Guernsey

Europe > Britain and Ireland > Channel Islands > Guernsey


LocationGuernsey.png
Capital Saint Peter Port
Currency pound sterling (GBP)
Guernsey pound
Population 63 thousand (2016)
Electricity 230 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363, Europlug)
Country code +44
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time, Europe/Guernsey
Emergencies 112, 999
Driving side left

The Bailiwick of Guernsey (French: Guernesey, Guernesiais: Guernési, Sercquiais: Gyernëzi) is a group of islands in the English Channel, part of the Channel Islands. Guernsey itself is the main island, some 50 miles west of the Cotentin Peninsula in France. It's about 6 miles long by 3 miles wide, with St Peter Port as its chief settlement, and in 2019 had a population of 62,792.

This page only describes the main island of Guernsey, with Alderney, Sark and Herm described on separate pages.

Understand[edit]

In 1066 William Duke of Normandy gained the crown of England, so his descendants ruled many parts of France as well as ruling England. A series of wars, and peace treaties followed by more wars, wrested European territory away from England to the growing Kingdom of France, until all that remained were the Channel Islands. And so they remain today. The Bailiwick of Guernsey, like that of Jersey, is therefore a "Crown Dependency". They are not subject to the UK parliament or legislation or - crucially - taxation in any way, and were never part of the EU, but they cede control of defence and most international affairs to the UK. The rules of this arrangement are unwritten and all parties have shied away from testing them. Although Guernsey and Jersey share many similarities, they are as constitutionally separate from each other as they are from mainland Britain, and there is no political entity called the "Channel Islands".

Guernsey grew up as a fishing port but from 1700 found that smuggling paid better, as mainland taxes rose sharply. Even more lucrative was piracy (illegal) and privateering (much the same thing, but legal if it was against the King's enemies). The islands were occasionally fought over (for instance during the English Civil Wars), but more often they were heavily fortified against invasions that never came. One such phase was during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, another was during the German occupation of the Second World War. So as they weren't attacked, the fortifications remain in good condition, and provide some of the main sights on Guernsey.

Post-war development was faltering: light industry, tomatoes and horticulture (undercut by the Dutch), and offshore finance (risky even when legitimate). Mass tourism never started, and so Guernsey has concentrated on high-end tourism. Come here and feel like a swell.

Islands[edit]

The islands of Guernsey
  • Guernsey itself is the main island, with St Peter Port the capital of the Bailiwick, largest town, and traditional point of arrival. The built-up area straggles north to St Sampson and south to St Martin, and less densely west across the whole island. There's not much open countryside on Guernsey, but it's an attractive bucolic landscape.
Lihou is a tidal island with a ruined priory, reached by a causeway from Guernsey.
  • Alderney is ringed with Victorian forts, and has a lot of accessible open countryside.
Burhou, a tiny island off Alderney, is a bird sanctuary.
Les Casquets are uninhabited rocky islets west of Alderney with a lighthouse.
  • Sark is the last feudal society in Europe, which means no traffic. Its main area of Grande Sark is linked by a precipitous walkway to Little Sark.
Brecquou 100 yards west of Sark is privately owned by the Barclay twins, the media tycoons, and you can't visit.
  • Herm is a small, charming island close to Guernsey.
Jethou, a tiny island close to Herm, is privately owned and you can't visit.

Talk[edit]

Overwhelmingly English is spoken, but Norman-French Guernesais is taught in schools in a bid to preserve it.

Get in[edit]

Entry regulations are the same as for Jersey, see Channel Islands#Get in.

See Alderney, Sark and Herm for routes to those islands. Unless you have your own boat, Herm is always reached via Guernsey. Reaching Alderney and Sark is usually so but they do have some connections to Jersey and the UK and French mainlands.

By plane[edit]

Aurigny are based in Guernsey and fly from London Gatwick (LGW IATA), Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Exeter, Leeds-Bradford and Manchester. They also fly to and from Jersey and Alderney, and a day trip is possible.

