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On holidays to the Isle of Man, you can bounce between motorcycle races and mountains hikes, historical museums and medieval castles. Whether you’re after a short break or a longer staycation with the family, you’ll find something that piques your interest on this interesting island.
For petrolheads, the Isle of Man is a dream destination. Motorcycle speed kings hurtle around the Isle of Man at terrifying speeds during the annual Isle of Man TT contest: the speed record on the 60.72km (37.73 mile) Mountain Course stands at a smidge over 135mph.
But, on your family holiday or weekend break on this green dot in the Irish Sea, you can discover a more leisurely pace and make the most of the Isle of Man's charms. Dinky narrow-gauge steam trains trundle around the island at a pace that allows plenty of time to admire tidy green pastures where rare Laoghtan sheep graze.
There are breezy beaches to stroll along and leafy glens where waterfalls tumble. History buffs can delve into the Isle of Man's deep past at Peel Castle – once home to Viking kings – and relics like Cashtal yn Ard, a 4,000-year-old Neolithic tomb. There are waterborne adventures too: why not take a wildlife-spotting cruise or a sea-angling trip?
Isle of Man staycations offer lots to see and do for activity-loving families and couples alike. Family holidays in the island can include lots of outdoor fun but if it rains, you'll find plenty of all-weather attractions too.
Best things to do on a weekend break
A thrilling around turn around the legendary TT road racing circuit with Isle of Man Trike Tours is a must on a weekend holiday to the Isle of Man.
Given the island’s small size, it’s also easy to squeeze in a sea kayaking day out with Adventurous Experiences, or a Manx Sea Life Safari, where you can search for seals, dolphins and basking sharks. If you’d prefer to stay dry, gentle horseback rides are available at Ballahimmin Riding and Pony Trekking Centre.
For great views, ride the Snaefell Mountain Railway up the 620m (2,036ft) summit of the island's highest mountain. Or, dine in Edwardian style in a restored Pullman car aboard the Isle of Man Steam Railway, and round off your weekend break with a show at the Gaiety Theatre.
Best things to do for families
Family holidays in the Isle of Man can be filled with non-stop experiences for teens and toddlers. Of course, child-friendly beaches are a big part of the Isle of Man's appeal for families on a staycation – but there's a whole lot more on offer.
Ride a miniature carriage on the narrow gauge Great Laxey Mine Railway or the Groudle Glen Railway with its colourful pint-sized steam locomotives, or trundle through Douglas on a horse-drawn tram. At Ape Mann Adventure Park, kids can play Tarzan on treetop rope courses and zip lines. If it turns out wet, head to the Manx Fun Farm and its indoor soft play area.
Young animal lovers, meanwhile, can watch sheepdogs at work on a traditional farm at Smeale Farm Tours and meet pelicans, penguins, meerkats and exotic creepy-crawlies at Curraghs Wildlife Park.
Best beaches in the Isle of Man
It won’t come as a surprise that the Isle of Man has some good beaches. Douglas, the island's holiday capital, has a 3km (2-mile) stretch of sand flanked by a curving esplanade and lined in summer with deckchairs, while west-facing Peel Beach shelves gently into a lovely bay, overlooked by red cliffs and a medieval castle.
For a day’s worth of fun, spend the day at Port Erin's horseshoe-shaped sandy bay – it’s got a handful of cafes, kayaks for hire and fishing is allowed. Stick around until evening for picture-perfect sunsets. If you’re looking for something a bit wilder, the remote, miles-long sweep of Glen Wyllin Beach is great for a breezy walk or a summer picnic.
Best restaurants and bars in the Isle of Man
Surrounded by the rich fishery of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man's menu is naturally seafood-heavy. Plump queen scallops ('queenies') have been acclaimed as the island's signature dish, and Isle of Man kippers should be a part of any full Manx breakfast. You'll find queenies and locally-caught Manx crab and lobster on the menu at seafood restaurants such as Tanroagan in Douglas and Coast Bar and Brasserie.
For a special occasion or Sunday lunch with all the trimmings, you'll find massive Chateaubriand and other steaks, roasts, game and seafood dishes on the menu at restaurants in historic surroundings such as The Abbey and The Forge.
If you’re trying to keep it cheap on a weekend break in the Isle of Man, try another local favourite: chips, cheese and gravy. You'll find it at family-friendly eateries such as the Terrace Chippy and Diner.
Fancy a pint? Okell's, the Isle of Man's own brewery, has a chain of traditional pubs scattered around the island. The Mitre in Kirk Michael, handily close to the sands of Glen Wyllin Beach, claims to be the oldest inn on the Isle of Man.
Best attractions in the Isle of Man
Dip into the history of Viking kings within the massive ramparts of the Isle of Man's iconic fortress, Peel Castle. It’s other impressive stronghold, the medieval Castle Rushen, has wonderful views of the island from its ramparts.
To marvel at Victorian engineering skills, visit the Laxey Wheel – also called the 'Lady Isabella' – and the Great Union Camera Obscura, a state-of-the-art Victorian optical technology that will astonish younger digital natives.
For a rainy day, a visit to the Manx Museum unveils the Isle of Man's Celtic and Viking past.