Known as the gateway to the Island, Ryde is a pleasant Victorian town with full holiday facilities. Until the building of the Pier around the 1820's ferry passengers landing at low tide were brought almost half a mile by horse and cart. Today the fast catamaran service to Portsmouth takes around 20 minutes and can be reached by train along the pier. There is also a hovercraft service to Southsea which takes 9 minutes.
Along the seafront you will find a putting green, ice rink, tenpin bowling, trampolines and many typical seaside shops arcades and cafes. To the east the promenade stretches along the sea wall to the canoe lake and Appley Gardens. From here you walk through oak woods glimpsing excellent views of the shipping and the three Solent Forts. This leads to Puckpool Park with its tennis courts, bowling green and cafes with a lovely sandy beach nearby. Inland, on the site that was formerly an airport, you will find Westridge Leisure Centre offering a wide range of facilities.
The main street is called Union street it runs up the hill from the sea and hosts a wide variety of shops. Half way up you will find the Royal Victoria Arcade which is lined with clothes and antique shops with a stall market in the cellars beneath. Behind the arcade is St Thomas's church, recently renovated to house the British Australian Heritage Society's exhibition which commemorates the first fleets to sail to Australia from Ryde.