A green gem sitting proudly in the English Channel, Guernsey is a unique island with an old-world charm. It is the second largest of the Channel Islands. Halfway between the UK and France, the Channel Islands are proudly independent, with their own currency and dialect. Holidays to Guernsey from the UK have a distinctly foreign feel, but with plenty of reminders of home. The island has a spectacular and varied coastline, with dozens of sandy bays and dramatic cliffs. You also have plenty of opportunities to learn about Guernsey’s fascinating history, from its most famous resident, Victor Hugo, to its occupation by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Guernsey is fringed by a string of 27 bays, each of which has an individual character and offers something different to visitors. For most people, summer holidays on Guernsey are all about the beaches. The sandy bays and inviting waters can keep you entertained all day, but the real magic of Guernsey is in its hidden coves that remain deserted for much of the year. The south coast features spectacular cliffs that offer sweeping, panoramic sea views. This area has a network of well-maintained walking trails and the best way to explore is certainly on foot.
The jagged coastline also offers fantastic opportunities for watersports. You can climb the cliffs and jump into the sea as part of a coasteering tour, or kayak into tiny caves and get up close to the friendly seals. You can see more of the English Channel’s abundant marine and bird life by taking a boat trip from Guernsey, and there are many operators offering different tours.
The bustling capital of Guernsey is St Peter Port, which boasts a lively atmosphere and a packed festival calendar. This pretty harbour town has a traditional feel, thanks to the lovingly preserved Regency architecture and the pedestrianised cobbled streets. Food markets fill the town every weekend, and the Town Carnival in summer brings two weeks of entertainment for the whole family. The 9th May brings the Liberation Day festival, and this is celebrated exuberantly by all Guernsey residents.
While you are in St Peter Port, your Guernsey holiday should include a visit to Hauteville House. This eccentric house was once home to Victor Hugo, and it was there that he wrote Les Misérables. He has left his mark in the form of luxurious décor and furniture, much of which he created himself from odds and ends. Even older is Castle Cornet, which dates from the 13th century and still seems to guard the peaceful harbour.
Guernsey is an ideal base for discovering the other delights of the Channel Islands. The largest, Jersey, is well worth a visit and the Jersey War Tunnels offer a glimpse into island life under Nazi occupation. The smaller islands of Alderney and Sark are quieter than Guernsey, and provide a haven for a day’s hiking or lazing on the beach.