Spending the spring bank holiday in Jersey – The Channel Islands

I always thought of Jersey to be that exotic island from the English Channel, charming and mysterious but very expensive. I have almost included it during my “Great European Road Trip” but the Interrail ticket wasn’t accepted on the ferry so I had to skip it back then.

When I moved to the UK I realised that there is a direct ferry from my town to both Jersey and Guernsey. However, at over £100 a ticket as a foot passenger, it was never an option for a weekend away, so I kept dreaming about visiting this channel island.

Recently though I managed to bargain a £37 flight to Jersey from Bournemouth airport, when FlyBe had a sale. Soon after I bought my tickets though FlyBe moved all their flights from Bournemouth to Southampton airport and offered me a free lift between the two airports.

Jersey is the most known channel island and also the biggest out of the 7 inhabited ones, lying off the French coast of Normandy. You might think that Jersey belongs to England but it is actually a Crown dependency with its own self-governing parliamentary democracy, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems. Jersey is not fully part of the European Union either but it as a special treatment for the purpose of the free trade of goods.

Leaving politics aside, Jersey is a wonderful small island, measuring only 118.2 square kilometres. Even if people speak English in Jersey, all the street signs are in French. The biggest town on the island and where I’ve booked my hotel as well, is St Helier, housing 34.2% of Jersey’s population.

St Helier and Elizabeth Castle

I had three days to spend in Jersey and tried to make the most of it by visiting as much as I could. I found St Helier to be a quiet but lovely town with wonderful views toward Elizabeth Castle. The day I arrived the tide was already high and the path to the fort was submerged underwater. The Castle is the main touristic attraction of St Helier and it can be accessed by foot at low tide or by the Castle ferry during high tide.

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When I visited the Castle was closed for the winter but, during my last day on the island I took advantage of the morning’s low tide and walk across the bay, reaching it through the back. I managed to get in by climbing some rocks and explored the premises.

If you want to visit Elizabeth Castle you can from the 29th of March until the 29th of October for a fee of £11.25 (or £13.95 with the ferry included).

Hiking in the North of the island

Jersey is a paradise for nature lovers and for people who like to hike. I actually want to return one day and hike the entire coast of the island in a weekend. On this trip however I have only hiked in the North, from Greve de Leq to Bonne Nuit beach. The scenery is quite spectacular and offers beautiful views over the other Channel Islands. On a clear day you can easily see Guernsey and Alderney.

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The path starts on the beach and begins its climb up the hill, through a clay pigeon shooting club before turning left and continuing on the coast. It is very peaceful and fairly easy, even for a beginner. The first point of interest, after about an hour’s walk, is the Devil’s Hole, a natural crater formed after a cave collapsed. The name of the place comes from a strange statue that sits in a pool of algae at the beginning of the trail going downhill. The legend says that a ship crashed into the rocks below. Its figurehead was found by a local craftsmen who brought it to his shop, added horns to it and then brought it back. The original statue was made out of wood but because of the harsh weather of Jersey, in time, it has been replaces with a bronze one.

After having lunch at the The Priory Inn I continued my way up the coast, through fields of daffodils where sheep would graze undisturbed. I can imagine how beautiful this hike is in summer, when all the grass in green and the sunshine plays on the water’s surface creating tiny golden sparkles.

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Further on I passed by a motocross circuit built right on the cliffs, where a competition was actually taken place, so I hanged around for a while, watching the brave daredevils speed up and jump over obstacles.

Mont Orgueil

Probably the most photographed castle in Jersey and the most common picture on postcards is Mont Orgueil, a fortification overlooking the harbour of Gorey, in the East of the island. You can get to Gorey very easy by public transport from St Helier, the journey taking about 20-40 minutes and passing through beautiful landscapes along the coast.

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The castle has been first mentioned in 1212 and during the medieval times it has been the primary defence of Jersey. You can visit the inside of the castle for a £12.20 fee and learn about it’s role in the history of Jersey. The views from the top of the castle over the bay and further towards France, are really beautiful.

How expensive is Jersey?

I travelled to Jersey in spring, out of season, which made the cost of my stay much cheaper than in summer. I found the prices to be relatively about the same as back home in England. I have booked a twin room at the for £50 a night and shared it with a friend, which reduced the cost in half. Mayfair is a 3 stars hotel, 5 minutes’ walk from the High Street of St Helier, with breakfast and spa included in the room price.

There are plenty of restaurants to eat at in St Helier, from the typical chains you find everywhere in the UK (like Pizza Express for example) to different cuisine ones. My recommendation would be , a kind of hipster restaurant with  an eclectic decor and a very appetising menu. The local market also has some interesting places to eat and here I can recommend you to try the Romanian little restaurant that serves a delicious tochitura with mamaliga (a Romanian type of stew made with different meats) for about £7 (Jersey pounds which have the same value as the English pounds).

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Jersey has a very good public transport covering the entire island and having the main hub in St Helier at Liberation station. The price for a bus ride to any part of the island (including to and from the airport) is only £2.

How to get to Jersey?

