Fantastic things to do in Jersey, Channel Islands
Jersey is the biggest of the Channel Islands, a collection of islands spanning between France and the UK.
Here’s what to do with a weekend in Jersey – where to eat, sleep and what you can get up to. It’s a great place to visit, particularly if you like history and beaches!
Living in the UK and desperate for some sun, sand and surf?
Rather than hopping on a plane to Europe, consider making a trip to the Channel Islands – specifically the largest of Jersey.
There are plenty of things to do in Jersey, which will suit any traveller – especially those who have a great interest in nature and history.
And failing that, fancy a few hours of sunshine at the beach. You really can’t go wrong with a short break to Jersey!
Plus, this Channel Island is pretty tiny and extremely easy to drive around, if you’re not opposed to tiny, country roads.
Best things to do in Jersey
Let’s kick off this post with some facts about the biggest of the Channel Islands, followed on by a few suggestions for how you should spend a short break in Jersey.
Facts about Jersey
It’s not imperative to know these things about Jersey before visiting it, but we’ll cover them because learning is fun.
- Jersey is only 22.5 kilometres (14 miles) from France. Yet, the English population on the island outweighs the French by, well – a long mile.
- Eight islands make up the Channel archipelago – Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou.
- Jersey use sterling as their currency – yet they have their own printed notes.
- The island is only 14 kilometres (9 miles) wide.
- The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Germans in WWII.
How to travel to Jersey
There are two ways you can get to Jersey from mainland UK and France.
You can fly. Duh.
Or, you can take a ferry! They depart from the UK via the town of Poole (maybe you could venture there after spending a few days checking out the Jurassic Coast).
Here’s some things you can do in Poole and surrounds while you’re there, if you want to make a whole trip out of it.
In France you are spoiled for choice of how to travel to Jersey.
You can visit the largest Channel Island from three different ports – St Malo, Granville and Carteret.
St Malo is your best bet, with a five times a day service to the capital of St Helier.
Boats are a fantastic way to travel around, particularly if you’re wanting to travel between London and Paris and are keen on actually having a good time while getting there.
Getting around Jersey
Jersey is tiny, in every sense of the word, but extremely drive-able.
In fact, I recommend hiring a car at the airport, grabbing a map and hitting the road. You can check prices on Rentalcars.com before you go, if you feel better about reserving a ride in advance.
Although most towns and streets are French in name, cars drive on the left hand side of the road, as they do in the United Kingdom.
So, if you’re from the UK you’ll feel right at home. It reminded me a lot of driving in Ireland, especially when you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle on the road (like a tractor… so many times).
If you’re not a fan of driving, or don’t have a licence, there are buses you can, with frequent stops littered across the main roads. Find out more about travelling via bus around Jersey.
Where to stay in Jersey, Channel Islands
Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey, located in the south of the island.
We chose to stay about a twenty minute walk out of town. The space was lovely and we were fortunate enough to not have too many issues with parking.
Keen to stay centrally? Browse accommodation options in St Helier.
I recommend staying somewhere a bit more picturesque, because this is a darn pretty island.
If you have a hire car, you’d be absolutely fine to do this.
In fact, I found parking to be far less of a nightmare in other parts of the island, when compared to St Helier.
My two picks would be either the small seaside village of Gorey, or one of the most popular beaches, St Brelade’s Bay. Both are rather easy on the eye.
Or for something completely different, you could look at staying at Durrell Wildlife Park.
When’s the best time to visit Jersey?
Jersey is known as being the sunniest place in the British Isles.
Although this is among a cluster of islands that are notorious for their bad weather.
A visit in August gave the gift of almost 30°C weather and beautiful skies.
Mind you, I was repeatedly told by locals that it was the best weather they’d had all summer.
Mind you, being still summer holidays, the island is quite busy in August.
If I had my time again, I’d probably hit the island a mere two weeks later, in early September.
I imagine the weather will still be quite nice, but you won’t have to compete with the crowds, or have your ears constantly ringing with the sound of screaming children.
Although winter holidays can be lovely, a lot of the island’s local attractions (especially of a heritage nature) close over the cooler months. So travelling here around this time here might narrow down your list of things to do in Jersey.
Keep this in mind when planning your short break to Jersey.
Things to do in Jersey, Channel Islands
Now. Onto the good stuff. What on earth is there to do in Jersey?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Visit Jersey Zoo
On the top of any list of top things to do in Jersey is a visit to Jersey Zoo, also known as Durrell Wildlife Park (it seems to switch between the two).
Founded by conservationist and author Gerald Durrell, the zoo has been making strides in the conservation world for fifty years now, doing their best to save species from extinction.
To find out more about Durrell’s life, I recommend reading his very amusing books, starting with My Family and Other Animals.
One of their success stories includes the Pink Pigeon, which hails from the island nation of Mauritius (also where the Dodo once walked, which now serves as the park’s symbol).
