Isle of Man
|Currency||pound sterling (GBP)|
|Population||83.3 thousand (2016)|
|Electricity||230 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363)|
|Time zone||UTC±00:00, Europe/Isle_of_Man|
|edit on Wikidata|
The Isle of Man (in Manx: Ellan Vannin) is a picturesque island in the British Isles, sitting in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. It is a British Crown dependency and not part of the United Kingdom. The UK is responsible for defence and foreign affairs.
The island has its own government, headed by a Chief Minister, and has a parliament called the "Tynwald". It consists of the democratically elected House of Keys and the nominated Legislative Council.
Towns and villages
- 1 Douglas (Doolish) – the capital and largest town on the island.
- 2 Castletown (Balley Chashtal) – a fine castle and the Old House of Keys.
- 3 Peel (Purt ny h-Inshey) – an impressive castle, cathedral and nice museums.
- 4 Ramsey (Rhumsaa) – beach and harbour for yachts.
- 5 Laxey (Laksaa) – delightful village on the electric railway between Douglas and Ramsey. Noted for its water wheel (claimed to be the world's largest in operation), its mines railway and an electric railway to the top of Snaefell.
- 6 Port Erin (Purt Çhiarn) – is a seaside village in the south west.
- 7 Port St Mary (Purt le Moirrey) – village in south west.
- 8 St John's (Balley Keeill Eoin) – a small village, next to Tynwald Hill. It was the site of the Isle of Man's first parliament; thousands head here every Tynwald Day (5th July) to witness the proclamation of new laws read in Manx and English.
- 1 Calf of Man (Yn Cholloo) – small island bird sanctuary.
- 2 Silverdale Glen – Owned by the Manx National Trust, it has well laid out paths that lead past small waterfalls and through dense woodland. Look out for the Medieval Monks' Bridge in Ballasalla, which links Silverdale Glen to the historic Rushen Abbey, and the Monks Well which is a perfect place to throw in a few pennies and make a wish. An extensive playground area and pretty boating lake are also available. On site you’ll find a restaurant and well-stocked gift shop.
- 3 Snaefell (Sniaull) – During summer, hike or take the tram to the summit of Snaefell. This is the highest point on Mann from where, on a clear day you can see the whole island, much of the Irish Sea and the four other countries that bound it. Local folklore puts it more poetically, holding that seven "kingdoms" are visible from the summit: the Isle of Man, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Heaven and the Sea.
|Isle of Man|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Temperate; cool summers and mild winters; overcast about one-third of the time.
The island typically enjoys "British" weather, tempered by the effects of the Gulf Stream that runs through the surrounding Irish Sea. Exposure to sea breezes keeps average summer temperatures in the low to mid twenties Celsius, while winters tend to hover around 9 degrees and snow sometimes strikes in late February and early March. The thick sea fog that occasionally smothers the island's lowland areas is known locally as Manannan's Cloak, a reference to the island's ancient Sea God swathing his kingdom in mist to protect it from unwanted visitors. Snow in winter is infrequent, except in the mountains, but it usually only stays on the ground for a day or two.
A plain in the far north, with hills in north and south bisected by central valley. One small islet, the Calf of Man, lies to the southwest, and is a bird sanctuary. The highest point is Snaefell, at 621 metres above sea level. The summit can be reached by the Snaefell Mountain Railway from Laxey and on a good day it is possible to see Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The Isle of Man was part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century, when it was ceded to Scotland. The Duke of Atholl sold the sovereignty of the isle to the British crown in 1765, henceforth the British monarch has also held the title "Lord of Mann".
English is spoken by all, but there are a few speakers of Manx Gaelic (Gaelg or Gailck).
Manx Gaelic is a Celtic language of Old Irish origin, like modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Like them, it differs greatly from English, and it was once the primary language of the Isle of Man. One of the most striking elements of the language (as with all the Celtic languages) is the initial consonantal mutations, e.g., Doolish (the Manx name for Douglas), can easily become Ghoolish if used in a certain grammatical context. The spelling of Manx, however, differs considerably from that used for other varieties of Gaelic.
A small-scale revival of Manx has been in progress since the last native speaker died in the 1970s. All children on the Isle of Man have the option of studying Manx at school, and there is now a primary school where Manx is the language of instruction.
