Jersey or Guernsey – Which Island Is Best For You?

Two of the most famous British isles – Jersey and Guernsey – have gorgeous beaches, fascinating histories, delicious food, and easy access from the UK. So, how do you decide between Jersey or Guernsey holidays? I lived in Jersey for decades and visited Guernsey very frequently, so I know both islands well.

“bits of France fallen into the sea and picked up by England”

Victor Hugo

This comprehensive comparison guide includes everything you need to know to choose the best island for your trip!

While the Channel Islands are British, they are not part of the UK, and are actually much closer to France than England! Both are dream places to visit – for a short break or a longer stay!

I love both of these islands, but for different reasons. Jersey is chic and cosmopolitan, with great boutique shopping, while Guernsey is quaint, quirky and has a very relaxed vibe. To help you decide whether Jersey or Guernsey is best for you, this guide has you covered!

Jersey or Guernsey: The Ultimate Comparison Guide

Guernsey's very pretty St Peter Port harbour pin image
Guernsey’s very pretty St Peter Port harbour. Image by allard1

How to Get to Jersey and Guernsey

Both islands have international airports with flights from major airports in the UK. During the summer season, you’ll also be able to find flights from regional UK airports and other European cities.

If you’re travelling from the United States, your best bet is to fly to London or Manchester before catching a connecting flight to Jersey or Guernsey.

Year-round ferries connect the islands to the UK, France, and each other, although ferries are more frequent in the summer season. The ferries are comfortable, with restaurants and shops on board – the slow ferry from Portsmouth also offers cabins. The main ferry company is Condor Ferries

Car ferry passing La Corbiere lighthouse in Jersey, on the way to St Helier Harbour
Car ferry passing Jersey’s La Corbiere Lighthouse, on the way to St Helier Harbour. Image fotofritz16

Ferries to Jersey

  • From the UK: You can get a fast car ferry to Jersey from Poole in 4 hours, or take the slower car ferry from Portsmouth in just over 10 hours. 
  • From Guernsey to Jersey (and Jersey to Guernsey): The fast ferry takes just 1 hour, while the slower one takes 2 hours.
  • From France: The fast ferry service from St Malo takes 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Ferries to Guernsey

  • From the UK: The fast car ferry to Guernsey from Poole takes 3 hours, while the slow car ferry from Portsmouth will get you there in 7 hours. 
  • From France: The fast ferry service from St Malo takes 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Top Tip: If you’re travelling to Jersey or Guernsey from the UK during the winter, choose the slow boat and settle into a cabin – the fast ferry is much more likely to be cancelled if the sea is going to be rough!

Where to Stay

Whatever your budget, you will be spoiled for choice with the selection and quality of accommodations in Jersey and Guernsey.

Both islands have hotels in their respective main towns (St Helier and St Peter Port) which are convenient if you like to be close to shopping, restaurants and other amenities, and if you don’t plan to hire a car.

Jersey

Some of the best town centre hotels in Jersey include the Grand Jersey Hotel and Spa, the Royal Yacht Hotel, and the Club House and Spa.

St Brelade's Bay Jersey
St Brelade’s Bay Hotel is located next to the beach in glorious St Brelade’s Bay in Jersey. Image by alagz

If you’re looking for more recommendations, some of the best places to stay in Jersey – out of town – include:

Guernsey

Discerning visitors to Guernsey flock to the atmospheric Old Government House Hotel, Hotel Ziggurat and the Duke of Richmond Hotel. Venture out of town and you’ll find lovely accommodations like:

  • St Pierre Park Hotela hotel, spa and golf resort all in one, with dog-friendly rooms too
  • Bella Luce – set in a historic Norman manor house, moments from Guernsey’s stunning coastline
  • Fermain Valley Hotel – secluded and peaceful, with great facilities, yet only 5 minutes from St Peter Port

Things to See and Do

Attractions in Jersey

Paddleboarding at St Brelade's Bay, Jersey
Paddleboarding at St Brelade’s Bay, Jersey

The huge variety of things to do is one of the best reasons to visit Jersey. The most popular places to visit are the Jersey War Tunnels, the 3 incredible Jersey castles, and La Corbiere Lighthouse, but you’ll probably want to explore the beautiful Jersey beaches too!

