Jersey may be the perfect place to take a weekend staycation. Hear me out. Great weather, great food and it feels like you have travelled abroad whilst still being within the common travel area. Having taken our fair share of “staycations”, our short break in Jersey felt particularly special.
Our weekend in Jersey was sponsored by Visit Jersey but all opinions are entirely ours.
Jersey is a very special place. Part of the UK but with a distinctly French flavour, it is the coming together of the best bits of both. Jersey (that’s OG Jersey, not the one in the USA) is one of the Channel Islands just off the coast of France. They sit in a bay that looks like somebody has taken a bite out of the coast. It is closer to Normandy than Devon but with an accent that has hints of Thames Estuary, you’d never know it by eavesdropping.
Taking a Short Break in Jersey
We wouldn’t recommend spending any less than a weekend in Jersey. If all you can do is extent your weekend by taking an early day on Friday, then go for it, but try and take a day or two extra and make it a long weekend. There is so much to see and do, and it would be a shame to leave wishing you had more time. With a little forward planning, you can squeeze these activities into three packed days. However, you could easily spread them out across five days. Add in a day of hiking and a day to really chill out and you could enjoy Jersey for a whole week. For a short time, pick and choose from these activities to create the perfect short break in Jersey for you.
1.) Savour Some Seafood at Salty Dog
For stunning seafood and a lovely atmosphere, those in the know head to Salty Dog Bar and Bistro for a special dinner. The cocktail list is interesting, with some twists on classics and original creations that are worth lingering over. The bar staff are given the chance to experiment and we are very willing guinea pigs!
The food menu is brimming with delicious seafood options, alongside great grills and flavours that are drawn from across Asia to South America. If, like us, you are a seafood fiend then you may find making a decision difficult. We made a list of everything we fancied and realised than 99% of it resided on the St Aubin Seafood Platter. It was a no brainer and we ordered it for two people. For £39 per person, it includes:
- Six Oysters
- Six Prawns
- Six Seared Scallops
- Mussels A la Creme
- A whole Lobster
- A whole Spider Crab
- Jersey Potatoes
To top it all off, the desserts were nothing short of excellent. The brownie was quite possibly the best I have ever tasted…and I’ve had a few.
2.) Celebrate Slurpable Scrumpy Cider
Yes, I am a huge cider fan so this may not immediately appeal to everyone but hear me out. There is more to this than meets the eye.
The cider produced in Jersey is more on the scrumpy side than the sparkling Normandy style and that is why I LOVED it! Every October, there is a surprisingly family-friendly cider festival that takes place at Hamptonne Country Life Museum. There is a small fair, live performances including folk bands and morris dancers and a small collection of fun stalls.
However, the main event is the slow grinding of the juice-laden apples. Helpful humans throw bushels of fruit into a large stone circle and a gorgeous horse takes a slow stroll around to drive the huge stone grinding wheel. As the apples are crushed, the juice begins to release and the mush is moved into a squeezer, helped by many a happy child. The bright red, stunningly sweet juice is extracted and pours out of the bottom into the waiting barrel and the paper cups of waiting revellers. It is all thoroughly wholesome and the squeals of happy children, the intoxicating fruity sweetness in the air (and the free cider that was produced from last year’s apples) make this a wonderful day out.
3.) Soak, Steam and Sauna at Spa Sirene
Hidden below Jersey’s most famous hotel, The Royal Yacht, is an oasis of calm. Spa Sirene is the best place to de-stress and let the worries of the work week wash away. Surrounding the main pool, guests find a series of rooms, each with a different purpose but all in aid of relaxation. After a soak in the hydrotherapy section, or a few laps in the regular pool, it is fun to wander around and pick your favourite.
From the toasty Swedish sauna, to the less ferocious aromatherapy room stuffed with herbs and oils, there is a room for everyone. They even have side by side foot baths so you can sit and have a gossip as bubbles tingle your tootsies. I particularly enjoyed the relaxation room with heated marble loungers. I could have stayed in there all day!
The other option, and what we chose, was for someone else to do all the work. Serene Spa has a full menu of treatments including full body massage, facials, beauty treatments and everything you need for a nights out (tanning/nails/waxing). We opted for body wraps and emerged fresh, moisturised from top to toe and ready for the rest of the weekend.
4.) Quaff Some Craft Gin at Channel Islands Liquor Co.