The easiest way to reach Jersey is by plane, with many daily flights from Southampton (in about 30 minutes), London (in about 50 minutes), and the majority of other British airports. Condor Ferries also connects the Channel Islands to Poole and Portsmouth in the UK and Saint Malo in France.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

52 Comments

  1. Jersey is somewhere that I have never thought about visiting and yet lately I am hearing so many fantastic reviews of the island! I will definitely bear it in mind, even if just for a long weekend with the husband!

  2. Oh Jersey what a throwback. I have never been myself but before my Aunty came to England she first moved from Madeira ( Portugal) to Jersey and she said it was beautiful if a little small. I am not sure now how long she stayed, I think a few years but she always entertained me with stories about it x

  3. It’s so great you were able to find such a good flight deal! Being an American, I have to admit I thought NEW JERSEY when I read the first couple lines haha. Looks so lovely I can see why you’ve been itching to visit all this time.

  4. I’ve never had an interest in visiting Jersey until I saw your post. The photos are amazing and I’m sure the island looks even better in person. It’s nice that you can walk around and see the different sights. It’s peaceful and quiet over there as well.

  5. Jersey is new to me and it would be so nice to be able to go there and explore. I would love to see that castle up close. It’s a good move to go there during off peak seasons so that there won’t be a lot of people around.

  6. Oh my!! The picture of the stew makes me hungry…I hope they have good stuff for vegetarians as well. I would love to explore the castle…I am sure it would be fun. This seems like a great place for a weekend with kids as well..thanks for sharing!

  7. Jersey would be our kind of place. Small and not terribly expensive .. with lots of great food and things to do .. especially outdoors. I’d so love to visit a castle one day .. can you imagine the stories their walls would tell?

  8. I’m from Yorkshire and have been looking for cheap options to Jersey and Guernsey for a while now. I’d checked the train down then the ferry which is what I should do really as I do travel only by land, but I’ll look at FlyBe, if they have a super deal like that I’ll fly with them instead! Did you count these as 2 new countries visited? Beautiful photos by the way!

  9. Elizabeth Castle reminded us of Mont Saint Michel which was connected to the mainland by the causeway and was accessible only during low tides though now they have modernized the causeway. The views from the castle must be awe-inspiring. The Devil’s Hole sounds interesting with the statue sitting in the pool of algae. We would love to visit this place.

  10. Can you visit and explore the 7 inhabited islands? If you can than it could be totally cool? Or scary? Hahaha I mean I wouldn’t say no to exploring! Jersey is definitely beautiful and peaceful. I wonder how it is to life there. The town seems pretty laid-back and chill. Totally a good place for a retreat and to slow down a bit from the rush daily life we have! You surely have to visit Bali, tropical island with lots of beutiful beaches. Has the exact laid-back atmospher as well.

  11. I have never been there but would love to visit. I love good flight deals and would have totally booked it. The beach and scenery is so pretty…and those cute houses at the beach are great!

  12. I initially thought you were talking about New Jersey. Never heard about the Jersey in Channel islands. If it was 100 euros, I would have also hesitated to go to this place. But looks like there were plenty of good hikes and it was not as expensive as I initially thought. You sold me on the castle.

  13. The hike along the north coast in Jersey seems like something worth while especially for those views! Good thing you found some deals in the off season since it sounds really expensive otherwise. The Elizabeth Castle would be neat to see both in low tide and high tide. Thanks for sharing!

  14. This looks like an amazing place to visit. The cliffs and the castle look spectacular. I am going to look more into where this is and put it on our list of places to visit.

  15. I’ve never being to Jersey because of my visa issues. But I have listen a lot about Jersey and your blog has given me some fantastic reviews. Cool castle and lovely adventure too.

  16. This is yet another part of Europe that I will have to add to my list. They sound similar to Andorra in that they govern themselves but are not fully apart of the EU. It means at least for Andorra that there’s all the shopping you could ever want. I will also have to check out FlyBe.

  17. This looks like a great place to visit. I thought from the title we were going to hear about New Jersey. Little did I realzie I was far from that.

  18. I’ve wanted to visit Jersey for a while. Martin Clunes visited it in his UK Islands documentary and I’ve been obsessed ever since!! I guess they have a huge drug dealing scene… LOL (not that that is why I would go..but…interesting none the less due to their status you mentioned).

  19. Now that’s the way to spend spring break. I’d love to go to see all of it but would want to go when I could see the castle. All of your photos are gorgeous and the food looks good too.

  20. I’ve never been to Jersey before. However, been to New Jersey (near NewYork) and for a second, I thought New Jersey doesn’t have St Helier and Elizabeth Castle. Then I realized it is Jersey. This place looks cool. Loved and enjoyed the photos and video.

  21. Thank you for allowing me to digest this beauty through your lens. Dd not know that it is so affordable and great for a weekend trip.

  22. I have never heard of Jersey, but it looks like a beautiful island! It is great that you were able to negotiate a cheaper ticket, so you were able to visit. I love hiking, and the land in Jersey looks like a beautiful place to do just that. I am also fascinated that the signs are in French! What a cool island. If I ever get to visit the area, I will definitely add Jersey to my list, and hit up some of the places you mentioned (especially Hugo’s – yum!).

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