The UK has a lot of beautiful islands, but Guernsey is unlike any other. It’s small and compact, with an amazing landscape that will make you feel like you’re really on vacation.
We will share the best things to do on Guernsey and if being active is your thing, then you are in luck because there’s plenty to explore! This surprisingly cosmopolitan destination far surpassed our expectations.
What is Guernsey Famous For?
The island of Guernsey is a charming island that was made famous by the novel and Netflix movie “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society,” which is set in the WWII era. The island is famous for its cows, potatoes, and cream (hence the name).
Where is Guernsey?
By air, Guernsey is a beautiful island 45 minutes from the UK. Tiny in size but amazingly charming is Guernsey’s capital, St. Peter Port. It is home to about 18,000 people and has a unique Mediterranean feel, with steep paved streets making their way up the hillside.
Guernsey is a small island, just over 36 miles long and 18 miles wide. It’s located in the English Channel off of France, with its closest mainland being Brittany (about 25 minutes away). During World War II, German forces took over Guernsey, but it has been freed since then.
If you want to find out the best things to do on Guernsey with kids, read to learn more about what this spectacular destination has in store for you.
Map of Guernsey
How do you get to Guernsey?
The journey to Guernsey is an easy one. There are flights from London Gatwick or Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, and Bristol. You can also get there with the ferry service offered by Condor Ferries which travels between France and Britain (we took their route from St Malo via Jersey).
For those who want to take it slow Manche Iles Express offers passenger-only routes during summer months going as far north as Carteret, Granville – near Caen- Normandy
The Best way to get around Guernsey
The best way to get around Guernsey is by car, but there are also buses and taxi cabs. You can rent a car at the airport or from one of the many vehicle rental agencies in Guernsey.
The bus service in Guernsey is called “Guidée,” and private companies operate it under contract with the States of Guinea Island; you can purchase passes for your stay, including taxes/discounts starting as low as £34 per pass!
Historic Sites You Must Visit in Guernsey
Besides beautiful beaches, delicious food, and remarkable scenery, Guernsey is known for its intriguing history that dates back to the Neolithic period. You will learn about the German occupation, ancient shipwrecks, burials, smuggling, and more. Here are some popular historic sites you must see:
- Castle Cornet: This is among Guernsey’s most iconic structures, which was occupied by French, English, and German militia at different times in history. The castle also houses four historic gardens and five museums. If you are a heritage lover, you must pass by Castle Cornet.
- Coastal Fortifications: Along Guernsey’s coastline are fascinating fortifications from different eras. Most of them were constructed as a shield against an invasion from Napoleon’s army back in the early 19th century. You can enjoy these coastal forts as you go to the beach or for a coastal walk.
- Dehus Dolmen: This is a prehistoric burial chamber in the north, dating back as far as 3500 BC. Believed to be tomb of a Celtic chief, you will come across stone carvings of a bearded man referred to as the “Guardian of the Tomb”.
- Fort Grey: Also known as the “Cup and Saucer,” it was built in 1804 and housed Guernsey’s Shipwreck Museum.
- Hateville House: This is the legendary writer Victor Hugo’s house. You will get to see his astonishingly decorated rooms, well-maintained gardens, and his writing room, which is located on the top floor and surrounded by views of the neighboring islands.
If you are an avid fan of history, don’t miss the opportunity to go for the World War II occupation tour. The German Occupation Museum is located close to the island’s airport. Here, you will get to learn about Guernsey during the occupation between 1940 and 1945.
The museum has a thorough recreation of a street in the occupation period and exhibitions on World War II fortifications and maritime history.
Jerbourg Point is an amazing vantage point on the southern coast of Guernsey. It has splendid views of the surrounding islands and the Guernsey channel. If you love to watch a magical sunrise, this is the place to be. There are many things you can do here, like walking around the cliffs or just sitting and taking in the magnificent views.
The hike on Jerbourg Point is absolutely stunning. If you start at Hotel Jerbourg and head west, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the lighthouse and take in some gorgeous countryside. You can hike down to the beach, or you can head to the east and hike up, which is a much steeper incline.
If you have children with you, they will be perfect for these hikes as there are many areas that offer great views of wildflowers and wetlands in Spring.
The Jerbourg Point Lighthouse on Guernsey is one of the most iconic landmarks on the island. The lighthouse has been in operation since 1837 and was built to warn ships from dangerous rocks at low tide, its height of 115 feet makes it visible from up to 20 miles away.
