Nestled in the English Channel, the Channel Islands are a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With their rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique culture, these islands offer an unforgettable experience for travelers.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the enchanting Channel Islands, revealing the secrets of these picturesque destinations and helping you plan your dream escape. So, let’s embark on this adventure together and uncover the magic that awaits in these beautiful isles.
St. Helier Central Market
Probably the most popular attraction in the town of St. Helier on Jersey is the Central Market, which has existed there for over 200 years. The market is enclosed with a roof and gates and houses over 30 stalls, each with something unique that they sell. Ten of these serve ready-to-eat food to customers while the other twenty are a mix of grocery, gift, wine, and other goods vendors. It would be almost impossible not to stop here at one point, since it is one of the largest buildings downtown St. Helier.
This pedestrian only street south of downtown St. Helier is home to a number of food establishments that might interest you. Pizzeria Famosa, The Taste, Dandy, Caffe Ristorante Italia, and Gradees are all found on this small street and each offer something different to try.
Mont Orgueil Castle & Victoria Tower
Another popular attraction on Jersey is the Mont Orgueil Castle and nearby Victoria Tower. The castle is known for having amazing views of Jersey as well as multiple secret rooms throughout. Admission is just over fifteen pounds for adults and the castle is open from 10AM to 5:30PM. To get an outside view of the castle, you can travel to nearby Victoria tower, which sits atop a hill just northwest of the castle. Looking the other direction, you might be able to see Archirondel Tower on the coast to your north.
Inland, the Jersey Zoo is home to a number of non-native species to Jersey. Orangutans, flamingos, meerkats, otters, and tortoises are just some of the species that are housed here. The zoo is open from 9:30AM to 6PM and hosts events and rotating exhibits year round.
L’Etaquerel Fort and Trail
Between Rozel and Bouley Bay is a trail that follow the north coast of Jersey. With stone staircases and sweeping ocean views, the trail is one of the best in Jersey. Four parking lots exist on La Route du Cotes du N, one in Bouley Bay and one in Rozel with two in between. One is particularly close to L’Etaquerel Fort, a fort no longer in use on the coast. There is no staff to the fort and it is completely public to walk around in. You are free to choose how far you want to walk with this trail, as the communities at both ends have services if you need.
Devil’s Hole Trails and Overlook
More trails exist between the Ronez Quarry and the Devil’s Hole Overlook if you feel the need to see more of the coast, if not, the Devil’s Hole is certainly a highlight with a parking lot off of Le Chemin de Hougues. From there, it is a half kilometer walk to the overlook of the hole and the path is well maintained with fences and guardrails.
Grève De Lecq
A good variety stop on the north side of the island, Grève De Lecq is a beach and cove with some dining establishments, museums, and a historic fort. The beach and pier are popular places for tourists and fishermen. Colleens Cafe is the immediate dining option on the beach, and further up the hill is the more upscale Le Moulin de Lecq.
Groznez Castle and Lighthouse
The ruins of the Groznez Castle sit on the northwestern corner of Jersey, and the lighthouse still stands out on the rock overlooking the ocean. This outdoor area is free to walk around and explore, and trails extend to the south to some war ruins along the coast.
Another lighthouse sits off the southwest corner of the island, this time on its own island. The rocky island of La Corbière is home to the lighthouse by the same name, and can only be accessed by walking the causeway to it. This southwest corner of the island has some dining establishments too, with Corbière Phare being just up the hill from the parking area, and you can find a sweet treat in Real Jersey Dairy Ice Cream at the beginning of the causeway.
Val de la Mare Arboretum
Inland once more, the Val de la Mare Arboretum sits on a man made lake of the same name. A number of trails weave through the woods here as well and show off their twelve collections of trees.
Jersey War Tunnels
South Hill Gardens
The Botanic Gardens At Samarès Manor
Perhaps Guernsey’s most popular attraction, Castle Cornet sits on the end of Castle Pier off the coast of St. Peter Port. Open from March to October, the castle has sat there for 800 years and has served many different rulers. Historic gardens, a cafe, and the noon- day gun show are popular with visitors. The gun show consists of museum workers dressed up in costumes firing one of the castle’s guns just like how it was actually used. You can book a guided tour or walk around yourself.
The Old Quarter
Not far from the castle is the Old Quarter neighborhood of St. Peter Port, which is defined by its cobblestone streets and pedestrian- friendly spaces. A number of small shops, restaurants, markets, and galleries exist in this neighborhood to do any souvenir shopping or eating you might want. The most popular of these restaurants is actually called The Old Quarter and is a more upscale dining experience compared to the rest of the many cafes on Mill Street.
In Fort George, another dining option sits right on the water. Octopus is a seafood restaurant and bar that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Getting there isn’t hard at all either, since it is just off the main drag of Le Val des Terres. The restaurant has an amazing deck and view of Castle Cornet and the bay out front.