The Jersey airline Blue Islands has direct flights to Guernsey from Southampton, and connections via Jersey from Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Newcastle and Norwich. Loganair flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne connect in Southampton with the Blue Islands direct flight.There are several flights daily between Guernsey and Jersey and a day trip is possible.

1 Guernsey Airport (GCI IATA) is in the south of the island. Bus 71 runs to St Peter Port M-F 06:30-20:30 every 30 min, hourly Sa Su, taking 30 min, flat fare £1. A taxi to town should be under £10.

By boat[edit]

Condor Ferries sail to Guernsey from Poole (3 hours) and Portsmouth (7 hours) in England, St Malo (1 hour) in France and from Jersey (1 hour). These ferries are year-round and take vehicles, with daily sailings in summer, but the fast-cat from Poole is more likely to be cancelled in bad weather. Day-trips are possible to & from Jersey.

Manche Iles sail to Guernsey from Diélette in Normandy. These are for foot-passengers only and are scheduled for day trips from Normandy, with one outward sailing in the morning and one return late afternoon. They likewise have day-trips from Guernsey to Jersey (weekends July-Aug) and Alderney (weekends May-Sept).

2 St Peter Port is the landing point for all ferries. With your own boat, moor at Victoria Marina the small inner harbour. The pontoons can accommodate boats up to 42 ft (12.8 m) with a maximum draught of 6 ft (1.8 m). It's accessible about 2.5 hours either side of high water.

Get around[edit]

Castle Cornet

Buses ply most of the island roads, all converging on St Peter Port, for a flat fare of £1, just pay cash on the bus. To tour around the island (e.g. to circumnavigate it on Routes 91 or 92) you need a Day Pass, one day for £5 or two for £8.50. There are three late night routes, to Bordeaux Harbour, Grandes Rocques and Pleinmont, flat fare £2.50. A Puffinpass is a pre-payment card for £15, topped up in multiples of £5.

Car hire is available at the airport from Hertz, Avis, Europcar and Hallmark. Best pre-book as their fleets are small and will sell out in peak periods.

Bike hire is available from Adventure Cycles. Other shops do sales and repairs but don't hire.

See[edit]