If you love exploring hidden gems, a brisk walk along the seabed as the tide goes out – to Seymour Tower – is an unmissable experience. You’ll also love taking a RIB trip to Les Ecrehous reef, to spot seals and dolphins – the ultimate way to blow the cobwebs away.

Jersey also has great museums to explore, the quaintest ancient granite churches and a network of “green lanes” in the countryside, where the speed limit is just 15mph, making them perfect for a leisurely cycle ride.

The pretty pink granite church in Trinity Parish (Jersey)
The pretty pink granite church in Trinity Parish (Jersey)

Then, there’s the stunning little harbour at St Aubin – the best thing to do there is take a stroll then dine at one of the great waterfront restaurants to watch the tide as it rises and falls.

And last but not least, there are the views – everywhere you look is immaculate and beautiful – whatever you do, you absolutely must remember to pack your camera!

Attractions in Guernsey

Guernsey also has a surprising amount of things to keep you busy. On this small island, there’s the Little Chapel – the smallest consecrated church anywhere in the world and an imposing 800-year-old granite castle guarding the harbour at St Peter Port just for starters!

The Little Chapel is a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France
The Little Chapel is a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. Image by Aurora GSY

You can also visit Hauteville House – the home of Victor Hugo, explore German bunkers from the WW2 occupation of the island, enjoy bracing coastal walks, laze on pristine beaches, or try out a huge variety of watersports.

Part of the magic of Guernsey is that there are other small islands to visit too, including the absolutely gorgeous Herm Island, with shallow waters as turquoise as the Caribbean. The ferry trip to Herm is just 10 minutes, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away! It’s no surprise that this tiny little island is a firm favourite spot for locals to visit.

With its higgledy-piggledy network of narrow lanes, beautiful Guernsey cows and stunning scenery, Guernsey is quite enchanting. Don’t be surprised if it draws you back time and time again.

The Atmosphere

Mont Orgueil Castle Jeresy
Mont Orgueil Castle Jeresy

The overall atmospheres of Jersey and Guernsey are surprisingly different. Yes, they are both small, British islands with lovely beaches that attract thousands of visitors every year, but each is completely unique.

Jersey is considered to be the more cosmopolitan of the two islands, with a vast international finance centre, larger population and bigger main town.

Guernsey, on the other hand, has a very relaxed vibe. Nothing happens very fast and the maximum speed limit is 30 mph, allowing you time to unwind, breathe deeply and immerse yourself in Guernsey’s special magic.

The Beaches

The beaches on the Channel Islands are one of the main attractions, with crystal clear waters and a surprising mix of sandy bays, secluded coves and incredible places to swim to choose from.

Deciding whether Jersey or Guernsey has better beaches is almost impossible, as each island has a wide variety of beaches.

Beautiful Archirondel Bay in Jersey is a perfect beach for swimming and kayaking.
Beautiful Archirondel Bay in Jersey is a perfect beach for swimming and kayaking.

Jersey

For picture-perfect beaches with golden sand and sparkling blue waters, head for Jersey’s St Brelade’s Bay or Grouville. If you’re looking for beaches that are a little bit different, head for Greve de Lecq or St Ouen’s Bay for the watersports. Archirondel Bay is glorious for sunny early morning swimming and the pretty coves on the north coast, including Rozel and Bonne Nuit Bay, are lovely to explore.

Guernsey

The beaches of Vazon and Cobo are perfect for sun-worshippers and the idyllic Shell Beach on Herm Island is only a 10-minute ferry trip away.

All of the beaches have gorgeous blue water, but don’t expect the sea to be a tropical temperature!

Sunrise and Sunset

As with all small islands, the sunrises and sunsets in Jersey and Guernsey are breathtaking. The combination of crashing waves and sandy beaches or rocky coves frame the sky perfectly as it transitions through rainbow hues before the sun finally dips below the horizon or rises with a spectacular flourish.

Sunrise at La Rocque in Jersey
Sunrise at La Rocque in Jersey

Watching a sunrise or sunset is one of the best things to do in Jersey and Guernsey and it’s a very popular activity! In fact, you could pick a different spot every day for a month and still not see them all.