Look for the many street signs with Manx printed alongside English.
British and Irish citizens are able to enter and live in the Isle of Man without a visa or clearance from the Immigration Office. However, these citizens will need a work permit if they want to work.
The visa policy here is very similar to the UK's, and if you are a UK citizen or you have a valid UK, Jersey or Guernsey visa, you are able to visit the Isle of Man.
Otherwise, you probably need a visa to travel to the Isle of Man. Visa applications can be made at the UK Government website.
1 Isle of Man Airport (IOM IATA) is at Ronaldsway, just outside Castletown in the south of the island. It has flights year-round from London (Gatwick and City), Liverpool, Manchester and Dublin, and others seasonally. Airlines include BA, Easyjet, Loganair and Aer Lingus.
The airport is on the bus route between Castletown and Douglas.
- 2 Isle of Man Sea Terminal.
Ferries operated by the Steam Packet Company to Douglas from:
- Liverpool/Birkenhead, England – 2 hr 30 min (Fast craft), 4 hr (conventional ferry)
- Heysham, Lancashire, England – 4 hr 30 min (conventional ferry)
- Belfast, Northern Ireland – 2 hr 45 min (Fast craft)
- Dublin, Ireland – 2 hr 50 min (Fast craft), 4 hr 45 min (conventional ferry)
The island has two main historic narrow-gauge railways, both starting from (separate) stations in Douglas.
- Isle of Man Railway. In the south of the island, is a historic narrow-gauge steam railway operating between Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin (except during winter months).
- 3 Manx Electric Railway. In the north of the island, runs between Douglas and Ramsey, using the original historic tramcars from the 1890s.
In addition the following small lines
- Snaefell Mountain Railway (to the summit of Snaefell). It starts from Laxey, where connections with the Manx Electric Railway are available.
- Groudle Glen Railway (take the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas and change at Groudle Glen). A small, steam-operated railway
Cars can be hired from various locations on the island, including the airport and Douglas Sea Terminal. Local agents operate on behalf of major international rental firms.
The Isle of Man has a very extensive road network which is passably well maintained. Congestion is low (outside Douglas at rush hour). Rules of the road closely mirror those of the United Kingdom with the exception that there is no overall speed limit for private vehicles (in other words, in a derestricted zone there is no speed limit like there is in the UK). Drive on the left. It is illegal to use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving. Petrol is expensive, even by UK standards.
Any penalties enforced on your driving licence will be upheld in the UK.
Many of the country roads are narrow with substantial stone walls on each side, making evasive driving potentially tricky. Despite the absence of speed limits outside urban areas, caution is advised, use common sense and drive to conditions.
Caravans (camper trailers) may not be brought to the island.
The roads on the Isle of Man are popular with bikers, and care is encouraged when out and about.
During the Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle road racing fortnight, the main mountain road becomes a one way road from Ramsey to Douglas. Extreme care is recommended, as the number of bikers is exceptionally high, and they're known to ride as if they were racing. There is no speed limit on rural roads at any point of the year.
The Isle of Man has a quite extensive public transit system using mostly buses. With a bit of planning, it is possible to get almost everywhere on the Island using this transit system. There is a bus timetable online.
Taxis are available from numerous taxi ranks, or can be hired by phone. Some provide an online booking service 24 hours in advance. Prices are a little higher than most in the UK, and considerably higher after midnight. Uber and similar services do not operate in the Isle of Man.
The island's capital, Douglas, has horse drawn trams operating along the Promenade (linking with the Manx Electric Railway). This is really a novelty available during the summer rather than a serious way of getting anywhere in particular.
- Laxey Wheel, Laxey. A restored waterwheel operational during the summer months.
- Located in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man, Castletown, the impressive fortress of Castle Rushen.
- Peel. Situated on St Patrick’s Isle, Peel Castle was originally a place of worship before becoming the fort of Magnus Barefoot – an 11th-century Viking King of Mann. Also located on the Peel Quayside is the House of Manannan, a museum of the island's story from Celtic times through the Viking period to 19th-century Peel.
- The Sound Visitor Centre, near Port St Mary. One of the most picturesque points in the south of the Island.