  • 1 Castle Cornet, Castle Pier, St Peter Port GY1 6GN, +44 1481 221657. Apr-Oct daily 10:00-17:00. This was built in the 13th century on a tidal island, and was serially besieged, blown up, garrisoned, occupants massacred, added to, and used as a prison. In 1859 it was incorporated into the harbour breakwater. Assistance dogs only. Adult £10.50, child or student £3. Castle Cornet (Q155252) on Wikidata Castle Cornet on Wikipedia
  • Royal Courthouse on St James St has housed the Bailiwick's courts since 1803, so you just admire the exterior.
  • Town Church (Parish Church of St Peter Port), Church Square, St Peter Port GY1 2JU (foot of Albert pier), +44 1481 720879. M-F 08:15-18:00, Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 07:30-19:30. This was built from 13th century and completed by 1466. It's Anglican and the interior is mostly Victorian. Town Church, Guernsey on Wikipedia
Hauteville House
  • 2 Hauteville House, 38 Rue Hauteville, St Peter Port GY1 1DG, +44 1481 721911, . Apr-Sept Th-Tu 10:00-16:00. Victor Hugo lived here 1856-1870 whilst in exile from France - and buying it meant he couldn't be deported from Guernsey. He wrote several of his best-known works here including Les Misérables. His descendants gifted it to the City of Paris, who now manage it. On four levels with garden, it's mobbed by Hugo's readers and admirers. Time was you had to book your visit well ahead, but since refurbishment in 2019 that's no longer necessary. Free. Hauteville House (Q1591410) on Wikidata Hauteville House on Wikipedia
  • Tapestry Gallery, Dorey Centre, St James St, St Peter Port GY1 2NY, +44 1481 727106. Apr-Oct M-Th 11:00-16:00. The tapestry was a millennium community project: each panel was embroidered by a different parish and depicts a century in the island's life. Adult £10, child free.
  • Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery, Candie Gardens, St Peter Port GY1 1UG, +44 1481 226518. Apr-Oct daily 10:00-17:00, Feb Mar Oct-Dec daily 10:00-16:00. Museum of island life from prehistory to present day. Set in the pleasant Victorian Candie Garden. Adult £6.50, child or student £2.
  • 3 German Naval Signals HQ, Saint-Jacques, St Peter Port GY1 1SN, +44 1481 726518. Apr-Oct daily 12:30-16:30. This bunker has been restored to its 1940s form, when it handled all the island's important military radio comms under occupation. Assistance dogs only, no toilets. Adult £4, child or student £1.50.
  • 4 Chateau des Marais or "Ivy Castle" is what's left of a Norman moated castle. The ruin was re-fortified in the Napoleonic wars then again fell into ruin as the Governor's garden, a pigsty and liquor distillery. A bunker was built under German occupation. The surrounds are a nature reserve, accessible 24 hours.
  • La Vallette Underground Military Museum is a collection of occupation memorabilia in wartime tunnels half a mile south of town.
  • 5 Sausmarez Manor, Gardens & Artpark, Route de Sausmarez, St Martin GY4 6SG, +44 1481 235571. Daily 10:00-17:00. The oldest part of the manor dates to 13th century, but it's been continually and erratically rebuilt, and most of what you see now is sublimely botched Victoriana. The manor can only be visited on guided tours, April-Oct M-Sa, adult £7.50. However most visitors come for the Subtropical Gardens and the Artpark, both open all year. The Artpark is a sculpture trail with some 200 contemporary works by 80 UK and overseas artists; it's mostly for sale and the display is renewed annually. Garden + Artpark adult £6, student £4, child £3. Artparks Sculpture Park (Q11845161) on Wikidata Artparks Sculpture Park on Wikipedia
Sausmarez Manor
  • 6 German Underground Hospital, La Vassalerie GY6 8SL, +44 1481 235261. May-Sept daily, Apr & Oct F-M, 10:00-16:00. This is even bigger than the similar hospital on Jersey, built during the occupation against an Allied attack that never came. Adult £4.50, child £2.50.
  • The Little Chapel half a mile west of the underground hospital is an oddity, just 16 ft long by 9 ft wide, covered in a mosaic of seashells, pebbles, and broken China. Its creator Brother Déodat Antoine was aiming for something like Lourdes, but twice demolished his work as unsatisfactory; the third and present version was built 1923–1939.
  • German Occupation Museum, Les Houards Forest GY8 0BG (just south of airport), +44 1481 238205. Daily 10:00-13:00. Depicts the occupation of Guernsey by German forces during World War II. Adult £6, child £3.
  • 7 Jerbourg Point at the southeast tip of the island is about the best of many scenic clifftop strolls along the south and east coasts. It's an obvious defensive position and Jerbourg's structures range from the Neolithic to the occupation of World War II.
  • 8 Fort Grey, Rocquaine GY7 9BY, +44 1481 265036. Apr-Oct daily 10:00-16:30. This is a Martello tower housing a shipwreck museum. Adult £4, student or child £1.50.
  • 9 Lihou is a small tidal island off L'Erée headland, reached by a 1300 ft (400 m) causeway at low tide. Lihou and L'Erée are a wetland nature reserve, and access to some parts may be closed during the seabird nesting season, e.g. to the adjacent islets of Lissroy and Lihoumel. The main sight on Lihou is St Mary's Priory, established in the 12th century but ruined after the 16th century dissolution of monasteries. The farmhouse is modern.

