We’ve recently returned from a brilliant long weekend on the Isle Of Man and I was totally blown away with the amount of things this small island has to offer. We visited during the annual Hop Tu Naa festival during October half term and we couldn’t have been more impressed with the island’s charm and appeal. If you’re looking for ideas for your next UK break I would highly recommend the Isle Of Man, just a short 55 minute flight from London Gatwick and a very accessible 32 miles long, it’s the perfect spot for a long weekend of adventure. I have saved all of our adventures as a highlight on my Instagram if you want to see little videos and keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for a rundown of the best things to do in the Isle Of Man!
Top 10 Things To Do In The Isle Of Man
Visit Castletown and Castle Rushen
Take a trip to the Island’s ancient capital of Castletown for a wander around the quaint cobbled streets before heading to one of the World’s best preserved medieval castles, Castle Rushen. Once home to Kings and Queens this ancient castle is rich in history and has been used as a prison, a royal residence, a fort and more and is a brilliant place for the whole family to explore and learn more about Manx history. Free parking available in the main square.
Step Back In Time In Cregneash
Our visit happily coincided with the annual Hop Tu Naa festival, I didn’t realise at the time that the whole of the Cregneash village is actually like a living history museum but it was the perfect setting for the festival. Homes have been preserved to illustrate the 19th and early 20th century farming and crofting community, where farms are maintained with horsepower and much of the livestock roam free. Hop-tu-Naa is an ancient festival celebrated on the Isle of Man around 31st October and we absolutely loved visiting during the week long festival where we enjoyed the alternative tradition of Turnip carving, making potions, fun crafts, dancing to time-honoured songs and listening to poems. You can even join the grand turnip lantern parade, where you are led through the old streets by local magicians lighting up the sky.
Ride The Manx Electric Railway
Beginning in the Island’s capital of Douglas the Manx Electric Railway dates back over 100 years and takes you along some of the most scenic stretches of railway in the British Isles. It reminded me a little of California’s Pacific Coast Highway with it’s dramatic cliff top coastline. On one side you’ll see the beautiful Manx countryside, glens and picturesque villages and to the other you’ll have far reaching views out to sea and views of distant lands. This is a great way of incorporating Laxey into your trip as the train goes into Laxey and beyond.
This was actually one of my favourite things we did during our trip. The museum, based in Peel, was steeped in Manx history and bought to life especially for children with a vast amount of interactive experiences. We spent hours here wandering through the many carefully curated displays, marvelling at the huge attention to detail. They also have a Norman Wisdom exhibition on at the moment too which was fun to look around after we stopped for some lunch at the in-house café.
Watch the Annual TT Motorcycle Race
The 2 week long annual TT race brings huge tourism to the island, even if you’re not into bikes the electric atmosphere and the jam packed festival provides a wealth of entertainment for all ages. The race wasn’t on during our visit but we drove along a lot of the hair raising course, all marked out with chequered painted curbs across the island’s roadways.
Take The Snaefell Mountain Railway
This Victorian railway which has been in operation since 1895 is the only electric mountain railway in the British Isles. Leaving from Laxey it winds the 5 miles up through the pretty countryside to the summit of Mt. Snaefell. Definitely not something you’d want to do in high winds, nor would it be running I suppose, but a really unique experience for all the family and a great way of getting to the top of Snaefell.
Climb A Mountain!
Snaefell, The island’s only mountain coming in at 2037ft can easily be walked up (who am I trying to kid, we took the train!) But I met a family at the top whom I had met in the village below earlier that day who said they were going to walk up it and they had – even the 9 year old daughter, shamefully for me! It was breathtaking once we took a look around and I came over a little emotional that from the summit we could see all six Kingdoms of the British Isles – Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Kingdom of Heaven – that’s pretty cool if you think about it! (There’s also a café at the top should you need a refreshment after all that walking!)
Climb The World’s Largest Working Water Wheel
The Laxey Wheel is hard to miss once you venture into Laxey. Standing proud at the top of the hill is the huge red Laxey Wheel. At over 72 feet high the Victorian built “Lady Isabella” the working wheel allows you to discover insight into the Island’s mining heritage. You can also visit the Laxey Mine after in the picturesque village of Laxey.
Monky Around At Rushen Abbey
On land originally gifted by King Olaf 1, Rushen Abbey was built almost 900 years ago and has seen it’s way through many eras from tea-dances of the early 1900’s to the rousing days of 1980’s disco. Now the medieval ruins, which were once home to 19th century Monks have been carefully reconditioned with stunning gardens and an interactive and educational facility for children. A lovely spot for a warm picnic if you’re in the area.
Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the islands vast array of restaurants.
The food and beverage trade on the Isle Of Man is plentiful and scrumptious it would be hard to list everywhere we enjoyed. If you’re heading to Douglas I’d highly recommend a visit to the Courthouse for a delectable feast of traditional and freshly produced cuisine by talented head chef James Stubbs. The Courthouse have won the Taste Isle of Man highest quality award for the last 5 years and have been highly commended by the Tourist board, Daily Mail, Olive Magazine and various other publications, but most importantly, both my children approved of and gobbled their meals up!
We stayed at the beautiful new accomodation at the Ballavartyn Equestrian Centre in Santon, which was a fully equipt holiday home spread across 2 floors with stunning views over the coastline, I am missing waking up to that view and the clippity clop of the horses being put to bed under a bed of stars, this was very kindly gifted to us for the purpose of our trip. We also were kindly gifted a hire car from ASP who very thoughtfully picked us up from the airport to get our car for our stay.
This list really only scratches the surface, don’t forget to look out for the array of wildlife on this ever changing landscape, or gaze up at the stars at one of the Isle’s 26 dark sky sites, for sensational stargazing opportunities On occasion even the Northern Lights can also be spotted from the North eastern coast of the Isle of Man! Keep your eyes posted on here for a perfect itinerary of things to do for a long weekend, coming soon to the Adventures Of A Mum travel pages.