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.
Great post! The Elizabeth castle kinda looks like Mont Saint-Michel! I love the info on which side to drive on 🙂
Yes, this is a bit smaller but very similar – both are tidal islands.
It’s important to know which side of the road to drive on! 🙂
This brings back happy memories of my visit there 25 years ago as a wee nipper, and I still have a pencil case I bought at the Durrell Wildlife Park. Don’t remember the castle at all though, will have to go back soon and do it as an adult, reminds me a lot of Cornwall, looks beautiful.
Oh, that’s great! Time to go back.
We haven’t been to Cornwall but, definitely, need to go. Seen some pictures and it looks similar and beautiful!
I haven’t been to Jersey, but it’s definitely on my list. Not so far for me to go and I know it has fabulous gastronomy!
Yeah. Food was great!
Wow you can really cover a lot over a weekend in Jersey. Would you say 2 days are sufficient though or it might be rushed? I would love to drive along the lovely north coast or visit the Elisabeth castle. Beautiful pictures.
It’s a small island, so a weekend is enough to see all the highlights. Rest assured that there enough things to do if you stay more time, such as hiking, etc.
The reality it very different..I was born here. You need more than a weekend to see our Island. Please correct me it I am wrong but I thought a city was not a city without a Cathedral and we haven’t got one.
Ideally, yes, more than a weekend would be great. The reality is that most people visit Jersey for a weekend – like we did. Bearing in mind the size of the island, we believe it’s fair to say you can see a lot in such a short time.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a beautiful island and we were very surprised about it. That’s why we wrote about our experience and why we recommend Jersey to other travelers.
Not sure where you’re going with that definition of a City, but ok.
A weekend to do all you have mentioned is not plausible if you want to enjoy them….
Thank you for your comment. These are ideas and suggestions of things to see and do in Jersey. We didn’t do all of them in detail, for example, the museums. Same applies if we wanted to spend the whole day at the beach – which we didn’t.
Ideally, we would have spent more time in Jersey, but like we said before, this is a good time frame to get the most out of the island.
Also, different people have different travel styles. With these options, I’m sure those that visit Jersey will have a good time.
Hope this makes sense.
Thanks for the introduction to Jersey- I will admit to not having heard of it before, but it sounds amazing! We’re huge fans of nature, and outdoor adventure like hiking, so the north coast has particularly stood out to me 🙂 Thanks!
Our pleasure! There’s a circuit around the island for both hiking and cycling 🙂
Sounds like you had a full weekend of fun. Would love to visit the castle and the market
We definitely had a good time!
I’m amazed by Jersey! Never heard about such a beautiful and picturesque place. It’s incredible how it is still possible to find hidden gem even in Europe, a so well travelled country! Thanks for introducing Jersey to me, and for sure will put the island on my Euro trip list!
It is not very well known despite its proximity to England and France. Glad you liked it!
Great to see you enjoyed the weekend here, our island has so much to offer! One of the highlights of Jersey is actually the gastronomy, so much in such a small space, 3 Michelin star restaurants to be exact! Hope you had a chance to experience some of the local dining too 🙂 x Jersey Girl x
We had a great time and I’m sure we’ll go back again. It’s so close.
You’re right. Small island yet with a lot to do. We did have some delicious food, seafood especially but it wasn’t at one of the Michelin star restaurants. Maybe next time!
Jersey Girl, please can you advise the names of the 3 Michelin Star restaurants in Jersey. Jim 07714033327
Wow – thank you for the travel inspiration! This looks like a beautiful island, and there is so much to do! My inner history buff yearns to explore the war tunnels. Walking across to the castle would be really cool too!
Thank you, John!
The tunnels and all the WW2 legacy they have are really interesting to explore and learn more about.
Great to hear, and I am glad you had a nice time. I read a lot of travel websites and this really is the most excited I’ve been about a new destination this year. 🙂 Thanks again.
Amazing! Thanks 🙂
The food is amazing from Michelin star Bohemia to beach cafes. I loved exploring the little medieval churches too, so interesting.
We had great food and we didn’t even try the Michelin star restaurants. Definitely for the time!
I had never heard of Jersey, but it looks beautiful and there is so much to do! I’d love to explore the castles and learn more about the island from the museums. Thanks for sharing all of this great information!
Glad you this to be useful. Now that you know Jersey, it’s time to visit 🙂
I am glad you enjoyed your week-end in Jersey. I don’t know what time of year you came over, but it would be good to mention the Battle of Flowers which takes place on the second Thursday of August. On the run up to the carnival there is a fair in Peoples Park.
There is so much more more to see and visit in Jersey, for every kind of holiday. A week-end would not give you nearly enough time to appreciate all there is, unless you prefer multiple return trips 🙂
Don’t forget the night life, restaurants and shopping.
As for driving, you need to remember the upper speed limit is 40 m/h. In built up areas it is 30 m/h with various other places slower. Watch out for horses, slow down for them.
If you visit for a week or so, you can easily hop across to the other islands for a day trip. Guernsey is very similar to Jersey and Sark or Herm are worth a visit as they do not have cars.
I nearly forgot to mention the dolphins! We have dolphins living around Jersey. If you are lucky, you might see some.
Thank you so much for your insightful comment.
We did have a great time in Jersey and because we are based in London, we are likely to go back soon. It is a lovely place.
You’re right. To fully explore a place, more time is needed. We feel like a weekend is a good timeframe for an introduction to Jersey and the best things to do there. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the article, including a significant number of people that had never heard about Jersey before. Hopefully, they’ll visit soon.
We don’t focus much on nightlife and shopping, that’s why we didn’t include those.
I’ll update the driving information. The speed limit is low and there are lots of narrow roads as well.
I like the idea of island hopping. Look forward to doing that.
Didn’t know about the Dolphins! That’s cool 🙂
It looks a wonderful place to visit there. Loved your pictures. Thanks a lot to share a nice post!!