The Manx Steam Railway goes from Douglas to Port Erin. There are many interesting stops along the way, though most are by request, so make sure you let the conductor know when you board.
The stops are as follows: Douglas (start/end), Port Soderick (stop), Santon (request), Ballasalla (stop), Ronaldsway (request), Castletown (stop), Ballabeg (request), Colby (stop), Level (request), Port St Mary (stop), Port Erin (start/end). Note that the request stops are mostly unmanned stations. I have also been in the interesting position of flagging a train down as you would a bus or taxi. At small stops stand near but not too close to the edge of the platform to make sure the driver sees you.
There are options for seating; an open carriage and first and second class carriages which are divided into sections seating about six each. There is no prior arrangements for seating, it is first come, first served.
Timetables vary depending on day and season and are available from ticket office at the main stations, including Douglas' Victorian station.
I would add be mindful of putting your head out the windows as the smoke from the train can be blown in your face, take it from someone who has experienced it.
The Manx Electric Railway (M.E.R) goes from Douglas to Ramsey, via Laxey and other towns on the East coast. It is about a 45 minute ride from Douglas to Laxey and then another 45 minutes from Laxey to Ramsey. There is also an option to change for the Snaefell Mountain Railway at Laxey.
There are many interesting stops along the way, though most are by request, so make sure you let the conductor know when they check tickets.
The stops are as follows: Douglas (start/end), Onchan (request), Groudle (stop), Baldrine (request), Ballabeg (request), Fairy cottage (request), South cape (request), Laxey (stop), Minorca (request), Dhoon (request), Glen Mona (request), Ballaglass (request), Cornaa (request), Ballajore (request), Ballure (request), Ramsey (start/end). Note that the request stops are mostly unmanned stations.
There are often two options for seating, covered or open trams. The inside seats are good if it is cold or wet or you want something a bit more comfortable, but if you really want to take in the scenery then sit on the open sided tram, rest assured if the weather turns there are shutters that come down to keep you dry.
Timetables vary depending on day and season and are available from ticket office at the main stations, including Douglas.
The Douglas Horse Drawn Trams are the world's oldest horse drawn tram service, The main stops are at each end of the 2 mile promenade, the one further away from the town centre is where the horses are kept and is the first and last stop of the day, with the other near the port. There are marked signs with a horse and tram on them along the edge of the promenade, they act the same way as a bus stop. The driver will look for people waiting but you can put your arm out, like you would do for a bus to make sure they see you. You then buy your ticket on the tram. It is a nice way to get from one side of the prom to the other, especially if you've been to the shops and have a lot of bags, and in the summer the trams are more frequent than the bus that does this journey. Depending on the weather they may be open or closed trams. They run every 20 minutes between 09:00 and 18:00 daily during the summer, with single tickets being £3 for adults, £2 for children and free of charge for accompanied children under 5.
The airport is a few miles south of Douglas, but easily accessible. I was picked up and dropped off, so I can't comment on public transport links. Probably the website deals with that.
It is small, as you'd expect. Flights are all pretty short - I think London is the furthest. The main airlines using it are Flybe, Manx2.com and Aer Arann.
Everything is easy - arrivals, check in, security & boarding.
I didn't make much use of the facilities as I waited for my flight - I'd come straight for lunch - but they do give you free wifi. I love that.
I flew with Manx2.com from Blackpool. Not the most obvious choice, as Blackpool is 230 miles from home. Every day except Saturday I could have had a flight from Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I had to go on Saturday.
The airline is a gem, based on my 2 flights. We left 25 minutes early from Blackpool (as soon as all the booked passengers had checked in). We were exactly on time on the return.
The weather was rotten - wet and windy - but the flights were smooth. On that route they use an 18 seat LET 410. Never heard of it before. A Czech built turbo prop.
They have a wonderful safety video on that plane (may not be the same on other services, from what I’m told). It is all acted out by Manx primary school children. Each has a line, then the next one takes over.
Cost £129 return, but only booked about 10 days in advance. They have cheaper deals.
Original narrow gauge steam trains run a regular service from Douglas to Port Erin through the gorgeous Isle of Man scenery.
The carriages are original antiques as well. But fear not. The seats are upholstered and the locomotives and carriages are lovingly restored.
The line from Douglas to Port Erin is the only surviving part of the steam railway. Long ago, you could travel by train from Douglas to Peel, and then from Peel to Ramsey. Halfway from Douglas to Peel, there was a junction called St. Johns Junction, and from there a branchline used to go to Foxdale.
If you enjoyed looking at the above pictures, there are more in my travelogue. Web link below.
Another little restored steam railway is the Groudle Glen railway.
The main station is situated between Douglas and Laxey and can be reached by Electric tram from Douglas and alighting at the Groudle Glen stop.
A short walk through the glen takes you to the station.
The 2 foot gauge train will take you on a three quarter of a mile trip to the headland and the site of a long gone sealion and polar bear enclosure. The terminus now has a small cafe and the views are fantastic.
There are two engines; the steam engine 'Sealion' and the electric 'Polar Bear'.
If you liked the above pictures more are available in my travelogue Web link below.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sailings to Douglas start at Heysham near Morecambe in Lancashire. Some sailings also from Liverpool.
If you are going by train from a UK starting point to the sea port, a through ticket can be obtained at most railway stations. Allow a few days in advance of travelling; more time at busy holiday periods.
Take the electric tram to Laxey and alight there and you can catch the electric tram to take you to the sumit of the mountain, Snaefell.
An advertising record that came with the IOM tourist boards brochure when I booked my holiday said, "On a clear day see the five kingdoms from the top of Snaefell. England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - and looking straight up the Kingdom of Heaven".
Known as the 'Snaefell mountain Railway', the original cars still run. The only intermediate stop is at the 'Bungalow', on the TT course where the trams cross the road. There is a motor cycle museum there if you wish to visit there and a handy pub not far away.
At the sumit, there is a building housing a shop and refreshment room, - usefull if the cloud settles down on the mountain and views are limited to ones 'hand in front of ones face', and also the temperature sinks, even in summer.
From one end of the promenade to the other and the interchange with the Electric Railway (tram) to Ramsey there are horse drawn trams. Liesurely travel is the keyword here.
When the horses get too old to pull trams, there is a horse sanctuary not far from Douglas. However, at the time that I was there, owing to the tramway being a business, the sanctuary had to actually buy the horses to be retired to save them from the knackers yard which is a bit sad.
You can travel in the original 19th century trams from Douglas (Derby Castle) all the way to Ramsey calling at Laxey en route. The tramway follows the road for much of the way giving great views. Alight at Laxey to see the water wheel and to change trams for the trip to Snaefell mountain summit, also for the groudle Glen steam railway for more spectacular views.