In the run up to Christmas 2021, Duke Travel’s running a series of blogs to help newcomers to the Isle of Man TT Races. They might be the most exciting road races in the world, but organising your trip can be a bit of a minefield for the unwary. Duke Travel’s expert team are here to help you with simple and straightforward advice on making your holiday enjoyable and convenient.

Ferry Travel  –   Public Transport   –   Spectating   –   The Isle of Man   –   Glamping   –   The Weather   –   Pubs

Hotels   –   Book with Confidence   –   Activities   –   Things to Look Forward To   –   The Countdown

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First… Book your boat.

So, you’ve heard about the Isle of Man and the incredible TT Races, but how do you go about turning the dream of visiting into a reality? 

The simplest – and most important – place to start is with the simple fact that, as the name suggests, the Isle of Man is an island. Affectionately known as ‘The Rock’ by some residents, the Isle of Man is situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, connected to England and Ireland by the local ferry company, the Isle of Man Steam Packet. 

Operating since 1830, the Steam Packet runs regular sailings to Liverpool and Heysham (in Lancashire), plus less frequent connections to Dublin and Belfast. 

During the two weeks of the Isle of Man TT Races, the Steam Packet goes into overdrive and increases the frequency of crossings, as well as the actual capacity of the vessels on the popular routes.

And they *are* popular. The first thing most prospective TT visitors discover when they start researching their visit is that the boats book up fast. Like, really fast. Ferry tickets go on sale about a year before each event resulting in a major rush for regular visitors and first-timers booking the most in demand crossings. Motorbike space, as you’d expect, are at a particular premium.

The demand is so great that the premium days often sell out within days of going on sale.

Second… Don’t panic

It’s off-putting being a customer at the bottom of that ticket booking pile-on and many first-timers give up at this first hurdle. We’re here to say: ‘don’t give up, there’s alway hope.

Here are some of our key takeaways:

  • There’s never really a problem booking *some* foot passenger sailings. Even very close to the dates of the TT you should be able to book something to get to the Isle of Man and back.
  • Be flexible: especially if it is your first visit to the Isle of Man TT Races, being here is much, much more important than being here on the *exact* dates the guys on facebook say you need to be here. The TT is a two-week event and there’s always something going on. Sure, the Senior TT or Superbike TT races are the big draw, but plenty of fans have discovered Practice/Qualifying Week is as much fun as race week (and a damn sight cheaper too).
  • You don’t have to come by boat. There are flights to the Isle of Man from major regional airports across Britain and the island of Ireland. EasyJet and Logan Air are the most popular operators. Flying saves time and the flights are generally at more civilised times than sailings.
  • Book a package with ferry travel included. As an official Isle of Man TT Travel Partner, Duke Travel is pleased to offer hotel and glamping packages that include ferry travel within the cost. Check out the range on the site. 
  • Be ready to book for 2023 and beyond. If you must see the Senior or Superbike TT Races and you can’t get the exact the sailings you want, pre-register for sailings/packages with Duke Travel and we’ll do our best to get you the perfect sailings when they go on sale.  

Come back tomorrow for more helpful Isle of Man TT Races travel and accommodation tips. Tomorrow: Why bringing a motorbike isn’t the be all and all.

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Two... Leave your vehicle at home

We know that in an ideal world you would love to bring your vehicle to the TT but it is not always possible. We will show you how it is possible to have a great time without the added burden of battling with increased traffic and road closures.

Book one of our packages with transfers to/from your arrival port to your accommodation to save battling with bus timetables.

Whether you choose to stay at a glamping site or hotel you won’t be far away from a bus stop with all of our carefully selected properties situated on popular bus routes.

Bring your bicycle free of charge on the ferry and cycle your way around the Island using a combination of green lanes and disused railway lines.

Travel around in style using the Snaefell Mountain Railway or the Manx Electric Railway. Take a trip to the Bungalow from Laxey on the Snaefell Mountain Railway, one of the most popular vantage points on the TT Course, or continue all the way to Ramsey where you will find lots of viewing spots.

