Cowes Harbour (Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43360708%40N08/4657376270)

Cowes Harbour

Cowes is the Isle of Wight's main port on the North Coast, and one of the world's premier yachting centres, where the annual Cowes Week sailing regatta event is held every August. There are actually two towns that make up Cowes; West Cowes on the western side of the River Medina (although it is more usually just called Cowes) and East Cowes on the east side of the river. The Cowes Chain Ferry connects the two sides of the town. East Cowes is famously the location for Queen Victoria's much loved residence, Osborne House.

Things to Do

Cowes is a world class sailing centre with a fascinating yachting heritage. Find out more at the Cowes Maritime Museum which exhibits a range of model boats as well as Uffa Fox's famous yacht Avenger. It also holds a comprehensive photographic and paper archive that tells the story of yachting and shipbuilding in the area. A good place to start your tour of this world famous sailing centre is the Tourist Information Centre handily located at the ferry terminal in the centre of Cowes. West Cowes is a charming traditional seafaring town with pretty narrow streets. Many of the shops and restaurants hint at the cosmopolitan clientele that are attracted to the town for anchorage and sailing competitions.

Cowes Week & Sailing Events

Cowes Week annually in August is the biggest event in the yachting calendar and is the oldest annual sailing regatta in the world - running since 1826. The event attracts thousands of visitors including royalty, celebrities and mariners from around the world. Races are real spectacles and the event includes free sailing taster sessions, street entertainment, live music and a host of pop up eateries and bars. Cowes hosts numerous high profile championship sailing events and competitions through the year. Just before the big August Cowes Week, the town hosts the Cowes Classics Week in mid-July, a leading regatta for classic racing sailboats.

Cowes Ferry Services

Red Funnel Ferries run the Red Jet Hi-Speed passenger catamarans service to Cowes. It's a foot passenger ferry service only and you don't even need to book - just turn up and travel. The journey takes around 25 minutes and runs throughout the year, seven days a week. Red Funnel also operate the car ferry service from Southampton to East Cowes which carries any size of vehicle which can fit under a motorway bridge, as well as foot passengers.

Cowes Chain Link Ferry

The Cowes Ferry connecting the East and West of the town is a chain link ferry also known as the Floating Bridge. It operates every day of the year. The ferry takes foot passengers, cars, lorries and motorcycles until around midnight. No need to book, simply turn up and board. Crossings are free to foot passengers and cyclists. Tolls are applicable for vehicles and are collected on board.

Gurnard Bay Beach

Gurnard Bay has a Seaside Award and is located just south west of Cowes (around a 15 minute stroll). It's a small traditional settlement with a pretty pebble and shingle beach popular for family bathing and watersports such as sailing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing. Gurnard Sailing Club welcomes visitor membership during peak summer months. Mostly green beach huts line the beach and there are wonderful views across the Solent from here - large ships passing off shore often create waves which can be fun, but little ones will need supervision. A cafe and pub provide refreshments and there's a slipway for launching boats.

Accommodation in Cowes

  • West Cowes   (0.4 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Prices from
    £810
    Per week (seasonal)
     
    Nautical themed townhouse in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, just a short stroll from the high street with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Outdoor dining space, WiFi and one pet welcome.
     
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  • Newport   (4.8 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Prices from
    £595
    Per week (seasonal)
     
    Charming historic cottage near Cowes on the Isle of Wight, family friendly with WiFi, parking and large garden. Pretty rural location, walking distance from Newton Nature Reserve.
     
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  • Near Cowes   (3.4 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Sleeps 8
    Prices from
    £207
    Per week (seasonal) Sleep up to 8
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 1328 reviews
    Rating from 1328 reviews
    Thorness Bay holiday park on the Isle of Wight between Cowes and Yarmouth. Indoor pool, restaurant, bar, live entertainment and direct beach access. Caravans, lodges and glamping.
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    Holiday, Touring & Camping Park
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  • Cowes   (0.5 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Prices from
    £69
    Per room per night (based on 2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 346 reviews
    Rating from 346 reviews
    Friendly bed and breakfast in Cowes, Isle of Wight, with sea views. Free WiFi internet available. Great choice of freshly cooked breakfasts. Lots to see and do nearby!
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    Rating from 346 reviews
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  • Ryde   (3.5 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Prices from
    £265
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4-8
     
    Luxury, self-catering lodges on the Isle of Wight. 6 available, sleeping 4-8. Premier lodges have outdoor hot tub. Fully fitted kitchen. Open plan lounge. Families welcome.
     
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  • Gurnard   (1.2 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £279
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 2 reviews
    Rating from 2 reviews
    Sleeping four people in two bedrooms, this semi-detached cottage is in the seaside village of Gurnard, on the Isle of Wight.
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    Self Rated
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  • Ryde   (4.0 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Sleeps 16
    Prices from
    £2,804
    Per week (seasonal)
     
    Magnificent Victorian holiday property near Ryde offering beautiful Solent views, five acres of land & access to a pebble beach. 8 bedrooms, outdoor pool, short breaks. No pets.
     
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  • Cowes   (0.1 miles from the centre of Cowes)
    Prices from
    £85
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 28 reviews
    Rating from 28 reviews
    Nothing is too much trouble. That s our philosophy. Rawlings Hotel, Cowes, is a privately owned hotel situated in a prime location in the heart of Old Town Cowes minutes away...
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    Rating from 28 reviews