Isle of Wight Travel

All you need to know about travelling to the Isle of Wight

There are three cross Solent ferry operators:

On the Island, there are two Public Transport operators.

Bus
Southern Vectis
Train
Island Line
The service runs down the eastern side of the Isle of Wight.
Ryde Pier Head - Ryde Esplanade - Ryde St. Johns - Brading - Sandown - Lake - Shanklin
Bikes permitted.

There are variables that can influence your choice of ferry route.

For a day trip, there is no need to bring your vehicle, especially if your chosen route is on the South Eastern and North Western corners of the Island. For instance: Sandown, Shanklin, Brading, and Yarmouth. Due to either there being good transport links from the ferry port, or the Island side ferry port is close to your start point.

If you need to drive to your departure port, and then continue on foot, the table below will show what operators have nearby parking.

If you are coming for a multi-day break, by car, any ferry operator will suffice. On foot, ideally you should choose a route that serves a destination port that is nearest to you final destination.

Prices vary for vehicles, depending on the time of year. and other factors that the Ferry Operators do not divulge. As with airlines, there are no fixed prices. If demand is high, expect to pay more - especially in the peak Summer months, and on public holidays.

There are often advertised deals, which are worth looking out for.;

Also, the more passengers in the vehicle, the more economical it will be - obviously.

You can turn up not booked and often get on a ferry. The Vehicle ferries often allow spaces for the emergency services, and they are often under capacity outside of peak periods. Expect to pay the most expensive price though, and expect a wait if it's busy.

Don't fret if you miss your booked ferry slot. There are small financial penalties - especially if the next ferry is in a more 'expensive time ' slot. These penalties are rarely enforced. You will though, be processed on a first come first served basis. Those who have booked for that ferry will get priority. The not booked will be processed, generally according to their arrival time.

Foot passenger prices are generally fixed bi-annually, and vary according to the operator, The variance in prices between operators should not be significant enough to influence your choices when travelling by foot.

Foot passengers on all routes, DO NOT have to book in advance, it's on a first come, first served basis. If you turn up in time for a foot ferry - you will usually get on that ferry.

Passports are not required on the Isle of Wight. Don't Laugh.....

Music Festivals

Finally, and importantly. All routes will become very busy during the Isle of Wight Festival. I'm not saying don't travel during this event. Just be aware that If you are coming by foot, the queues will be very long. The upcoming Festival date is:

Ferry Options

FROM TO COMPANY TYPE VEHICLES CYCLES CROSSING TIME FREQUENCY PARKING
MAINLAND
RAIL LINK
MAINLAND
RAIL LINK
ISLAND
(A)
Lymington
(B)
Yarmouth
Wightlink Car Ferry Yes Yes 40 mins Hourly Yes Lymington Pier None
(C)
Southampton
(D)
West Cowes
Red Funnel Catamaran No No 25 mins Hourly Yes Southampton Central
(15 mins by bus)
No
(E)
Southampton
(F)
East Cowes
Red Funnel Car Ferry Yes Yes 55 mins Hourly Yes Southampton Central
(15 mins by bus)
None
(G)
Portsmouth
(H)
Fishbourne
Wightlink Car Ferry Yes Yes 45 mins Hourly No No None
(I)
Portsmouth
(J)
Ryde
Wightlink Catamaran No Yes 22 mins Hourly No Portsmouth Harbour Ryde Pier Head
(K)
Southsea
(L)
Ryde
Hovertravel Hovercraft No No 10 mins 30 mins Yes Portsmouth & Southsea - by bus Ryde Esplanade

Bringing Your Vehicle?

The earlier you book your vehicle, and the more flexible you are - the cheaper it will be.

I suggest you try booking a ferry to get a quote for your planned trip.

Cowes equals West Cowes

Officially, there are two towns: Cowes and East Cowes. Both are situated on either side of the banks of the River Medina

This can be confusing to non-locals. Even Red Funnel refers to Cowes as 'West Cowes' to stop any confusion.

West Cowes = Cowes - Passenger Ferry only.

East Cowes = East Cowes - Car Ferry only.

East Cowes is on the Eastern banks of the River Medina.

Cowes, or "West Cowes" is on the Western banks of the River Medina.