If you are wanting to explore more of what the Island has to offer take a trip to the South of the Island on the Steam Railway or try something different with one of our dining experiences.

Log on to the traveline website to plan your journey speedily and stress free.

Join one of our popular coach laps of the TT Course to enjoy the full TT experience.

Book a trike tour with Isle of Man Trike Tours for a truly memorable day out.

Book a coach transfer to the Black Dub Grandstand with us.

Come back tomorrow to find out what to do if the weather is not on your side……

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Three... Find somewhere to watch from

The Isle of Man TT is famous for the enormous length of the course (37.73 miles /. 60.7km) and for being one of the world’s oldest motorsport events (founded in 1907, switched to the current course in 1911).

Being old and big the TT and developed a number of its own quirks and traditions. One of the most unusual of these for first time visitors to comprehend is that admission is totally free, if you want it to be. Sure, you have to pay to get to the island and for somewhere to stay, but beyond that access to the races is – and always has been – free.

That is to say that it is possible to watch the TT Races from hundreds of points around the course without paying for a ticket.

It’s not free everywhere, and weighing up whether to spend the money on an official or unofficial grandstand, or take your chances watching from a field beside the course is something we know many would be visitors agonise over.

Ultimately there’s no right or wrong answer; it varied entirely from person to person. But, we’ve had experience of dealing with thousands of would-be visitors in the same situation and we’ve distilled a bit of our expertise into the following bullet points:

Pros of watching for free:

  • It save money for food/beer/entertainment etc. No one can argue with that.
  • It’s got the ‘authentic’ feel of the Isle of Man TT.
  • Variety. Within the bounds of what’s permitted by the restricted and prohibited areas map, and respecting private property, you can watch every race from a different vantage point, and you can even move around during races.
  • Space. Generally speaking, the popular free vantage points leave you with space to spread out, enjoy a picnic etc.

Pros of Watching from a Grandstand:

  • Guaranteed seating. And the seats will generally be far more comfortable than leaning on a hedge or stone wall.
    Facilities. Answering nature’s call in a field isn’t the most dignified way to spend your holiday. Most grandstands (and all the ones offered by Duke) are provided with decent quality toilets.
  • Elevation: lots of fans want to be as close as possible to the action. We’ve all seen the videos on YouTube. But being that close often means you miss out on the bigger picture. Raised grandstands generally give you a better line of sight and a wider field of view.
  • Amenities: Most grandstands also provide parking, food outlets and, often, free Wi-Fi. You don’t necessarily get that in a hedge.

Ultimately, what we would normally suggest to first time visitors to the TT is do both. Maybe book a grandstand for your first day. It’s an especially good idea to book a grandstand with coach transfer, then you don’t have to worry about how to get there or back and how to park, and it gives you a chance to see how it all works. After that, the world’s (or the TT Course) is your oyster. Get out try one of the popular free vantage points and see which you prefer…

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Four... Spotting differences in the familiar.

Even if you’ve been visiting the Isle of Man your whole life, you might not be aware of all the ways the island differs from its neighbours across the sea. 

Of course, visitors from England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland are most likely to notice the similarities to home. The Manx use pound sterling as currency, the road signs look just the same, there are lots of familiar shops such as Tesco, Co-op and even Marks and Spencer. 

While lots of the differences are subtle, some are a bit more obvious. Manx cats for instance; there tends to be a fairly big fuss made of the fact that the Isle of Man’s native cat population are missing their tails. Although rarer now than in the past, it’s pretty hard not to notice that particular trait. 

But for visitors to the Isle of Man there are some differences which it is very much worth being aware of, even if they are not readily apparent.

Here’s our rundown of four important ways the Isle of Man takes a different approach to the UK:

Speed limits.

