The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. It is just 33 miles long and 13 miles wide with a population of around 85,000. It is a British Crown dependency.
Inviting countryside, unspoilt beaches and ancient castles make up the island’s 221 square miles. The terrain has some variation, with two mountainous areas divided by a central valley which runs between the capital Douglas on the east coast and Peel on the west coast, the settlement where the Isle of Man’s only cathedral is located. The island’s highest point is Snaefell, which is 620 metres above sea level.
The official language on the Isle of Man is English; Manx Gaelic has also had official status since 1985. This traditional language, closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic, is rare and endangered but has seen recent efforts to revive its usage.
The Isle of Man is very easy to reach from the UK and Ireland. There are direct air links with over 20 airports, with flight times of under 30 minutes from some north west destinations. Visitors opting to travel by sea have plenty of ferry services to choose from, including fast craft. Once there, a bus network serves the whole island and there are also three lovely heritage railways to choose from to make travelling that little bit extra special. Saver tickets are available that offer unlimited travel on the buses and railways.
Another option is hiring a car, since the island is easily navigable by road and this enables visitors to go at their own pace.
The Isle of Man has a temperate climate, with cool summers and mild winters. Average rainfall is high compared to most of the British Isles. Temperatures never reach very high figures, with the recorded maximum being 28.9 °C.
Many visitors flock to the Isle of Man for various events throughout the year, especially the world-class TT Races. This annual motorcycle event is famous internationally and brings champion riders from throughout the world to the island. The challenging Mountain Course is nearly 38 miles long and is not without risk, as riders travel at speeds of up to 200mph. Starting at the end of May each year, these races have been run on public roads for more than 100 years.
The Isle of Man’s surprising standing in international sport, relative to its size, does not end with motorcycling either. The Manx Classic Rally, Rally Isle of Man, an annual mountain biking race and the Isle of Man Walking Festival are all renowned throughout the world.
Other events to look out for include the Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival, the Queenie Festival, and Yn Chruinnaght.
The Isle of Man has something for everyone. In addition to the exciting events mentioned above, the historical sights include burial grounds and Neolithic chambered tombs (including the largest Neolithic tomb in the British Isles), a large collection of Celtic and Norse crosses produced between the 6th and 13th centuries, several castles (Castle Rushen is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval castles) and the world’s largest working waterwheel in Laxey.
More than 40% of the Isle of Man is unpopulated and uncultivated, so the countryside has plenty to explore and many beauty spots. There are 18 national glens – both coastal and mountainous – many of which lead to the sea, and waterfalls, formal gardens and nature reserves.
The island offers abundant opportunities for viewing wildlife, especially along the coastline. The southern tip offers the best vantage point for watching a population of seals that live there, and Manx waters are also inhabited by dolphins, whales and basking sharks.