Cowes is the Isle of Wight’s main port and just a quick ferry ride across the Solent to Southampton. It’s also a pretty town, with sandy beaches and a maze of narrow streets, packed with independent businesses. Nestled on the banks of the River Medina, on the island’s north coast, this welcoming community has a rich maritime history and remains a centre for sailing. Whether you are planning on exploring the sweeping estuary, rambling over soaring white clifftops or relaxing on one of the area’s many dune-backed beaches, Cowes holiday cottages are perfect for a relaxing break on the Isle of Wight.

Cowes lies on the river’s western bank, facing East Cowes on the opposite side of the water, and the two towns are connected by a floating bridge, or chain ferry. Since the 1800s, Cowes has been the home of international yacht racing, with the oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, in the first week of August. Wander into the town centre from your holiday cottage in Cowes and you will discover some of the island’s most beautiful historic architecture, including the grand 18th century houses of Northwood and Westbourne, and a beautiful esplanade with views across the Solent, to the mainland.

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Self-catering holidays in Cowes would be incomplete without a trip to Osborne House, the magnificent family home of Queen Victoria, with opulent interiors, exotic plants and Victorian walled gardens. To delve into the town’s maritime history, visit the excellent Cowes Maritime Museum, on Beckford Road. In and around Cowes’ pedestrianised high street, you will find boutiques, gift shops and galleries. Cowes is also home to some of the Isle of Wight’s best restaurants. For a delicious evening meal, try award-winning Mojac’s Restaurant and Bar, renowned for its meat and fish dishes, prepared with local, seasonal ingredients. Murray’s is also a good option, with exceptional seafood, fresh from the local harbours.