Steeped in history, the Isle of Man is an incredible island to visit whilst exploring the British Isles. Perched in between Great Britain and Ireland, this crown dependency is totally gorgeous to visit. Not only that, there’s a heap of the best things to do on the Isle of Man dotted all across the shoreline and hills.
This all makes it a totally epic place for a long-weekend break (or even more if you have time).
Taking the ferry from Liverpool, Heysham or flying in from bigger UK cities, you’ll likely start your journey in the capital, Douglas. Though, that won’t be your only spot to visit whilst on the Isle of Man.
For islands trips like this, we’d recommend hiring a car! This gives you the freedom to truly explore at your own pace and visit all the gorgeous spots that you might have normally missed without transportation.
So, to help you get the most outta your trip around the Isle of Man, I wanted to share some total gems you really shouldn’t miss. Hopefully, this way, you’ll be able to concentrate on all the sightseeing without getting too bogged down in the details.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do on the Isle of Man. Have an amazing island adventure!
As I mentioned, your first port-of-call will likely be Douglas. Take this as a sign and spend some time wandering the quaint little streets and shoreline.
Whilst here, stop off at the Manx Museum, which is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man to learn about the Island’s heritage. You see, the museum covers more than 10,000 years of island history and is a treasure-trove of information. though, truth-be-told, if you’re not into your museums, you might wanna give this one a miss!
Alternatively, stroll across Douglas Bay and spot the Tower of Refuge that was built as a safety point for potentially shipwrecked sailors!
Getting peckish? Hop into Jak’s Bar and Smokehouse for their delicious and juicy steaks. They’re so good.
Finally, just outside Douglas are the dramatic cliffs around Marine Drive. Stop off near Pigeon Stream (beyond the Camera Obscura) before carrying onto Port Soderick that’s also a stop on the Isle of Man Steam Railway.
Nestled 20-minutes away from Douglas, Castletown is another historic harbour town that’s just shy of the main airport.
Although relatively small, exploring this ancient capital is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man if you love your history.
After arriving, head on over to Castle Rushen to explore the 13th-Century ruins that dominate the shoreline. The rooms are incredible to see, including some of the original prison that’s still present here.
Afterwards, head over to Old House of Keys, the Nautical Museum, and The Old Grammar School. You can easily spend a whole day in Castletown and even go for a stroll across Castletown Beach.
3.) Manx Electric Railway
Traversing the island, via Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey, riding the Manx Electric Railway is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man that’s totally unique.
The views from the tram are marvellous and it’s such a throwback experience taking you back to Victorian times! Plus, you’ll get to see some of the highest points on the island along the way.
4.) Enjoy At Calf of Man
Just off the coast of the Isle of Man, the Calf of Man is a much smaller island that’s totally stunning. Now, to get here you will need to head across Calf Sound via the boats that operate from Port St Mary and Port Erin. Though, these typically only run in good weather, so don’t be surprised if these are cancelled when the weather takes a turn!
Once on the Calf of Man, you’ll enjoy seeing a heap of birds on this gorgeous and protected island. Just stunning if you love your wildlife and want a little time “off the grid”.
5.) Great Laxey Wheel
20-minutes, north-east, from Douglas, the Great Laxey Wheel is a unique spot you can’t miss on the Isle of Man.
Built back in 1854, to pump water from the Great Laxey mines, it’s one of the best places on the Isle of Man to explore the island’s heritage. Here you can learn about the lives of the miners, the historical significance of this place.
Oh, and don’t forget, just down the road you can see King Orry’s Grave, the largest megalithic and ancient tomb on all of the Isle of Man.
Feeling peckish? Head over to nearby Ballacregga Bar for a quick lunch before heading further up the coast.
6.) Port Erin
Visiting Port Erin is easily one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man if you love a good seaside galavant. With the sandy bay of Port Erin Beach and nearby Chapel Bay, you’ll be in for a lovely treat on a gorgeous sunny day.
The port features many activities including paddle boarding and biking if you’re feeling a little more active.
Though, if you’re anything like me you’ll probably be visiting the Foraging Vintners that produce non-grape sparkling wines and fiery ginger beer.
If that’s not your thing (and you want some more time in the wild) visit the Ballachurry Nature Reserve where you can see a variety of birdlife and views across this stunning region.
Right up near the north-east point of the island, Ramsey is a gorgeous little place to explore some of the histories of the island.
You see, this is where the Grove Museum is, which is great o learn more about Victorian life here and the impact of Liverpool shipping merchant Duncan Gibb on the island. Here, you’ll get to explore the period rooms and totally chill in the cosy gardens.
Right on the west coast of the Isle of Man, Peel is a small town that’s got a heap going for it – in fact, I’d say it’s one of the biggest towns to visit after Douglas.
After arriving, head over to Peel Castle that stands proudly on St Patrick’s Ise and attached via a small spit of land. Here, you’ll be able to visit the castle ruins that are almost 1,000 years old! It’s totally stunning and reminds me of Whitby Abbey for some reason.
Fancy an indoor spot? Head across to the House of Manannan, a museum that’s named after the mythological sea god, Manannan. Here you can learn about the Viking history of the Isle of Man that’s so impressive to learn about. Plus, there are a lot of pretty epic exhibits showing how life was like in olden-days Isle of Man.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab a bag of fish and chips from the Cod and Castle. Freshly fried, they’re great to gorge on the seafront.
9.) The Way of the Gull (Raad ny Foillan)
Literally, your opportunity to walk across a whole island nation!
With almost 100-miles of footpaths to explore, the Way of the Gull (Raad ny Foillan) is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man if you love to hike.
Here you can walk on the cliff footpaths and enjoy the stunning views all across the island. Though, it can take anywhere between 4-12 days to fully complete. So, if you want a challenge, then the Way of the Gull is for you!
You can see the full route on the Ordnance Survey site that details the path pretty well.
10.) Glen Helen
Slightly inland from the town of Peel, Glen Helen is a must to explore if you want to get out into the countryside.
With beautiful river-side trails and little waterfalls, Glen Helen is an amazing place to visit with your family as it’s not too strenuous and quite a nice little pit stop to stretch your legs if you’ve been driving lots.
Not really a full-day experience, but still worth a gander whilst in the area.
11.) Niarbyl Bay
Just south-west of Peel, visiting Niarbyl Bay is one of the best things to do on the Isle of Man if you love the unspoilt beauty of the island.
With gorgeous seafront cottages and historic walkways, this stunning area of the island is totally well worth a few hours of exploring. Afterwards, you can warm up with a piping hot cuppa or homemade soup from the Niarbyl Cafe.
Oh, and from the shore, you might even spot basking sharks on a serene and still summers day!
12.) Groudle Glen
Just up the coast from Douglas, Groudle Glen is a quaint little stop to make on your trip around the Isle of Man.
Here, you’ll get to hop on the Groudle Glen Railway, take in the views of the Groudle Glen Waterwheel and stroll the coastline near the Sea Lion Rocks Tea Rooms.
The views are stunning on a gorgeous clear day.