Spread across Guernsey and Jersey, this newcomer in the spirits market has made a real name for itself in a relatively short amount of time. More and more, you will come across Channel Island Liquor Co spirits on the menus of local bars, restaurants and hotels. To find out why, we highly recommend taking one of their gin tasting classes. Hosted by the passionate and friendly Oli (ably assisted by his adorable dog Toast) visitors get a run down of gin’s long history, the company’s short history and what makes it tick. Classes are held in The Old Sail Loft in St Helier, a big open space that is part warehouse, part mad scientist workshop.
As you are guided through each gin and rum taster you find out about the intricate process invoked in selecting and preparing the ingredients and how the pros like to take their tipples. We had an absolute blast and learned so much. For example, did you know that during the pandemic, many small batch gin producers moved to making hand sanitiser? The Channel Islands Liquor Co. worked with a local seaweed producer and created a totally natural sanitiser that stocked the whole of the local hospital. Amazing!! Honestly, I didn’t think I liked gin but I walked out with a new found love.
If you are short on time, it is still worth popping in to their harbour side shop in St Helier and picking up a bottle…or three.
5.) Sunset and Supper at El Tico Beach Cantina
As those wise Pet Shop Boys once sang, “Go West”. If you want to see the best sunsets in Jersey then head towards it and you will be treated to a glorious sweep of sea that reflects the colours beautifully. What could make it better? Ah, a drink and dinner of course!
El Tico Beach is a renowned surf school, shop and cafe by day but in the evening something interesting happens. Yes, there are still still some surfer and the laidback atmosphere remains but locals begin to descend from every walk of life. School children run around on the terrace outside, older couples out for their date night hold hands across the table and groups of friends share bottles of wine. It is truly a community hub. Everyone enjoys watching the sun slip below the waves before getting on with the serious business of devouring some tasty food.
The menu at El Tico has flavours from across the globe. On the same table you could have someone tucking into a crab linguini whilst their friend tackles a Thai jungle curry and a third is elbow deep in a rack of BBQ ribs. There really is something for everyone and everything we ate was delicious!
We opted for a starter of nachos topped with all the best dips, sauces and pulled pork. Next we devoured juicy prawns which came in a butter sauce popping with garlic, chilli and fresh herbs. They were served with potatoes, salad and bread…there was nothing left of it after 20 minutes. To finish we tried the malteaser cheesecake (a special in the cabinet) which was a malty revelation and the sticky fried banana special which gave of wafts of delicious cinnamon.
El Tico’s is also open for breakfast so if you are staying on the west side of Jersey, it is an excellent choice to start your day too!
6.) Have a Totally British Time at St Brelades Bay Beach
OK, so you don’t have to be British to enjoy the beach, but during our visit we saw people bravely picnicking despite a brisk early morning breeze, dog owners trying to prevent their furry friends from taking too much of a dip and a lone figure combing the sand with a metal detector. When the sun is out, this sweep of soft golden sand is picture perfect. It is often listed as one of the best beaches in the UK.
When the temperature rises, it is time for the buckets, spades and wind breakers! Sun worshippers share the sand with children industriously digging or building sandy empires. Thrill seekers can try the banana boat style adventures, towed across the waves on inflatables. Those who wish to explore the water at a slower pace can rent paddle boards or kayaks. Finally, for those that like their sea views to be totally relaxed, there are several restaurants that look out over the bay, allowing diners to sit back with something delicious while they take in the scene.
7.) Pick Up a Picnic at Central and Bereafod Street Markets
St Helier’s Central Market should be any foodie’s first stop when preparing for a picnic. Inside you’ll find fresh produce at the rather picturesque Malloy’s, cheese made with local Jersey cream, chocolates made with the same rich dairy, plenty of bakeries and even an off license for a tipple to go with it all.
If you prefer something is ready to eat, the quirky La Bouche (the mouth) serves up great dishes that wouldn’t be out of place on a trendy Shoreditch fine dining menu. Whipped gorgonzola, on baby beetroots and artichoke crisps anyone? There are great warm sandwiches to take away (served through the iconic mouth hatch). Their breakfasts are particularly enticing so arrive early to indulge in your favourite meal of the day.