In 1991, there was only 10 left in the world. The population now numbers almost 500, thanks to the park’s efforts.
Find out everything you need to know about visiting Jersey Zoo.
2. Drop into Mont Orgueil Castle in Gorey
Mont Orgueil in Gorey is one of the most picturesque and intact.
It’s loomed over the gorgeous seaside town for 800 years.
Entry is £13.95 for adults (16+) and £9.05 for both children and students.
Jersey is teeming with castles and ruins. If history is your thing, consider picking up a Heritage Pass, which gets you into four attractions for the price of three.
The castle closes for entry from 31 December 2022 until February 2023.
3. & Elizabeth Castle in St Helier
To be honest, the best bit about visiting Elizabeth Castle has nothing to do with the structure itself – it’s how you get there that’s most exciting.
To access the castle, you have two choices, which depend entirely on the tide.
In high tide, you can take the Castle Ferry onto the grounds.
Alternatively, during low tide you can access the castle by walking along the causeway.
Elizabeth Castle is another historical Jersey attraction available via the Heritage Pass.
For individual tickets – entry is £16.25 (£11.65 for students and kids) for the castle and ferry, or £13.20 (£8.60) for castle access only.
Noting Elizabeth Castle is closed from November 2022 until March 2023.
4. Frolic among flowers at Jersey Lavender Farm
How cool are lavender fields? About a hundred. Instagram sure does love them, at least.
A sight for the summer, the fields are located in St Brelades and are at their bestest and brightest from June to mid-August, although the farm is open from May to September.
Find out more about visiting Jersey Lavender Farm. Prices vary throughout the season.
5. Go to the beach
Self-explanatory. Absolutely one of the best things to do in Jersey is visit a beach for some sun, sand and surf.
Jersey is littered with beaches, which in turn feature relics from its period of German occupation.
My two favourites are St Brelades and St Ouens. It’s worth spending a weekend in Jersey just to sprawl on the beach, if the weather is predicted to be fine.
6. Check out the Jersey War Tunnels
As previously mentioned, the Channel Islands were the only part of the UK to be occupied by Germans during World War II.
The Jersey War Tunnels consist of over 1000m of underground tunnels, which the Germans built using slave labour.
These tunnels give an insight into what life was like during wartimes and the island’s occupation.
For a fictionalised account of wartime in the Channel Islands, grab a copy of the marvellous book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
7. Duck into a museum
A place with this much history does of course have a range of museums to explore.
Plan a visit to the:
- Hamptonne Country Life Museum, which gives an insight into rural life in Jersey over the centuries
- Jersey Museum & Art Gallery for a deep-dive into Jersey’s history
- La Hougue Bie Museum, home to one of the oldest buildings in the world
- Maritime Museum, which focuses on seafaring around the islands.
You can access all of these as part of the 4 for 3 Heritage Pass.
8. Take a hike
One of the top things to do in Jersey, an island like this is built for walking.
Wander through the centres of the island’s picturesque towns, or go further afield for a more challenging hike.
There are plenty of options for all bodies and interests.
Where to eat in Jersey
Do you like seafood? Well, you’re going to like Jersey.
I enjoyed pretty much every morsel of food that passed over my lips, while on the island.
I scarfed down a plate of Fruits de Mer (pictured) at Quayside Bistro in St. Helier, which has a lovely view over the town’s harbour and is the largest seafood restaurant in Jersey. Singing the songs of my people, right there.
At St Aubin, you can indulge in even more seafood at Salty Dog Bar & Bistro.
Pair seafood dishes with ocean views at St Brelades, with a meal at Oyster Box. Enjoy casual bites at Crab Shack, which is located next door.
Seafood not your thing? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of other places to feast.
Order Mexican fare at La Hacienda, Mexican Cantina. Enjoy plates loaded with fresh produce at Samphire.
Order a traditional British pub meal at The Cock and Bottle or grab a drink and listen to some smooth tunes at Blue Note Bar.
Eating out at Jersey is on the expensive side. Expect standard UK prices.
This island is a beautiful stretch of land, with a rich and interesting history. There’s plenty of things to do in Jersey, no matter how you wish to spend your time.
Whether you go for the animals, for the heritage, or even for a weekend escape to the beach, you won’t regret spending a weekend in Jersey or any time really in the Channel Islands.
After more UK content? Read my guides to York and London. And decide whether you should travel to Cambridge or Oxford.
Also probably the only place in the world you’ll get served boiled potatoes with your fruit de mer! 🙂 I am pretty sure you can also get the ferry from Portsmouth too which is probably more convenient for people who don’t happen to have family in Poole! ‘My family and other animals’ has also recently been made into an itv series, and there is one from the eighties by the BBC for those who find reading difficult or just have a passion for television! Though I can’t comment on the quality of the most recent adaptation.
I really want to watch that, might force you to watch it with me! ?
The new one!
Why, do you want to watch the old one?