This island is just perfect for people who love trains! :O)
The train on the picture is one of the most famous trains in the world - exactly the one that Reverend W. V. Awdry described in his books The Railway Series - Thomas the Tank Engine !!!
(also known as Thomas and Friends)
It will take you from Douglas to Port Soderick, Santon, Ballasalla, Castletown, Colby, Port St. Mary and Potr Erin.
If you plan to explore the island by using trains and busses, consider purchasing Island Explorer Tickets for unlimited travel with Steam and Electric Railway, Sanefell Mountain Railway ,buses (except Manx Express) and Horse Trams.
7 day - 35 GBP for adults, 18 for a child
5 day - 30 GBPfor adults, 15 for a child
3 day - 20 GBP for adults, 10 for a child
1 day - 10 GBP for adults, 5 for a child
Adult ticket includes FREE rides for one child !
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.
And if all of the previously described rides are just not enough, you sure will experience the ultimate adrenaline rush riding the Saefell Mountain Railway!
Get off the Electric Railway at Laxey, get high up on "Lady Isabella", get down and calm down, run back to the railway station and board the Snaefell Mountain Railway for a lovely ride up to the top.
Just one important note - do check the weather forecast, because visit to the Snaefel Mountain is pointless if the weather is not clear.
On a clear sunny day you can see 7 Kingdoms - England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Mann, the Sea and Heaven!
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!
This or similar Horse Trams (mostly single-deckers) will take you on a romantic tour along Douglas promenade.
The Douglas Horse Tram is the oldest in the world - in service since 1876, except during the war.
We had second thoughts about the way horses are treated, possibly working more than would be advisable. But good news is that once they get old, they don't get slaughtered but spend their last years in the Home of Rest.
What a lovely ride! Great views over luscious fields full of sheep and cows, while hard wooden benches remind you of true values and past times.
This charming train will take you from Douglas Derby Castle station (not the same as Steam train station!) to Groundle, Baldrine, South Cape, Laxey, Dhoon, Ballaglass, Ballajora and Ramsey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you are going to be travelling around the island a bit in one day then a good value is the 1 Day Island Explorer. It is valid for 1 day on schedule bus, electric railway, steam railway, mountain railway and Douglas Corporation Horse Tram services. When I was there it cost me 8 pounds. The price may have changed since then.
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.
Going by ferry to the Isle of Man can be a nice approach to the island and you get a good view of Douglas bay as approaching.
The downside is the sea can be quite rough at times and if bad weather the ferry from Liverpool can sometimes be cancelled (the fast Sea Cat) so it is often more reliable to get the older and much slower ferry from Heysham (which by the way can take 4 hours and not the 2.5 hours that Sea Cat takes - no wthe truth be known i just come back in middle of June and some of these days the sea was rough and ferry was cancelled - so i was lucky to get back home)
1 Empire Terrace, Douglas, IM2 4LE, United Kingdom
Good for: Solo
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