On the southeast side of Guernsey is Jerbourg Point, which has one of the most extensive trail and walking path systems on the island. There is a small parking area not far from the end of Route de Jerbourg and on one side of it there is a cafe/kiosk where you can get food before, after or during your hike. The Southern Coastal Trail extends far in either direction, so you can even park somewhere further away like Fermain Bay or Saints Bay Beach and hike to the kiosk and have it be a midpoint snack.
Pleinmont Nature Preserve and Fort Pezeries
Another trail system, on the southwest side of the island this time is centered around the Pleinmont Nature Preserve, Fort Pezeries, and the Fairy Ring. The easiest place to park to explore this area is at the end of La Rue de Chemin le Roi in the large free parking lot. However, another place to park closer to the fort is a paved lot at the end of Rue de la Varde. Trails extend in both directions along the coastline to scenic viewpoint and historic war remnants.
Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum
A unique spot surrounded by water, the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum is definitely a spot to check out on the north side of Guernsey. On a small island in Rocquaine Bay, the museum is inside the military tower on the island. A pedestrian only causeway connects the museum to the mainland and you can buy tickets on the mainland at the Guernsey Pearl, a cafe and jewelry store opposite of the causeway (you can also park there). It is four pounds for adults. The museum contains educational content on the history of ships capsizing in the rocks northwest of the Channel Islands.
Port Soif Dunes and Beach
Like Jerbourg, Port Soif also has a kiosk/cafe with food for visitors. A number of trails wind through this unique landscape for the Channel Islands. While the dunes area is small and covered with grass, they are noticable, especially compared to the usually rocky coasts of Guernsey. Southwest of the dunes is a long beach in a sheltered cove that is nearly circular, and on the other side, more parking can be found that allows you to venture out onto the rocks if the tide is low enough.
German Naval Signals Headuqarters
Back in St. Peter Port, up the hill on Candie Road is a small museum centered around exploring the history of Guernsey when it was occupied by the Germans. The naval signals headquarters was located on Guernsey and was completely decked out with everything it needed. Today it has been restored and you can see and enter the bunkers that they used during the war and see the restored facilities in the same place that they were in eighty years ago.
Millennium Walk Nature Trail Oatlands Village
The Ozanne Steps
Petit Bot Bay
If you want to learn the history of the island, the Alderney Museum is a great place to do that. The museum is filled with old war artifacts from the island’s German occupation. While it is small, a half hour trip to the museum might help you deeper understand some other things you might see around Alderney.
Saint Anne, the largest town on Alderney is where most main street activity occurs. Victoria Street is where most restaurants on the island are which include Nellie Gray’s, PJ’s Cafe, Bumps Bar and Bistro, and the Coronation Inn. Other things on Victoria Street are Sugar Hog Candy Store and the WWI Commemorative Garden.
Alderney Bird Observatory
There are a number of things to do in this area on the east side of the island. The bird observatory takes up the most space of them, but Essex Castle is also a historic landmark on this side of the island. A number of walking trails connect the observatory with the castle and to other places including to the edge of the rocky cliffs on the channel.
Alderney Miniature Railway
A fun and kind of silly activity that exists on Alderney is the miniature railway on the northeast side of the island. Usually only running on Saturdays, the railway costs one pound to ride and has a bunch of different trains that run on it. These range from completely enclosed cars to open air ones, and the railway can take you from Braye to the Mannez Quarry near the northeastern shore. You can even see the railroad on the map above.
Corblets and Saye Beaches
Fort Clonque and Trail
The Window in the Rock
On the west side of Sark, a small tunnel into the rock leads to a ledge where you can overlook the ocean. A number of other trails can get you further out onto the cliffs near the channel or down to the beach. This is just a simple place you can stop to see the landscape of the area and what people did with it.
La Seigneurie House and Gardens
This house is only about half a kilometer away from the Window in the Rock. The property is four acres and has a cafe and restaurant in addition to the historic house and decorative gardens. Despite looking relatively simple on the outside, the house is incredibly complex, with seventeen flights of stairs and almost always two routes in and out of rooms. The gardens are open to explore on your own (for a small charge) which include a walled garden and hedge maze.
Sark Island is almost split into two islands, with the only link being La Coupée. The walking path between the two sections of the island is 150 meters and can be extended to visit some of the natural features on the southern side of the island. The furthest of which is the Venus Pool, a tidal pool that can be swam in when the tide is low enough. Almost no man-made structures on the south side of the island are used today, making it a great place for an isolated walk.
Since Herm is the smallest of the five main islands, it only makes sense to simply make a one-day stop here to explore the whole island. Ferries run multiple times per day from Guernsey and the trip only takes fifteen minutes each way.
Multiple isolated beaches almost surround the island, and the entire north side of the island is beach. Shell Beach extends 2.3 kilometers around the island’s north coast, and you can walk the entire length of it, and there is a trail that cuts back across the island through the grass. The beach also has a kiosk where you can rent umbrellas and other items.
Mermaid Tavern and Restaurant
Would you like to learn more about the Channel Islands? Then don’t miss out on the following article: Are the Channel Islands British?