The Isle of Man is famous for its TT motorcycle races and every year in May the island is invaded by thousands of motorcyclists keen on watching this spectacular street racing and taking advantage of the island's lenient attitude to speed racers and bikers who want to put their machines through their paces on the mountain roads and twisting lanes which are ideal for motorbikes. Whatever your views on this, the sight of so many impressive bikes from the UK and Europe is certainly spectacular.
The capital of the Isle of Man is Douglas which is the main commercial centre and tourist destination. It is also the most heavily populated town on the island. Along the seafront promenade with its hotels and shops visitors will notice the horse trams and electric railway departure point. The electric railway is very extensive and passes through some spectacular scenery and idyllic towns and villages. Places to visit in Douglas include the Manx Museum which is dedicated to the Manx National Heritage and Noble's Park which is a great vantage point for anyone wanting to view the
T.T. Motorcycle races.
The Isle of Man has its own currency, is self governing ( though aligned to the UK ) and has its own flag and traditions. Whilst in many ways similar to the UK mainland it does have its unique characteristics. The first thing that a visitor will notice is the different car registrations and prominence of the Isle of Man flag.
The island has a very varied natural terrain and its own mountain range. The countryside is beautiful and panoramic views can be experienced best by a drive around the island along the coast road. Whilst there are many small villages en route there are only really 4 towns outside of Douglas that are of any significant size and some of these could be almost be mistaken for villages if they were on the UK mainland.
Ramsey is the second biggest town and surrounded by fine buildings and pleasant countryside. It also boasts a beautiful park and harbour. Moving on from Ramsey and travelling along the coastal road you reach Peel. Famous for its Viking history, sandy beach, castle and harbour, this is a pleasant place to stop and take a break. There are plenty of fishing boats and this is the centre of what is left of the island's fishing industry ( much depleted due to EEC fishing quotas ). If you like kippers then be sure to try out the famous Manx Kippers.
As you move away from Peel and continue south along the coast the countryside changes dramatically and becomes more hilly with clifftop views of the coastline as you travel on towards Port Erin, Port St. Mary and Castletown. The castle at Castletown is certainly worth visiting and Port St Mary which used to be a fishing port is now home to many yachts and is a favourite destination for tourists along with the nearby Port Erin. There is a cliff top walk that takes you to The Calf of Man, a small island off the main island which is now a bird sanctuary.
The Isle of Man has the oldest parliament in the world and a National Tynwald Fair Day on the 5th July each year celebrates this and highlights the islands independence with the issuing of new laws on this date. Taxation on the island is low. Unemployment is virtually non existant and prices are pretty much the same as those on the UK mainland. Property prices are high though and residency is a privelage rather than a right. The crime rate is low and whilst offshore banking used to attract large numbers of investors from the UK this has very much diminished as a result of new regulations and EEC laws which mean that account holders details are now passed on to the relevant authorities of the EEC state of the individual investor. The population of the Isle of Man is around 80,000 citizens.
The Isle of Man Tourist Information website which can be found at: www.gov.im/tourism