Queen Victoria's favorite residence, a massive pile designed by Prince Albert to replicate a grand Italian Renaissance palazzo, holds enormous interest for anyone drawn to the domestic side of history. The house reveals Prince Albert's interest in engineering through his clever innovations, like a kind of central heating, as well as Victoria's determination to give her children a normal but disciplined upbringing. A minibus will take you to the recently restored Swiss
Cottage, a superior version of a playhouse built for the children. After Albert's death in 1861, the queen spent much of her time here mourning her loss in relative seclusion, and the antiques-filled rooms have scarcely been altered since her death here in 1901. The house and extensive grounds—which can be quite crowded during July and August—were used as a location for the 1998 movie Mrs. Brown. Since 2012, what used to be Victoria's private beach has been open to the public. In summer another minibus will take you there. Book ahead for guided tours of the house and gardens. Buses 4 (from Ryde) and 5 (from Cowes and Newport) stop outside.
Off A3021, 1 mile southeast of Cowes, Cowes, PO32 6JX, England