Want to know what Guernsey is really like? Here’s my honest review of my recent trip to Guernsey, and what I think would’ve been good to know before I went.
This was the first time I’d visited Guernsey, and really, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was popular for the beaches, there’s VAT-free shopping and that Brits love to pop over for a summer holiday, but that was about it.
Being so close to England though, I was intrigued.
As part of the British Isles, but not of Great Britain or the United Kingdom, Guernsey is a Crown Dependency, along with Jersey and the Isle of Man. Don’t get this muddled up when you’re there!
With its unique location just 30 miles off the coast of Normandy, in France, and 70 miles from England’s coast, it’s interesting to wonder how French, or how English, Guernsey really is.
Well, with my British accented sat nav, in my German Ford Fiesta rental, reading out the French road names, I did feel like a Brit abroad and across the channel. Think, Del Boy pronouncing ‘Chateau de Neuf de Pape’. Shout the French a little louder and I might actually take the right turning.
I’d gone a few weeks after other travel bloggers had, as guests of Visit Guernsey. Some deemed it to be ‘just like France’, others, the Caribbean, while I know some people watching the Instagram Stories at home just thought it looked like England. I guess, the answer is, it looks like Guernsey.
Pretty country lanes, stone walls and lots of lush greenery with a stunning coastline.
I drove the entire coastal loop of the island and saw quaint houses that could’ve been in the Cotswolds, as well as French looking gîtes, generic apartment flats and concrete slab houses too.
It’s hard to pin the character of Guernsey down – with its rich history and incredible topography, it’s a product of its past and its backdrop. It’s Guernsey!
Driving in Guernsey
One of the biggest worries people have when visiting Guernsey is the tiny roads. I didn’t know about this worry before I went. It was only when I was trying to find my hotel from Guernsey Airport, La Barbarie, and squeezing the Ford Fiesta between stone walls and pedestrians that I realised my training around the little roads of Southsea, where I live, would come in handy.
I missed the turning to my hotel and ended up driving the coastal road of Saints Bay. It was a good few minutes before I found enough width to dare to turn around again. I did get to see the beach from this perspective though – sometimes there’s beauty in getting a little lost!
The hectic flow of St Peter Port, the islands capital, introduced me to the concept of filter lanes, where it’s a free for all as to who got there first vs the politest. I’d recommend you do a little reading on driving in Guernsey, and parking in Guernsey, before you go. It’s a bit different to England, though you’ll be pleased to know they do drive on the left there.
That was all in my first two hours in Guernsey, from then on, when I went north in search of the beautiful Guernsey beaches, I sighed a relief and realised I’d done the two hardest drives of the trip. The rest of the island was mostly a breeze to drive, especially with that 35mph speed limit.
Weather in Guernsey
Unfortunately the weather was pretty grey when I arrived in Guernsey, only getting worse the next day when I was on the paradise island of Herm, a 20-minute boat ride away.
I could see that Herm would be wondrous with the right weather, but after I circumnavigated it (on land!) powered by the wind behind me, I decided to leave after a few hours, rather than explore the kiosks, characterful pubs and glorious beaches I’d been told about.
I’d still recommend visiting Herm though, whatever the weather is doing.
Back on Guernsey I was told by the lady at the Herm Island ticket office that the weather usually gets better by the afternoon, a fact proven on each of the three full days I was there. Although, day three and it started off glorious, although a little windy.
As with any island, especially around the UK, the weather does change things. I’m a big fan of the Isle of Wight, but a fairweather fan – and a recent trip to the Isles of Scilly was, to be honest, tarnished by torrential rain. The good thing about Guernsey is that there’s a lot to do in St Peter Port for rainy days, but I’d definitely recommend studying weather trends, particularly the wind, before you book your dates in Guernsey.
What to do in Guernsey
There are lots of great watersports activities in Guernsey. I’d really been looking forward to paddleboarding, but the wind called it off. Coasteering was still a possibility, but thanks to a a few health issues, I didn’t fancy jumping off cliffs. My friend Emily did it though, and had a great time.
