Crossing the Solent is all part of the experience of travelling to the Isle of Wight, and there’s a choice of crossings from different ports on the mainland, all easily reached by South Western Railway – see our map for details.
From Southampton Central station, catch the free shuttle bus to the Red Funnel terminal and catch the ferry to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, taking about 1 hour, or the fast catamaran to Cowes on the Island, which takes just 25 minutes
From Lymington Pier you can catch the Wightlink ferry to Yarmouth at the western end of the Isle of Wight
At Portsmouth Harbour you can catch the Wightlink catamaran from just outside the station, which takes you to Ryde Pier on the Island in about 20 minutes
At Gunwharf Terminal, about 10 minutes’ walk from Portsmouth Harbour station, you can catch Wightlink’s car and passenger ferry, which gets you to Fishbourne on the Island in about 45 minutes
From Portsmouth & Southsea station you can take the fastest route: follow the signs to the Hoverbus (not free), which takes you direct to the Hovertravel terminal, from where the only scheduled hovercraft service in the world will whisk you to Ryde on the Isle of Wight in just 10 minutes
Plan ahead and save money by buying combined train and ferry tickets for your chosen crossing – check the options online or at your local ticket office. See the Wightlink or Hovertravel site for combined Hoverbus, hovercraft and Island Line tickets, and other money saving options.
Wherever you arrive, you have a range of onward travel into the island. If you get a ticket to Ryde, the ferry or hovercraft will deposit you yards away from a station on the Island Line, the train network that runs between the towns of Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. Ryde Pier Head station is right next to the Wightlink terminal, and Ryde Esplanade station serves the hovercraft. From Smallbrook Junction station, you can catch the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to Wootton. At the foot of Ryde pier is a bus station providing services inland, and regular buses also serve ferries arriving at East Cowes and Yarmouth. See details of Island Line tickets.