In the Isle of Man there is no national speed limit. So when you see the ‘national speed limit’ sign it means there’s no speed limit. But ‘no speed limit’ is not the same as ‘go as fast as you can.’ Be aware the Isle of Man Police are very active and can – and will – prosecute for dangerous driving or similar offences, and excessive speed can be seen as an aggravating factor. Check the Isle of Man’s highway code for more details and other ways in which Manx rules vary from the UK’s: https://www.gov.im/media/1349469/highway-code.pdf

Health.

The Isle of Man’s NHS functions in a similar way to those in England, Wales and Scotland, and emergency treatment will be provided if you get ill whilst visiting the island. However, underlying health problems will not be treated for free. And if you need repatriation the costs can quickly spiral. In other words, we strongly recommend you check your travel insurance covers you in the Isle of Man.

Money.

Although the Isle of Man uses pound sterling, there is actually an Isle of Man pound that runs in parallel. The exchange rate is pegged at 1 to 1 and most shops, pubs, restaurants in the island will also happily take Scottish and Northern Irish notes along with English or Manx money. However, the reverse is not true. Manx paper money is pretty distinctive and is not legal tender outside of the Isle of Man, so make sure you spend any you get in your change before you leave the island. Manx coins are likewise not legal tender outside of the Isle of Man, but are harder to spot as other than pound coins they look pretty much identical to coins issued in the UK

Fairies.

Not a lot of people know that the Isle of Man is home to the ‘mooinjer veggey’ or ‘Little People’ in the Manx language. There’s a long history of folklore in the island’s gaelic past, and one superstition that remains strong is wishing the Little People a good day when passing over the Fairy Bridge on the main Douglas to Castletown road. It’s such a strong belief that many TT riders won’t dream of starting a race without having been to pay their respects. So, make sure you make time to visit the Fairies on your holiday. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  

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Five... Glamp it up at TT 2022

Idyllic Surroundings. With glamping sites such as 4Ever TT situated in the South of the Island, you will be at one with nature. On non-race days, why don’t you take the time to explore the natural beauty of the Isle of Man.

Never far away from all the action. Each of our exclusive glamping sites is located within close distance to public transport allowing you easy access to the TT course and the Island. With the likes of Zoo Tents and Hotel Bell Tent you are close enough to walk to your favourite vantage point.

Great on-site facilities. Each glamping site is different, but all offer onsite facilities including hot showers, toilets, free WIFI, onsite catering, mobile charging points and parking all within a safe and secure environment.

Sleep up to four people. You won’t have to worry about sleeping arrangements ever again with each tent accommodating up to 4 people in a combination of single or double beds. Glamping really is a cost-effective way to do the Isle of Man TT.

Stay in comfort with real beds, duvets and pillows. Every tent is a sizeable 5-meter bell tent equipped with mattresses, linen, duvet and pillows. Sleeping under the stars has never been so appealing

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Six... Prepare for the weather

It’s no use pretending that the Isle of Man’s famous Mountain Course benefits from the same settled and sunny weather as circuits like Jerez or Yas Marina. Here, on a small island in the Irish Sea, it’s more than possible to experience a whole range of meteorological phenomena in the course of one race, let alone one day.

Indeed, given the nature of the course – 37.73 miles / 60.7 Km long with total elevation changes of 1400ft / 426.72m – it’s not at all unusual for different parts of the course to be experiencing radically different weather on the same lap of the race. 

To the uninitiated that might sound completely off-putting and, to be fair, it probably is to some. But fans of the Isle of Man TT know it is intrinsic to the appeal of the event.

That said, it’s definitely wise to take a few precautions to make sure the weather doesn’t (sometimes literally) put a dampener on your day:

Wear sunscreen. Seriously. The Isle of Man isn’t the Costa Brava and that is probably why so many spectators get caught out. You’ll find out quick enough that lots of popular places to watch from are also total sun traps on the right day.

