Guernsey Destination Guide
A short journey from home, but a million miles from the hectic pace of 21st Century life! Nestling off the Normandy coast, Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands, and although only a short hop from its bigger neighbour, is most definitely its own island.
Full of natural beauty, it provides a relaxing environment for a peaceful getaway. Winding lanes reveal rolling pastures, tree filled valleys dotted with traditional Guernsey farmhouses constructed from local granite and lead to dramatic cliff views and glorious sandy beaches - there is a surprise around every corner!
Select a heading below for more information:
- The sights
St Peter Port – historic St Peter Port nestles against a hillside sweeping down to one of the world’s most beautiful harbours bursting with elegant yachts and working fishing boats. The feel is most definitely Mediterranean. The town is a collection of narrow lanes and alleyways leading uphill from the sea to a skyline of church steeples and red-painted roof tops. Fine Georgian façades line the quaint, cobbled High Street and adjacent pedestrianised streets draw you in with the promise of another delight around the corner.
Find out more about St Peter Port, Guernsey.
Castle Cornet – a visit to Castle Cornet is a must, where much of the medieval architecture remains intact and museums inside cover the maritime and military history dating back over 800 years. At midday, two redcoats fire a one-gun salute from the castle’s Royal Battery.
Royal Court House – where Guernsey’s parliament, the Assembly of the States, holds its debates. There is a public gallery for visitors when the States are in session.
Candie Gardens – for wonderful views over Herm and Sark.
Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery – a modern building which houses all manner of information and exhibitions of Guernsey’s history.
Hauteville House – the French writer, Victor Hugo, spent 15 years in exile in Guernsey during the 19th Century and his St Peter Port house overlooking the harbour is well worth a visit.
The Little Chapel – is the smallest church in the world. It is modelled on the shrine at Lourdes and is decorated in shells and pottery.
The German Underground Hospital – has altered little since the end of World War II and a visit is a very moving experience, whilst the German Occupation Museum has an extensive collection of Nazi memorabilia.
Saumarez Manor – one of the best preserved 18th Century buildings in the Channel Islands. Although it is still lived in, you can take a tour of the house and the grounds boast a pitch and putt and a miniature railway.
Fort Grey Maritime Museum – is situated at the southern end of Rocquaine Bay and is one of the island’s three Martello towers. It was built in 1804 as a defence against French invasion. The sea surrounding the Fort has seen many ships sink on the rocks below and local researchers have managed to locate over 100 shipwrecks.
Oatlands Craft Centre – all manner of crafts can be admired and bought.
Strawberry Farm – a great place for the family with rides, games, shops, restaurants, craft centres, wood carver and potters at work and don’t forget the strawberries!
- The beaches
Rocquaine Bay – is the first of several stretches of sweeping sands along Guernsey’s west coast.
Perelle Bay – takes its name from the Celtic word for rock and at low tide, the bay is a rocky vista.
Vazon Bay – a broad expanse of firm sand, the area is renowned for windsurfing and in summer, the flat beach is used for motorbike racing!
Cobo Bay – named after the pink coloured granite which is found here and used for many a building on the west coast, Cobo is a favourite with families offering a safe and sandy beach. Excellent for windsurfing.
Saints Bay – on the rugged south coast is a tiny, away from it all cove with just a small beach kiosk which provides food and numerous beach necessities.
Fermain Bay – on the east coast lies at the end of a beautiful wooded valley. The Moorings, on the northern side of the entrance to the bay, is a perfect spot for swimming and diving in deep water.
L’Ancresse Bay – in the north, two beautiful sandy beaches, L’Ancresse and Pembroke, split by a line of rocks running into the sea.
L’Eree Bay – looking out towards Hanois lighthouse, which guards Guernsey’s Atlantic coast, the sea wall offers shelter creating a sun trap on a lovely sandy bay.
- The walks
Renowned as a walker’s paradise Guernsey’s coastal paths take you through pine forests and past rocky coves. Head for the north and west coasts if you prefer to amble along sweeping sandy bays or wide open beaches. You can also follow the inland routes where peaceful lanes with high hedges of wild flowers front traditional Guernsey cottages.
- The flora and fauna
Guernsey has almost as many flowers in winter as in spring. Touring inland is a pleasure. Narrow lanes weave their way across the island passing quaint villages, tracts of woodland and secret valleys where an abundance of wild flowers flourish in the mild climate. Wild flowers fill the hedgerows and cover the cliff tops too. Guernsey’s best known export (apart from tomatoes) is flowers and most of the freesias, roses and carnations sold in the UK come from the island.
- The food
Despite its size, Guernsey has an excellent range of good quality restaurants ranging from pizzerias to gourmet French bistros, but the island is perhaps best known for the great variety of seafood which is available, usually hauled in as part of the morning catch.
- The sport and leisure
All manner of sporting activities are available in Guernsey, with watersports taking centre stage – surfing, sailing, fishing, windsurfing, swimming, canoeing and much more. If you prefer to stay on dry land, there is golf, cycling, horse riding and tennis. The Beau Sejour Leisure Centre offers numerous recreational facilities including an indoor pool, roller skating, badminton and squash.
