A gentle, sunny island with a volatile history
Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands, which lie in the English Channel between France and England. It has 50km of coastline and is home to 66,000 islanders, many of whom are bilingual in French and English. It is ruled neither by London nor by Paris, being a self-governing Crown Dependency, with its own stamps and currency; it’s curious post- and phone-boxes are similar to their iconic London equivalents, except they’re blue! Having resisted French attempts at occupation for several centuries, Guernsey fell to German forces during the Second World War. This bleak period saw 2,000 islanders sent to prison camps in Germany, and a concentration camp was built on the neighbouring island of Alderney. On a happier historical note, Guernsey was home to Victor Hugo for 14 years. Since the war, the island has developed a thriving economy, with offshore finance, horticulture and tourism contributing to the islanders’ prosperity.
Go for a relaxing, child-friendly island holiday. Explore Guernsey’s history, enjoy an inspiring cliff-top walk or marvel at the sun setting into the Atlantic on one of the 27 beaches. The island capital, St Peter’s Port, is a bustling harbour town replete with excellent restaurants. Go sailing, bird-watching or windsurfing.
When to go?
Guernsey has a temperate climate, with mild winters and sunny summers; between April and October, you will enjoy 200-250 hours of sunshine a month, peaking in August/September at 20°C. Go in May to celebrate Liberation Day; in July to catch Guernsey Floral Show; in August for the Rocqaine Regatta or to witness the re-enactment of the Battle of Flowers; or in September to take in the Guernsey International Air Rally.
How to get there?
Guernsey Airport (GCI), 5 km southwest of St Peter’s Port, handles flights from all over the UK (including London Gatwick). There are frequent buses from the airport to island-wide locations; taxis and hire-cars are also available. You can also travel by ferry to Guernsey, either from France or from England.
Take a local ferry to neighbouring islands Alderney, Sark and Herm. Visit Hauteville House, Victor Hugo’s former residence. For a general history of Guernsey, visit the Folk and Costume Museum or La Valette Underground Museum. To learn more about wartime history, go to the German Occupation Museum, or to the German Military Underground Museum, hewn from the rock by forced labourers. Visit Castle Cornet, a bastion against French attacks for eight centuries; it incorporates a Maritime Museum and a Royal Air Force Museum. To hear about famous shipwrecks, walk the stone causeway to Fort Grey on the rocky west coast.