With the release of the hotly anticipated movie “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” coming to cinemas in April, we have complied a list of things to do in Guernsey, so you can come and explore this gorgeous island in person and not just in front of a screen.
The stunning island of Guernsey, located in the English Channel is best known for its beaches and warm climate, but it is also the history and quaint buildings and attractions you need to see, it’s also referred to as a 'tax haven' thus making people believe you must be wealthy to live there. Whilst meals out may cost more than that of mainland UK you can sightsee the 24 square miles of the island for free or for good value.
Guernsey has a long history dating back 6,500 years to Neolithic times, to the Napoleonic wars and to the most recent Second Would War all of which have left their mark on the island. From leisurely cliff walks to the visiting one of the world’s smallest chapels there is an abundance of things to do on this gorgeous little island...
You will spot this as you fly into or sail into the island. Castle Cornet is an 800-year-old castle, standing in St Peter Port harbor. There are 5 museums and several gardens to explore. Join the 10.30am guided tour and listen out for the noon-day gun. You will need 3 hours or so to explore
Admission- £10.50 *
Open- March - November: 10am – 5pm (9.30am - 5pm July and August).
Naval Signals HQ
The headquarters of the German Naval Commander Channel Islands was established in the nearby La Collinette Hotel, and the Signal HQ was responsible for all radio traffic to and from Germany and the other Islands. Visit the last operational Signals HQ that was running up until 9 May 1945, using the Enigma code machines that were being decoded by the staff at Bletchley Park
Admission - £3.50 *
Open- March - October 12.30pm – 4.30pm
Guernsey Museum Candie Gardens
Guernsey Museum houses a permanent exhibition of the story of Guernsey and an Art Gallery running alongside temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year, all housed within the restored Victorian Candie Gardens where you can enjoy fantastic views over the harbour and see the statues of Victor Hugo & Queen Victoria, Candie Gardens on its own is gorgeous
Admission - £6.50 *
Open- Summer 10am- 5pm. Winter 10am- 4pm
A little-known secret. Climb the stairs to the top of the highest tower in St Peter Port, where you are treated to panoramic views across Guernsey. The key to enter must be collected from the Guernsey Museum in Candie Gardens before arrival at the tower
Admission – free
Open- Same as museum
From Castle Cornet you will see La Valette bathing pools which have stood since 1865. Thee bathing pools offer a safe and contained area for salt water swimming, suitable for the whole family. The water in the pool comes directly from the sea at high tide
Admission – free
From the bathing pools take a walk up the nearby headland known as the Cow’s Horn. The proper name is Clarence Battery which was constructed in 1780 and was built as one of the original outer defences of Fort George, the battery is well preserved, and consists of numerous defenses and thick walls, which would have given it ample protection when the area was under attack. It was the islands principal fort during the French Revolution and home of the German Luftwaffe early warning system during World War Two.
Admission – free
The castle ruins overlook the northeast end of the island and has spectacular views of the islands of Herm and Jethou. The history of the castle dates it back to an earthwork from the early Iron Age but the earliest parts of the stone-built castle that we see today dates to the 15th century. During the Second World War the German occupying forces fortified the castle and the surrounding area, remains of which can be seen today
Admission – free
Open- Throughout year but be aware it is used for music festivals and private parties.
The British built 15 Guernsey loophole towers at various points along the coast of Guernsey in 1778- 1779 to deter possible French attacks after France had declared itself an ally of the American rebels in the American Revolutionary War. Rousse Tower is fully restored and accessible to visit as the tower has been wonderfully maintained and is complete with replica cannons, making it a great place to stop off along your walk around Rousse headland.
Open- April - October early morning until dusk
The Little Chapel was a work of art and labour of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Gifts of china and pearl poured in from locals and all around the world. The Little Chapel measures just 16 ft by 9 ft.
Admission- There is no charge to enter the Chapel as it relies totally on public donations, having recently been restored, funds to help with the up-keep are greatly appreciated.
Open- All day
The German Military Underground Hospital
The largest construction in the Channel Islands at 7,000 square metres, the underground hospital was hewn out of solid rock by hundreds of slave workers working for the Todt Organisation who had been captured by German forces during the occupation of the island during World War Two. Construction began in the winter of 1940 and was built underground so as not to be seen by overhead planes. The site was also used as an ammunition store. The hospital is truly an eerie insight into life on the island at the time.
Open- Check out ‘Visit Guernsey’ as opening times vary throughout the year (closed Dec-Feb) for details.
Located on the most south-western point is Pleinmont, the headland is picturesque and a popular walking spot. There is a lot of heritage in this area, you will find the German Coastal Artillery Battery, Batterie Dollmann which is a now restored battery gun pit. There is also a German tower which has been left unattended but is great to clamber through and imagine its original purpose. If you do want to see inside a restored German tower, then head further along the coast to Pleinmont Observation Tower where you will see the original rangefinders still onsite and in working order. There are informative information boards throughout, be sure to climb up to the roof for uninterrupted 360-degree views. There is also the curious Fairy Ring which is rooted deep in the island’s folklore which includes tales of fairies and witches.
Pleinmont Observation Tower
Open- April – October on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2pm- 4.30pm
Known affectionately as the "Cup and Saucer”, Fort Grey is a Martello Tower built in 1804 to defend Guernsey's west coast. Many vessels have come to grief on this beautiful but treacherous coast, and the Martello Tower now houses the Shipwreck Museum with a surprising variety of objects recovered from the wrecks.
Entry- £4. * Purchase ticket at Guernsey Pearl shop
Open- March- October 10am - 4.30pm
There are a number of burial mounds dating back to Neolithic times around 6,500 years ago that are dotted around the island.
Visit Dehus Dolmen which is a prehistoric passage grave approximately 10 metres in length, large quantities of finds dating from 3,500-20,00BC have been found at the site.
Locations- Le Dehus Lane / L'Ancresse Common, Vale. (Accessible via signposted footpath from Les Ammarreurs Road)
During WWII the islands were invaded and occupied by the German army and occupied for five years. Many families were separated during this time and reminders of the occupation can still be seen around the island today. Every year, on 9 May, Guernsey celebrates its freedom on Liberation Day. On this bank holiday, there is a programme of events based in St Peter Port, as well as additional events in the other parishes.
Being a small island, there is a rather a lot of great coastal and cliff walks to explore. In addition to the Rouse headland and Pleinmont headland, take in the cliff walks of St Martin’s at Jerbourg, Icart and Fermain, and Le Gouffre and Petit Bot Bay in the parish of Forest.
Stroll around the capital St Peter Port, known to locals as just ‘town’ and purchase tax free items, or just imagine Queen Victoria visiting Guernsey and stopping in at Creasey’s department store to buy a handbag. Pop into the town church and look at the building from the outside where the gargoyle is inches from the pub, in fact putting it into the Guinness World Records as the closest distance between a church and pub! From town you can reach Candie Gardens and Castle Cornet easily.
During the months of April and May head to the Bluebell Woods and wander among the sweet flowers
And that isn't even mentioning the 27 beaches the island boasts...
Discovery Pass- An Annual pass that gives you unlimited seasonal entry to Castle Cornet, Guernsey Museum in Candie Gardens and Fort Grey - £18 with accompanying children go free.
Prices- all adult prices, children free at some sites and discounts for students.
*Amazingly these have free entry on the Queen’s Birthday
Read more about how the Germans left their mark on Guernsey on our blog post…. 'How World War II Shaped Guernsey'
Have you read 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ' book or going to watch the movie?