The Marina in Douglas, Isle of Man © Neil Howard/Flickr

There are plenty of easy, cheap holiday ideas on the Isle of Man.

It’s only 30 miles long, just 60 miles off the Lancashire coast and in the geographical centre of the British Isles… but visitors discover Man is like another world. It has its own Parliament, stamps, customs, taxes and currency (thankfully interchangeable with ours).

Most importantly it has a unique atmosphere too – a mix of the Isle of Wight’s period gentility and the ruggedness of the Scottish Isles. And with its sizeable towns and long-established tourist industry Man has more places to stay and things to do than most smaller islands – so it makes a good flexible holiday destination for everyone from families to couples. It’s big enough to tour round or the resorts are sophisticated enough to stay in one place for a week. That means you could travel as a foot passenger on the ferry and stay without car hire for very reasonable money.

Man is certainly more developed than most other islands off Britain, with its own housing estates, tower blocks and factories. Don’t let that put you off, around 40 per cent of the island is completely uninhabited. And even though Man’s charming old Victorian resorts, like Ramsey and Peel, have seen better days, they retain a salty charm. It’s nice to wander around the misty old harbours, eating seafood and drinking in quaint old harbourside pubs.

The days when factory workers from the North West would head there en masse for cheap summer holidays has long gone but the island is being rediscovered as a great short break destination for everything from alternative therapies to walking.

Snaefell Mountain, in the Isle of Man © James Stringer/Flickr

There’s more than 100 miles of coastline including long sandy beaches, rocky coves, dramatic cliffs and thickly wooden glens. There’s even a mountain, the 2,000ft high Snaefell, the summit of which can be reached by railway.

Other unique attractions include a network of steam trains and electric tramways, while bikers and car drivers will enjoy driving the route of the TT motorbike races, which are held amid a carnival atmosphere for a fortnight every May and June.

My favourite spot:The Sound Visitor Centre at the bottom of the island. It’s a classy modern building looking out across the wild sea gap called ‘The Sound’ to the smaller ‘Calf of Man’ island. The cafe has a full length curved glass.