If you love to discover ancient buildings and learn about fascinating British history, head for a day out to Osborne. Located on the Isle of Wight, this grand old estate was once owned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, before being offered to the nation in 1902. The house and grounds are now open for the public to explore throughout the year, and it makes for a great family day out or romantic couple’s getaway.
Our handy guide will help you plan your visit to Osborne House, with tips for how to get there and what else you can get up to in and around the area. Read on for everything you need to know about Osborne House.
Where is Osborne House?
Osborne House is located in East Cowes, in the north of the Isle of Wight. The address for the former royal residence is York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JT. Opening hours are usually 10-16:00 on weekends and selected weekdays.
From the magnificent house itself to the surrounding gardens and grounds, there are so many ways to while away a day at Osborne.
Tickets for Osborne
Book your tickets in advance to ensure you’re able to visit on your desired day. Head to English Heritage to buy tickets for Osborne and check out the latest prices, opening times and visiting rules that apply.
If you’re visiting more than one English Heritage site in the next year, such as Stonehenge, you might want to become a member. As a member, you can enjoy unlimited access to hundreds of historic places for yourself and up to 6 children for one low annual cost.
Osborne House was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home, and was designed by Prince Albert himself, taking inspiration from an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Being an ex-royal residence, it comes as no surprise that this magnificent house is just as grand on the inside as it is on the outside. Many of the mansion’s rooms are still filled with original furniture and pieces of art, so you’re able to see the house in its true original beauty.
Begin your tour around the house with a peek into the State Rooms, where the Queen of England entertained only the most important guests. Next, head to the Durbar Room, which was used for ceremonial dinners and theatre productions and features beautifully intricate Indian-style plaster work. Both the Council Room and Audience Room were used for entertaining guests and holding important meetings, and the Audience Room was where the newly invented telephone was first shown to the Queen!
Other rooms worth a visit are the Billiard Room, which features tasteful décor and an impressive billiard table, and the Dining and Drawing Room, which contains a priceless copy of the exquisite family portrait of Victoria, Albert and her children.
An essential visit for lovers of history and antiques, the Royal Collection features paintings, furniture and museum pieces collected by the Royals themselves. Discover more about the Royal Collection at Osborne House.
Nestled in the woods in the Osborne grounds you’ll find Swiss Cottage, an Alpine-style chalet that boasts its very own museum. The cottage was built back in 1853 for Prince Albert’s nine young children—and fascinatingly, everything is built at three-quarter scale in order to be the perfect size for his kids. The museum inside Swiss Cottage contains a collection of fossils, antiques and items from around the world that the children collected themselves, so it’s definitely worth exploring!
Osborne Garden & Grounds
Covering an impressive 2,000 acres, the Gardens at Osborne stretch on for miles and come with breath-taking views, making them a great spot for a picnic or a scenic walk. From colourful tulips in spring to beautiful bedding displays in the summer, each season offers something different in the Osborne Gardens.
Playgrounds and walking trails
Take the little ones to let off some steam at the exciting playground just outside Swiss Cottage. There are also two walking trails to embark on—one which takes you through the scenic gardens and another called the Rhododendron Walk which takes you down to the beach.
Queen Victoria’s Beach
Come rain or shine, a trip to the sand and shingle beach that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent many enjoyable hours at should always be on the cards. On sunnier days, why not take a dip in the beautifully clear waters of the Solent before popping into the local ice cream parlour for a delicious sweet snack? If it’s too cold for a dip, take a stroll down the coast and see what beach wildlife you can spot. You can get to the beach by walking, or by minibus which runs from Osborne from April to October time.
Osborne Golf Club
Golfing fans can practise their swing at Osborne Golf Club, which is conveniently located on the Osborne House Estate. Featuring nine holes, this delightful golf course is the Isle of Wight’s oldest and longest, so you don’t want to miss out on a visit if you’re a keen golfer.
From Christmas adventure days to half term explorer quests, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Osborne all year round. You can also book your own corporate event, party or wedding to be hosted at Osborne House.
Tips for enjoying Osborne
Like all tourist attractions, Osborne is best visited at off peak times to avoid busy crowds. The quietest times to visit are in the afternoon. Additionally, if you’re a keen gardening enthusiast, then you should aim to visit Osborne House during the spring and summer seasons to see the plant life at its absolute best.
Food and drink
All that exploring will soon work up an appetite, and while there are no dining facilities directly on site, there are plenty of places around Osborne House to visit for a spot to eat. Grab some lunch at the Terrace Restaurant, or if you’re after a sweet treat, the ice cream hut at The Pavilion Beach always goes down a treat-- particularly on a hot summer’s day. Sweet treats and snacks can also be found at the Petty Officers' Quarters or The Gazelle House.
If you’re after a sit-down dining experience, check out one of the many restaurants and pubs nearby. Some of our favourites include The Lifeboat, which is a casual riverside bar and restaurant, The Lunch Box and The Victoria Tavern. If fine dining is more your style, then head to Prego, a 5-star reviewed Italian restaurant serving delicious pizza and pasta options.
Places to stay near Osborne House
No matter your budget or group size, you’ll be sure to find a place to stay near Osborne House. If you fancy living like royalty and staying on the Osborne Estate, you can choose between Holiday Cottages Pavilion Cottage and Sovereign’s Gate Holiday Cottages.
Alternatively, nearby hotels include Albert Cottage Hotel at a six minutes’ walk away, Premier Inn Isle of Wight which is 13 minutes away by bus, and Travelodge Newport Isle of Wight which is 24 minutes away by bus.
Osborne House accessibility
Osborne House aims to provide an accessible environment for visitors of any ability. Disabled bathrooms, parking and lift access are just a few of the things available during your visit. Find out more about Osborne House’s accessibility to help you plan your visit.