Think about access. If fog or mist comes down there will be delays to the race schedule as, if visibility is poor the emergency helicopters can’t fly and no helicopters mean no racing. If you’re on the Mountain section that means you could be sitting waiting for conditions to improve, potentially for several hours. Make sure you can get out from your vantage point, or choose somewhere like the Black Dub or Victory Cafe where you’ve got entertainment on hand when racing is delayed. 

Have a roof over your head. Showers are not uncommon, even in June, in the Isle of Man. Pack a good coat, or even better, choose to watch from somewhere like Hillberry where the grandstand has a roof and awning to protect you from the weather – rain or shine. 

Have a fallback plan. In an average year it’s more or less inevitable that a race day will be disrupted due to weather. Some years, such as 2018 there’s wall-to-wall sunshine and races all go off on schedule and records tumble. Other years everyone finds out that having a race course as big as small island with a literal mountain in the middle means having to cope with the full spectrum of climatic conditions. The good news is there’s plenty to do away from the racing and the Course. Exploring the island’s many sights and attractions, or just getting familiar with the interiors of its many pubs, is one of the undersold joys of a visit to the TT. See our range of holiday extras here

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Seven... Welcoming pubs to enjoy at TT 2022

The Isle of Man TT Course is unique in many ways. It is one of the longest, oldest and fastest motorcycle race courses in the world. It must also have one of the biggest collections of pubs on any race course in the world. Here’s our rundown of five of the best you can watch the action from.

The Raven, Ballaugh

On an ordinary day there’s not much to indicate The Raven in Ballaugh has one of the most spectacular vantage points on the TT Course, but come race day, the walls of the pub’s car park are lined with fans eager to see the world’s best road racers tackle the big jump over the famous humpbacked bridge. Spectacular really is the only word…

The Sulby Glen, Sulby

Possibly the only pub in the world with a Honda 4 motor converted into a beer pump. Certainly the only pub with a 200mph straight literally on the front doorstep. Sulby Straight is one of the fastest sections of the Course and, as the name suggests, the Sulby Glen is right there for the view. As well as a good view of the action, you’re also assured of good food and drink.

The Central, Ramsey

Imagine standing, beer in hand, watching Superbikes flying towards you, braking all over the road then flicking into a right-left-right S-bend and revving away towards the Hairpin and the Mountain. That’s the reality at the Central. Directly across the road is Swan which has an even better view of the machines as they power out of Parliament Square. Either way, you’ll have a great view of the action

The Crosby, Crosby

Just a few miles from the startline, you can’t miss the Crosby with it’s sign proudly displaying a 1930s Norton racer. With a large beer garden on the side of the Course, large bar and restaurant, The Crosby is an understandably popular location to watch the action from. The one “downside” is that the pub is inside the Course, so once the roads are closed you’re in for the duration.

The Creg-ny-Baa

The “Creg” is probably the most famous pub in motorsport. Certainly, it is the most well photographed. All of the greats from Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood and Agostine through to Joey Dunlop, John McGuinness and Peter Hickman have had their pictures taken as they tackle the tight righthander on the descent from the Mountain towards Hillberry and the Grandstand. Phenomenal view, and phenomenally popular. A ‘must’ for any fan.

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Eight... How to stay in 4 star comfort at TT 2022

For some TT visitors only a hotel will do. And we’ve a lot of sympathy with that point of view. For most, a trip to the TT is a holiday after all, and on holiday you should look after yourself, spoil yourself, enjoy good food and drink and excellent company.

The good news, even this close to the 2022 Isle of Man TT Races there’s availability at two of the island’s leading hotels, if you book through Duke Travel.

Qualifying WeekThe Comis Hotel, Santon | 4 Star

Just outside of Douglas, on the main road south, the Comis hotel is one of the most modern and comfortable hotels we can offer. Set in its own grounds, and provided with a pool, gym, golf course and driving range, this is a very popular option for visitors throughout the year. 

An added attraction for anyone arriving on a nice shiny bike, or bringing their car, is the large amount of parking available on site. 

