Jersey holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
The British Crown dependency of Jersey has two official languages, English and French. British English is its main language, with French spoken by many islanders due to the island’s historical connection and proximity with France. A few residents still speak the ancient Jerriais dialect of Norman French.
Two currencies are in official use here, the Jersey pound (JEP) and the British pound (GBP), with the former in currency union with the latter. Currency exchange is straightforward at banks, currency exchange outlets and post offices, and ATMs are found in all towns and most villages.
Nationals of Great Britain and Ireland may enter Jersey visa-free on production of an identity card or passport, with the Channel Islands part of the Common Travel Area that includes these islands. EEA nationals can also enter with just a passport, while nationals of other countries can normally enter if they hold a UK visa.
Jersey’s climate, similar to that of southern England, is temperate, with cool summers and mild winters. The four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter follow the same pattern as on the UK mainland, with December and January the coldest and July and August the warmest months. However, weather on the island is less changeable than on the mainland, and summer sees more sunny days on average. In high summer, daytime temperatures often exceed 25°C, and even in mid-winter the mercury stays around 9°C.
Busy Jersey Airport, located in St Peter parish, seven kilometres from the island’s main town of Saint Helier, is the island’s air arrivals hub. Its annual passenger throughput of 1.5 million includes corporate visitors to the island’s important offshore finance centres as well as tourists. The airport has a single terminal which handles a large number of flights from all over Europe, around 25 per cent of which are seasonal.
Flybe is the main carrier here, offering routes from Jersey Airport to London Gatwick, London Luton, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Aberdeen and Bristol airports, as well as services to Geneva and the neighbouring Channel island of Guernsey. British Airways flies to London Gatwick, Aer Lingus offers routes to Dublin and Cork, and Aurigny Air Services offers London Stansted and Guernsey flights. easyJet flies to London Southend, Liverpool and Glasgow, and Manx2 offers a flight to Oxford. The average flight time from London to Jersey is just under an hour.
Travellers have an immediate choice when flying from the UK, between the more expensive full-service carrier British Airways and low-cost airlines Flybe and easyJet. The budget carriers serve local airports across Britain, saving the need to travel to London. Advance bookings can result in bargains, especially out of the high season (May to September) and other popular times such as spring. Discounts are at their highest in the winter months, with the exception of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Several ports along the southern coastline of Britain offer conventional and high-speed ferries to Jersey, with Poole, Weymouth and Portsmouth the main departure ports. Packages available include 24-hour short breaks or even daytrips. Crossing times vary from three hours for the fast ferries from Weymouth and Poole to 10 hours for the conventional ferry from Portsmouth. Ferries also operate from Guernsey to Jersey, with several trips a day throughout the high season (May to September).
In spite of Jersey’s small size, its paved roads total 560kms, giving plenty of opportunities to explore the beauties and attractions of its coastline and interior via self-drive. Driving here is safe as well, with the speed limit across the island just 64kms per hour. Two major bus routes cover the island, and taxis are affordable and convenient.
Daily flights to neighbouring Guernsey, from where ferries run from St Peter Port to the feudal island of Sark, are available at Jersey Airport with Flybe. They give an opportunity for an interesting daytrip at a reasonable price.
Jersey’s two major bus routes are numbers 1 and 15, with number 1 covering the eastern part of the island and number 15 heading west. The routes run every 20 minutes during the day but are less frequent at night, finishing at 23:30. Lesser routes operate less frequently, but go to most of the island’s remote attractions. All routes run from Saint Helier Bus Station and timetables vary according to the season. Bus travel is relatively inexpensive and the buses are modern and comfortable.
Self-drive is the most convenient way to get around the island. A choice of international car hire companies as well as local firms can be found at the airport and in Saint Helier, and rates are reasonable. Petrol is cheaper here than in the UK. Valid UK licences are acceptable, and drivers must be at least 21 years old. Jersey drives on the left, and roads can be twisting and narrow in rural areas, although all roads are well-kept and the speed limit is low at 64kms per hour.
