I had never visited any of the Channel Islands before our weekend in Jersey last month, and oh BOY have I been missing out!
Gary and I spent two and half days exploring the island with Visit Jersey, and it’s become one of our favourite trips together ever.
Jersey is just a quick 40 minute flight from London Gatwick, but I couldn’t quite get over how peaceful it is.
The landscapes are stunning, the locals are super friendly, and the food is insanely great. Plus it’s super easy to get around with local transport, AND it’s also very child-friendly.
What more could you ask for?
The Channel Islands are part of the British Isles, but they’re actually a British Crown Dependency. This means you don’t need a passport to visit from the UK, but they do have their own financial and legal systems, their own flags, and their own courts of law.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, and has a population of about a hundred thousand. It’s actually physically closer to France than it is to England, which is probably why their regional language is a version of Old French.
The island is most famous for Jersey Royal potatoes, Jersey dairy cows, excellent beaches, crazy tides, an excellent and varied supply of seafood, and for being one of the only British islands to be occupied by the Germans in WWII.
Their official currency is GBP (£), but we saw several cafes and ice cream stands also accepting euros (€).
We stayed at the Best Western Royal Hotel in St Helier, which is about a 20 minute walk from the town centre and the bus station. It’s one of the oldest hotels on the island, so there’s only a lift for certain parts, and it is a bit of a maze of corridors to find your room.
We also had a couple of maintenance issues, but the staff were brilliant and moved us to a new room as soon as we realised the problems.
Great breakfast, good hotel bar, and suuuuper comfy beds. Plus the bathrooms are HUGE and new and very modern.
The town of St Helier is a great base for your first trip to the island. This is where you’ll find the main bus station, with routes branching out all over the island.
We thought the public transport was brilliant. Punctual, clean, and perfect if you can’t drive, or just would rather enjoy a glass of wine!
You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day unlimited bus passes at the station, which I think are perfect if you’re just spending a weekend in Jersey, and they also do children and family discounts.
Car hire is available on the island if you prefer though, and cycle hire is pretty popular too. There are also a lot of self-guided tours mapped out if walking is more your thing!
1:30pm – Land in Jersey airport after a quick flight, and jump on the direct bus to St Helier town centre.
2:30pm – Check in at hotel.
3pm – Head down to the markets to explore before they close. The Fish Market is fun to look around, and Jersey Market is also great for a wander.
3:30pm – Head into St Helier and explore the town. The Maritime Museum is meant to be amazing, and if you’re into art, why not check out the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery (keep in mind that everything closes at 5pm). Have a look around Liberation Square, and read more about the German occupation of Jersey in World War II.
5pm – Once all the sightseeing options have closed for the day, follow the locals to the waterfront and grab a drink and a snack at any of the bars overlooking the bay. We loved the chilled vibes, tequila cocktails, and homemade tortilla chips with salsa at Air Mex.
6:30pm – Head to Number 10 on Bond Street for a pre-dinner cocktail in the cosy bar downstairs.
7pm – Dinner at Number 10 restaurant. The menu is super seasonal and uses as many local ingredients as possible. Head chef Joe Baker is on Great British Menu this year, representing the South West (one of two Jersey chefs to have made the cut), and his food is SPECTACULAR. One of our starters was Jersey beef shin tortellini with roasting juices and mushrooms, which was so delicious it made me cry actual tears of joy.
9:30pm – Not ready for bed yet? Hunt down The Blind Pig and enjoy a spectacular cocktail in a brilliant, 1920s, hidden speakeasy setting.
8am – Have a light breakfast at the hotel – or no breakfast at all! Wear comfy walking shoes, and take a refillable water bottle.
9am – Catch the bus to Gorey and meet Clare from Jersey Food Tours. We did the Sweet Tooth Walking tour, but they also offer a more classic Taste of Jersey tour. Our tour included tasters (large ones!) of classic Jersey foods like:
–Cabbage bread: a traditional loaf cooked in a cabbage leaf, and then smothered in the famous Jersey black butter (a sticky black paste made from apples and spices) or local honey.