- Cregneash, near Port St Mary. A preserved and restored small Manx crofting village in the far south of the island.
- Hike – There are many hiking/walking trails and footpaths on the Isle of Man, the most significant being the Raad ny Foillan (The Way of the Gull) which is a 95-mile (150-km) footpath around the island. Other trails cross the island in various locations. The Raad ny Foillan follows the coast for much of its route and is really quite a spectacular hike, well worth the time and effort while visiting the Island.
- Fish – There are numerous places to fish from piers and in lakes etc. Permits may be required in some areas.
- Cycle – The roads of the Isle of Man are popular with cyclists, however it is recommended to be proficient and of a decent fitness, as the terrain is very hilly. Mountain biking trails are also available.
- Heritage. The Manx National Heritage maintain numerous locations and museums important to Manx history, such as castles. The village of Cregneash in the South forms a 'living museum' dedicated to the preservation of the traditional Manx ways of life.
- TT races. Held annually in June, are world famous, and motorcycling tourists visit to experience legal high speed riding. Accommodation on the Island during the TT must normally be booked well in advance. This is one of the most exciting and also one of the most dangerous events in motorsports - deaths and serious injuries among participants and sometimes even officials and spectators are a fairly regular occurrence.
- See also: United Kingdom#Money
Exchange rates for British pounds
As of Jan 2023:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from xe.com
The Isle of Man issues its own currency, the Manx pound (£), which is equal in value to the British pound sterling (ISO code: GBP). Manx coins are of the same shape and denominations as UK ones, with the addition of a circulating £5 coin. Manx notes have a distinct appearance, and appear in denominations of £1, £5, £10, £20, and £50. Sterling is also legal tender within the Isle of Man, and Scottish, Northern Irish, and English notes and coins freely circulate with their Manx counterparts, so are accepted everywhere. However, Manx notes are not legal currency in the UK; you can exchange Manx notes for Bank of England notes at any branch of the Isle of Man Bank.
Many UK chain stores are represented in the island (mainly in the capital, Douglas); for example, Boots, WH Smith, Waterstone's, Marks and Spencer, Next, B&Q. The island has its own supermarket chain, Shoprite, with branches in Peel, Douglas, Ramsey, Castletown and Port Erin. UK-based supermarkets (such as Tesco) also have branches. There is a small 'lifestyle' shopping centre at Tynwald Mills near St John's, with a number of outlets selling upmarket clothing, furnishings and gifts.
Uniquely Manx products include smoked kippers and Manx Tartan.
Manx food is often very good and continues to improve. Some good restaurants and bistros can be found.
Smoked kipper is a smoked fish dish. Fish and chips are also popular. Crab baps are available from a kiosk on Peel Quay.
Locally fished queen scallops, referred to as "queenies", are a popular dish - often served with bacon and garlic butter.
There are several varieties of Manx cheese. Boxes of Manx kippers can be ordered for delivery by post.
A local speciality worth trying is chips, cheese and gravy, similar to the Canadian dish "poutine".
Another favourite available as a takeaway is a baked potato with a topping such as chili.
Also try the "Peel flapjack" from Michael Street bakers in Peel.
The minimum age to purchase alcohol is 18. Unlike the United Kingdom, it is not permitted for 16-year-olds to consume alcohol on licensed premises with a purchased meal.
The Isle of Man has two breweries, Bushy's and Okell's. The Isle of Man has a beer purity law that permits no ingredients in beer other than water, yeast, hops and malt. Accordingly, a well-kept pint of Manx beer is worth seeking out.
Standout bars include The Bay View in Port Erin, The Rovers Return in Douglas and The Whitehouse and Creek (both in Peel).
Wine is quite reasonably priced and readily available in food stores.
During and around the TT fortnight, a travelling fairground is often in attendance for the festival. The Bushy's TT Village is erected in the villa marina gardens, playing host to numerous live local bands, food stalls, as well as serving Bushy's ales. In previous years, Okell's and Hoooded Ram have had alternative tents erected on the promenade, providing a great location to view the evening street entertainment (stunt shows etc) put on during the fortnight, but it is unknown if this will be the case for future TTs.
