From tip to tail, discover every corner of the Isle of Man with local expert Nadia Alkahzrajie’s 24-hour guide.
0700-0900. Breakfast like a king at The Velvet Lobster (30/31A North Quay, 01624 622 518), a popular all-day venue in Douglas where punters jostle to get their hands on bespoke bacon and eggs, and the signature Frenchie Royale, a breakfast sandwich of rustic proportions filled with cheese and sticky chutney. Housed in a rinky-dink Victorian building, The Velvet Lobster occupies a prime spot on Douglas’s little marina development where those in the know go to quaff good wine and covet the sleek yachts moored alongside barnacled old sea trawlers. Alternatively, try the new Noa Bakehouse (Fort Street, 01624 618 063) for a relaxed atmosphere and early eats based around their sourdough bakery; tucked down a side street opposite Douglas bus station, Noa Bakehouse is a mecca for foodies who like it natural and nutritious.
0900-1100.Take in the island’s rugged and varied terrain. The Raad ny Foillan (‘Way of the Gull’) footpath winds its way around much of the island’s spectacular coastline, including the Sugarloaf Rock, a craggy totem pole emerging from the sea covered with swooping gulls, and the deep fissures in the earth at The Chasms. Glen Rushen takes you through a heartland of rolling hills and pine forest studded with picturesque ruins, old silver mines and stone circles dating from the megalithic period. Quad bikes can be rented from Ballacraine Farm (St Johns, 01624 801 219), while Adventurous Experiences (Patrick Road, 01624 843 034) and 7th Wave (Strand Road, Port Erin, 01624 836 366) provide kayaks for hire, giving you access to the island’s many hidden coves and marine caves. If you’re looking for a unique perspective, Swift Instruction (Andreas, 07624 415 638) offer 30- and 60-minute flying lessons in a microlight aircraft that’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of the Isle of Man.
1100-1300. Explore Peel, a colourful old fishing port with narrow winding streets, tiny fisherman’s cottages and interesting shops for browsing. Known locally as ‘Aladdin’s Cave’, The Old Bonded Warehouse (29 Castle Street, 01624 844 565) has an impressive collection of curiosities on three levels. Start in the tunnelled basement, said to have been used by smugglers in the 1700s, and work your way up. Items range from rare vintage to pure kitsch, and the friendly owner isn’t adverse to a spot of haggling should something catch your eye. Famed for its high-quality seafood, Peel has a number of good places for lunch. Filbey’s (East Quay, 01624 844 144) and The Boatyard (Mariners Warf, 01624 845 470) offer locally sourced food with harbourside views, or for a more casual affair try The Creek Inn pub (The Quayside, 01624 842 216). You can pick up a box of traditional Manx kippers straight from the smokehouse at Devereau’s factory shop (Mill Road, 01624 843 160), while the sweet-toothed might like to try Davisons Ice Cream Parlour on the promenade for traditionally made ice cream flavoured with ginger, green tea and marshmallow. Leave time to explore the headland dominated by the atmospheric Viking castle. Built from the red sandstone indigenous to the island, it becomes a luminous beacon on the headland as the sun moves into the high-arched windows of its ruined monastery.
1300-1500. From Peel, it’s a short detour to St Johns and the Tynwald Mills shopping centre (01624 801 213) where you’ll find speciality shops in an attractive courtyard setting, including outlets for Ted Baker, Radley and The North Face. Time permitting, carry on to Ramsey on the Snaefell Mountain Road used for the annual TT motorcycle races, where you can buy unusual gifts at Shakti Man (66 Parliament Street, 01624 815 060) and Sweet Ginger Emporium (68A Parliament Street, 01624 813 382).
1500-1700. Head south down Ballamodha Straight. Like many places on the island, the laid-back village of Port St Mary makes few concessions to tourism, but take a peek under the sleepy facade and you’ll find a village with real character and a community feel. Impromptu folk music sessions are held at The Albert Hotel’s pub (Athol Street, 01624 832 118), a good old-fashioned bar known for its locally brewed ales such as Old Bushy Tail and Shuttleworth Snap, while Patchwork Café (Bay View Road, 01624 836 418) is a popular meeting place for sumptuous homemade cake and afternoon tea.
1700-1900. Continue up the scenic Howe Road through the pretty thatched village of Cregneash and you’ll arrive at the Sound and Calf of Man Visitor Centre (Sound Road, 01624 838 123): ahead of you, a strait of water separates the island’s southernmost tip from the Calf of Man, a tiny heather-covered island and nature reserve that’s home to much of the Manx seal population; day trips to the Calf leave from the inner harbour at Port St Mary and there’s also a hostel to temp the more intrepid traveller. As twilight falls, the haunting call of the seals echoes round the bay, while the sky overhead ignites luminous hues of red, pink and molten tangerine.
1900-2100. Douglas offers the widest choice of eating venues and Tanroagan (9 Ridgeway Street, 01624 612 355) is one of the best; an intimate venue specialising in top-quality seafood such as smoked haddock brandade with deep-fried poached egg, crispy capers and beurre blanc or whole sea bass simply cooked with chilli, ginger and lime. For more turf than surf, 14 North on the quayside (14 North Quay, 01624 664 414) offers a stylish menu that changes daily to make the best of local produce, while Portofino (Quay West, 01624 617 755), Macfarlane’s (24 Duke Street, 01624 624 777) and The Abbey Restaurant (Ballasalla, 01624 822 393) provide sophisticated fine dining. Fans of Thai food should visit The New Manila (Acacia Boutique, Queens Promenade, 01624 660 600). Despite the occasional hiccup with service, the food is tasty and reasonably authentic; try steamed mussels with lemongrass, chilli and sweet basil leaves, or the cold Thai salad with crispy duck and roasted rice powder.
After 2100. In Douglas, newly opened Bath and Bottle (6 Victoria Street, 01624 845 400) mixes a mean cocktail. Ask for a ‘Ruby Judy’, an original and delicious take on a classic Bloody Mary that blends vodka, fresh beetroot and horseradish with local Bramley apple juice, or the ‘Marmalade Flip’ concocted with rum, fresh eggs and lemon. The Railway Inn (Banks Circus, 01624 670 773) is a stylish whisky bar with a southern flavour where you can listen to live blues and rockabilly music. Other places for live gigs include The Drawing Room above Jabberwocky (20 Duke Street, 01624 628 450) and the basement bar at The Courthouse (Athol Street, 01624 672 555), an elegant listed building that regularly hosts DJs from the UK circuit.
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Written by World Travel Guide.