In July 2023, I had the chance to travel to Guernsey for a few days. It’s a short flight from Gatwick airport on the Guernsey Airline, Aurigny. Guernsey is one of the largest Channel islands, along with Jersey. In 2018, film “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” increased interest in Guernsey. In fact, that was what made me want to go there. Although the film is fiction, it is based on events that happened during World War 2, including German occupation.
The island has a lot of natural beauty and also historical towers, forts and homes. Also, Victor Hugo spent fourteen years there in exile, and you can visit his Hauteville House. By chance, we were there during a weekend with a lot of festivals. We went to the Saint Peter Port festival to listen to live music. And we watched many unusual events at the Rocquaine Regatta. The events included wife carrying, tug of war, husband dragging, rolling pin throwing, and more. I participated in the rolling pin throwing, and that was a first for me!
- Hauteville – Victor Hugo House
- Saint Peter Port harbour and town
- Castle Cornet
- Parkrun Guernsey located at Pembroke Bay and L’Ancresse Bay
- Fort Le Marchant
- Port Soif/Portinfer Dunes Nature Reserve
- Vazon Bay
- Fort Hommet
- The Little Chapel, a beautiful small mosaic version of the Santiago di Compostela church
- Fort Saumarez
- Sausmarez Manor
- Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum
- Many towers around the coasts including Observation Tower MP3 with a great view of Les Hanois lighthouse
- Rocquaine Bay and beach
- Fish and seafood
- Local ciders
- Guernsey Gâche raisin bread
- German Underground Hospital
- La Valette Underground Military Museum
- Boat rides to the smaller surrounding islands including Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou
Before you go
- Guernsey is a a self-governing dependency of the British Crown so not officially part of the United Kingdom
- Saint Peter Port is the capital
- There are a few different driving rules, which we were told at the car rental place. The speed limit was generally 30 mph and under. Yellow box junctions are like a four-way yield sign with the first car arriving getting right of way. And a yellow arrow on a road pointing at you doesn’t mean a one way, road but rather that a car coming from the other direction has the right of way
- For parking with the cities, you need to set the time that you park, and usually you have one or two hours time limit
- If you’d like to see Victor Hugo’s house, contact them to reserve timed tickets in advance
- Restaurants can get booked up, especially the good ones, so book in advance
- Weather changes quickly so be prepared. It is usually quite cool, windy, with chances of rain
- During the summer there are many local festivals which can be great fun
- To get to Guernsey, there are ferries from the south coast of England and west coast of France with Condor or Manche-Iles
- We flew from Gatwick airport on Aurigny, the Guernsey airline. There were quite a few flights, and we were unlucky that ours was a couple hours delayed
- Although there are some buses, they do not run often, so it is easier to get around by car. There are several car hire companies based on the island. We went with Europcar from the airport and it worked fairly smoothly
- For hire cars, be aware that the companies usually charge a daily fuel charge, and unless you are constantly driving all day then it is really an over-charge
- Running, walking and cycling are also other options to get around
- We stayed at the Queen’s Inn, a cosy, peaceful and comfortable bed and breakfast in Saint Martin. It was a 45-minute walk to Saint Peter Port, or a 10 minute drive.
- The staff were all friendly and welcoming
- Parking is plentiful and easy
- Our room was comfortable and airy, with an en suite bathroom
- There are a lot of stairs and no lift to get to the bedrooms
- Downstairs there is a restaurant and a pub
- Breakfast is excellent and a lot of food, full English breakfast or porridge, toast, yoghurt, etc
- Coop supermarket is just next door
The official currency is the British Pound. However, in Guernsey they have particular notes including a one-pound note. These may or may not be accepted in stores on the UK mainland.
I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates
For a small island, there were many delicious food choices. I especially enjoyed all of the fresh seafood, including Guernsey crab. Luckily, we had some recommendations from a local friend of a friend. And don’t forget to book a table a day or so in advance, as the popular places get full quickly.
We had breakfast included at the Queen’s Inn. The first day I had to leave for a run, so I just had a croissant to go. On the second day, I ordered the full English breakfast and it was a huge plate of food.
On our first evening, we had dinner at Village East in Saint Peter Port. It faces the harbour and has a great view from the upper floor. The fresh crab salad was excellent! And they had some good vegetarian options.
Dinner at Old Quarter was a little disappointing. The service was very friendly and welcoming, though the waiters seemed new and didn’t know much about the food. My scallops were deep fried and so greasy that they were almost inedible. Fortunately, I had a nice glass of Roquette Cider to wash it down.
Finally, our best meal was at Octopus restaurant. The seafood and vegetarian options were all delicious. I had pickled octopus and the fish soup. My friend had the smoked aubergine dip and ramen. It’s also right along the water so has great views. We recognised some local people from the Rocquaine regatta so it was good to see it is popular with locals as well as tourists.
While driving around, we found a great place for a quick lunch. Vistas cafe near Vazon Bay was a bustling cafe with a great view. They had freshly made sandwiches, and I had the crab sandwich and some sweet potato fries.
Near to L’Ancresse bay we had a tea break at The Beach House. With great views and outdoor seating, it was perfect to enjoy the sunshine and ocean breeze.
One thing I knew I had to try while on Guernsey is the local raisin bread called gâche. We stopped by Senner’s baker in the late morning, and already they were almost sold out. Luckily, they still had some gâche and the lady there packaged it nicely for me to take it “off the island.” When I got home, I had it toasted with some butter. Very tasty and reminded me of a brioche.
The Sausmarez Manor has a small farmer’s market on Saturday morning. We enjoyed some homemade cakes from a stall there. They also have a nice tea house and cafe, though we didn’t visit it.
Finally, the local Guernsey ice cream was creamy and delicious. I had it several times, and my favourite flavour was the mint chocolate chip.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No, it is easy to find places of interest. However, some of the sights like the Victor Hugo Hauteville House and some of the military caves require that you join a guided tour.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: Yes everyone speaks English
Q: Can I travel solo?
A: Yes, it is very safe on the islands and easy to find your way around
Q: How easy is it to send postcards?
A: It is easy to find postcards at tourist shops. However, the post offices have short hours so plan ahead if you need to buy stamps. See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.
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