The best spots to see amazing sunsets in Jersey are on the west coast, including La Corbiere Lighthouse, St Ouen’s Bay and Grosnez Castle. In Guernsey, the best sunset spots in Guernsey include Grand Rocques Fort, Lihou Island and Cobo Bay, but there are plenty more to explore!

The Shopping

A quaint little flower stall and honesty box in Guernsey
A quaint little flower stall and honesty box in Guernsey. Image Daniel Pelletier

What Jersey and Guernsey lack in quantity (they are very small islands) they definitely make up for it with quality shopping! Both have quirky independent boutiques and world-famous luxury brands, plus places to find high-quality souvenirs or gifts.

As the larger island, Jersey has more shops and boutiques to choose from and you might even rub shoulders with one of the “Real Housewives of Jersey” as you shop!

The Food

Eating out is one of the absolutely best things to do in Jersey or Guernsey. With delicious locally grown food, including “Jersey Royal” new potatoes and the freshest seafood, there are umpteen treats to try during your trip, regardless of which island you pick.

Jersey

Some of the best restaurants in Jersey include Ocea, Longueville Manor, Bohemia, and Ocean.

Guernsey

If you decide to stay in Guernsey instead, you should consider dining at Da Nello, Hook, Crabby Jack’s, or Reunion.

Budget

Both islands are relatively expensive places to visit as they have a higher cost of living than the rest of the UK. The great news is that you can easily take a break to Jersey or Guernsey without breaking the bank, and still have a fantastic time.

If you’re watching your budget, the best time to visit is during the spring or in September/October, once the UK school holidays are over. There will be fewer crowds and accommodation will be cheaper too.

Accessibility

Both of the islands cater well for visitors of all ages and abilities. While some of the attractions – particularly the ancient castles – have areas that are not suitable for visitors with accessibility needs, you’ll find the friendly staff on hand happy to help you enjoy your visit.

Jersey edges it slightly in terms of accessibility in the main town, as St Peter Port in Guernsey has a steep (but oh-so-pretty), cobbled main street!

Jersey vs. Guernsey Conclusion

Can you decide whether you fancy Jersey or Guernsey holidays after reading these comparisons? Maybe you need to visit both to decide. Luckily, it’s so easy to travel between Jersey and Guernsey!

Resources for Your Jersey or Guernsey Holidays

Booking.com is the best website to use for booking your accommodations in Jersey or Guernsey – they have awesome listings for every budget.

So, which island will you choose – Jersey or Guernsey? Let me know in the comments below!

If you need more help to decide which Channel Island to visit, you may like to read some of these articles:

So there you have it, all of the best things to see and do in the magical islands of Jersey and Guernsey!

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Coralie Thornton

Coralie is an over 50s travel writer based in Yorkshire in the UK who writes engaging travel tips, destination guides, and detailed itineraries about the UK, Europe and beyond to inspire boomer travel. When she's not travelling, she's either planning a new trip, exploring locally in the UK, visiting castles and cathedrals, or finding somewhere new to enjoy afternoon tea.

16 thoughts on “Jersey or Guernsey – Which Island Is Best For You?”

  1. They both sound fantastic! I naturally lean towards a relaxed vibe, and would love to go to Guernsey. You did a great job explaining the differences. I also like the slow boat tip!

    Reply
    • The slow boat is the best Erin – always my choice! There’s no wi-fi for much of the trip, so you can really kick back and relax – ready for more chilling out when you get to Guernsey!

      Reply
  2. I didn’t know anything about these two islands. Greatly appreciate this comparison guide between Jersey and Guernsey.

    Reply
  3. I always wanted to visit Jersey, but now I added Guernsey to my travel list as well 🙂 Both os these places look stunning, so why not?

    Reply
  4. What an absolutely lovely article. I adore the quote by Victor Hugo, “bits of France fallen into the sea and picked up by England”, and if that’s the case, I need to visit both! But the comparison is helpful, to prioritize, but both of these destinations need to go on my list.

    Reply
  5. I would love to visit one of these islands for a camping trip, but have been told that you need to stay at an approved site. Do you know how I find this out? Also the cost of living thing is seriously scaring me!

    Reply

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