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From Castles to Cliffs: Top 12 Things to Do on the Isle of Man

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3 months ago

With a rugged natural beauty, world-class dining options, castles, folklore, history and an abundance of cute little villages, the Isle of Man literally has something for everybody.

In my opinion, the Isle of Man is the greatest hidden gem in the British Isles and one of the most unusual and easily accessible weekend breaks from London.

Whether you have a week up your sleeve or you’re looking for an Isle of Man weekend itinerary, you will not run out of things to do here!

1. Peel Castle

Peel Castle is my favorite thing to see in the Isle of Man. Set just off the cute town of Peel on St Patrick’s Isle, Peel Castle is the island’s most impressive castle!

Travel tip: Follow the walking path around the exterior of Peel Castle. You will be met with some of the island’s most dramatic clifftop views and beach scenes. The walk is mostly flat and relatively short – about 20 minutes or so.

Built by Vikings in the 11th century, Peel Castle is yet another example of the layers of history here in the Isle of Man. Any good guided tour will include a stop at Peel Castle.

2. Tynwald Hill

Tynwald Hill is a lovely quick stop about halfway between Douglas and Peel. I’ll be honest, from the car this might not look like much. But I assure you, it’s worth getting out and having a little wander.

For the Manx people, this small terraced hill is one of the most distinctive landmarks of the Isle of Man. First established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago, these days the area is still used for dance and celebration during Manx festivals!

Travel tip: Take a closer look at the layers on Tynwald Hill and you will spot neat circular holes in the stones. These stones were likely brought by the Vikings to build Tynwald Hill and the holes continue to baffle archaeologists and historians! Some suggest these holes even be pre-historic cup holders!

3. Eat fish and chips

There is just something about eating fish and chips on a rugged beach, with the seagulls making noise and a crisp wind. If you have travelled much around the British Isles, you will know exactly what I mean.

I’ll be honest, I have eaten my fair share of fish and chips since moving to the UK. I say this confidently: the fish and chips in the Isle of Man is the best fish and chips in the world. There’s something about the fresh locally caught haddocks, the hand-cut chips and the clearly homemade mushy peas and tartare sauce on offer.

For where to find the best fish and chips in the Isle of Man, you will need to read my Isle of Man food guide.

4. House of Manannan

The House of Manannan is a small museum in Peel which takes you through the Isle of Man’s Celtic and Viking history.

Named after the local god of the sea, Manannan, it’s museums like this which make the Isle of Man one of the most unique places to visit in the British Isles.

5. Great Laxey Wheel

The iconic Laxey water wheel is one of the most unique things to see in the Isle of Man. Operating since 1854, the Great Laxey Wheel is the largest working waterwheel in the world!

If you visit during the summer months, I recommend taking the Great Laxey Mines Railway. The Railway used to transport lead and zinc ores from deep inside the Great Laxey Mine!

Travel tip: Time your visit to Laxey Wheel around teatime and make a stop at Ballacregga Corn Mill Tea Room for some of the island’s best cakes, tray-bakes and scones.

6. Buy unique Isle of Man crafts

I love the level of local production on the Isle of Man – everything from sourdough to knitted ware.

For those looking for unique Manx souvenirs, I recommend the gift shops at the Manx Museum and the House of Manannan.

For something a little more exclusive, check out the shops in the old Laxey Woollen Mills. Extremely tasteful design and if you’re visiting during winter – something to keep you very warm!

7. Groudle Glen

I’m not a big hiker but this little glen is one of my favorite walks in the Isle of Man.

Set beneath the heritage tram stop at Groudle, this little pathway is covered in beautiful trees and takes you through imposing aqueducts to a smaller water wheel. In my opinion, this is one of the best hidden gems – just 20 minutes from the capital, Douglas. Remember, the Isle of Man is all about accessible nature!

8. Manx Museum

To understand the history and culture of the Isle of Man, your time in Douglas must include a visit to the Manx Museum.

Founded in 1922, the Manx Museum takes you back through 10,000 years of Manx history. With an excellent 20-minute audio-visual feature to start you off, you will then be guided through everything from Victorian-era tourism to local folklore and the decline (and revitilization) of the Manx language.

9. Cregneash

Cregnash is certainly my highlight from the southern part of the island. This still-lived-in heritage village contains original cottages where you learn how farmers traditionally lived in the island. I found it really fascinating to hear how Manx domestic skills developed in light of the rugged landscape – a self-sufficient culture.

The village of Cregnash is set overlooking the Calf of Man. Historically, Creagnash was one of the last strongholds of Manx language and culture on the Isle of Man!

Travel tip: After visiting Cregneash, take a short drive (about 12 minutes) down to the Sound Café at the bottom of the Isle of Man. Here, you can take a short walk along the huge cliffs. Make sure to keep an eye open for wild seals!

10. Castle Rushen

The Isle of Man is not short of heritage sites and, after Peel, Castle Rushen is the most impressive on the island.

Keep your eyes open for the Manx coat of arms above the big wooden doors. Throughout Rushen Castle you will find strong symbols of the independent Manx identity.

11. Old House of Keys

Set in Castletown, the first Manx capital, the modest yet imposing Old House of Keys is the first parliament of the Isle of Man!

I find it super fascinating to learn about the unique political process of the island. However, before you visit, take note that the Old House of Keys is only open to visitors during the spring and summer seasons.

12. Bee Gees statue

This one is for the music fans: the Bee Gees were born here!

The Isle of Man is proud of their home grown talent. Today, the Bee Gees continue to be celebrated on the Douglas shore-walk – and across restaurants and pubs on the island.

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Geraldine Willman

Monday 18th of March 2024

What about Rushen Abbey with the Monks Bridge Also the Abbey restaurant

David Lewis

Friday 15th of March 2024

Never mind fish & chips. Chips ,cheese & gravy is the Manx National dish. Summerhill Glen is a little publicised hidden gem. The stream & woodland magically lit up at night. Great for kids to try and spot the little people.