A Weekend in Jersey, the Biggest of the 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!

short breaks to Jersey

Wondering what to do in Jersey? The first thing would be to enjoy all the beautiful views.

The great thing about living in/travelling through the UK, is there is no shortage of places to visit. You can keep it local, or you can hop on a train/plane/boat for a short trip somewhere, for not very much cost at all.

A weekend in Jersey seems like the perfect escape. There are plenty of things to do in Jersey, that 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.

This Channel Island is pretty tiny and extremely easy to drive around, if you’re not opposed to tiny, country roads.

Luckily, I had driven around Ireland two years previously, where I learnt how to deal with this.

Read more: What NOT To Do When Visiting the UK

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A Weekend in Jersey: What You Should Get Up To

gorey boats what to do in Jersey

Tide’s out.

st ouens what to do in Jersey

Should have painted the old toenails.

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 weekend in Jersey.

Fun 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.

st helier town what to do in Jersey

St Helier’s town centre. Cute and quiet.

  • Jersey is 22.5 kilometres (14 miles) from France. Yet, the English population on the island outweighs the French by 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.
gory-flowers

Jersey’s flag looks a bit like Northern Ireland’s.

How to Make the Most of Your Weekend in Jersey

Getting There

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 department from the UK via the town of Poole (maybe you could venture there after spending a few days checking out the Jurassic Coast).

Sunset in St. Heliers.

In France you are spoilt for choice. 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.

mini-gorey

It seems like everyone in Jersey drives a Mini.

Getting Around

Jersey is tiny, in every sense of the word, but extremely drivable. In fact, I’d recommend hiring a car at the airport, grabbing a map and hitting the road. Although most towns and streets are French in name, cars drive on the left hand side of the road.

So, if you’re from the UK you’ll feel right at home. If you’re Australian, you’ll get upset at how tiny the roads are, but I dealt with it, so you will too.

It’s easiest to rent a car f you want to get around Jersey. You can compare rental car prices here.

gorey-me

The ocean looks beautiful.

If you’re not a fan of driving, or don’t have a licence, there are buses, with frequent stops littered across the main roads.

gory_castle2

I wouldn’t mind staying in Gorey, personally.

Mont Orgueil

Mostly due to the castle.

Where to Stay

Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey, located in the south of the island. We chose to stay in an Airbnb 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.

If I were to do my time again, I would probably want to stay somewhere a bit more picturesque. 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.

Check out hotel options in St Helier | Gorey | St Brelade’s Bay Hotel

Or for something completely different, you could look at staying at Durrell Wildlife Park.

Visitors have the option of either glamping on site, or staying at the park’s hostel. Admittedly, looking at the glamping pods now, I’m feeling a tinge of regret… I love glamping!

Check out the Camping and Hostel at Durrell Wildlife Park

gorey

Gorey from above.

When to Visit Jersey

Jersey is known as being the sunniest place in the British Isles. Although this is amongst a cluster of islands that are notorious for their bad weather.

We visited in late August. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky and it was a barmy 29 degrees. I was repeatedly told by locals that it was the best weather they’d had all summer.

Mont Orgueil what to do in Jersey

Isn’t it lovely?

Although the weather was good, it was still summer holidays and so was quite busy. If I had my time again, I’d probably hit the island a mere two weeks later, in early September. I imagine the weather would still be quite nice, but you wouldn’t have to compete with the crowds, or have your ears constantly ringing with the sound of screaming children.

What to do During a Weekend in Jersey

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.

durrell-lemur

Adequately decorated.

flamingos

Flamingoes!

Durrell Wildlife Park

On the top of my list was a visit to Durrell Wildlife Park. The park is named after its founder, conservationist and author Gerald Durrell and was formerly known as Jersey Zoo.

Durrell has been making strides in the conservation world for fifty years now, doing their best to save species from extinction. 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.

gorilla-durrell

Badongo the Gorilla

I could go on about Durrell all day, but I’ll restrain myself from doing so at this point in time. Instead, you can read about it below.

Read more: It’s Not a Zoo: It’s Durrell Wildlife Park

gory_castle

It was a nice time of the year to visit Jersey.

Mont Orgueil Castle, Gorey

Jersey is teeming with castles and ruins. Mont Orgueil in Gorey is one of the most picturesque and intact.

Entry is £12.15 for adults and £7.40 for both children and students. We didn’t go in. Instead, we surveyed the castle from the outside, then walked down a hill to a tiny and secluded beach at the foot of the structure.

elizabethcastle-jersey

Elizabeth Castle during low tide.

Elizabeth Castle, St Helier

To be honest, the bit about visiting Elizabeth Castle that I’m most interested in has nothing to do with the structure itself – it’s how you get there that sounds 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. However, in low tide you can access the castle by walking along the causeway.

Entry is £13.25 (£9.85 for students and kids) for thecastle and ferry, or £10.70 (£7.30) for castle access only.