- The shopping
St Peter Port’s quaint, cobbled High Street is lined with modern shops and boutiques while by the harbour you’ll find smaller, interesting shops, many of which incorporate old cellars once used by smugglers to store booty and contraband. The 19th Century Market Halls are a scene of brisk activity as the pick of the local crops from both land and sea compete with European imports in a pot pourri of colour, sounds and aromas.
- The nightlife
Evenings on Guernsey can be as quiet or lively as you like. For the young, or young at heart, St Peter Port offers discos and lively bars, but for those seeking a quieter venue, there are numerous country pubs or tranquil bars available. Beau Sejour Leisure Centre has a theatre, concert hall and also cinema, where the latest film releases are on show.
- The Islands - Sark, Alderney and Hem
Alderney measures just three and a half miles long. At its centre is St Anne, the quiet inland capital, an attractive little town with pastel-coloured houses lining the cobbled streets and a range of interesting shops. The town also has a museum which explains the island’s history and Alderney Pottery is worth a visit to purchase a souvenir to remind you of your stay. On such a compact island, why not take to the cliff paths on foot or cycle and enjoy a leisurely day exploring the entire island? If your idea of relaxation is to laze on a beach listening to the sea, then grab your towel, book and sun cream and head for either Braye, Corblets Bay or Telegraph Bay where the sandy beaches await you.
Travel facts: There are direct flights to Alderney from Southampton. Alternatively you can travel via Guernsey taking the 15 minute flight between the two islands. Transfers to and from the hotel are not included, but taxis are reasonably priced.
Almost two islands, Great Sark and Little Sark, linked by a dramatic causeway which plunges down to the sea on either side. A visit to Sark is like taking a step back in time rather than a 40 minute ferry crossing from neighbouring Guernsey. One of its most unique features is the lack of cars. The only motorised transport allowed in Sark is tractors either for farm work or to pull the cart which will carry your luggage up the hill to the Aval du Creux or Stocks hotels. The village’s main street has a couple of banks, souvenir shops, supermarket and shops offering bicycle hire which is the other great way of experiencing the real island of Sark. Narrow lanes and dusty tracks weave their way around the island, past meadows with grazing horses, high cliff paths with stunning views and an abundance of wild flowers. You will soon discover that time is of little consequence in Sark and will easily become accustomed to the wonderfully relaxed way of life.
Travel facts: To reach Sark, travel to Guernsey by sea or air and onward by ferry. A horse and carriage transfer is provided to and from La Sablonnerie on Little Sark. For Stocks and the Aval du Creux, your luggage will be transported by tractor to the hotel. For a small charge, you can ride up in the cart as well! Alternatively, you can do what most people in Sark do – walk.
If you’re looking for bright lights and a multitude of shops, bars and restaurants, then give Herm a miss. On the other hand, if you want peace, tranquillity and beauty, then this is the place for you. The island only has one hotel, one pub, one church, one farm and a couple of shops, but it does have an abundance of open countryside, wooded walks and wide sandy beaches. One footpath leads right around the island, whilst others criss-cross the interior. All are well signposted and even tell you how many minutes it will take to reach your destination. On Herm’s north eastern corner lies Shell Beach - the tides cause millions of shells to be washed upon the shore and a guide book can be purchased to identify the most interesting varieties you are likely to find.
Travel facts: To reach Herm, you travel to Guernsey by sea or air and then onward by ferry to Herm. The boats moor just a short walk from the White House Hotel.
- The facts
Geography: The island covers an area of 24 square miles with a population of 60,000.
Travelling times: Guernsey is just a short flight from mainland UK and accessible from a wide range of regional airports or alternatively, you can travel by fast sea cat from the south coast in around 2 ½ hours.
Transfer times: Travelling time from the airport to St Peter Port is around 20 minutes and most places can be reached within 30 minutes. Ferries arrive in St Peter Port just minutes from most town hotels. Hotels around the rest of the island are not usually more than 30 minutes away.
Passports: You don’t need a passport to travel to Guernsey, but the majority of airlines do require that you produce photo ID at check in.
Currency: Guernsey’s currency is sterling. They do have their own coins and notes, although they are identical in size to ours. UK sterling currency is widely accepted.
- Luxury breaks
We have handpicked some of our favourite hotels in Guernsey which are perfect if you want to unwind and devote some time to complete relaxation in elegant surroundings whilst enjoying excellent food and fine wines:
The Old Government House offers a Revolution Health Club and Spa with a fully fitted gym or, if you want to spoil yourself, discover the luxurious whirlpools, sauna and steam rooms.
Fermain Valley is set in a picture perfect location with sumptuous rooms, delicious cuisine including the Michelin star Christophe’s restaurant. Unwind in the indoor leisure suite and explore the peaceful gardens inspired by the Eden Project designs with fantastic views across the sea towards France.
The Farmhouse was originally a 15th century working farm that has been totally renovated in a modern, contemporary style and is set in extensive grounds in the countryside. It provides the ultimate in opulence, where the finest traditions of hospitality meet modern creature comforts including superb cuisine.
Bella Luce is a lovely old farmhouse has been restored into a modern hotel whilst still retaining its character. The newly opening Lucifers Bar and Restaurant serves delicious food with menus changing on a daily basis depending on what is in season and growing locally at the time and offering old-fashioned charm mixed with contemporary living and dining.