The hotel’s restaurant is building quite a reputation and the package offered by Duke Travel includes a whole host of extras to make sure this is a holiday you’ll remember.

Race WeekBest Western Palace Hotel and Casino, Douglas | 4 Star

Ceremonially opened by Sean Connery, the Palace Hotel hosts the Isle of Man’s online licensed casino. Centrally located on the Douglas sea front, the hotel has been a landmark for TT fans and riders all the way back to the 1960s. 

For our race week package, complete with port transfers and grandstand tickets, you’ll enjoy the best the Palace has to offer. Stay in comfort and experience the convenience of the great location. On race days you can take in the action from the grandstands, or opt to upgrade to VIP hospitality. After all, it’s a holiday and you should spoil yourself!

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Nine... Reasons to book with Duke Travel

Booking your dream trip should be exciting, fun and stress free and that’s exactly why you should book with us. We will be there for you from start to finish and if you have any problems you’ll always have somewhere to turn to. We make booking holidays simple with a host of packages available for you to choose from, and if you can’t find what you are looking for we will create a package especially for you.

1. Exclusive accommodation options bookable only through Duke Travel.

2. We will guide you through the booking process from start to finish, providing you with the answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.

3. We are trusted by our customers, with an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot you know you will be in safe hands.

4. We can offer practical advice and travel tips which you won’t get anywhere else.

5. Balance payments can be made in wallet friendly instalments, we will always be upfront about the total cost and balance payment dates allowing you to budget for your trip.

6. You can book your holiday secure in the knowledge that the Travel Trust Association will protect you in the unlikely event of Duke Travel becoming insolvent.

7. We are an official travel partner for the Isle of Man TT Races and the Classic TT.

8. We will create a package for you tailored to your budget and your individual needs.

9. Based on the Isle of Man with excellent local knowledge.

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Ten.....Things to do away from the racing

Are you looking for some ideas of things to do while the racing isn’t on? Don’t worry, we can provide you with some inspiration to get your juices flowing.

The Isle of Man is a playground for any outdoors enthusiast offering everything from rock pooling  through to hiking and coasteering, once you get started we know you won’t want to stop.

Here is our list of 10 activities to get you started….

Active and Adventure: The Isle of Man is the perfect destination for getting stuck into memorable outdoor activities and adventures based in and outside of the water with everything from kayaking through to coasteering on offer

Cycling and Mountain Biking: Despite the Island’s size, the scenery is extremely diverse with wonderful coastal roads, scenic country lanes and sweeping glens to discover. Bring your bicycle on the ferry for free and use the heritage railway lines and green lanes to travel to your favourite vantage point.

Walking: Rugged cliffs, rolling hills, picturesque glens, hidden coves and panoramic views. These are just a few of the reasons why the Isle of Man is a walker’s delight. Whether you enjoy a gentle stroll or a challenging hike, there’s a range of footpaths and trails to choose from.

Golf: The Isle of Man may only be 32 miles long and 14 miles wide, but there are still plenty of open spaces for nine challenging golf courses to play during your stay. South of the Island, Castletown Golf Links is a classic course on a stunning peninsula. Castletown features in the Rolex World rankings of top golf courses and completely justifies that accolade. Douglas offers a selection of courses, ideal if you don’t have a vehicle.

Culture and Heritage: The Isle of Man has a unique and varied heritage which is as evident today as it was many thousands of years ago. It’s possible to see the majority of the Island by travelling on the impressive network of heritage railways powered by steam, electricity and even horsepower. Many of the heritage attractions are located close to the railway stops making it an easy and mesmerising way to indulge in the Isle of Man’s colourful history.

Wildlife: Take a walk on the wild side and experience some of the best spots for wildlife watching on the Isle of Man. Due to its dynamic and ever-changing landscape, you’ll be sure to spot a diverse array of wildlife during your visit to the Island.

