Channel Islands holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
CHANNEL ISLANDS HOLIDAYS
English, the official language, is spoken by most people on the Channel Islands. Many residents also speak French, which is the language used for administration. In addition, there are four main Norman dialects which are spoken by some Channel Islanders.
The Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey produce their own currencies, the Jersey pound and the Guernsey pound, respectively, which are local versions of the British pound. England, Scottish, Jersey and Guernsey pounds are all accepted on the islands. However, Channel Islands money is not accepted outside the islands so should be exchanged before leaving. Some businesses accept euro although change is usually given in local pounds. Money can be changed at banks. ATMs can be found at banks, airports and some supermarkets. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Citizens of the UK or EU member nations do not need a visa to visit the Channel Islands. Citizens of many nations may visit the Channel Islands for up to six months without a visa but must have an onward ticket and adequate means of support to cover the duration of their stay. Some tourists require a visa - a full list of nationalities which require visas can be obtained from the Home Office UK Border Agency website. Passports must be valid for at least six months past the planned date of entry.
The Channel Islands have a temperate climate, with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.July and August are the sunniest, warmest months, with temperatures averaging 20°C, while December is the coldest, wettest month, with the least daylight hours and average temperatures of 6°C. Snow is rare and does not settle.
There are three airports on the Channel Islands. The main one is Jersey Airport (JER) on the island of Jersey, less than five miles from the capital, St Helier. The next busiest airport is Guernsey Airport (GCI) on Guernsey Island, three miles from the capital, St Peter Port. Alderney Airport (ACI) is a small airport on the island of Alderney in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
Jersey Airport is serviced by many carriers, including Flybe, which covers the most routes including: Birmingham, Edinburgh, Guernsey, London (Gatwick and Luton), Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. British Airways runs a year round service between Guernsey and London-Gatwick and Blue Islands flies to London-City, Manchester, Southampton and a few other UK cities. The main carrier at Guernsey Airport is Aurigny Air Services, which flies to England (Bristol, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Exeter, London-Gatwick, London-Stansted, Manchester and Southampton), France (Dinard and St Brieuc), Germany (Dusseldorf and Stuttgart) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam). There are additional carriers and routes available during summer at both airports. Aurigny Air Services link Alderney Airport with Guernsey (Channel Islands) and Southampton (England).The flight from London to Guernsey takes about 1 hour, while Jersey takes 1 hour, 30 minutes to reach.
Visitors travelling to the Channel Islands mid-week can often snag lower fares than weekend travellers, as can those visiting out of the summer peak season. Both Guernsey and Jersey airports have car hire desks in their terminal buildings and bus stops and ranks for metered taxis just outside their Arrivals halls. Buses are cheaper but less frequent than taxis.
It is possible to get to the Channel Islands by ferry. Boats go between St Peter Port, Guernsey and St Malo in France or Poole, Portsmouth and Weymouth in England. Condor Ferries is able to take cars. There is a ’sailrail’ deal available in the UK which is a combined train and ferry ticket to Jersey or Guernsey, departing from any British rail station.
Most people get around Jersey or Guernsey by bus or car, although cycling is also popular. Travelling by bus is much cheaper than travelling by car, but car hire affords greater convenience. The maximum speed limit in the Channel Islands is 40mph so getting around can take time. The Channel Islands are connected to each other by ferry.
On Jersey, public bus services are provided by Connex and go to most places on the island, with the main bus station being at Liberation Square, St Helier.Easylink has a hop-on, hop-off coach service taking in most of the main tourist spots. On Guernsey, state-run CT Plus Guernsey bus service has a fleet of modern buses servicing most locations on the island. Island Coachways is a private operator offering coach tours. Alderney has a bus service that runs a circuit of the island in summer.
The best way to move between the various islands of the Channel Islands is by ferry. There are regular departures between St Helier, Jersey, and St Peter Port, Guernsey. Less regular ferries go from Jersey to Sark and from Guernsey to Alderney.