Do[edit]

German Underground Hospital
  • Beaches: over two dozen, those to the north and west being flat and sandy, those east rocky. The south has little coves beneath the cliffs, scenic (Renoir enjoyed painting them) but access is not as easy.
West, looking towards Lihou island, are Rocquaine & Portelet Bay, L’Eree, Vazon Bay (which has surfing), Cobo Bay and Grandes Rocques.
North are Port Soif (beware currents), Portinfer, Port Grat, Le Grande Havre, Chouet Bay, Ladies Bay, and Pembroke & L’Ancresse Bays - these latter are breezy and popular for windsurfing.
East around St Peter Port are Bordeaux, Belle Greve Bay, Havelet, Soldiers Bay, Fermain Bay and Marble Bay (Le Pied du Mur).
South around St Martin are Petit Port, Moulin Huet, Saints Bay, Le Jaonnet Bay (the trickiest to access) and Petit Bot.
Dogs are not allowed May-Sept on Fermain, Petit Bot, L’Eree, northern end of Vazon, Port Soif, Cobo, and L’Ancresse & Pembroke.
  • Golf: Royal Guernsey GC and L'Ancresse share a course at the north tip of the island. Golf19 is part of St Pierre Park Hotel. La Grande Mare on Vazon Bay is part of that hotel.
  • Live arts: St James Centre is on College St in St Peter Port. Princess Royal Centre is two miles northwest on St Ozouets Rd.
  • Cinema: those in St Peter Port remain closed in 2022. Mallard Cinema is just south of the airport.
  • Island Games are a biannual multi-sports event for small European islands that can't field their own Olympic teams. The next games are hosted by Guernsey on 8-14 July 2023.
  • Work or study: see Channel Islands#Work as the two Bailiwicks have similar regulations.

Buy[edit]

Exchange rates for British pounds

As of Jan 2022:

  • US$1 ≈ £0.75
  • €1 ≈ £0.85

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from xe.com

Money: The Guernsey pound is on parity with British pound sterling. Notes from Jersey, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man are also accepted in Guernsey. Guernsey pounds are not accepted in the UK, so change them for UK pounds before leaving the islands, although they can be paid in over the counter at British banks. Cash machines may offer a choice of which local or Sterling currency.

Eat[edit]

  • Cream teas are a Guernsey tradition, to take to the beach or eat in. The many outlets include Victoria Cafe in Candie Gardens, the kiosks in Saint's Bay, Port Soif or Portelet Bay (this one is more accessible for wheelchair users); or splurge at Old Government House Hotel.
  • Le Nautique, Quay Steps, St Peter Port GY1 2LE, +44 1481 721714. Tu-Sa 12:00-14:00, 18:30-22:00. Slick reliable seafood restaurant overlooking the harbour, reservations recommended.
  • Christie's Brasserie, 43 The Pollet, St Peter Port GY1 1WQ, +44 1481 726624. M-Sa 09:00-23:30, Su 09:00-15:00. Good harbourside restaurant.
  • Gusto, 18 Smith St, St Peter Port GY1 1EJ (100 yards inland from Victoria Pier), +44 1481 722828. M-Sa 11:30-15:00, 18:00-22:00. Italian with good menu selection.
  • Da Nello, 46 The Pollet, St Peter Port GY1 1WF (foot of ferry pier), +44 1481 721552. Tu-Sa 12:00-14:00, 18:30-22:00, Su 12:00-14:00. Friendly cosy Italian.
  • Terrace Garden Cafe, Cornet Street, St Peter Port GY1 1BZ (by Albert Pier), +44 1481 811919. W-M 08:00-22:00. Thai food, with views of harbour and town.
  • St Peter Port options also include Pier 17, Sawatdi, White Rock Cafe and Le Petit Bistro.
  • Out of town try The Rockmount at Cobo Bay or Crabby Jack's at Vazon Bay, for sunset dining. On the east coast, which is better early in the day, is Fermain Beach Cafe.