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is Jersey’s answer to a zoo, and is known worldwide for its endangered species conservation. Founded over 50 years ago by conservationist and author Gerald Durrell, it holds a variety of species including gorillas, bears, flamingos, orangutans and boas, and is set in Les Augres Manor and its beautiful grounds.
The Jersey War Tunnels date from WWII, when the Channel Islands, including Jersey, were occupied by the Germans. They were dug by prisoners of war who were held in appalling conditions. Set in St Lawrence, the tunnels are thought-provoking at the very least, and were never used for their original purpose of protecting the occupation forces and as a military hospital.
Island Duck Tours are a fun way to get an overview of the island’s lovely coastline via an amphibious coach journey from West Park in Saint Helier to Elizabeth Castle. Whether it’s on land or in the water, the vehicle offers scenic views of the coastline and there’s a commentary pointing out interesting landmarks.
La Mare Wine Estate in St Mary Parish is set on the estate of an 18th century farm house and is known for its famous Jersey apple brandy as well as its award-winning wines. Tours include the winery and vineyards and, of course, tasting sessions.
aMaizin Adventure Park in St Peter is one of the most popular attractions for family visitors to the island. Kids of all age will love the rides, go-kart track, gold mine, toboggan run, dinosaur dig and labyrinth of corn. The Barnyard is a great hit, with children able to milk a cow and interact with other farmyard animals here.
Saint Aubin, originally a fishing village, one of the prettiest villages on the island. Set on a charming harbour, it features traditional, beautifully-kept homes and little winding streets that offer a journey back in time, and the cream teas in its cafés are delicious.
Jersey Maritime Museum celebrates the island’s long association with deep-sea fishing and seafaring, and is unusual for encouraging visitors to touch the exhibits. Modern interactive displays combine with exhibits giving a glimpse into Jersey’s impressive maritime heritage. Set in Saint Helier, the museum is great for families and is open all year.
Jersey’s top heritage landmarks include several castles, with Elizabeth Castle boasting a fascinating history of over 500 years as a defensive fortress. Once home to famous mariner and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, the castle was named after England’s Queen Elizabeth I and was a refuge for King Charles II during England’s Civil War. Close by is the Hermitage, which is reputed to have been home to Saint Helier in the 6th century.
Mont Orgueil Castle looms on a headland which overlooks the sea and has protected the island from invasion by the French for 600 years. Secret rooms, hidden stairways, towers and battlements, and a cellar hosting a witchcraft exhibition are all here and, in the summer season, falconry displays, costumed Living History events and more give an overview of life in the olden days.
Neolithic tribes were the first inhabitants of Jersey many millennia ago, and the Jersey Museum takes visitors through a journey encompassing 250,000 years up to the modern day. Set in Saint Helier, the museum also holds an art gallery with a display of artworks by leading surrealist Claude Cahun as well as a collection of his personal material.
Just offshore from St Brelade’s Bay is La Corbiere Lighthouse, built in the 1870s and one of the best known Jersey landmarks. Saint Aubin’s Fort lies offshore from Saint Aubin’s Bay and can be reached on foot at low tide, and the clifftop setting of the ruins of Grosnez Castle is adjacent to the Le Pinacle rock, a place of worship for many thousands of years.
Nightlife in Jersey is centred on its main town, Saint Helier, with a good choice of pubs, bars and a least 15 buzzing nightclubs attracting well-known international guest DJs. Although Saint Helier isn’t exactly Las Vegas, there’s enough going down to satisfy visiting night owls and music fanatics.
The harbour and marina area around the Esplanade are upscale, with cocktail bars and bistros giving great sunset views, and many bars and pubs in the town offer live music on weekends. The nightclubs stay open until 02:30 while pubs and bars close at 23:00.
