Known as the Gateway to the Island because it is so easy to reach, Ryde is just a short sea crossing from Portsmouth or Southsea and is one of the Isle of Wight’s largest towns. Situated to the north-east of the island it enjoys spectacular views across the Solent towards Plymouth and ascends from its half mile long pier into the hills behind. With its miles of clean, golden sands, tidal harbour and wealth of attractions Ryde is a popular holiday destination for all ages.

On this beautiful island you are never far away from the sea and Ryde’s pier, a listed structure originally built in the Victorian era, is where many visitors access the island. This pier is one of only a few in the country where you can actually drive your car to the end and park for the Wightlink high speed ferry which operates to and from Portsmouth.

Development to the west of Ryde has spread to engulf Binstead and Wootton. These villages are mentioned in the Domesday Book and Wootton Bridge was originally a causeway built for the monks of Quarr. With its grand Georgian and Victorian properties it is easy to see why Ryde was once a favourite town of the gentry who came for the stunning scenery and warmer climate.


Regattas have attracted crowds to Ryde for many years and the town boasts the island's oldest carnival in the United Kingdom. It is traditionally held at the end of August as part of the Ryde Arts Festival to mark the close of the carnival season. Colourful, decorated floats from all over the island arrive for the largest and brightest event on the calendar which is held over two weeks every year.

The broad seafront Promenade runs alongside the Esplanade to Appley Gardens, where there is a safe, clean children's play area and a pitch and putt course. The Esplanade also houses an ice rink and a bowling alley which are popular with tourists and townsfolk alike.

The sea wall promenade offers a popular walk, passing Appley Tower, the Victorian Watchtower and continuing on to Puckpool Park, where visitors to the town can enjoy refreshments, tennis, bowling and crazy golf in delightful gardens adjacent to the remains of a 19th century battery.

Ryde boasts six miles of glorious sandy beaches and shallow coastal waters which are ideal for swimming. Throughout the summer months the beaches are patrolled by lifeguards. The tide goes out a long way, leaving firm sand ideal for beach games and sandcastle building! The beach is within easy walking distance from the [http://www.wightlink.co.uk/index.htm Wightlink Fast Cat Terminal] on Ryde Pier Head and the beach has been given a Blue Flag Award for parking and access. There is also a marina, a canoe lake, paddling pool, amusement arcade, a swimming pool with retractable roof and the dotto train.

To the east of Ryde can be found the pretty coastal villages of Seaview, St Helens and Bembridge. Sailing is the main summer activity of Seaview and Bembridge, whilst St Helens has its Village Green, where sports and carnivals are held. The Island's only surviving windmill is at Bembridge, where it overlooks Brading marshes and the much frequented long distance footpath, the Bembridge Trail.


Ryde prides itself on its shopping experience and even has an underground flea market held in cellars. The long high street houses a wide variety of shops and boutiques and the wide and busy Union Street is bursting with clothes, fashion and jewellery shops. Collectors will be fascinated by the many antique and bric-a-brac shops in the Upper High Street and the town boasts a delightful Victorian Arcade, The Royal Victoria, which is lined with shops selling antiques and books; you can be guaranteed to find that perfect gift or maybe even a first edition.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Ryde’s main nightlife is centred on the Esplanade where a converted pavilion houses a night club, and on the town’s main shopping street, Union Street where many bars, pubs and restaurants can be found. [http://www.balconyryde.co.uk/ The Balcony] is the island’s most action-packed nightclub. With special events, guest DJs and tribute acts, it is always an entertaining place to be.

Named after one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance,[http://www.ristorantemichelangelo.co.uk/ Michelangelo Northern Italian Restaurant] offers authentic Italian food prepared by genuine Italian chefs, with specialities such as pasta, veal, seafood and homemade desserts. The restaurant owners come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, famed for its culinary art.

Popular places to drink in Ryde include The Solent Inn on Monkton Street, Liberty’s Café Bar on Union Street and The King Lud on the Esplanade.

Ryde can also boast several excellent fish and chip shops; Chipmunks on Monkton Street is favoured by the locals whereas Mr.Chips in Oakfield is recommended for those on a budget.

Joe’s, the Ryde branch of Joe Daflo’s is highly recommended; the bar has a continental style with many interesting architectural features and the extensive menu offers many surprises. Being a café bar it also does some great drinks, cocktails, the usual coffees, and various specialities like Joe Daflo's Lemonade. However, it should be noted that Joe’s does not welcome children.

Tourist Information

Ryde Tourist Information Centre81-83 Union St, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2LW

  • Tel: 01983 813818
  • Fax: 01983 823033


The Isle of Wight does not have an airport. However, with up to 350 ferry crossings a day it's simple to get there.Only 2 hours from London, ferry routes connect directly with road, rail and coach links to transport you to your island destination. You can enjoy a leisurely crossing by car ferry or catch a high-speed passenger ferry or hover craft for a swift arrival. Island Line trains run a regular service from the Fastcat terminal at the pier head. The nearest airport is Southampton and both Heathrow and Gatwick airports are not too far away; around one-and-a-half-hours drive from Portsmouth

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