Ventnor is a striking, steeply terraced seaside town on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight. It benefits from some of the sunniest weather in the country in its south facing position. The Victorian seaside town was built on what is an ancient landslip and now lies below St Boniface Down – part of the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and gradually leads down the hills to the sandy and shingle beach and esplanade. The cascade gardens are well tended and make a pleasant stop on the walk up or down the hill! The centre of town has a good variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. To the east of the town, accessible along the sea wall, is Bonchurch village which has retained its Victorian character with several large mansions. Older cottages, a village pond and the eleventh century old church of St Boniface all add to the village’s charm. Writers like Dickens, Stackpole and Swinburn have all stayed here.
Ventnor became popular with the Victorians when doctors recommended its climate for the recuperation of pulmonary diseases. Patients flocked to the town from all over Britain to attend the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, which used to lie where the 22 acre Ventnor Botanic Gardens are now situated. Today the seafront has some great amusement arcades, cafes and a putting green. Cliff top coastal paths offer stunning views across Ventnor Bay. Events and entertainment feature through the year at Ventnor Winter Gardens which is set in the hillside overlooking the sea. Relax in one of the town’s pretty Victorian tearooms or enjoy some retail therapy at some of Ventnor’s boutique shops. Families might enjoy a trip to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary or watch glass being blown at the Isle of Wight Glass Studio.
Beach & Botanic Gardens
Ventnor beach is an award-winning Blue Flag beach popular for family bathing and for surfing when the waves pick up. The high cliffs of the Downs around the town shelter the beach which is a mix of sand and shingle. Along the Esplanade are amusements, a paddling pool and plenty of places to get an ice cream, drinks, snacks as well as full meals at the cafes, pubs and restaurants. Benefiting from the sunny climate, Ventor Botanic Gardens are able to grow a wide range of exotic plants. The gardens cover 22 acres and include Mediterranean, alpine and medicinal plants and trees. A visitor centre welcomes you to the site where a lift takes you down to the gardens and Temperate House with more exotic species. There is also a children’s play area.
The magical wooded chine world of Blackgang Chine is located just 6 miles from Ventnor, along the A3055 around a mile or so beyond Niton village. Blackgang is the UK’s oldest theme park, thrilling visitors and sparking imaginations for 170 years. It’s a breathtaking 500 foot deep gorge cut deep into the cliff face. The attraction was popular with the Victorians, and continues to add new features, retaining its appeal with each new generation. Kids will love the life-size Pirate Ships, Castles, Fairy Villages, Dodo Valleys and the original Cowboy Town is still here. Fun rides and slides include Water Force, Cliff Hanger and family favourite, the Snakes and Ladders ride. Relax and enjoy magnificent coastal views from picnic areas. Unique experiences include The Wight Experience, a 15 minute aerial film of the Isle of Wight in HD with surround sound offering an introduction to the island’s history and spectacular landscapes.
Where to Stay
Ventnor is home to plenty of self catering apartments and cottages including some with enclosed gardens which are perfect for families. Along the coast sit the pretty villages of Niton and St Lawrence where there are some luxury B&B’s and more seafront holiday cottages. Bed and breakfast accommodation in Ventnor’s hills and surrounding Downland offers spectacular sea views and affords easy access on to cliff top walks – perfect for year round romantic getaways. Compare prices and book Ventnor accommodation online or direct.