–Jersey Wonders: a type of doughnut, traditionally only made when the tides are going out.
–Jersey Dairy ice cream with Jersey salted caramel sauce.
–Jersey Royal potatoes: bought in the morning, scrubbed, boiled, and served perfectly hot from a thermos, with butter and a selection of Jersey sea salts.
…And much more! We were full to bursting by the end of it, and I couldn’t recommend Clare and her tours enough.
12:30pm – Walk off that food baby with a stroll along Gorey beach. Breathe in the salty sea air, look at the boats, and explore the little rock pools uncovered by the tides. There are some really nice independent shops in Gorey too, where you can buy everything from hand-painted ceramics to classic fisherman jumpers and locally grown tomatoes.
2pm – Wander up to Mont Orgueil Castle. It’s a stunning medieval castle, positioned on top of a hill overlooking Gorey bay. Inside you’ll find a warren of interesting rooms and galleries depicting medieval life in Jersey. The towers have stunning views over the Jersey Royal potato fields in one direction, and the gorgeous blue sea from the other.
*Travel Tip: if you also plan on visiting Elizabeth Castle, the Maritime Museum or any other of Jersey’s Heritage sites, it may be worth your while looking into their 4 for 3 Heritage Pass.
4pm – We were ready for a little rest by this point, so we headed back to our hotel for showers, a lie down, and a cup of tea. You may prefer to head to the beach or a cafe with a book!
7pm – Dinner at Sumas in Gorey – one of Jersey’s two AA rosette restaurants. It’s a cosy space with incredibly friendly staff, fabulous food, and beautiful sea views.
I couldn’t resist trying the Jersey oyster selection, dressed three ways, followed by a meaty dish of pork belly, local squid, a beef croquette. Gary had a beautifully slow-braised oxtail and parmesan risotto as his starter, followed by bream with local crab tortelloni. And (of course), we had a dish of buttery Jersey Royal potatoes to share.
It was an incredible experience, and I’d absolutely recommend it if you’re spending the weekend in Jersey for a special occasion!
*Note: We took taxis to and from the restaurant, but also would have had plenty of time to get the bus both ways, if you want to save a bit of money.
9am – Rent bicycles at Zebra Hire (opposite St Helier bus station), then cycle along the coast and up the hill to the Jersey War Tunnels. There is also a bus that goes directly there, if cycling isn’t your thing.
10am – Explore the Jersey War Tunnels. It’s an incredible exhibition about the German occupation, and tells the story from the relaxed early beginnings, to near-starvation, on both sides, during the last winter of the war. Housed in underground tunnels that were dug by Eastern European slaves during World War II, it’s a harrowing experience but so interesting. It was the number one thing you guys told me we had to do on our weekend in Jersey, and you weren’t wrong. It’s an absolute must-see!
*Travel Tip: check the bus times before you head in to the exhibition, and keep an eye on the clock when you’re inside. The buses run much less frequently on a Sunday, and if you miss one bus you may have to wait 90 minutes for the next.
You can walk down to the beach from the Tunnels, but there is no pavement, and it’s a very busy road! Instead of going down, we went uphill and took a longer, quieter country-road route back to the bay.
1pm – Buy proper Jersey dairy ice cream on the sea front and walk around St Aubin’s Bay. There’s a promenade, but if the tide is out you may want to walk along the beach!
2pm – Grab a late lunch at La Belle Gourmande in St Aubin. It’s a deli/cafe serving beautifully simple, French-influenced food. I had a local crab and Jersey Royal salad, and Gary went for French cheese croquettes with fries. My crab was incredibly light and fresh, and the croquettes were hot and crispy – a perfect end to our Jersey holiday.
3:30pm – Get the bus to the airport. Cry on the flight home because you don’t want to leave!
*Our weekend in Jersey was paid for by Visit Jersey in exchange for this blog post.*