While the Isle of Wight has always been a popular destination for both international holidaymakers and staycations, it has arguably become even more widely visited since the coronavirus pandemic.
To this end, some 623,592 people visited the island in 2019, while this number had increased to 633,155 by the end of last year (an estimated rise of 2% overall). Interestingly, the cumulative visitor spend also increased by 45% during this period, reaching a total of £114 million according to the most recent data.
There are many reasons behind this, one of which is the growth and quality of the available Isle of Wight tour options. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best routes and Isle of Wight bus tour packages to consider during your stay!
Island Tour Buses – What You Need to Know
#1. The Needles Breezer
Where else to start but with the so-called “Needles Breezer” route, which arguably provides the best and most eye-catching (and not to mention high-octane) Isle of Wight tour bus experience?
In fact, Needle’s Breezer is arguably home to one of the best bus tours in the whole of England, with its breathtaking views and diverse scenery sure to appeal to all types of visitors. There’s the cliff-hugging journey from the base of Alum Bay up to the iconic Needles Battery, for example, which offers sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding sea.
This picturesque route also links the seaside town of Yarmouth and Freshwater Bay, as well as the hugely popular Fort Victoria Country Park. This is known colloquially and fondly as the ‘the Country Park by the Sea’, while this location combines stunning hikes and scenery with superb exhibitions like the ‘Reptilarium’ and ‘Planetarium’ (the latter of which guides you on a fascinating journey through time and space while offering a unique learning experience).
Visitors of all ages will enjoy the Needles Breezer tour, as this boasts everything from historic places of interest to gorgeous scenery and attractions that are tailor-made for children.
Certainly, kids will love a stop-off at the Needles Landmark Attraction at Alum Bay, as this offers convenient access to a selection of fairground rides and a thrilling chairlift down to the often sun-kissed beach.
What’s more, you’ll find the Needles Breezer route runs buses every 30 minutes, making it one of the most accessible tours of its type in England.
#2. The Downs Breezer
The Downs Breezer offers a slightly different bus tour Isle of Wight experience, which is arguably more focused on exploring the picturesque countryside and the idyllic route across the tops of the Downs.
This route also traverses a large chunk of the island’s coastline as it makes its way towards mainland England, while it offers some spectacular views out into the iconic English Channel too!
The ‘Downs Breezer’ bus links the local Esplanade with Ryde town, while taking in landmarks such as Robin Hill Adventure Park, Sandown Seafront, Dinosaur Isle and the popular Wildheart Animal Sanctuary.
The route also includes the local Wootton Station, which is no longer functional but has been recategorised as a so-called “heritage station”. This makes for a fascinating and historically relevant landmark, which first opened its doors back in 1875.
This immersive, albeit slightly more relaxed, tour makes use of open-top double-deck buses to capitalise on the unusual levels of sunshine that engulf the Isle of Wight every single summer. It also employs friendly and approachable drivers and runs buses every single hour from Ryde, while you can purchase a cheap “Rover+Breezer” ticket to enjoy unlimited travel along the route and across the whole of the island.
#3. Island Coaster
Next on our list is the ‘Island Coaster’, which is one of the most popular summer services and one that also links the seaside towns of Shanklin, Sandown, and Ryde.
This particular route also connects the West Wight area through Ventor, Blackgang, and Alum Bay, while it has the distinction of being the longest tour bus route on the island.
The highlight of this route is the journey along Military Road, which offers stunning panoramic views of the ‘Back of the Wight’ coastline that traverses the land between Blackgang and Freshwater Bay. This is an all too often overlooked adventure when visiting the Isle of Wight, but the views from the upper deck of the bus during this part of the trip must be seen to be believed!
While the Island Coaster route isn’t as adventurous as Needles Breezer, it enables you to explore some of the Isle’s hidden gems and less-traversed locations!
#4. Shanklin Shuttle
Last, but not least, we come to the ‘Shanklin Shuttle’, which traverses the seaside town of Shanklin and offers convenient access to all the location’s landmarks and hotspots.
When you compare Isle of Wight bus tour prices, you’ll also find that booking a seat on the Shanklin Shuttle is one of your cheapest options. It’s also one of the best ways to see Shanklin and everything that it has to offer, especially if you want to take in as much as possible during a day trip or a relatively short stay.
For example, the bus passes by the stunning Shanklin Chine, which sits in the heart of the Old Village and is renowned for its cream tea shops and boutique high streets.
Above all else, of course, the shuttle connects the main town and the seafront, enabling you to visit the respective beaches of Small Hope and Hope. The latter of these two locations sits beneath an accessible and incredibly busy esplanade, which is home to an amusement arcade, an 18-hole crazy golf course, and a pirate-themed adventure playground that boasts some of the most extensive rigging known to man!
While this particular shuttle or tour route may be a little more functional or ‘practical’ in nature, it can still unlock some spectacular Isle of Wight sites and deliver a fun-packed holiday experience without forcing you to spend outside of your means!