The majority of hotels are in Douglas, including the traditional seafront hotels on the Douglas Promenade. Standards can be variable, and some are rather dated and in need of refurbishment. More luxurious hotels (up to four stars) are also available. B&Bs are also available, mostly outside of Douglas.
BeWelcome and Couchsurfing hospitality is available.
During the TT fortnight, a government-sponsored homeshare scheme is available, with residents renting out their homes and flats to visitors. Some residents offer this service outside of the government scheme.
There is no university on the island, although the University of Liverpool runs some courses. There is an Isle of Man College, and an International Business School [dead link].
Located in the southeast, King William’s College opened in 1833. The College was the first of the ‘new’ public schools, its mix of 'day boys' and boarders together with older academic (university) students, constituting an institution unlike any other at its time. The beautiful stone buildings can be seen on approach to Ronaldsway Airport.
The Isle of Man has very low unemployment, largely because of the financial sector. Seasonal work in the tourism industry is available, but a Work Permit is required to work on the island for anybody born outside of the island and is obtainable from the Isle of Man Government.
The online gaming industry is also a major employer, with PokerStars having their head office just outside of Douglas in Onchan. Numerous other companies that provide support, software and other systems to online gaming companies world-wide are also present.
The IT sector is in a growth period, albeit small.
The Isle of Man is generally a very safe place, more so than much of the United Kingdom. In an emergency contact the Isle of Man Constabulary (the island's police force) on 999.
Town centres have real glass in bus shelters and graffiti has become a thing of the past, even though birching as a punishment was abolished in 2000.
Health conditions are very similar to the UK. The island has a well-equipped modern hospital (Noble's Hospital, near Douglas) but some complicated medical conditions may require removal to the UK.
The Isle of Man is still a fairly socially conservative place, although some major social reforms (in line with the rest of western Europe) have been legislated for by Tynwald, the Manx parliament.
Capital punishment for murder was abolished in 1993, although no execution had taken place on the island for over 100 years. Corporal punishment has also been abolished: it was used for young male offenders until the mid-1970s.
People from the Isle of Man are known as Manx. The Manx are very proud of their identity; the Manx flag will be frequently seen. To dismiss the island as just a tax haven may cause annoyance; the finance industry is the major employer and considerable efforts have been made by the Manx authorities to improve the regulation and propriety of this industry. Nevertheless, taxes are considerably lower than in the UK - although Valued Added Tax is the same by agreement between the Manx and UK Governments.
The UK is often referred to simply as "across", and the more patriotic Manx residents may be offended if you call the UK "the mainland". Similarly, the island is very proud of its long history of autonomy: the Isle of Man has never been part of the United Kingdom nor the European Union. Calling it "England" is very likely to raise eyebrows.
The word "rat" is not usually spoken out loud in Manx society because it is considered bad luck. Euphemisms include "R-A-T", "longtail", and "ringey".
The international dial code for the Isle of Man is the same as the United Kingdom and as part of the UK telephone system has the dial code 01624.
Prepaid SIM cards are readily available in mobile phone shops around the place. The local networks are Manx Telecom and Sure.
UK networks do not cover the Isle of Man, and will be in roaming mode if used. Should you wish to use a UK SIM here, check with your provider regarding any additional fees that may be charged. The inverse is also true – Manx networks will be roaming when in the UK. Both Sure and Manx Telecom have plans that include some amount of data roaming in the UK and Ireland, should you wish to have one SIM that covers all of these regions (both providers offer the same amount- 1 GB on top of the local allowance for their £10 plan, and 2 GB on top for £20). Sure's roaming allowance is also usable in France, and usage on its networks in the Channel Islands is treated the same as local.
If you don't already have a SIM that includes the Isle of Man, it is worth buying a PAYG SIM card for your stay – obtainable from either the MT or Sure shops, or from local shops (e.g. Spar). Should you need it (if, for example, your own phone is SIM-locked), these shops may also stock cheap, basic handsets behind the counter for between £10-20, prepaid SIM included.
Manx mobile networks have the dialling code of 07624.
When dialling from a Manx mobile or landline phone to any other Manx number, the dialling code is not needed - i.e. to reach 01624 111111, you would dial 111111.