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"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The palatial mansion house designed by Prince Albert in Italian Renaissance-style, boasts magnificent views across the Solent. It was the summer residence of Queen Victoria and Albert for over 50 years in the late 1800s. Now owned by English Heritage it is one of the most visited attractions here.
Sixty miles of pristine coastline surrounds the diamond-shaped Isle of Wight which is situated just off England’s south-coast. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who make the most of the mild climate and 500 miles of footpaths and designated walking routes. Exploring on foot, by bike or on horseback are popular activities.
The Isle of Wight is also popular for its dinosaur heritage. Regarded by many as ‘Dinosaur Island’ due to it being one of the richest areas for dinosaur fossils it has a dedicated dinosaur museum which can be found in Sandown. Visitors here can embark on a fossil walk to learn more about the exciting discoveries that have been unearthed along the coastline.
The Isle of Wight is great destination for family holidays or a weekend break, especially in the Summer months when you can make the most of the beautiful beaches and alfresco events. The Isle of Wight Music Festival is one of these which takes place every June and attracts thousands of revellers who come to the historic town of Newport in the centre of the island to see live performances from bands and artists of the moment. This year (2018) the festival celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Another great day out and one that is rather more tranquil is to climb aboard the Isle of Wight Steam Railway just outside Ryde on Havenstreet. Relax in vintage-style in the beautifully restored carriages and enjoy the passing views of the unspoilt countryside.
Another must-do here is a trip to the Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Cast your eyes over more than 30,000 rare plants and trees in this sub-tropical horticultural paradise. While children will love Isle of Wight Zoo with its big cats and Madagascan animals.