The Anti-Tourist Guide to Guernsey
Guernsey is the second-largest Channel island, found in the British channel. Although the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles, they are not legally part of the UK - though you wouldn’t be able to tell in Guernsey! Wandering around the island, especially St Peter Port, feels resolutely British. Yet its proximity to France and its quirky laws and customs make it a unique place and well worth discovering.
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time Zone UTC +00:00
Telephone area code: +44
Language: English mainly, and French as a second language
Currency: Sterling. UK pounds are accepted in Guernsey, but Guernsey pounds cannot be used elsewhere!
Climate: windy but mild winters; warm summers (max 24°C)
Arriving and Getting Around:
You can get to Guernsey by boat into St Peter Port, the island’s capital and main harbour, via a number of ferry services from the UK or France. Alternatively, Guernsey airport is served by a number of airlines flying in from both countries all year round.
Once arrived, the island has a pretty efficient and punctual public transport system. The bus network covers all of the island's parishes and major attractions, and the Guernsey Vaeux goes all the way around the island, allowing visitors to get off at various attractions, and the ride is a sightseeing trip in itself. The flat fare is £1 for all journeys of any distance on all routes, while children three and under go free. Their handy app will help you get around easily on the go.
You also have the option of renting a car in Guernsey (unlike in Sark, where cars are completely prohibited). Driving in Guernsey can take some getting used to, as roads and lanes are narrow and often busy. There is a speed limit of 25mph in built-up areas, 35mph in rural areas, and the limits are strictly policed.
Top Things to Do:
This 800 year old castle stands proudly at the mouth of the harbour, a few minutes away from the city centre. The castle also houses five museums and four period gardens - don't miss the firing of the noon-day gun by scarlet clad gunners. The Castle is bigger than you might think so to make the most of your trip, allow at least three hours. The panoramic views from the Castle and the lighthouse nearby are the cherry on this cake!
Admission: Adults: £10, Seniors: £9, Children 7+/Students: £2.50, Family (2 adults plus any children): £23, Children under 7: Free.
Take the Guernsey Vaeux
As mentioned before, Guernsey's buses offer a number of lines that go all the way along the island's coast. For a measly pound, you can sit back in a fully airconditioned bus and see most of the coast in an hour or less - great for your first day on the island and getting your bearings!
German Military Underground Hospital
The largest construction in the Channel Islands at 7,000 square metres, the underground hospital was hewn out of solid rock by slave workers who had been captured by German forces during the occupation of the island during WWII. Construction began in the winter of 1940 and was built underground so as not to be seen by overhead planes, given that the site was also used as an ammunition store. The hospital is truly an eerie insight into life on the island at the time.
Admission: Children £1, Adults £3.50
Victor Hugo's House and garden
For fourteen years, Hauteville House was home to the famous French writer Victor Hugo, during his time in exile from France. Hugo spent his time there writing his masterpieces, as well as personally decorating the house. Visits are available by guided tour only; tours are available in English and French and last about one hour. Access to the splendid garden, thankfully, is free!
Top Free Things to Do:
Guernsey has a 28-mile network of clifftop footpaths along it's stunning coast. The cliffs are punctuated with beautiful bays, secluded coves and picturesque harbours. Getting away from it all in Guernsey is easy - just take one of the narrow footpaths that lead to the winding cliff routes and you will feel a million miles away from the chaos of everyday life.
Once part of a private estate, the Victorian Candie Gardens offer the best view across St Peter Port and the Channel beyond. They are home to the oldest known heated glass-houses in the British Isles, which date back to the late eighteenth century. Inside the gardens, aside from the beautiful flowers, lawns, and fish ponds, you will find a museum, art gallery, and a cafe housed in a Victorian bandstand.
La Valette Bathing Pools
For more than 150 years, a small area just outside of town has been available for anyone wanting a dip, in the form of the La Valette bathing pools. The water in the pools is fed directly by the sea at high tide, but walls allow the water to remain as the tide lowers and stops an excess of weed or sea creatures finding their way into the pools.
If like me you're a mermaid at heart, Guernsey will fulfill all your wishes. There are 27 very different bays to choose from – some with long and popular stretches of sand, others hidden coves which rarely attract tourists. Don't miss out on Fermain Bay and Cobo Bay!
Where to stay
For a budget and truly value for money place to rest, check out Les Cotils. With rates starting from 45 pounds per night and its central location, it's a great deal on the island.
If you're looking to splurge, Fermain Valley Hotel is what you're looking for. Privately hidden in the woods above Fermain Bay, the Hotel is totally secluded yet still accessible. For rates and more information click here.
Where to eat
For the truly traditional, you can never go wrong with some classic fish'n'chips from Cobo Bay's Fish Bar. Proper tasty, and it'll only set you back a few bucks.
Fermain Bay's humble Cafe is slightly more expensive but with excellent service and lovely food, you'll enjoy every minute spent there. If it's warm, go for the outdoor tables - there's nothing like a view to make lunch go down easier!
The Photos you can't leave without
Check out my Guernsey Photo Diary for a teaser of what's waiting for you in Guernsey - my highlights were the cliff walks and the stunning sandy beaches.
Disclaimer: The content of this guide is written by The Anti-Tourist. The information is designed to give prospective travellers a customised experience in each new location a TAT guide is produced for. While the information is correct at the time of publishing, given the fast-paced changing nature of travel and tourism, guides will be updated annually. The Anti-Tourist does not receive compensation for any products or companies mentioned in this guide, in an effort to maintain authenticity and ensure an unbiased representation of the best on offer in each location.