Have you heard about Jersey? No? Truth is, most people haven’t, so let us make a brief introduction. Jersey is a small island between England and France, just off the coast of Normandy. It’s the largest of the Channel Islands and due to its proximity to both countries, a perfect weekend getaway opportunity. Seriously, it takes less than an hour to fly from London.
Officially known as the Bailiwick of Jersey, which includes other smaller uninhabited nearby islands, Jersey is autonomous and self-governing, and a crown dependency of the United Kingdom, albeit not part of it.
We spent a weekend exploring the island’s mix of British and French culture, rich history, beautiful beaches, and nature. Now, we’re sharing the best bits so you can make the most of your visit to Jersey.
By the way, in case you’re wondering why the name sounds familiar, New Jersey (the state in the USA) was named after Jersey.
Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey and it accounts for more than 30% of the island’s population. This is where you’ll find a lot of activities, things to see, do and eat.
The best way to experience Saint Helier is on foot. We walked everywhere around town and found it to be really clean and enjoyable. Plenty of families wandering around on a nice Saturday morning.
Looking for places of interest? If you like museums, make sure to visit the Maritime Museum and the Jersey Museum. Both are located in the central part of town. Other major places of interest include the waterfront area, the Royal Square, and a few churches. All within easy reach and walking distance.
For a more local experience, try visiting the Fish and Central markets for a sample of the local produce.
Saint Helier is a very good place to base yourself during a weekend in Jersey. Since the island is not very big, it’s very easy to go anywhere from the capital, with the added bonus of all the facilities it has.
Elizabeth Castle is probably Jersey’s biggest attraction. Located on a tidal island just off Saint Helier, the castle can be seen from the city’s waterfront and it attracts a lot of attention and visitors.
Construction of the castle started in the 16th century and it evolved over the years to its current form – a mix, really. Currently, there are many different areas to visit which can take the good part of a morning to thoroughly explore.
Accessing Elizabeth Castle is the cool element of the visit. Because of its location on a tidal island, it can only be accessed on foot when the tide is low. A causeway connects the castle all the way to the shore. On the contrary, when the tide is high, the only option to get to the castle is to use the small amphibious ferry – which looks really nice!
Besides the history of the place and the multiple things to discover, the views it offers from different vantage points are worth a trip on their own.
One interesting thing worth seeing is the Master Gunner and the cannon firing – this is featured in our video!
Durrell Wildlife Park
Durrell Wildlife Park is a must-visit place for nature enthusiasts. Located a little bit off the normal tourist route in the north of the island, this is a Zoo that focuses on the conservation and recuperation of rare and endangered species. A program that has been successful both locally and abroad.
It’s a pleasure to visit since the park is well kept and the animals have excellent habitats. Plus, it’s not very busy!
Jersey War Tunnels
World War II deeply affected Jersey. For almost 5 years, the island was occupied by the Germans and today a lot of that legacy still remains, such as bunkers, tunnels, batteries, among others.
One of the most interesting places to visit in order to find out more about the history of the island during the occupation are the Jersey War Tunnels, a former underground hospital converted into a museum.
Mont Orgueil is an 800 years old castle located on the eastern side of the island and the predecessor of Elizabeth Castle. It is possible to go inside to visit the castle and for great views across the area.
Below the castle is the small and picturesque town of Gorey, with its pier where many restaurants can be found. We had a lovely fish dinner there!
Saint Aubin’s and Saint Brelade’s bays
Saint Aubin’s and Saint Brelade’s bays are prime spots to enjoy some beach time and clearly a favorite of both tourists and locals alike. With long white sandy beaches dotted with cafes and restaurants, it’s hard not to enjoy a quick break here. Also popular for water sports.
Saint Aubin is home to a fort, accessible on foot by a causeway on low tide.
Noirmont Point is the southernmost headland in Jersey. We visited not only due to the natural beauty of the place but also because of Batterie Lothringen, a former WWII coastal artillery battery. This is a historical place with multiple things worth seeing.
The massive observation tower on the face of the cliff was the highlight for us. Don’t forget to check the bunkers!
From here there are privileged views over to Portelet bay. We saw a group kayaking in the area, which looked like a perfect activity for a sunny summer day.
The north coast
The north coast of Jersey is very different from its southern counterpart. Wild and rugged, with plenty of cliffs and beaches to explore, and also some tiny harbors. It has some of the most beautiful landscapes on the island.
This area is popular for hiking, with many interesting stops along the way.
La Corbière is a perfect place to stop when visiting the western part of the island. The tidal island where the lighthouse is located is a great short walk.
Jersey in video
We put together a video about our time in Jersey and the places mentioned in this article. Watch it and enjoy!
Useful information for your trip to Jersey.
Plenty of flights to and from all over the United Kingdom, plus other European countries (not as many). The ferry is a great alternative with connections to France, the United Kingdom, and Guernsey.
We opted to drive around. Getting a car is definitely the way to reach all the places we wanted to visit. The bus network reaches many places on the island.
Accommodation: Search for the best places to stay in Jersey
Currency: GBP (with its own notes and coins)
Driving: On the left (speed limit is 40 m/h)
Languages: English (primary) and French
Rest assured there are more things to see and do than the ones we just listed. These are the highlights of our experience visiting Jersey.