Isle of Man
Think of the Isle of Man and you might think motorsport and financial institutions.
But take a trip here and there's a lot more to discover – an island of breathtakingly diverse natural beauty, where historic sights blend into the landscape and you can get a genuinely wild outdoor experience.
Arriving at Isle of Man Airport
Isle of Man Airport, also known as Ronaldsway, is the island's only airport, situated in the south of the island, close to Castletown. Look out the window as you come in to land and you’ll get a sense of the island’s layout. Windswept peninsulas, craggy coastline and small villages shape the landscape of the island, which sits in the middle of the Irish Sea.
Once you land you can expect to be on the road swiftly; the airport is small and progress through it is usually quick. You'll find car hire pickup areas straight after baggage collection, and there are fixed-tariff taxis in a rank directly outside the main entrance. Douglas, the island's capital, is about 20 minutes away by car.
Public transport connections at the airport are equally convenient. There’s no separate airport service; you just need to hop on one of the island’s buses, which stop in the drop-off area. They run regularly from Monday to Saturday, with limited service on Sundays. Buses head north to Douglas, south to Port Erin and west to Peel, making most of the island accessible from the airport.
One of the best ways to see the Isle of Man is by lacing up a pair of walking boots and walking wherever the path takes you. Trails lead up fells, down glens and around the coastline. Choose where you want to go by simply joining the Raad ny Foillan - the coastal footpath that runs around the entire circumference of the island. It's about 100 miles (160km) long, but you can jump in at any point for hill climbs, clifftop walks and gentle beach strolls.
Look out, too, for the island's hidden waterfalls. Dhoon Glen and Glen Maye are particularly dramatic, with walking trails that lead to secluded stone beaches.
There are plenty of opportunities for adventure while exploring the Isle of Man. Sea-kayaking allows you to skirt the edges of the coastline and get up close to the seals and basking sharks that drift through the waters here. Paddle around the Calf of Man, a small uninhabited island at the southern tip, for a serene experience away from any trace of humanity. Coasteering, mountain biking and high-ropes courses are also available for thrill-seekers visiting the island.
The Isle of Man's small size means you have the whole island at your disposal when it comes to planning a day-trip. Wherever you are, you'll be able to reach most areas of the island in an hour or less by car. To inject a bit of variety into your trip, consider these destinations, which can be reached by some more novel modes of transport.
Ramsey In Douglas, take the horse-drawn tram along the promenade. This old-fashioned service has been running here since 1876. This will take you to the terminal of the Manx Electric Railway, which offers both closed and open-air carriages for journeys to Ramsey along some of the finest stretches of Manx coastline.
As an alternative to Ramsey, take the same train journey but hop off in Laxey. Change to a different train and ride to the top of Snaefell, the highest point on the island.
Port Erin If you'd rather head south, climb aboard the historic steam railway, which trundles through the landscape at a leisurely pace, arriving in the beach town of Port Erin. This train has been running since 1874 and remains one of the most delightful ways to see the island.