The best beaches in Guernsey
Some of the best beaches you will find include:
- Feremain Beach: This is the most popular beach, which is backed by dense forests and low cliffs. It is a lovely pebble beach on the southeastern side of Guernsey, known for its crystal-clear waters.
- Port Soif Bay: This is a sandy beach on the northwest coast of Guernsey. There are vast sand dunes behind the beach, making it a glorious spot for sunbathing.
- Pembroke Bay: On the northernmost area of Guernsey, Pembroke Bay has the longest stretch of sand on the island and beautiful turquoise waters off the coast.
- Petit Bot Bay: This beach is at the base of two wooded valleys on the south coast. It makes a fabulous sun trap as it’s bordered by high cliffs and has long stretches of sand.
- Havelet Bay: Havelet Bay is very close to St. Peter’s Port. After a short walk from the capital, you will reach this magnificent spot where you can unwind and enjoy the views of Cornet Rock and dive into the sea for a swim.
Where to stay in Guernsey with kids
Some of the grand hotels you can stay at include the Fermain Valley Hotel, La Fregate, Hotel Jerbourg, The Old Government House Hotel & Spa, The Georgian House, The Duke of Richmond, and White House Hotel, among others. These hotels have something to offer for every type of family.
If your family is energetic, you can choose to enjoy several outdoor activities, but if you are seeking a more calm and relaxing vacation, you can sit back and relax on one of the beaches or explore Guernsey’s amazing heritage.
We chose to stay at Hotel Jerbourg with its prime location for hiking, exploring the German-built bunkers from WWII and the incredible views from Jerbourg Point.
The outdoor pool overlooking the ocean was perfect for the kids to let loose and while the location was outside of Saint Peter Port, we could just walk out the door and onto any number of trails or just sit and enjoy the spectacular Guernsey sunsets.
Family-friendly restaurants in Guernsey
Affordable food, child-friendly menus, and family-friendly environments are vital factors that families look for when looking for a place to dine. Some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Guernsey include La Perla, Fat Rascal, Crabby Jack’s, Copenhagen Bar & Grill, and Fermain Beach Café.
We loved The Terrace Garden Cafe in Saint Peter Port for dining with kids on Guernsey. The patio overlooks the marina, the food is delicious, there are many choices for both adults and kids and it was an all-around great atmosphere to dine in.
Hiking Trails in Guernsey
There are about 53 hikes for you to discover in the region of Guernsey. For the first glimpse at its outdoor opportunities, we’ve created a short highlight list. For more hikes on Guernsey, you can visit here.
From the shingle beach with its shoreline café and round tower at Fermain Bay, follow the wooded coastal path through scenic areas to Marble Bay. There is a kiosk for a well-earned pit stop on this southeast island section of Guernsey. St Martin’s Point has an enormous north-easterly point that makes for a spectacular hike.
St Peter Port to Portelet
This is a very long and difficult trail, but it’s totally worth the experience. It starts in the heart of Guernsey’s capital, St. Peter Port. As you climb up to the Clarence Battery, you will enjoy the amazing views of Guernsey’s neighboring islands.
The entire hike takes about 13.5 hours and is best done over two days. This hike is meant for the most adventurous of families, and accommodations are available midway through the hike to split it up over two or three days.
Rousse to Pembroke
This hiking trail starts at Rousse Tower. From there, you will get to Vale Pond and Grand Garve, where you will see evidence that Guernsey was once two islands separated by a saltwater channel.
As you continue along this trail, you will encounter more historical structures like Le Varde Passage Tomb and Les Fouaillages. It takes about 1–1.5 hours to complete this hike.
This is a 1.5–2-hour hike that starts and ends in Bordeaux Harbour. The trail takes you along a route past islets and harbors. You start at the Bordeaux kiosk, where you can glimpse the neighboring islands of Sark, Herm, and Alderney, as well as France.
Follow in Victor Hugo’s Footsteps
This easy walk around St. Peter Port takes you past some of Victor Hugo’s favorite places. He spent 15 years here in exile, and much of our work was inspired by the island of Guernsey. This one-hour walk takes you to Victoria Tower, where Hugo would meet with his lover, Juliette Drouet, in secret.
There are so many things to do in Guernsey that it can be hard to choose. From the beautiful landscape of this small island to its rich history and culture – there’s something for everyone here! If you’re looking to make the most of your trip to Guernsey, don’t miss these top spots with kids in mind.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.