Across the road, you will find the fish market which has a couple of fresh counters as well as some seafood restaurants. We spotted oysters at a ridiculously cheap price, along with all the trimmings (lemon, samphire etc) but they aren’t allowed to shuck them for you….they can sell you the tool to do it yourself though, if you’re feeling brave!
8,) Study Subterranean Stories at Jersey War Tunnels
Did you know that the Channel Islands were occupied by the Nazis during World War Two? Well, I did and Mr Fluskey didn’t (he never read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). Anyway, we were both fascinated to find out all about it at the Jersey War Tunnels.
Built into a hill, this was one of many such tunnels built by the Nazis on the islands but this one has been converted into a fascinating museum. As you pass through the tunnels (bring a warm layer) you will hear stories from many of those who lived on the islands. Locals who had to make tough choices, Nazi officers stationed here who wanted to enjoy their time and prisoners of war forced to work here who definitely didn’t. Interactive displays, an abundance of documented first hand experiences and a wealth of exhibits make this a truly unique experience. It would be suitable for most ages but maybe not the youngest children or apathetic teenagers (luckily, there is an escape room attached for the latter).
9.) Farm Fun at Hamptonne Country Life Museum
We mentioned Hamptonne Country Life Museum earlier as the location for the top notch cider celebration, but even if you aren’t around for that, this is an excellent stop for families from the beginning of May to the end of October.
Many of the farm buildings are maintained as they were in days past. In one room you can see the simple life of the 1800s and in another, a capsule of the 1950s charms visitors. Throughout the site are volunteers who will teach you all about the farm, the day to day life of their characters and don’t miss the cider barn!
Then, of course, there are the animals. Chickens roam the grounds, picking at the floor hopefully. Pigs and sheep are kept in enclosures but you are welcome to go right up to the fences and say hi (without your fingers in nipping range, naturally).
Just down the road, the farm shop sells lots of delicious, fresh eggs, a variety of veggies and homemade honey.
9.) Tipples and Tea at La Mare Wine Estate
You may never have heard of La Mare Wine Estate, and that is probably because their wines are so popular in Jersey that they don’t need to export them!
You can come and just visit the estate and the cafe or shop but it is well worth taking a tour. During the tour you are treated to a quick wine sampling as the guide introduces you to the wine making processes used within the estate. We were particularly interested in the way sparkling wine is corked…who knew?! You’ll have to do the tour to find out why we were so intrigued!
As well as the wine, you will see their chocolate making workshop, the gin distillery, find out about the cider (more cider) and discover the wonder of Jersey Black Butter. I know, black butter sounds strange but it is a sweet, spiced conserve that is swiftly becoming a staple in the Fluskey household.
After your tour, you may want to eat a little something to soak up that tasty tipple. We recommend the delicious afternoon tea that La Mare’s restaurant offers. We were feeling quite full so we ordered a one person portion to share and worked our way merrily through the three layers of baked goods. Along with the normal jam and cream for our scones we got a taster of that black butter and it was also featured in the mini cheesecake. It was a justifiably Jerseyish selection which we finished with a a walk through the orchards and vines.
10.) Walk Through History at Elizabeth Castle with an Expert
Looking out, over the water from St Helier, it is impossible to miss the fortification that sits atop a huge rocky outcrop. This is Elizabeth Castle.
To bring the castle to life, we couldn’t shout the praises of Jersey Uncovered any louder. This collection of registered blue badge local tour guides are passionate about Jersey and sharing it’s eclectic history.
We met our lovely tour guide, Tracey at the Elizabeth Castle Ferry Kiosk and awaited the ferry. What arrived was a growling, dripping bus on huge wheels. Little did I know, it is actually an amphibious vechincke that chugs visitors across the bay to the castle. It makes sense, the water can go out an awfully long way when the tide changes so the crossing is never the same when coming and going. In fact, sometimes at low tide, there is no water to be seen.
Elizabeth Castle has four distinct sections, the oldest dating back 400 years. There are old stone fortress walls, a parade ground from the 1800s and even a German hun from WWII. As you walk across the islet, there are little stories and details that we would have missed if it weren’t for the informative and interesting narrative by Tracey. Plus, she was a hoot!
11.) Plants, Pastries and Platters at Ransoms Tearoom
There is something about a garden centre cafe that is awfully attractive. They usually showcase local produce and there is plenty of planty goodness around too. Well, Ransoms Tearoom is a cut above the rest. Not only is the garden centre huge but so are the cakes, the portions and the tea room itself!