Great Outdoors: The Island’s fresh sea breezes, mountain views and expansive countryside provide daring new adventures for visitors alike. And with its compact size, you’re never too far from the home comforts of your accommodation or a local pub, café or restaurant.

Sightseeing: Take a tour around the Island and discover the wonderful sites and attractions the Isle of Man has to offer. Whether you prefer to tour by foot, trike or boat there are so many different ways to see the Isle of Man and its stunning coast, wildlife and heritage.

Food and Drink: The Island’s quality assurance scheme, Taste Isle of Man recognises a wide variety of island wide eateries, offering the highest quality food and drink using only the best, local ingredients. From handpicked vegetables at local farms to home reared Loaghtan lamb and freshly caught queenies, our produce is key to creating traditional mouth-watering dishes to make your stay memorable

For the Family:The Isle of Man has lots of different activities for families of all shapes and sizes. If you’re visiting with tiny tots, adventurous teens or anything in between, you’ll be sure to find something to keep everybody happy. 

The mild climate and natural beauty of the Isle of Man will bring out the whole family’s inner explorer with no shortage of parks and outdoor spots to enjoy.

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Eleven.....Things to Look Forward to in TT 2022

We are now on the final stretch of 2021, and what a way to see in the New Year by celebrating all things TT. We don’t know about you, but we are very excited to see the long-awaited return in 2022 after the most prolonged pause since the 2nd World War and to kick things off, here are our top 11 things we will be looking forward to:

1: Joining the thousands of TT fans making the pilgrimage to the Isle of Man as you ride or drive to the ferry. Chatting with old friends (or new) as you queue up for the boat to the island.

2: The first pint of Manx real ale – Bushy’s or Okells , try them both!

3: The sound of the first bike heading down Bray Hill – there’s nothing else like it.

4: John McGuinness returning to Honda to make his 100th TT race start – it just feels right.

5: Fine dining in one of the many restaurants serving excellent local produce and ale.

6: Enjoying the new afternoon qualifying sessions – see all the classes from your favourite vantage point.

7: A ride around the TT Mountain Course, maybe stopping off for a pie at the Victory Cafe at the Bungalow (see point 5).

8: The new ‘TT Fan Park’ at the main Grandstand, with the Trackside bar, great food selections, big screen video action and live entertainment.

9: The long-awaited opening of KFC and Starbucks next door to the ever-popular McDonalds (!). Yes, we do modern fast food as well as the kippers good enough for the Queen!

10: Taking a seat at Hillberry Grandstand, the only covered grandstand offering up to a ½ mile views of the bikes hurtling down from the mountain section… or…

11. Chilling out on a leisurely steam train ride to watch the racing at Castletown

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Twelve... 155 Days to go until 2022 Isle of Man TT Races

It’s often said in the Isle of Man you’re either counting down to Christmas or to the TT. Or both.

After Saturday it’ll all be downhill to the TT.

That means there’s fewer and fewer opportunities to book and make sure you’re at the first TT Races since 2019 (incidentally the third longest break between events in TT history after the gaps due to the Second and First World Wars).

If the 12 Days of Christmas has piqued your interest, Duke Travel’s team will be available to answer any queries you may have on the following days:

23rd December 9 – 5.30
24th December  9 – 1.00
25th December Closed
26th December  Closed
27th December Closed
28th December Closed
29th December 9 – 5.30
30th December 9 – 5.30
31st December 9 – 5.30
1st January Closed
2nd January Closed
3rd January Closed
4th January onwards –  9 – 5.30

 

Furthermore, if you decide to book any* 2022 Isle of Man TT Races holiday with Duke Travel before 31st December (including booking made in January 2022 from enquiries originating before 31st December 2021), you will receive a £50 gift voucher to spend at Duke Video. You can spend you voucher on any of the hundreds of great DVDs, Blu-rays, tickets or clothing available on the site including Isle of Man TT T-shirts, hoodies, coach laps and grandstand tickets.