Instead I opted for a private yoga class with Alice from Yoga With Alice, on Petit Bot Beach. It was glorious, and a real highlight of the trip. We found a quiet corner of the beach and Alice took me through a relaxing yoga flow with the sound of the waves and the beam of the sun shining down on us.
It was everything I needed in that moment.
We followed it up with carrot cake and coffee from the Petit Bot cafe, as all great yoga classes should be and revelled in the lovely weather.
If you want to add a day trip into your Guernsey trip, so you can see the island from afar, then you can get boats over to Sark and to Herm, where there are no cars. Both good for a walk around, or a paddle if the weather is right.
Coastal walks are a big reason to visit Guernsey, and you can do the Art for Guernsey trail and see where the famous artist Renoir got his inspiration from.
“Renoir spent just over a month in Guernsey in 1883 and worked on 15 paintings during his stay, all depicting views of Moulin Huet. Art for Guernsey invites you to take the Renoir Walk, following in the artist’s footsteps and seeing the part of the island he most loved from his perspective.”– VISIT GUERNSEY
Other famous names in Guernsey include Victor Hugo who had a house here, which you can visit in St Peter Port. Hauteville House is where Victor Hugo lived during his exile from France. Visit and you’ll see an incredible library, amazing interiors and get the chance to learn a little more about the acclaimed French author. He was the one who wrote Les Miserables by the way.
Drive away from St Peter Port and head north, or east, for my favourite part of the island. Walking here feels wonderfully isolated along the coastal paths. Enjoy the view out over white sands, blue skies and out to sea.
If you want some inspiration for more great things to do in Guernsey, click that link!
St Peter Port – the island’s capital
The streets of St Peter Port were very pretty. Interesting shop fronts, with bunting, always wins for me. It was quite hilly, meaning you could get some good views. Head up to the Candie Gardens for a walk through, and then visit the Guernsey Museum to get the key to climb the Victoria Tower for a good view over the island’s port.
You can also get a pretty sweet view from the second floor of Boots on the high street if you don’t want to go that far.
I was surprised how busy it was in St Peter Port. The fact I was there just after August Bank Holiday added to this though, I’m sure. If you walk along the coast you can visit the Valette Swimming Pools, which I loved.
You can swim there for free, looking out to the Port, and the Castle Cornet in the background too. Perfect for a morning dip!
You’ll also find La Vallette Underground Military Museum here. I didn’t have time to visit, but if you want to know more about the history of Guernsey, this is a great option.
With shopping, museums, bathing pools, a famous author’s home and a castle, what more do you need from an island capital?!
Well, this Guernsey eating out guide probably…
What’s the journey to Guernsey like?
You can fly to Guernsey from London airports, but the best option, if you live in the south like me, is to fly from Southampton Airport. It’s only a half hour flight and the airport is so small, it’s easy to navigate.
Look up the flights to Guernsey on Aurigny Air, and book in advance for the best deals.
The airport in Guernsey is small, and easy to get through with just the one terminal. And from there it’s mere minutes to the centre of the island. My hire car was from Hertz, but there were quite a few operators to choose from.
Getting to Guernsey, and through the airport was easy, even in September 2021. Make sure you’re up to date on the latest Guernsey entry requirements before you go – it was a pre requisite that I buy 5 lateral flow tests when I went.
Who is a holiday in Guernsey for?
Traditionally Guernsey appeals to older people and families. It’s an easy holiday with everything you need in reach. There are great walking trails, but they’re not too long – unless you walk round the island of course. There are plenty of toilets which I appreciated too.
I’d say you do need to love the outdoors to enjoy Guernsey. It’s not for cosmopolitan city slickers in search of rooftop bars for their Instagram photos.
A holiday in Guernsey is a chilled, relaxed experience. It’s child friendly, there’s very little crime and you can leave your worries behind to let that fresh air in.
Based on my ‘as much exploration as possible in three days’ I’d recommend Guernsey for anyone looking for an easy getaway from England, for families in need of a simple holiday and for anyone active and a bit older looking for fresh coastal walks and good food. Anyone who likes a beach will love it here too!
My trip to Guernsey was sponsored by Visit Guernsey.