On chillier days, diners sit inside in the vaulted rooms, bedecked with circus striped hangings. On warmer days, there are courtyard tables to relax at. Don’t make the mistake that we did. Our eyes were too big for our tummies and we ordered lots of food. I got lovely tender calamari and Mr Fluskey had a prawn sandwich which was genuinely perfect plus sweet potato fries. We thought we would get a little cake for dessert but on inspection, we realised that the delicacies in the glass fronted cabinet were huge and we couldn’t manage one!
Oh, and their afternoon tea looked fab too and at just £24 for two, it’s a total bargain. We love afternoon tea, so much that we have a whole section on the delights! This one will have to wait until next time!
12.) Go Underground at La Hougue Bie
La Hougue Bie is an interesting site preserving history and bringing it to life. The main draw is its Neolithic passage grave, a hole under a large mound that extends back over 12 metres. This area was the burial ground for at least eight people. Their remains were found here alongside some pottery and other burial items. This is rather astonishing as it is thought they were buried about 3500BC! It is dark and low so be careful as you enter and exit. We recommend visiting the museum before you go underground to give it context.
18m above the grave sit two chapels dating from 12th and 16th centuries. Inside the newer chapel is an interactive video projection explaining its history.
Also here on the site is a traditionally constructed long house. It evokes the smells, sights and sounds of early settlers in the islands. I couldn’t help but be jealous of the children who get to sit around and hear stories of the past. It must be a special memory.
The biggest surprise at this site is a moving exhibition about the Nazi occupation during World War Two. We recommend visiting before you hit the Jersey War Tunnels as some of the information is seen in both and it is nice to get an overview before you delve into the details.
13.) Brave a Dawn Dip at Havre de Pas Lido
The Lido or outdoor bathing pool at Havre de Pas was first constructed in the 1880s, opening to the public in 1895. The Jersey Swimming Club had been trying to ensure they and the public had somewhere safe to take to the sea waters and this has been the spot ever since! With its increased popularity in the 1920s and 1930s changing rooms, an upgraded pier and the concrete steps were added. The Art Deco stylings remain, giving this whole lido a divinely vintage vibe.
Every day, swimmers arrive in their warm changing jackets and jump in with local families and holiday makers. You can choose to swim in the large tidal pool (which gets a top up at every high tide) or the smaller baby pool. There is a diving platform and it’s deep enough to really go for it but we recommend coming when the tide isn’t completely up so you can see the dividing wall between the pool and the sea. It’s no fun to scrape your foot on the wall. As the tide goes out, it retreats almost 100m so the edge is very obvious.
Oh, and it’s free!
No, we weren’t brave enough to go swimming…but we might do in the heat of summer when the ice cream kiosk is open.
14.) Slurp Oysters at the Seymour
Jersey produces some of the UK’s best oysters. You may see them on some of the finest seafood menus in London and across the country. However, if you want them perfectly fresh and ready for the eating, head to the south-east tip of Jersey. Across the golden sands, you will see Seymour Tower….but that’s not why we are here. Take a stroll on the beach and work up your appetite then grab a table at The Seymour (the pub just behind the seafront) which sells fresh oysters to hungry tourists and locals alike.
If you want to find out more about these sexy shellfish (rumour has it they are an aphrodisiac) head slightly further inland to Jersey Oyster Company. Seymour Shellfish (their retail branch) run tours around their facilities and the oyster beds. You can learn as much or as little as you like about the process and then tuck into some oysters whilst sipping on sparkling wine. Not a bad afternoon snack.
Alternatively, Jersey Walk Adventures do walks across the sea bed when it is possible which end at The Seymour.
15.) Promenade in Picture Perfect Gorey
Gorey (pronounced gory) lies at the top of a huge beach. It is overlooked by the imposing Mont Orgueil Castle and is hemmed in by the hulking concrete pier. So far, it doesn’t sound so cute does it…but trust me, it is adorable!
Along Gorey’s promenade flower beds are planted with both sweet English flowers and more exotic blooms like Bird of Paradise and palm trees. The sea breeze tickles the leaves and feels bright and fresh. It makes for a delightful short walk along the seafront.
