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10 'MUST DO'S' ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Greg Cook

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For centuries the Isle of Wight has been a favourite with those who simply like to be beside the sea, as well as those who prefer to be away out on it, cresting the waves in a sailing boat. These days the island lures just as many cyclists and ramblers as beach lovers and yachties, not to mention hordes of summer festival-goers. Since first being championed as a holiday destination by Queen Victoria herself, much has changed on the island lying a mere three miles across the Solent, and yet its essential character; chocolate box villages, spectacular coastal and rural scenery, and the cheerful, pervading air of seaside kitsch remains unaltered. Visit today however, and you'll also find an abundance of chic boutique-hotels, gastro-pubs and contemporary restaurants, all offering visitors of this extraordinary island an extra layer of sophistication and choice.
Osborne House

The Isle of Wight's architectural jewel and one of the most historically important stately houses in Britain, while on the island a visit to the former royal residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a must. Situated in East Cowes and commanding a perfect view across The Solent, the house was originally designed by Albert in the style of a traditional Italian palazzo and used as a bolthole by the couple from which to escape the turmoil of court. Built by Thomas Cubitt, many of the rooms have been left unaltered since Victoria's death in 1901 and a visit here provides a fascinating insight into the life of one of Britain's most famous queens, during the happiest time of her reign.

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