Car Hire on the Island
Using a car is a great way to get around and see the Isle of Man, especially for the harder to reach locations and means you don't have to wait around for buses. The companies which provide car hire services for the Isle of Man are: CarHire3000, Hertz, Holiday Autos and Avis. You may be able to sort hire out online before you go, if not then Douglas or the Airport at Ronaldsway will be the best places to go.Related to:
- Road Trip
The Manx Steam Railway goes from Douglas to Port Erin and operates between March and November. 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.Related to:
- Family Travel
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.Related to:
- Family Travel
Flying to the IOM - New Cheaper Option!
Since 1st of June 2004, Euro Manx started selling return flights between London Stanstead and Isle of Man for the price of 69.00 GBP
Propeller propelled. Ha! See the picture.
Observe the 3-legged Manx symbol through the airplane vindow and think about it's symbolic meaning.
"Quocunque Jeceris Stabit" = Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand
I remember that airfarer for my previous two visits to the IOM were very expensive - almost as much as airfarer between Slovenia and London. So this is Good News!Related to:
- Luxury Travel
Summer Victorian transport
The Victorian Steam Railway is a must for any visitor running from Douglas to Port Erin through glens and countryside and villages on its way...
Also the Manx electric railway runs from Douglas to Ramsey with the option to board the Snaefell mountain railway at Laxey to travel to the summit of Snaefell. ( 2034 feet) .
Running from Douglas to Port Erin using vintage steam locos and rolling stock. Not just a tourist line, many local families on board with us.
Journey time from end to end is just about an hour, scenery on route well worth the price.
Don't miss a ride!Related to:
Ronaldsway airport is on the south of the island. It's very easy to reach by bus. See link on the website for timetables.
Plenty of flights daily to mainland UK and Ireland, not sure the runway is long enough to accomodate larger planes.
Check in and security just as tight as anywhere else.
Getting to the Isle of Man
It's possible to get to the Isle of Man either by boat or plane. Ferries arrive in Douglas daily from the north west of England (Heysham and Liverpool), Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and take between 2 1/2 and 4 hours.
By far the easiest way to reach the island though is by plane. You can go from many regional UK airports as well London Luton, London City and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. I flew from London City Airport with Euromanx which actually went bust a few months later but the trip to and from City Airport was by far the easiest journey I've had in a long while. VLM still fly from City while Flybe go from Luton. Beware the landings can be a bit hair-raising on these tiny 30 seater, twin engined aircraft in windy weather.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Gay and Lesbian
The best ticket
By far the best way for a tourist to use all the public transportation is the Island Explorer Ticket.
There is a one day, three day and seven day ticket, for £ 13,26 or 40. It is valid on the buses, trains and the horse trams along the promenade in Douglas.
I bought my ticket on the ferry on the way over, you can also get it in the tourist information in the sea terminal.
You validate it yourself, but rubbing off the day, month and year you first use it, like you do with the scratch tickets for a lottery.
From Victorian times on
A very special means of transport is the horse tram. A horse pulls a wagon, but this wagon, like a tram, needs rails. It's been operating since Victorian times, with a break during WWII. You can take it along the promenade in Douglas.
Douglas is the only place in Europe where you can still find horse trams.
I didn't take it myself, as I like walking. I'm also not too sure if this isn't really hard work for the horse. But from what I saw it was a great favourite of children.
The Steam Railway
My favourite way of getting around was the steam railway, connecting Douglas and Port Erin, passing through Castletown and Port St. Mary on the way. The train also stops at request stops, but you have to tell the guard where you want to get off before boarding.
I must admit, when I first heard about the steam railway, I thought it's for tourists only. But it isn't, I used it several times and each time shared the compartment with people from the Isle of Man, travelling to see relatives or to do some shopping.
The train station in Douglas is a very impressive building, it seems almost too big for such a small train.
There is also an electric railway, from Douglas to the north of the island, but I didn't use it this time, as it's being repaired and people have to change into buses halfway through.
