Do you need to be a member of the United Nations to be considered a country? Well if you ask the folks on the Isle of Man they will answer with a firm no. The Isle of Man is considered an island nation and a self-governing territory of the United Kingdom - but is not part of the United Kingdom (if you have a UK SIM card you will likely be on roaming charges while here). This island in the Irish Sea is quaint and beautiful and a stunning place to visit for those looking to get a little more off the beaten track.
Introduction To The Isle Of Man
How To Get There
Fly: All Flights Are From Various Cities In England Plus A Few From Edinburgh or Belfast
Ferry: Multiple Ferries Daily From Lancaster, England; season or infrequent ferries from Scotland, Dublin, Belfast, and Liverpool
The Isle of Man was never part of the European Union but is today part of the common travel area with the UK and Ireland. So if you are able to go to the UK and Ireland you can visit the Isle of Man (without any border checkpoints).
Naming a date when the Isle Of Man became independent is a little complicated. For hundreds of years, it routinely changed hands between English and Scottish rule, This continued until finally ending up under a sort of English rule and then gaining self-rule in 1866.
The Isle Of Man: Fast Facts
Size Of Area: 221 Square Miles or 572 square KM.
Official Languages: English And Manx
Capital And Largest City: Douglas
The population of the Isle of Man is of Celtic descent and their historical language is a Celtic language called Manx. Also, the people of the Isle of Man are called Manx (never call them British, English, or Irish!). Today the language is only spoken by a few enthusiasts on the island and everyone speaks English. The English who come over from England a called by the locals "Come Overs" and if they live there they are dubbed "Stay Overs" (one-third of the population is English born).
What Its Known For
The Isle of Man is famous for two things in particular. The Manx cat - a type of cat that lives on the isle without a tail. But its main attraction is the annual TT Motorcycle Races. If you are interested in racing, then this is the best time to go there. If you are not, then this will be the worst as the isle becomes flooded with visitors lining the roads and finding accommodation will be very tight. The TT Motorcycle Races are adventurous and have been dubbed one of the most dangerous in the world. During this time, roads are closed to the public.
TT Motorcycle Races In Brief
First Race: 1907
Lap Record: Peter Hickman 16m 42.778s – 135.452 MPH
Three Cancellations In History: World War Two, 2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak, 2020-2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Next Race Scheduled: 29th May - 10th June 2022
This is by far and away the main attraction for the Isle. If you are planning on going, you will need to book your accommodation long in advance. It is common to stay in an Airbnb as the locals basically all leave their island, go to Spain or somewhere and rent out their homes over this period.
The isle is so much more than the TT Races, come any other time of year and you will see a quaint, romantic, and peaceful isle.
What Else To See And Do
The coastal village of Peel (also home to the world's tiniest car) is definitely worth a visit. This is a very sleepy and quaint town, here you will go for a stroll along the coastline, drink coffee, sample their famous kippers, and explore the coastal castle.
Things To Do In Peel:
Attraction: The Peel Castle
What To Eat: The Peel Kippers
Hiking: Hike Along The Coast, Through The Farms And The Town (Trails Are Marked)
Attend: The Local Xmas Celebrations Are Fun With Fireworks And Bagpipes
The main settlement on the Isle is Douglas. This town is stunning with a superb waterfront. In fact, before the age of cheap flights to Spain and France, this was one of the main English beach resorts. And now it is long since forgotten. Still, the town was built along the beach in classic Victorian standards.
Other attractions on this beautiful isle include:
- Location: Center Of The Island
- When: July 5
- What: National Celebrations Held Annually Since 1417
The Manx Museum
- Where: City of Douglas
- What: National Museum Comprehensively Covering The Isle's History
Castletown and Castle Rushen
First Built: 13th Century
Fun Fact: It Was Previously The Site Of A Viking Stronghold
- Opening Days: Thursday To Monday (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
- Opening Hours: 9.30-4.30
- Cost: 10 Pounds ($14)
The Great Laxey Wheel (also called Lady Isabella)
Record: Largest Working Waterwheel In The World
- Admission Fee: 8 Pounds ($11)
- Height: 72.5 feet
In addition to all of this, there are innumerable more castles to explore and a whole lot of history - Viking, Scottish, English, and Manx history all blending together on this island. It is a stunning island with eye-watering landscapes and plenty of hiking. Also, there's plenty of shopping just one street back away from the coast in the main town of Douglas!
In short, as it is not a fully independent country, the Isle of Man is a piece of paradise out in the Irish Sea that is overlooked and ignored by many (except for TT Racing season).