This guide has been a long time coming, but being holed up in the house with a horrible cold has got me planning weekends away and reminded me that I was looking for something like this when I was planning my trip to Jersey earlier this year, so hopefully it might be useful for someone else in that position.
As ever, this list isn’t exhaustive. It’s a list of things mum and I packed in based on recommendations and research from various places. Most are food-related but at the bottom I’ve included a few non-food things to give you an idea of some of the other stuff we did.
In terms of accommodation and transport, we flew in and picked up a hire car from the airport then used it to get around. Driving on Jersey is super easy (hello 40mph top speed limit) and at five miles long and nine miles wide you can easily get around the whole thing in a day.
We stayed just outside St Helier in a hotel with lovely grounds and a beautiful outdoor pool, though the interior was slightly dated. That said, how much time do you spend in the hotel on a break like this, so it was fine as a base from which to explore the island.
So without further ado, here’s my guide to Jersey. Use it as a starting point – there’s far more than this to do, but hopefully a few things to inspire you.
Have lunch at Sumas in Gorey
Sumas was recommended to me by someone who lives on Jersey. In the harbour of Gorey, it has a covered outdoor terrace where you can sit. rain or shine, and look up at the imposing Mont Orgueil Castle (more on that later).
Like so many other places on the island, fish is the mainstay of the menu and it really didn’t disappoint. I won’t go on because you can find a full review here but the oysters were great, as well as a risotto that I still can’t stop thinking about. Definitely worth a visit, whether you’re planning a trip for a sunny day or the depths of winter.
Browse the fish at St Helier’s markets
When it comes to exploring somewhere new, I always tend to make a beeline for the market. No matter what country you’re in, it seems to be the beating heart of somewhere (apart from maybe in some towns in England…).
St Helier is no different. In fact, it has two – the Central Market and the Beresford Street Market. From fruit and veg and flowers to toys and fabrics as well as – of course fish.
We eyed up everything from oysters to spider crabs and wished we’d gone self-catering so we could take some with us and cook it. I also spotted a cafe in one of the markets serving up freshly-cooked locally-caught fish with a glass of wine. Maybe one to check out.
Visit La Mare Wine Estate
Speaking of wine, our trip to La Mare Wine Estate was a bit of a spontaneous diversion and I’m so glad we did. We didn’t have time for a full tour, though you can do one if you like, but instead sat on the terrace outside their cafe and shop, overlooking the vines, with a glass each of their finest.
La Mare is not only Jersey’s only working vineyard, but also home to some lovely buildings and the cafe seemed to be turning out some pretty lovely food. Plus, the shop itself is a little treasure trove if you’re looking for food and drink-based gifts – though we were also helpfully advised that if you’ve flown in hand luggage only there’s a shop airside at Jersey airport where you can get supplies on your way home.
Visit a beach cafe
Visiting one of Jersey’s beach cafes was on my list and we went one better by visiting two. A few days on the island demonstrated that there’s actually a plethora of cafes – one on pretty much every beach, it seems – so we were spoilted for choice, but we headed to the north-west of the island for our choice.
First stop was Colleen’s Cafe at Grève de Lecq (see the first two pics in the gallery above), which overlooks the lovely bay and was a great place for breakfast. The service was great and there’s a nice breakfast menu, though it didn’t knock my socks off quite as much as some of the other food on Jersey. A lovely setting though and there are far worse places to have your brekkie.
Second was the Plemont Cafe at Plemont Beach – another stunning setting. The cafe literally sits above the cliff but you can walk down the steps to enjoy the tiny cove. Since we’d not long breakfasted we shared some mid-morning cake which was really rather good and some of the other food going out looked great.
Have a seafood feast at Faulkner Fisheries
If you’re looking for an experience slightly different to anywhere else, Faulkner Fisheries is the place. Its home is a converted German bunker, the Vivier, so the setting itself is pretty impressive, but its coupled with a wonderful simplicity that works so well in a place where ingredients are fresh and top-notch.