The bus system
A very good bus system is operating on the Isle of Man, but for some out-of-the-way places a car would be useful.
I found out that I could have got to most places I wanted to see, but only to one in a day, because I'd have problems getting back. This is the reason why I didn't see half of I had hoped to see, a very good reason to come back.
The bus drivers will let you off in between stops, if you tell them before.Related to:
- Budget Travel
We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel in Douglas. There is a good bus service, but since it was pouring down once again, a taxi seemed to be the better choice.
In Douglas you can see signs close to the taxi ranks telling the fares to the airport. Most probably these signs are pretty old, as they say £17, while in reality it was £ 21,80 with the meter running.The drive is about 35,40 minutes, considering the price for petrol I think this is justified.
We were lucky and got a very nice taxi driver who also gave us information about the island. We called him again for our way back to the airport and he arrived early and was waiting for us outside the hotel. No nerve-wracking wait for a taxi, and he didn't charge extra for the waiting time.
I can recommend his taxi:
Phil G's Taxi Service, Tel: 07624-403328 email:email@example.com
Flying to and from the Isle of Man
The airport is close to Castletown in the South of the island. We flew Flybe and Air Arran, but several other airlines also serve this airport.
It's a small one, but with a very good security system. Every passenger has to take off the shoes, not only random checks as in many other airports. Of course it is possible that they can do this because it is so small and consequently has less passengers.
For our flight to Dublin we checked in one hour prior to departure and we were among the first passengers, hardly anybody waiting. This is one of the nice things of a small airport, but on the other hand:
When I picked up my husband Saturday night, there was nothing to do, even the café had closed at seven. In case you have to wait there, bring a good book.
Take the ferry
I had decided to take the ferry from Heysham Port to Douglas, as I had been told this would be the nicest way to see the island appear on the horizon. When I booked, a special fare was offered and for just a little more I could get a seat in premium class. I treated myself to this and it was worth it. I had a seat in the front row , high above the water and enjoyed a great view. It was wonderful to see the houses and harbour of Douglas coming closer and closer.
I later learned that I had been lucky since I had a very smooth crossing, a day later the ferry was 11 hours late because of the weather!
Once I was settled this was a great journey, only before I found it very confusing. However, I'm not used to travelling on ships, ( I don't even know if it's called ship or boat or ferry)so I had to ask quite often. Everybody from the Steam Packet Company was extremely friendly and helpful.
From Lancaster there is a train service to Heysham Port. You get off the train and walk down the platform into the waiting hall for the ferry. There is nothing else there.
The Steam Packet Company had sent my a letter, saying this was my ticket.
But inside the hall I saw signs telling people to exchange their tickets to boarding cards, so I did that. In the letter I had also been told that I had been assigned a seat number. When I didn't see anything about a seat on the boarding pass I asked again and learned I would get the number on the ship.
Then, when we were told to start boarding,the boarding passes were collected and all larger bags had to be put on a belt and disappeared. I was somewhat nervous, since now I had nothing left, no ticket and no baggage receipt. You can tell that I'm not used to taking a ship , can't you?
I followed the other passengers up many stairs. Then I asked where my seat was. "There are no assigned seats", was the answer. Only when I mentioned I had booked premium class, I was sent there. My name was checked and I finally got a wonderful seat in the first row, with an absolutely great view.
Upon arrival I walked down even more stairs - this is a large ship! - and then collected my bag at the baggage claim inside the sea terminal.
Now I know what to do when I go there again, but I found it quite confusing for a first-timer. Most of the people on the ferry were going home, I got the impression the tourists going there were the minority.
What surprised me was that there was no security whatsoever, no passport check, after all the Isle of Man is not part of the UK.
I had paid £ 33 for the journey, a special, non-refundable offer, booked several months ahead.
Isle of Man Hotels
Queens Promenade, Douglas, IM2 4NN, United Kingdom
Good for: Families
Athol Park, Port Erin, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
Stayed here with grown-up family and it met our needs perfectly. Easy walk to airport and only 20...more
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