The only railway on the Channel Islands is a two-mile track on Alderney Island. This rail line serves Braye and the north of the island, stopping at Mannez Station near the lighthouse, but only operates at weekends from Easter until late September.
Getting around the islands by rental car is the most convenient option. Major car rental firms have offices at the airports and in the main towns. Drivers need to be between 21 and 80 years old and hold a valid licence. UK residents can drive here with their UK licence but non-English language licence holders must provide an International Driver’s Licence. Many of the roads are narrow and poorly signed.
The Channel Islands are divided into two self-governing regions, called bailiwicks. The Bailiwick of Jersey includes the island of Jersey and about 11 barely inhabited islands, while the Bailiwick of Guernsey comprises Guernsey, Alderney and Sark islands, as well as some smaller islands. The islands’ location between England and France has endowed the region with an interesting history, cuisine and landscape dotted with castles, ports, cottages and forts.
Jersey is the main landmass of the bailiwick of the same name. The capital, St Helier, has many interesting historic houses, museums and castles for tourists to visit. St Ouen and St Lawrence are both noted for their medieval castles and WWII war tunnel museums. St Brelade is the best place for beaches on Jersey, while mysterious St Martin is known for its castle and dolmens. Pretty Trinity has a steam museum and wildlife park.
St Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey, is an interesting place full of character, museums, castles and a vibrant nightlife. The town of St Martin is steeped in history, from the German Occupation Museum to the prehistoric carved menhir at the gate of an old church.
Visitors to the island of Alderney will enjoy the main town of St Anne, with its cobbled high street, historic buildings, museum and large bluestone Church of St Anne. Other towns on the island include Longis, a tourist town known for its beach and nature reserve. Visitors can take a daytrip by boat from Alderney to Burhou to see the puffin colony.
The tiny island of Sark attracts romantics of all kinds, who stay in the main town of the same name and get around by bicycle or horseback to see the rockpools or the sandy beach at Grand Greve or the lighthouse at Point Robert.
Jersey Island has a number of notable historic sites. The capital of St Helier has the fully-restored, opulent four-storey Georgian House, the Jersey Museum and Elizabeth Castle. At St Ouen, visitors can learn about the period of German occupation in WWII in an underground bunker at the Channel Islands Military Museum or the German Underground Hospital in the Jersey war tunnels at St Lawrence.
Pretty St Brelade boasts great beaches and interesting sights such as the much photographed 1874 La Corbiere Lighthouse and the Parish Church of St Brelade with its medieval Fisherman’s Chapel.
The Jersey town of Trinity has much to entertain visitors, from the Pallot Steam, Motor and Engine Museum to the Durrell Wildlife Park and the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. Archaeology and history buffs won’t want to miss the Neolithic gravesite of La Hougue Bie at Grouville or the imposing Mont Orgueil Castle or mysterious La Pouquelaye de Faldouet dolmens at St Martin.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey is no less interesting. Guernsey Island has a number of appealing sites including the La Vallette Underground Military Museum and Hauteville House, which was the home of writer Victor Hugo, both at St Peter Port. The town is also home to the Guernsey Tapestry, a 10-panel woven depiction of the history of the island, created by locals to celebrate the millennium.
Many visitors are charmed by the tiny shell, pebble and china decorated Little Chapel at St Andrew’s and Castle Cornet, perched on an island in St Peter Port harbour. Further afield, tourists can visit the German Occupation Museum or Sausmarez Manor at St Martin, a town which is also known for St Martin’s Parish Church and Cemetery, which features the prehistoric carved menhir of the Grandmother of Chimquiere at its gate. Those interested in maritime history should check out the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, which is housed in an old Martello tower.
One of the main landmarks on the small island of Alderney is the oversize Victorian bluestone St Anne’s church, also known as the Cathedral of the Channel Islands. The Alderney Railway is a two-mile stretch of track from Braye Road to Mannez Quarry - volunteers run scenic tours on weekends and bank holidays. Visitors can take in some history at the Alderney Museum, which has a fascinating collection including whale vertebra, local shipwreck stories and relics from the island’s occupation by Nazi Germany in WWII.
