The Isle of Man tour is the perfect mini cruise destination

Friday, 9 March 2012 4:05 PM

If you're considering embarking on a short cruise, the Isle of Man is one destination you should definitely visit. Its fairly compact size - it measures just 572 sq km - means it can be easily incorporated into a weekend getaway. However, that isn't to say there is not much to see and do here. Take a tour of the isle and you'll uncover a rich, vast culture.

While many people associate the island with the annual motorbike races that takes place here each year, there is in fact lots more to catch your interest. One thing that certainly makes it stand out is the long-running history of democracy, which was established by the Norse settlers who initially arrived on the island in the eighth century.

Around 1,000 years ago, they established Tynwald - a system of self-governance that has emerged as the oldest continuous parliament in the world. By seeking cruise deals that see you arrive in the island in time for July 5th - the island's National Day - you can witness an annual ceremony at Tynwald Hill where politicians publically proclaim all the new laws that were passed in the previous 12 months.

This historic mound is said to contain samples of earth from all of the island's 17 parishes - and, once the event has come to an end, you can take a walk around it and snap some photos

The influence of the Norse settlers on the island can clearly be seen to this day, although the region also has very strong maritime and Celtic connections. Visit the House of Manannan in Peel and you'll learn about all three cultures and the impact they have on the island, both past and present.

Among the many attractions to be seen here are a replica of a 19th-century dockyard and a preserved Celtic roundhouse. You can also take in a traditional Viking longhouse and learn more about ancient smuggling and shipping customs. The cultural institution's unusual name comes from Manannan, a shape-shifting sea god who could shroud the island with a cloak of mist to guard it from its enemies.

From here, visit the Manx Transport Heritage Museum. The establishment has exhibits covering all forms of Manx transportation and contains a P50, a three-wheel vehicle that was first made in Peel during the 1960s and holds the record for being the smallest road-legal car in the world.

To gain a deeper insight into the region's past, visit the 14th-century Peel Castle. Situated on an islet overlooking the town's harbour, this medieval structure has a number of buildings made out of pink sandstone. Although some parts of the complex have now fallen into ruin, there are still many you can explore both on the inside and out. Climb to the top of the Gatehouse Tower for the chance to take in panoramic views of the rest of Peel and the Irish Sea.

As the capital and largest town on the Isle of Man, a tour of Douglas is a great way to get acquainted with the island's history. Spend some time looking at the artefacts on display in the Manx Museum - an institution that examines the island's archaeological, social and natural history - before meandering along the Douglas Promenade in the world's oldest horse-drawn trams. After you've finished taking in the sights here, head back on to your UK cruise ship and set sail for the next destination on your wonderful mini adventure.

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