Guide to IOW cycling holidays: 5 best Isle of Wight biking routes

Feb 22, 2023 BY Luke Rees

Are you looking for a UK cycling holiday with a difference? Then read this guide to IOW cycling holidays to get off the mainland! As the best Isle of Wight biking routes are up there with the finest anywhere in the British Isles.

Expect stunning scenery, warm hospitality and safe cycling across a huge selection of designated cycling routes. We’ve put together plenty of useful information about five of the best routes. Plus some more practical details about how to get your bike there, where to stay, when to go and more.

Guide to IOW cycling holidays: 5 best Isle of Wight biking routes copyright of

The 5 best Isle of Wight cycling routes range from beginner to more advanced rides. They take in both road and track surfaces, and cross a selection of terrain – from flatter to hillier and and both coastal and inland adventures.

Isle of Wight cycling menu

Guide to IOW cycling holidays

There are more than 200 miles of dedicated cycle routes on the Isle of Wight. Plus plenty of roads to explore, often with light traffic and stunning scenery. And if you want to do something other than ride there are plenty of other fun activities on the IOW.

How to get to the Isle of Wight

The foot passenger ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight takes just 22 minutes. The great news for cyclists is that bikes are free with Wightlink when you travel as a foot passenger – they just need to be secured on the vehicle deck during the crossing.

It might be a good idea to book in advance if you’re planning on bringing a bike during the busier times of year. Prices start from £16.20 for an adult single journey and £27.20 for a multi-day return.

Wightlink ferry Portsmouth to IOW

If you’re travelling by car with a bike rack, then keep in mind how this might affect the dimensions of your vehicle and the cost of the ticket. Return travel is starts from around £130, but it varies by time of year, time of day, duration of stay and how far in advance you book.

When to ride the IOW?

Weather in the Isle of Wight is sightly better than the rest of southern Britain. So you can ride year round if you dress according to the season/weather.

The general temperatures are a little milder than the mainland but you should always be prepared for rain (this is still the UK, after all). Spring and summer are the best times to cycle, with the best chance of favourable conditions. But be aware the island and ferry can get busy during high season and school holidays.

Equipment and accommodation

The majority of the cycle routes on the island are either road based or established cycle paths. As such, you can ride a variety of different bikes. Touring, road or racers are ideal for the road routes or more advanced riders. But mountain bikes are suitable, even though there’s seldom any technical riding required.

As a popular tourist destination, there is an ample choice of hotels, B&Bs, campsites and glamping both in the towns and scattered around the island. Again, if you’re visiting in the high season then it pays to book in advance.

Guide to IOW cycling holidays: 5 best Isle of Wight biking routes kids Cycling from Sandown to Newport image copyright of

5 best Isle of Wight biking routes

A guide to IOW cycling holidays wouldn’t be complete without discussing where to ride! There are dozens of bike routes available for cyclists exploring the Isle of Wight. But to get you started here are five of our favourites.

Round the island route

This 65-mile circular route goes around the outside of the island. It is a very popular choice for more experienced riders looking for a challenging day’s ride.

Of course, you can also take it at a more leisurely pace and break it up with a few overnight stays. Along the route you can expect beautiful sea views, plenty of ups and downs and even some meanders inland to explore the countryside.

As it’s a circular route you can start anywhere you like – even straight off the ferry! The route is signposted with blue or white signs, depending on whether you are going clockwise or anticlockwise.

Wroxall to Freshwater cycle route

This 18-mile ride is surprisingly challenging. It takes you through some of the more wild and unspoiled coastline on the island. There are some fast road sections, as well as steep climbs that offer the reward of stunning views from the top over the chalk cliffs.

Guide to IOW cycling holidays: 5 best Isle of Wight biking routes image copyright of

There are plenty of rest stops and refreshments along the way. And if you have energy remaining you can check out the Blackgang Chine family theme park, take a dip or even surf in Freshwater Bay.

AJ Bell Tour route

This 90+ mile route was intended as the final stage of the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Britain, which was unfortunately cancelled. But you can still take on the challenge, or break it down into smaller sections. This was a pro competition so expect the route to be very challenging.

It starts in Ryde and traverses the island several times, both east to west and north to south. You finish at the island’s most westerly point just south of Yarmouth. It’s a very challenging day ride for advanced riders or a good multi-day adventure.

Lighthouse, Needles and Downs

This is perhaps the most scenic of all the best Isle of Wight biking routes. It’s 54 miles long with an elevation gain of 1250m, and suitable for intermediate riders. There are three fantastic viewpoints along the way and the route is circular, so you end up back where you started.

South of Island quick route

At just 21 miles, this is a short day ride that’s suitable for all riders. It covers a lot of ground around the south of the island passing through Shanklin and Ventnor, as well as some great views along the coastline. There are a couple of climbs along the route, one to St Catherine’s Lighthouse and the other back up Ventnor Down, but nothing too strenuous.

cheverton MTB park on IOW image copyright of

Many other IOW cycling routes

This guide to IOW cycling holidays is not meant to be comprehensive as there are loads more routes and bike paths to explore. And as the picture above shows if you prefer your trails more challenging you can get out for some technical mountain biking in Cheverton !

We hope you’ve been inspired by some of the best Isle of Wight biking routes listed above. So jump on the ferry and check it out for yourself. And check out our cycling holidays worldwide for more great ideas.

Cheverton, England, Europe, Freshwater, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Needles, Ryde, Shanklin, United Kingdom, Ventnor, Wroxall, Yarmouth
Cycling, eBiking, Mountain Biking
Advanced, Beginner, Expert, Independent Travel, Intermediate
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2 responses to “Guide to IOW cycling holidays: 5 best Isle of Wight biking routes”

  1. Great piece of info. Just a few spelling errors! Wrohxall being the main one!..There is no ‘h’!

    • Thanks – Wroxhall/Wroxall were fixed a week or so ago. Also spotted ‘sightly’ instead of ‘slightly’ and an unrequired ‘is’ both of which have been fixed. Cheers for your feedback.

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