Faulkner Fisheries is actually a group of companies that buys and sells fish, but they also give you the opportunity to try some of this great seafood with a summer barbecue at the Vivier. The menu is simple – various shellfish and fish cooked over the barbecue with garlic butter, all served with fresh baguette and salad. You can also get moules, Jersey royal potato salad, and have a glass of wine if you want.
We feasted on, well, pretty much everything, from mussels to prawns, scallops and calamari along with the aforementioned potato salad. If it had been slightly warmer we may have stayed even longer, but instead finished up and had a bracing walk along the beach to burn off some of lunch.
If you can’t make it out to L’Étacq, you can also find Faulkner Fisheries at the fish market in St Helier, but I’d highly recommend you go and take a look at this pretty unique place.
Try a few Jersey classics at the Classic Tea Room
Moving inland, you should stop off at Classic Tea Room. Next door used to be Classic Farm Shop but I understand that’s now closed. However, I think you can still go to the tea room. For somewhere so hidden it was packed, with a lovely convivial atmosphere as people shared tables so everyone could get a seat.
It was here that I tried a Jersey Bean Crock – a traditional dish of beans, onions and pork in a rich gravy. Basically a hot pot. Perfect if you’re planning a winter break. And of course, you can’t leave Jersey without trying a cream tea…
Try the sharing plates at No 10, St Helier
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll have seen my rave about No 10 in St Helier here. A restaurant and bar run by local chef Joseph Baker, it’s one of those places that manages to be stylish and ambitious at the same time as relaxing and cosy.
We may have gone in June, but I imagine No 10 is perfect in winter, when you want to tuck into a corner and eat good food and drink good wine. The small plates were where it was at for me, and some of the dishes really were unforgettable. Check the review if you want to know more, or just book a table!
Visit the Jersey War Tunnels
Onto the non-foodie stuff, the Jersey War Tunnels were big on mum’s list but having been, they really are a must-do. Housed in a partially-completed underground hospital, they are now a museum that tells the story of the German occupation of Jersey during the Second World War.
Go all Gerald Durrell at Jersey Zoo
I haven’t actually been to a zoo for years but Jersey Zoo isn’t any old zoo – it’s Gerald Durrell’s zoo. Established by him in 1959 and now operated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, it’s well worth a visit and is a great place to wander round for a few hours.
Go back in time at Mont Orgueil Castle
This was another spontaneous decision by me and mum after our lunch at Sumas. Mont Orgeuil isn’t just great for getting views across the bay and beyond to France, but it’s an amazing example of a medieval fortress. What was meant to be a quick wander turned into hours of us exploring its towers, turrets and chambers, complete with some great exhibitions.
Take a long walk on the beach
We did lots of these even though we didn’t have weather on our side. I guess it depends on what you like, but I don’t even mind bracing weather when I’m by the sea so that makes Jersey an all-year round destination for me. Think big, flat beaches, historic remnants of WW2 and lovely sunsets.
See the ‘Sand Wizard’s’ amazing sand sculpture
If you’re in St Catherine’s Bay you’ll spot a funny-looking dome thing. Inside is possibly one of the most impressive sand sculptures you’ll ever see.
Simon, AKA, the Sand Wizard, has done sculptures all over the world. You can see them on a slideshow but also see the amazing castle he has created right there. It’s free to visit, he just asks for a small donation which is, in my humble opinion, well worth it.
Daydream at the port
You can’t beat just wondering round a place and if you’re looking for somewhere to stroll in St Helier, you could do worse than go down to the port. There are some wonderful sculptures and pieces of modern art dotted around but also the stunning collection of swanky yachts and boats – always lovely for a trip to dreamland. On the night of our mooch, we stopped by a chippy in St Helier for some dinner. Because you can’t beat fish and chips by the sea!
As I said, this list is far from exhaustive. It’s just an idea of a few of the things you can do across a few days in Jersey. There are far more places to eat – plenty more beach cafes, the Michelin-starred Bohemia in St Helier, and Mark Jordan at the Beach in St Aubin’s Bay also came highly recommended, plus a million more places I’ve probably missed.
I imagine I’ll probably be heading back, so comment with your own recommendations if you’ve been to Jersey, but if you’re planning a trip this might just be a good starting point.
We paid in full for everything on our trip to Jersey.