Gorey itself is a small collection of shops, restaurants and houses that look like they are out of a picture book. The pier used to be the main docking point for oyster ships, before becoming the entry point for French tourists, arriving by ferry from the Normandy coast. These days it is used for small yachts and pleasure craft. If you have time, walk out, along the pier to the lighthouse and restaurant for a lovely view back to town and along the coast.
Parking is scarce so why not come by bus, the stop is right in the centre of the small town.
16.) Try Jersey’s Dairy Delights
Have you ever seen a picture of a Jersey Cow? Their honey coloured skin and instaworthy eyelashes make them the super models of the bovine world. As pretty as they are, the best thing about them is their rich, creamy milk. Jersey is not the place to ask for skimmed milk, it’s just not that common because everyone loves to indulge in the incredible Jersey milk. Obviously you could try it in all kinds of things; cheese, with your cereal, as a wobbly panna cotta or just a glass of milk, but by far the best option is as a luscious lick of ice cream. Across the island are ice cream outlets (especially at the seaside) and any of these will serve up something delicious!
We messed up and at the end of day two had a little panic, thinking we may miss our chance to try it. So we grabbed a very late lunch in Yogolicious which served Jersey ice cream alongside frozen yogurt and great pierogi.
We could choose from several flavours and top it with all kinds of goodies. Mr Fluskey had the soft serve (Mr Whippy) style from a machine topped with chocolate buttons. I opted for salted caramel from a local farm with nothing on top. Both varieties were thick and silky smooth.
17.) Hike or Bike the Trails of Jersey
Arriving in Jersey, pick up one of the excellent leaflets at the tourist information (or, you can check out the website). These guides to the paths of jersey are informative and inspiring. Each section of the island has its own map which details the routes you can take, points of interest along the way and even great spots for the ‘gram!
Flicking through each of these, we were sad not to have more time to explore the nature that Jersey has to offer. We are fully planning to return and take a walk or five.
Information for Your Short Break to Jersey
For the very best tourist information, and they really do an excellent job, check out Visit Jersey’s website. On the island they have an office in St Helier at Esplanade, Liberation Bus Station.
As Jersey is within the U.K. common travel area you will need a passport or driving license for ID purposes when you travel to or from the island. The currency is British pound sterling (GBP) and the plugs are three pin type G British plugs. If you are taking a staycation, there isn’t too much to worry about. No adaptors, no currency exchange and no worries about drinking the water…easy peasy.
Flights from across the U.K. arrive at Jersey Airport (JER). The journey from London is around 40 minutes, and from Glasgow you’ll be flying for around an hour and a half.
Condor Ferries depart from Poole in England and take four hours. They also run a service from Portsmouth which takes a nine hours. During summer, both of these ferries are daily and allow visitors to bring their own vehicles. This is great if you have a week or so but add a lot of travel time.
We hired a car for our trip as time was tight. Hertz at the airport was a great option, offering a totally fuss free pick up and an even easier Sunday drop off (just pop the keys in the drop box). Jersey drives on the left and U.K. driver’s licences are valid, along with a Certificate of Insurance or an International Green Card. When picking a car, bear in mind that some roads are very narrow and the maximum speed limit is 40mph so you may want to opt for a smaller, simpler vehicle.
It is perfectly easy to get around by bus (and much greener). Pay the driver as you board or get one of the hop on hop off passes and enjoy a hassle free day of trips with just one ticket.
There is an extensive network of cycle routes across the island, making it an excellent place to explore on two wheels. the coastal route alone is worth burning the calories for (and you can always top them up with oysters and ice cream en route). Visit Jersey have a cycle route map that details the stretches that are perfect for cyclists.
We stayed at The Old Court House in St Aubin for our weekend in Jersey. Now an inn, it has comfortable bedrooms, some with a sea view, excellent breakfasts and a lovely evening atmosphere. It was a short drive to St Helier and a few steps from the Salty Dog Bistro which allowed Mr Fluskey to enjoy a few cocktails.
Final Thoughts on Our Short Break in Jersey
Jersey feels like one of those destinations that people keep close to their chests. When we mentioned we were planning a short break to Jersey, our friends and relatives said, “Oh, it’s beautiful/lovely/great there”! Suddenly, this place that they had never mentioned was described in full technicolour and we totally get why. It seems that once you have been, it becomes a fond friend that you can’t wait to gush about. I can’t wait for someone to tell me they are going so I can excitedly tell them about the food, the drinks, the scenery, the history, the people and everything else we experienced!