Saint Helier has two cinemas, the CineCentre in the Hotel de France and the Forum in Bath Street, both of which screen all the latest films. August’s Jersey Film Festival and its outdoor Sure Film Festival in Howard Davis Park offer an eclectic selection of screen delights. Dining and dancing are on offer in many of the fine restaurants and the UK TV channels and satellite options ensure sports and soaps fans don’t miss their matches or favourite programmes.
A well as being a charming building, Jersey Opera House in Saint Helier offers regular performances in dance, theatre and concerts. Its spaces include the opera auditorium, a studio theatre, event spaces and a bar and café. The Jersey Arts Centre also holds performances and events, and the large auditorium of the Gloucester Hall in Fort Regent holds orchestral concerts, dance spectaculars and other performances.
Jersey is famous for its ultra-fresh food and especially for the quality of its seafood, freshly caught daily and landed at Saint Helier’s harbour. Local specialities include sea bass, plaice, lobsters, crabs and oysters, in addition to the increasingly rare shellfish delicacy, the ormer.
The island has a fine choice of restaurants, from Michelin-starred through bistros and local eateries, the majority of which are found in and around Saint Helier. Outside the main town, fine dining outlets are found in traditional farmhouses and other heritage buildings.
International cuisine from across the world as well as traditional English meals including roast beef Sunday dinners and British pub grub cater for all tastes and pockets, and there’s even a recently-arrived McDonalds.
Jersey’s own cuisine shows strong French influences, with gourmet French restaurants a popular choice for locals and visitors alike. Black butter, made from cider, reduced for hours and combined with spices, liquorice, lemon, sugar and apples, is a unique Jersey delicacy.
For serious foodies and a chance to walk off those extra calories, a guided gourmet walk is just the thing, whether it’s around the island’s wild, west coastline, the coastal north, the exquisite little east coast bays or the stunning cliff tops of the south. Stops are made at rural fine dining venues in beautiful locations.
Gourmets will be in heaven at the Jersey Food Festival, celebrating the island’s famous Jersey Royal potato, dairy produce and stunning seafood. The event, held each May, is a showcase for restaurateurs, chefs and local farmers.
The coastline of Jersey has a plethora of beautiful beaches, with those set outside the main tourist areas quiet in the high season and almost deserted during the rest of the year. Three favourites are Plemont, St Ouen’s Beach and St Brelade’s Bay, all patrolled by trained lifeguards from May to September. There’s a huge choice of watery activities here, including jet-skiing, banana boat rides, kayaking, kite-surfing, paddle boarding, scuba diving and surfing, and the sands are great for children’s games.
Jersey is the perfect place for a romantic break or longer holiday with your loved one, and it’s just a short journey from the British mainland by air. Intimate fine dining venues, luxury spas and glorious countryside and coastal locations are all guaranteed to spark the romance back into lives blighted by the daily grind. For a special treat, or even a wedding, luxury hotels on the island provide unrivalled relaxation in their spas and on their private beaches. Rural bed and breakfast accommodation in Jersey’s charming heritage villages gives a romantic location for couples on a budget, and picnics on deserted beaches or walks along twisting country lanes give time to truly be together.
Jersey is one of the most family-friendly holiday destinations in the UK, and children are welcome everywhere. From great beaches with endless water sports and fine sands along 72kms of beautiful coastline, to hotels equipped with children’s play areas, pools, children’s menus and even babysitting services, Jersey is a favourite destination for families. For safe swimming, the south-eastern beaches are best as they slope gently and the sea is sparklingly clean. The great outdoors of Jersey is ideal for children who enjoy walking and cycling with their parents, and the Gerald Durrell Zoo with its 200 species makes for a great day out.
Surprisingly, Jersey has a fine reputation as a base for adventure activity holidays, with exciting options such as cliff and rock-climbing, caving, abseiling, surfing and even learning to fly or glide at a reasonable cost. Power boating and sailing as well as wake-boarding and deep-sea fishing are popular with visitors, and skydiving is an amazing thrill here, with views of the entire island and the French coast on the way down. Saint Helier and its surroundings are home to most of the adventure activity operators, and the activities take place all over the island.