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Cowes, Isle of Wight

Top places to live in Hampshire & IOW Cowes

Cowes and its sister East Cowes are popular Isle of Wight destinations in the summer, but they're much more than a holiday destination. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.

Cowes, Isle of Wight
Ronald Saunders


There’s more to this picturesque maritime town than just its historical regatta. Cowes on the Isle of Wight has speedy links to the mainland, plenty of pretty Victorian properties and enough bars and restaurants for foodies to sink their teeth into. For those wanting the best of both worlds, it’s one of our top IoW picks.  


There’s more to the pubs and restaurants here than seafood (although if you’re a fan of a fish dish, head to The Red Duster – you can’t miss the bright red frontage). Bijou Italian Tonino’s has been serving up Puglia-inspired dishes to hungry islanders since 1979; equally dinky Mojac’s at the top of Shooters Hill offers French cuisine and delicious cocktails, and The Basque Kitchen specialises in Spanish tapas and gin (sip it in the pretty back garden). Just after drinks? The Folly Inn is an open plan, rustic pub perched on the banks of the river. 


The pretty pedestrianised High Street is a mix of upmarket branches to keep the yachtie set happy, as well as indie boutiques. Staples & Green is a one-stop shop for interiors (with a nautical feel, natch), while Shorelines sells quirky gifts and artwork. Live Like This (previously voted one of the 10 best shops by the sea by Coast magazine) combines both for lifestyle, accessories, and furniture.  


Head across the floating bridge to nose around Cowes’ sister town East Cowes, and you’ll spot English Heritage site Osborne House, best known as Queen Victoria’s seaside retreat. There are also plenty of museums, most with a maritime or military theme. Cowes Maritime Museum is free to visit, while Classic Boat Museum costs a couple of pounds to enter.  


Property is massively varied in style and age here, but if you’re lucky you can nab views of the River Medina. Properties in Cowes have an overall average price of £276,216, which detached properties costing the most at an average of £418,883. Local estate agents include Marvins of Cowes and Hose Rhodes Dickson, the largest Estate Agent on the Isle of Wight. 



There’s an excellent array of state primary schools nearby, including Cowes Primary School and Gurnard Primary School, while Cowes Enterprise College with its secondary school and sixth form a solid option for older children. Priory School, a co-ed day school in Whippingham, is a nearby independent option for Cowes, as is Ryde School with Upper Chine, a co-ed day and boarding school catering for ages 2 to 18.


Cowes isn’t what we’d call a beach retreat, but neighbouring Gurnard is within walking distance and is home to several quaint shingle beaches for a dip and a picnic.  


Red Funnel ferry has a passenger-only high-speed service to Southampton that crosses 30 times a day – from there you’re looking at a 1h30 train to London Waterloo.   

View the full Top 200 Places to Live

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