The tiny island of Sark has a number of interesting landmarks including the natural Venus and Adonis rock-pools, the octagonal Sark Lighthouse, built in 1913, the historic gardens and maze of the 1675 La Seigneurie estate and the 1571 Le Moulin windmill which sits at the highest point of the island.
The Channel Islands, while small, are a tourist destination with a relatively wealthy local population that is able to sustain a vibrant entertainment scene that spans traditional pubs, trendy bars, live music venues and nightclubs. Outside the main centres on Jersey and Guernsey, every village is likely to have at least one pub which offers food, drinks and possibly live music in the evenings.
The main centre for nightlife on Jersey is the Esplanade on the waterfront of St Helier, with about a dozen nightclubs and as many pubs and bars. Nightclubs are open until late most nights and many restaurants also have live music. Pubs are generally open from 09:00 to 23:00.
There are pubs and bars all over Guernsey, but the greatest concentration can be found at St Peter’s Port, which also has the island’s nightclubs. Many pub style venues are located on the North and South Esplanades, while the clubs tend to be centred around Le Pollet. ThePrincess Royal Centre for Performing Arts at St Peter Port has a regular programme of concerts, plays, live broadcasts and films.
Channel Islands food is a tasty blend of English and French cuisines, with a strong focus on seafood. The pubs which are dotted across all the inhabited islands are popular choices for lunch or dinner. Pub menus range from basic ’pub grub’ items such as fish and chips or Sunday roast, to more upmarket ’gastropub’ meals that are more akin to the fine dining which is traditionally available in restaurants. For those who don’t fancy English or French food, the main towns of both islands have a variety of restaurants serving other cuisines, including Italian, Chinese and Indian.
Jersey is known for its seafood, in particular sea-bass, plaice, mussels, crab, lobster and ormer, which is a type of abalone that is often served casserole style. Jersey royal potatoes are another well-known local speciality, usually boiled and served with butter, and best eaten in spring. Jersey wonders are a sweet fried dough ball shaped in a twisted figure eight. St Helier has the lion’s share of the island’s restaurants, with many situated along La Colomberie Street.
There are opportunities for fine dining all over Guernsey, with most of the options in St Peter Port where the Old Quarter, town centre, quay and Le Pollet areas all have clusters of restaurants to choose from. Apart from the excellent local seafood, visitors may like to try the island speciality bean jar, which is a pork and bean cassoulet, followed by gâche (fruit bread) or apple pudding for dessert. The kiosks along the beaches are good places to try district favourites like crab sandwiches or cream tea. Pubs are a good place for a meal or to sample locally brewed ales and cider.
St Brelade’s Bay on Jersey Island has some of the best beaches in the Channel Islands, with well-maintained white sands, clean water, lifeguards and a number of restaurants, bars and cafés along the shore. The beach at Cobo village on Guernsey is also pleasant and features good facilities. The sandy beach here slopes into a sea splashed with granite outcrops which are ideal for snorkelling.
The picturesque Channel Islands have long been a traditional British honeymoon destination. The tiny, car-free island of Sark is ideal for couples who can stay in one of the quaint historic hotels and dine on local lobster. Get to the sandy beach of Grand Greve or the natural rock pools of Venus and Adonis by horse-and-carriage. Explore the cliffs and coves by bicycle or on foot and enjoy a picnic among carpets of flowers in spring.
Alderney Island has a good blend of activities and attractions. Take the family cycling across the island’s many cycle paths then spend a day swimming or rock-pooling at one of Alderney’s five clean, sheltered beaches. Visit the Victorian St Anne’s church or enjoy the eclectic collection of the Alderney Museum. Ferry connections afford easy daytrips to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
The many reefs and wrecks around Guernsey Island make it an ideal base for scuba diving, with giant spider crabs and 16 sunken cannons of Caval reef making for scenic diving. Above the waves, Guernsey offers surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and swimming. On land, Guernsey’s crags offer ample opportunities for rock climbing and the roads and mountain bike trails are good for cycling.