Drink[edit]

Renoir painted Guernsey beach life
  • The waterfront in St Peter Port is the main strip of pubs.
  • Thomas de la Rue, The Pollet, St Peter Port GY1 1WG (by ferry pier), +44 1481 714990. M-Sa 11:00-00:45, Su 12:00-00:45. Great reviews for this cosy central pub.
  • Albion, Church Square, High Street, St Peter Port GY1 2JU, +44 1481 723518. M-Sa 11:00-00:00, Su 12:00-20:00. Trad pub serving food and ale, mixed reviews for the welcome.
  • Ship & Crown, North Esplanade, St Peter Port GY1 1EJ (by Victoria Pier), +44 1481 728368. M-Sa 10:00-00:00, Su 12:00-23:00. Pub and restaurant with good food and atmosphere.
  • Wheadon's Gin is a London-style dry gin from a micro distillery within Bella Luce Hotel. They offer tours and tastings Wednesday & Friday at 6PM, £20, booking essential, tel +44 1481 238764.
  • Guernsey doesn't have a vineyard but has two breweries, both on St Georges Esplanade in St Peter Port: Randalls, and White Rock which is also a gin distillery. Tours possible, enquire locally.

Sleep[edit]

Fort Grey
  • Moore's Central Hotel (Best Western), The Pollet, St Peter Port GY1 1WH (facing harbour), +44 333 003 4237. Great location and value-for-money comfort and service. B&B double £150.
  • Duke of Normandie Hotel, Le Febvre St, St Peter Port GY1 2JP (central, facing harbour), +44 1481 721431. Grand old hotel, which means higgledy-piggledy layout and stairs to struggle up, but great value. Some street noise. With Pickled Pig gastropub. B&B double £150.
  • Hotel de Havelet (Best Western), Havelet, St Peter Port GY1 1BA (500 m south of harbour), +44 1481 722199. Great scores for service and comfort at this central hotel. B&B double £170.
  • La Fregate, Beauregard Lane, Les Côtils, St Peter Port GY1 1UT (200 m inland from harbour), +44 1481 724624. Elegant hotel overlooking the port, flight of steps down to town centre. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £220.
  • 1 Duke of Richmond Hotel, Cambridge Park Rd, St Peter Port GY1 1UY, +44 1481 726221. High-end hotel near museum, dog-friendly. B&B double £200.
  • 2 Old Government House Hotel & Spa, Ann's Place, St Peter Port GY1 2NU, +44 1481 724921. Plush hotel with good food and service. The standard rooms are pokey for the price and the bigger rooms are worth the extra. B&B double £300.
  • St Peter Port other hotels include Yacht Inn (more like a sports bar with rooms), Pandora, Ziggurat and La Piette.
  • Out of town hotels are mostly along the sandy western beaches. They include Cobo Bay, Driftwood Inn and The Imperial. La Grande Mare changed owners in 2020 and has not yet re-opened.
  • 3 Ellingham Cottages are self-catering cottages at Camps du Moulin, St Martin's.
  • Campsites are mostly to the north, at La Bailloterie, Vaugrat, Fauxquets Valley and Guernsey Glamping.

Stay safe[edit]

The main hazards are natural, e.g. slippy rocks. Crime is uncommon but take usual care of your belongings and avoid the occasional idiot drunk.

You must have personal travel health insurance: the Bailiwick of Guernsey has no reciprocal agreements with the UK National Health Service, EU "EHIC" system, or any other nation. Medical treatment on any of these islands must therefore be paid in full.

Connect[edit]

Farmhouse on Lihou

The dialling code for Guernsey is +44, same as for mainland Britain and Jersey, so to call between them you don't dial +44. It's as if Guernsey was a mainland city with dialling code 01481 and UK domestic call charges.

Except for a very few dead spots, all of Guernsey island has 4G from each of its three carriers: Airtel-Vodafone, JT and Sure, and there is Wifi in many public places. As of Sept 2022, 5G has not rolled out on Guernsey. For the latest detailed coverage see GCRA, as Nperf doesn't track coverage in the Channel Islands.

Visitors from UK or Europe need to check their mobile provider for roaming charges.

Go next[edit]

  • Ferries to Herm, Sark and Alderney sail from St Peter Port.
  • Jersey: the ferry lands you in St Helier, where the castle is on a tidal islet.
  • Saint-Malo on the French mainland is a walled citadel, with museums and a chateau.
  • Portsmouth on the English mainland is modern but has the historic dockyards, with Mary Rose and HMS Victory.


This region travel guide to Guernsey is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.