hard all year round,look forward to their 'escape' & just don't make the most of it!

County Cork, Ireland
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6. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Thanks for that - sounds interesting !

Little Sutton...
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7. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Just thought after I'd hit the 'go' button,if you are an animal lover you will love the Mann Cat Sanctuary at Santon,the people there do a superb job,to be fair there really is so much to see in the Isle Of Man the old story that you could see it all in one day is so untrue,some of the drives are stunning

Wales
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8. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

nsa66 - This question and particularly your Reply could have been made for me! We are planning a trip to the isle of Man this year. Thank you for providing such an excellent Guide to the island..and thanks for the very useful follow ons too - a great thread!

Edited: 01 February 2013, 18:57
County Cork, Ireland
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9. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Hi again

Once more thanks for all the answers and info. We've been and are home again - it is a lovely little island - 'little' being the operative word. Our timing was very wrong for visiting The Isle Of Man. Its a Summer destination - as everything from attractions to rail services close down for some months of the wintery time of the year. However we hired a car and drove all over. I would safely say that we have been on roads the Islanders have never been ! Four days there in January was not one of my brightest ideas! There were people around - and in the hotel, but were mainly on business, or just there for Sat. night. Having been there in the wrong season we would now like to return in the right season - to sample all the lovely delights of the island properly! Thanks again to all.

Little Sutton...
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10. Re: Where to go & what to do in the Isle of Man

Glad you enjoyed it,as somebody who has visited many times in March for my birthday & just before Christmas,as well as during Summer months, we find the Island a wonderful place to visit any time of year but I know what you mean,IME it's an addictive place!

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