Jersey has a heritage pass, which provides visitors with entry to 4 attractions, for the price of 3.

jersey-lavender

Busy bumblebees.

Jersey Lavender Farm

How cool are lavender fields? About a hundred. A sight for the summer, the fields are located in St Brelades and are at their bestest and brightest from June to mid-August.

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St Brelades, one of the more popular beaches.

stouensshadows

St Ouens, which goes for miles down the west coast.

Go to the Beach

Self-explanatory. Jersey is littered with beaches, which in turn feature relics from its period of German occupation. My two favourites were the aforementioned 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.

Here are some other ideas for things to do in Jersey, if you fancy adding more activities to your list.

quayside-sthelier

Yum.

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.

We spent the next evening at St Aubin, indulging in even more seafood at the Salty Dog.

While at St Brelades on our last day on the island, we had lunch at Oyster Box. An insider has assured me that the Crab Shack, which is located next door is quite good, albeit slightly cheaper.

Eating out at Jersey is on the expensive side – expect standard UK prices.

Recommended Reading for Your Weekend in Jersey

stheliersunset

The sunsets were fabulous.

Even more good stuff! Beach holidays and reading go hand in hand, no?

My Family and Other Animals

The first part of what is known as Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy, details his family’s move from rainy England to sunny Corfu in the 1930s.

It was originally intended to be a mildly nostalgic account of the natural history of the island, but I made a grave mistake by introducing my family into the book in the first few pages.

– Gerald Durrell

Durrell was a master of language (which makes sense, as his older brother Lawrence was a celebrated poet and novelist). His characterisation of family members, friends around the island and the animals they encountered will have you in stitches. There’s Archilles the turtle with his ardent love of strawberries. Geronimo, the gecko who took on a giant Mantis and lived to tell the tale. The Magenpies who take a particular joy in devastating Larry’s room. Not to mention Gerry’s loyal companion Roger the dog, who is somehow able to both tolerate and refrain from eating every animal that crosses over into his territory.

This book packed a double punch for me. I visited the island of Corfu in late 2015. Durrell’s book brought back happy memories of our time spent there.

Buy on Amazon | The Book Depository

Against the Tide

As far as modern history goes, the Channel Islands have an interesting background. They were the only part of the British Isles to fall victim to German occupation and weren’t liberated until 9 May 1945, four months before the war ended.

Against the Tide tells the story of 18 year old Jack Renouf, in 1939 before the outbreak of WWII. Jack makes a mess of his love life, plays water polo, mucks up at school and gets involved with his Communist Uncle, to the chagrin of his family. It’s a coming of age story told within the setting of a country that is on the brink of war and foreign invasion.

Buy on Amazon | The Book Depository

stbrelades

Perfect reading weather.

Left of the Bang

Claire Lowdon’s debut novel is set in London, rather than Jersey, but makes for an excellent beach read. We follow the story of failing concert pianist Tamsin Jarvis. She’s estranged from her famous father and quietly bored of her relationship with older school teacher Callum. Then, a figure from her past appears back in her life. Chris is an army recruit who has been fixated on Tamsin since they met at age  17 and is just months away from serving in Afghanistan.

As Tamsin well knows, life in your twenties is tough. You don’t quite know your place in the world, nor what you should be doing with your life. Should you work that failsafe job, or pursue your passion? Should you follow your head, or listen to your libido in matters of the heart? When the world is your oyster, how can you ever know what you want out of life? Can you make a decision and then have the resolve to see it through – and live with the repercussions of your actions?

This was a compelling read, one which I struggled to put down (so I didn’t, finishing it at some daft time of the morning).

Buy on Amazon | The Book Depository

staubinsunset

St Aubin Bay.

Jersey is a beautiful stretch of land, with a rich and interesting history.

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.

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Heading to #Jersey in the Channels Islands (#UK) and looking for some inspiration? Here are a few things you can do (like visit the picture perfect town of Gorey, go to Durrell Wildlife Park and check out the lavender farm) as well as where to eat, stay... and what to read in preparation for your trip! /Jersey / Channels Islands / United Kingdom / Great Britain / Travel Tips / Weekend Trips / Itineraries / Jersey Itinerary /

LC

LC can often be found nursing a cup of green tea, with her head in a book. She is a writer, video editor and professional cheese eater. Her life's aspiration is to one day live on a farm in Tasmania with 11 dogs, a Shetland pony and several pygmy goats. Follow along on Facebook or sign up to the monthly newsletter.

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Simon - August 30, 2016

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.

Reply
    LC - September 2, 2016

    I really want to watch that, might force you to watch it with me! ?

    Reply
      Simon - September 3, 2016

      Which one?!

      Reply
        LC - September 4, 2016

        The new one!

        Reply
          Simon - September 4, 2016

          Oh

          Reply
          LC - September 4, 2016

          Why, do you want to watch the old one?

          Reply
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