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Adrift in the English Channel, Guernsey is a curious little island. Closer to France geographically but British in character, it feels like home with a distinctive twist of somewhere different.
With a pleasant climate, beaches for days and a slow-paced atmosphere that comes with island life, holidays in Guernsey are about taking things down a few gears.
Pretty in parts, rugged in others, Guernsey’s diverse coastline is the perfect place to slow it all down. Along its long west coast, white-sand beaches and tiny fishing villages draw beach-loving families and surfers, while down on the south you’ll find lonely pebble coves, dramatic cliff-top walks, and beautiful bays.
Lively St Peter Port, all bunting and cobblestones, climbs up from a postcard harbour, begging for an aimless wander. The island’s capital has emerged as a brilliant foodie destination, based on its fresh seafood and a dedication to homegrown produce. And thanks to the island’s tiny size, you can sample all its offerings even on a short staycation.
Most come to Guernsey for its long, rugged coastline, but there’s more to this island than beaches. The capital of St Peter Port, watersports, hiking, tiny seaside villages, spectacular food and drink… a staycation in Guernsey has it all.
Best things to do on a weekend break
Compact Guernsey allows you to cram in a lot over a weekend. Base yourself in island capital St Peter Port, a lovely harbour town, known for its cobblestone streets, laidback atmosphere, and brilliant dining scene. It’s close to the beach at Belle Grève Bay and has great transport links to the rest of the island.
If you’re looking for adventure, head to the island’s rugged northern coast, where you’ll find loads of options for watersports, including coasteering (a combination of climbing, swimming and jumping), surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Fancy something more sedate? Be sure to visit the German Occupation Museum, which tells the story of Guernsey’s five years under Nazi rule during WWII.
Best things to do for families
Besides the beach, Guernsey’s rocky coastline is the ideal playground for adventurous kids. There are loads of watersports to choose from, including surfing, paddleboarding and coasteering. For older kids, there’s also rock-climbing along the coast.
For a bit of history, make a visit to Fort Doyle, built in the 19th century to ward off a French invasion; Fort Grey, home to the Shipwreck Museum; and Castle Cornet in St Peter Port.
Over at Oatlands Village (a tourist village that combines shopping and history), you’ll find kids play areas, go karts, trampolines, and mini golf. Alternatively, Pirate Bay Adventure Golf in Rohais De Haut has 12 holes to play.
Best beaches in Guernsey
From long sandy beaches to tiny pebble coves, Guernsey’s coastline is dotted with beaches of all kinds. Not far from St Peter Port, Fermain Beach is a pretty pebble bay hidden by sea cliffs and lush tree cover. On the west coast, Cobo Beach draws plenty of Caribbean comparisons for its white sand and lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, Vazon Bay, a mile-long arch of sand on the west coast, is the place to go for surfing.
For families, Saline Bay, L’Eree Beach, Havelet Bay, Chouet and Ladies Bay are perfect for sandcastles and safe paddling. Port Soif, meanwhile, is great for rock pooling at low tide.
Best restaurants and bars in Guernsey
From casual beach bars to upmarket bistros, Guernsey has a wide range of excellent places to eat out. In St Peter Port, The Old Quarter serves up local food in a relaxed setting, while Copenhagen’s extensive menu is great for a families (think steaks, burgers, fish and chips, etc).
For fresh seafood, try Pier 17 or Le Nautique Restaurant. Both lean towards higher end, so save these for a special last night meal. For beach side dining, try The Beach House, Pembroke Bay, and The Beach Café at Fermain. Alternatively, stop off for a drink at one of the many beachside kiosks that dot the Guernsey coast.
Best attractions in Guernsey
For brilliant views out over the harbour, stroll up to Candie Gardens, a picturesque Victorian flower garden in St Peter’s Port that also hosts a small museum and art gallery. Also in St Peter Port, Hauteville House, a flamboyant town house once owned by French writer Victor Hugo, is worth a visit for its garishly impressive interiors alone.
Set amid the manicured lawns of Sausmarez Park, The Folk & Costume Museum offers a lovely detour into Guernsey’s past through artefacts, garments and historical displays.
Take the 50-minute ferry over to car-free Sark for beautiful coastal walks and a traditional cream tea. Tiny Herm, which you can also visit by ferry, can be walked end-to-end in ten minutes but has some of the best beaches in the Channel Islands.