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Best Places to Visit in Isle of Man, Top Attractions
The Isle of Man’s landscape hosts impressive ancient monuments from Viking burial sites to the earliest Celtic stone crosses. Many of these sites are under the protection of the Manx National Heritage and can be accessed at any time of year. Our top picks include Balladoole, which has revealed a number of historic finds and Cashtal yn Ard - the largest Neolithic tomb in the British Isles. Famous for its tailless cats, its historic language, its striking flag, for being the motorcycle racing capital of the world, and its reputation for doing its own thing, the Isle of Man is possibly one of the most intriguing and underrated travel destinations in Europe. The Isle of Man, while not a large island - it's just 33 miles long and 12 miles wide - offers plenty of fun things to do for tourists, and many fascinating points of interest. Situated in the Irish Sea, midway between England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, the Isle of Man benefits from a mild climate and boasts more than 100 miles of beautiful coastline, consisting largely of sweeping sandy beaches and steep, rugged cliffs. Most of the island is undulating and hilly, with a pretty mix of moorland and heath, gentle uplands, narrow glens with waterfalls, and areas of woodland. A must-do while you're here is enjoying a tour of its capital, Douglas, where you'll find many of the island's top points of interest. Although the Isle of Man doesn't belong to the UK, it is a crown dependency, and as such has its own parliament: the Court of Tynwald.
#1- Heritage Attractions
The Laxey Wheel, called the Lady Isabella and so famous they wrote a song about it, is a great sight. Built in 1854 it is a true example of the height of Victorian engineering and at 22m high a climb to the top has been a popular trip for tourists for over 150 years. Situated in the beautiful Laxey countryside it can be reached by electric tram from Douglas for a real day out. There are 2 castles; Castle Rushen and Peel Castle and both give an insight into Manx history and culture. Originally a place of worship Peel Castle became a fort in the 11th century. Castle Rushen was built for a Norse King in 1265 and developed further between the 13th and 16th centuries. The braver among you could even indulge in a night-time ghost walk around them with a discussion of the supernatural.
#2- Heritage Railways
The Isle of Man Steam Railway is one of the most noticeable sights on the island and this Victorian marvel is perfectly frozen in time. Once part of a longer route running to Peel and Ramsey, the current Southern route runs from Port Erin to Douglas at a distance of just over 15 miles. With a range of heritage attractions located near railway stations in the South of the Island you can easily make a trip out of hopping on and off the train to see some of the local sights. That said, the train itself is an experience. With loud noises, soot, smoke and whistling it is a great journey for every member of the family.
#3- Ancient Monuments
During your trip not only will you have the chance to visit several museums covering and detailing Manx history, you can also visit one of several ancient monuments. These document Manx life and history as seen through the eyes of the people at the time and give an insight into how they lived. From the impressive range of Manx stone crosses you will see a fascinating cross-section of Manx history. Starting with early Celtic style tablets with inscriptions in both Celtic and occasionally Latin we then move through to Norse sculpting with iconography from their conversion to Christianity.
#4- Wildlife Watching
Boat Trips and fishing charters offer an ideal opportunity to get out into the fresh sea air and experience the wildlife of the sea. Gulls fly past crying at you for food, fish swim below and your family builds holiday memories. You will get to see areas of the coastline hidden from land-bound eyes and see, quite literally, a different side to the Island. Basking sharks are a common site in the waters around the Island and there are plenty of opportunities to get out and see them if you come at the right time of year. Dolphins and sometimes even Whales can also be spotted, giving you a rare opportunity to see these creatures in their natural habitat during your trip.
The Isle of Man is situated in the middle of the Irish Sea and it has a rich history of Viking invasions. Fishing is one of the major industries and has supported the Island's community for centuries. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Isle of Man has a wide range of water sport activities to offer you, and your family, during your trip. Sailing is very popular, there are a wide range of yacht clubs based around the Island. There are opportunities to go out sailing yourself or, if you are more of a spectator, there are events such as the Round the Island Race which happen every year. Fancy hitting the sea yourself? As well as organised events you could hire your own equipment and head out for the day in a rented kayak, possibly even getting in a spot of fishing while you do.
#6- Natural Wonders in the Isle of Man
At the very north of the Island you will find Ayres Visitor Centre, stretching for 5 miles from the Point of Ayre to Cronk-y-Bring. This centre and visitor trail is an important location of scientific and ecological interest. You and your family will find out about the rare plants, animal habitats and birds during your visit. It is likely in the summer you will also see gannets and terns offshore, and possibly even basking sharks and seals. At the other end of the island, situated next to the living museum of Cregneash, and at the southern tip of the Island you will find the Sound and Calf of Man. A cafe built into the headlands offers an incredible panoramic view of the coastline and out over the Calf.
#7- Recreational Parks & Centres
With a range of native trees and ornamental trees, there is a large pond where children can feed some of the local wildlife in the form of ducks, as well as a shelter and picnic area. This is ideal if the weather turns to rain but you still want to experience the incredible views. At Onchan Pleasure Park your family will have a more adrenaline packed time. Stock-car racing tests man and machine during the race season and is a great, noisy and exciting day out. There is also a boating lake with motorboats, squash facilities and tennis courts if you fancy a bit more of an active time during your holiday.
#8- Wildlife & Animal Attractions
The Curraghs Wildlife Park is another very popular location for wildlife and, as well as local species, it offers wildlife of a more international nature and can easily fill an entire day out with the family. Easily visited by bus or car it is in the North of the Island and is an essential part of your trip. With animals from around the world, regular daily feeding events and a cafe for a break when walking is too much it will make you family holiday that much more memorable.
#9- Museums in the Isle of Man
Experience history on the Manx Steam Railway to Douglas before stopping off at the Manx Museum to learn about the Islands history. Packed with artefacts and information the museum also has the national art gallery full of famous artists, the start of the "Story of Mann" trail and a great cafe to grab some lunch and a drink. In Peel the House of Mannanan, sea-god and protector of the Manx People, will guide you through the Viking and Celtic history of the Isle of Man. There is also plenty of nautical history here to keep your family entertained. If nautical history interests you then another trip on the steam railway is in order, this time to the ancient capital of Mann, Castletown.
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