Just an hour's ferry ride across the Solent from Portsmouth is the beautiful Isle of Wight. It measures just 21 miles across and, at high tide, it's actually England's smallest county. From golden beaches to idyllic rural villages, it's a perfect holiday destination. So, if you’re planning on going self-catering in the Isle of Wight this year, browse our holiday rentals and take your pick from cosy cottages, charming chalets and appealing apartments
The Needles at Totland Bay are arguably one of the island's most recognisable sights. This series of rocky projections thrust up out of the choppy sea and are best viewed from the cable car that runs down the cliffside. The red and white striped lighthouse really does complete the picture-postcard image. Nearby are the colourful sands of Alum Bay and they shouldn't be missed. In just a few short hours on the beach, you can create the most spectacular sandcastles. In the visitor centre you can learn all about the fascinating geological reasons for the different coloured sands.
On the opposite side of the island, you can discover some of its most stunning scenery. Shanklin Chine is a 32m deep gorge cut into the soft cliffside by water over the last 10,000 years. It was one of the first tourist attractions on the island and you can still wander along its winding woodland paths, passing waterfalls and picturing smugglers hiding their contraband here centuries ago.
If you enjoy sailing, a visit to Cowes at the north tip of the island is not to be missed. Situated at the mouth of the River Medina, the town hosts the world's biggest sailing regatta held annually in June.
Carisbrooke Castle, located near Newport at the heart of the island, is another must-see. This motte-and-bailey structure is nearly 1000 years old and the gatehouse is home to the only public museum to be founded by a member of the Royal Family; Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice. The castle isn't the only grand residence on the island. Osborne House in East Cowes was the holiday home of Queen Victoria and she once said "it is impossible to imagine a prettier spot".
Head inland and you'll discover some delightful villages; Godshill is a perfect example with its charming thatched cottages and peaceful ambience. It also has a model village which is an ideal activity for a family day out.