Which island should you choose to visit? Jersey is the bigger island, with a wider range of accommodation and attractions, however Guernsey’s picturesque capital St Peter’s Port is popular with tourists, with the added advantage of visiting nearby islands Sark & Herm.
You can take your car for maximum freedom or travel on foot as our ferries sail into the heart of each island’s capital.
Only time for one of the islands? Here’s some advice to help you plan your ideal trip.
First, a little history. Both Jersey and Guernsey have strong links to their neighbour, France. They were owned by the Duchy of Normandy and became part of the English Crown in 1066 when William the Conqueror invaded England and became King.
In 1204, when England lost possession of the mainland, Normandy, the islands remained Crown property. They are now self-governing Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey and Crown Dependencies - not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union.
Both Jersey and Guernsey were occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. Several museums cover events during the Occupation and tell the islanders’ moving stories.
While each Channel Island has its own traditions and laws, they have much in common:
• Glorious beaches with golden sand in a mild climate
• Fantastic food from award-winning chefs
• A proudly English culture with a touch of French flair
• Pound notes still in circulation
• Among the largest tidal ranges in the world - over 13 yards during spring tides
Capital: St Peter Port
Area: 25 square miles
Population: 62,754 (2018)
Anthem: Sarnia Cherie
A little smaller than its southern neighbour and with fewer people, Guernsey is a firm favourite with holidaymakers who want to take it easy. The speed limit is 35 miles an hour so there’s no need to rush. Why not hire a bike or take your own on the ferry and freewheel down the scenic ‘ruettes’?
There are 27 beaches to choose from, some are deservedly popular with families and there are plenty more where you can easily escape the crowds. Come in spring when you can enjoy the stunning clifftop views from coastal paths and the wonderful Instagram-friendly wild flower meadows.
St Peter Port is one of the most beautiful small harbour towns you’ll ever see. Quaint boutique shops will tempt you inside and no visit is complete without a walk around the 800-year-old Castle Cornet. French author Victor Hugo’s Hauteville House, newly restored and open to the public, is definitely a ‘must-see’.
Memorable meals are everywhere, whether you prefer fine dining or a fresh crab sandwich on the beach. The local seafood is unbeatable and you’ll be welcomed into Guernsey’s cosy pubs any time of the year.
Guernsey is proud of its heritage. You can find out what has shaped the island over the centuries at many places including the Guernsey Museum, Fort Gray and the German Occupation Museum.
If you like island-hopping, you’ve come to the right place. Delightful Herm and Sark are a short boat ride away and you can also sail or take a short flight to the most northerly of the Channel Islands, Alderney.
Capital: St Helier
Area: 45 square miles
Population: 106,800 (2019)
Anthem: Island Home
Slightly larger than its northern neighbour, Jersey is packed with things to do and it could take several holidays to see them all. While a car is always handy, it’s not essential. Public transport is excellent and cycling along the narrow lanes will keep you fit.
Jersey Zoo, established by naturalist Gerald Durrell, is world-famous for conservation and a ‘must-visit’ for all the family. Go back in time at the heritage locations such as Elizabeth Castle, Mont Orgueil Castle and the atmospheric German Underground Hospital in the War Tunnels. Jersey’s bustling capital, St Helier, is a paradise for shoppers and the boutique shops all around the island will tempt you to part with your pounds.
The island’s 24 miles of sandy beaches mean there will be one that will be ideal for you. Sweeping west coast beaches attract the surfers, the rocky north coast has incredibly scenic coves and the fun southern beaches are favourites with families. There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water whether you’re keen on a kayak, fancy trying out a paddleboard or prefer a boat trip. The adventurous should have a go at rock climbing or even coasteering.
If you’re peckish, there’s plenty of choice for an excellent meal everywhere, especially if you love seafood from the Bay of St Malo. If you’re there in early summer, don’t miss the iconic Jersey Royal potatoes and creamy milk from Jersey cows resulting in the locally produced cheese and ice cream being second-to-none.
• Jersey people call Guernsey men and women ‘donkeys’. Is this because they used donkeys to haul goods up the steep cobbled streets of St Peter Port, or are they just obstinate?
• Guernsey people call Jerseymen and woman –‘crapauds’ (toads). Is this because there are no toads on Guernsey?
• Both islands share superstitions about fairies and pixies. Sightings have been recorded through the centuries and Victor Hugo described local folklore in his 1866 novel Toilers of the Sea. There are even claims that witches met at La Pinacle on Jersey in the 16th and 17th centuries.
• Popular 2018 movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society highlighted the human side of the German occupation. Many people fondly remember the 1980s TV detective series Bergerac, which was set on Jersey.
• The tenth oldest building in the world is in Jersey. You can visit La Hougue Bie, dating back 6,000 years to Neolithic times.
• Both islands are famous for their knitted sweaters. Whether you choose Jersey’s or Guernsey’s, you’ll get a traditional, hard-wearing and stylish garment.