Nestled on the hillside above the sea, with lush greenery and azure waters, Ventnor calls to mind the French riviera. This small town has a beautiful, gently sloping beach of sand and fine shingle set in a sheltered bay. The southernmost beach on the Isle of Wight, it’s popular year-round but more tranquil than the larger resorts even at the height of the summer season. Vintage beach huts can be hired from the hut on the sea wall, as can deckchairs, sun loungers and windbreaks, which are hammered into the sand for you with an old wooden mallet. Along the seafront are a small number of shops, amusements, cafes and restaurants as well as a pub serving food.
All about Ventnor
Ventnor is far more than just a traditional seaside town, it’s one of the UK’s most famous Victorian health resorts. It’s situated below St Boniface Down, which means the area is sheltered, giving the town the unique microclimate which appealed so much to the Victorians and still attracts tourists today. If you want a refreshing and relaxing holiday, Ventnor is the place to go.
Let’s take a look at the best things to see and do whilst you’re staying in this sunny resort.
Things to do in Ventnor
Ventnor may not be a huge place, but it has a wide range of attractions that will appeal to all members of your family, young and old. Here are some of the best.
The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
Animal lovers simply must visit this sanctuary, as you can get up close to some gorgeous rescued donkeys. If you’re lucky, they may even let you stroke or brush them!
This is a free attraction which relies entirely on donations to keep going. If you wish, you can leave a donation in one of the many boxes scattered around the sanctuary, or make a purchase in the gift shop or café. Of course, if you fall in love with a particular donkey, you may want to adopt them!
The sanctuary is open all year round and welcomes well-behaved dogs, so need to worry about leaving poochie at home.
Blackgang Chine, as you may already know, is the oldest theme park in the UK. Set amongst some beautiful gardens, this attraction is fantastic for kids of all ages. There are six themed areas, including Restricted Area 5, Pirate Cove, Nursery Land, Fairy Land, Fantasy Land and the most popular of all, Cowboy Town. Whether your kids love dinosaurs or dragons, they’ll find something they love at Blackgang Chine.
Once your little one has burnt off some steam, there are plenty of places to eat in the park, serving a variety of snacks and meals. Alternatively, you can save some cash and bring a packed lunch. Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir on the way out, though!
Steephill Cove Beach
If you’ve come to Ventnor to get away from it all, this hidden beach is ideal. You can only reach it on foot, so you’ve either got to be in the know or very lucky to find it. Surrounded by just a few picturesque houses, it’s easy to see why the beach is adored by families and couples. Pull up a deck chair, lie back and enjoy the view, or see what you can find in one of the many rockpools.
Don’t get us wrong, Ventnor Beach is beautiful and expansive, but Steephill Cove benefits greatly from its secret status, as it means you’re not faced with crowds of people in the summer.
Where to eat in Ventnor
Like most of the Isle of Wight, Ventnor is spoilt when it comes to amazing eateries. You’ll no doubt have a hard time choosing somewhere to eat, so we’ve picked out three of the top-rated establishments in the resort.
For some great British fare with heavy continental influence, look no further than Cantina. This small informal restaurant is so popular that it’s wise to book, even for breakfast! However, the staff will always do their best to fit you in. The menu may be somewhat limited, but the quality of each dish is excellent. This is thanks in part to the fact Cantina has its own bakery. Try the homemade sourdough pizza - some say it’s the best on the Island.
Fogg’s of Ventnor
Boasting an incredible chef who uses only the finest ingredients, Fogg’s of Ventnor really stands out from the competition. With dishes like coq au vin and chargrilled lamb fillet, you may think it’s a fine dining restaurant, but it actually has an informal atmosphere. All budgets are catered for and children are also welcome - there’s a reasonably priced menu just for them, so bring the little ones along.
Have particular dietary requirements? Fogg’s will cater to your needs – just ask! Be sure to book well in advance, as this petite restaurant is incredibly popular.
Crave Ice Cream
Your search for the best ice cream parlour on the Island is over! Crave is well known for crafting some of the most innovative ice cream flavours you’ve ever seen, including Jaffa cake, Bakewell tart, black pepper vanilla and chai latte, among numerous others. Vegans, coeliacs and those who are lactose intolerant are catered for here, as they serve lacto-free ice cream and gluten-free cones.
The flavours change daily, which means there’s always an excuse to come back! If you’d rather something else than ice cream, the parlour also makes milkshakes and fresh cream doughnuts.
Unmissable events in Ventnor
There are some great events that take place in Ventnor, so you might want to coincide your visit with one of the examples below.
The Ventnor Fringe
This culture fest is a take on the much-loved Edinburgh Fringe. Established in 2010, this yearly festival sees a variety of events takes place across Ventnor, from pop-up cinemas to gigs in local people’s homes. There really is something for everyone, and it’s hugely popular; more than 300 performers took part in 2015’s festival.
Ventnor Botanical Garden plays host to YogaVibe, a weekend-long event where yogis of all abilities can go to relax and unwind. Take part in yoga workshops and classes, or try something a bit different, such as drumming, tie dye, massage, meditation or Reiki. Vegan and vegetarian food is provided, as is some fantastic live music. Kids go free, so bring them along – they’re bound to enjoy it.
How to get to Ventnor
Since it’s a popular seaside resort, finding Ventnor shouldn’t be too difficult. However, our directions will no doubt come in handy if your sat nav decides to not play ball. Here’s how to reach Ventnor from each of our three holiday parks.
From Rookley Country Park
Rookley Country Park is the closest of our sites to Ventnor – it will take you just 16 minutes to drive to the town. Start by heading south-west on the main road, then turn left onto A3020 and continue to follow the road for 3.4 miles. At Whiteley Bank, take the third exit onto St John’s Road/B3327 and continue to follow the B road until you reach Ventnor.
From Colwell Bay
While Colwell Bay is the furthest away, it’s still only a 38-minute journey in the car. Begin by taking Monks Lane to Colwell Road/A3054 in Norton Green. Follow the A road until you reach Copse Lane, which you should take to Stroud Road/A3055 in Freshwater. Again, stay on the A road, then take Whitwell Road to Steephill Road in Ventnor.
Parking in Ventnor
Parking shouldn’t be an issue in Ventnor, as there are several long stay car parks scattered around the town. We’ve listed their names below so you find one easily when you arrive.
Central (High Street)
Hopefully the above has helped prepare you for your upcoming holiday to the Isle of Wight. Check out our other guides for more information on all of the great villages and towns you must visit while on the Island. Wherever you go, we hope you have a fantastic time.