For those of you that have spent some time exploring the UK, you may have heard about the Channel Islands, a group of islands located off the south coast of England and much closer to the east coast of France. Visiting the Channel Islands is a popular choice among British tourists during the summer months but we like to do things a little differently and explore destinations in the off-season. We are delighted to be able to share some of the best things to do in Jersey during the winter months!
All too frequently we hear the term “hidden gem” and honestly, it’s probably an overused reference to places scattered across the globe.
There are little gems all around us that can hold glimmers of inspiration. (Richelle Mead)
Places that are frequently visited or overpopulated by tourists are hardly “hidden gems” but when you stumble across a place that most people probably never think about visiting, well it’s fair to see this epitomizes the perfect description for this word.
Jersey is definitely a place that fits this description given the natural, rugged coastlines, the rich history throughout the island reflected through the architectural gems and a group of locals that will make you feel incredibly welcome!
Jersey in Winter
Visiting any location in the Northern Hemisphere during winter is likely going to offer a more authentic experience. Of course, visitors to iconic cities such as London and Paris will face the tourist traps that are waiting to grab your attention but a place like the island of Jersey is nothing like this during the winter months. Ok, so the weather may not be the best but don’t let this stop you because trust us when we say, this time of the year is a great time to visit this beautiful island.
Whether you are the type of traveler that prefers the great outdoors or perhaps you prefer a mixture of history, heritage and fine dining, Jersey is home to all of the above and will likely have something to satisfy your interests. From the capital city of St. Helier which is undoubtedly the heartbeat of the island to the lesser known yet equally picturesque villages of Gorey and St. Catherine’s, there is something for everybody to enjoy on the largest of the 8 inhabited islands that make up the Channel Islands.
Despite its relatively small size, this island certainly packs a punch with so many cool attractions, delicious upscale restaurants, trendy coffee shops and much more. And all of that is before you head to the coast to enjoy the epic, breathtaking natural scenery!
We hope that after reading this guide you will be inspired to visit Jersey, regardless of time of the year. Winter is a time that should be embraced and it’s the ideal time to explore Jersey, especially if you don’t mind wrapping up warm with the prospect of drink later in the day to warm your insides.
Our recommendations on where to stay, things to do and where to eat are just based on our experiences but we definitely think Jersey will be a place you won’t regret visiting. Let’s take a look at why we fell in love with this beautiful island so quickly.
Where to Stay in Jersey
Although Jersey is a relatively small island at only 5 miles (north to south) and 9 miles (east to west), there are plenty of accommodation options available across various spots around the island. The most popular base for visitors is St. Helier and whether you want to stay in a luxury chain hotel such as the gorgeous Radisson Blu Waterfront or a more local establishment, you will be spoiled for choice.
Our visit to Jersey saw us spend two nights in The Hampshire Hotel. Recognized locally as a “boutique” hotel just a short walk from the heartbeat of St. Helier, this was definitely the perfect place to call home while we explored the island.
the Hampshire Hotels’ boutique charm and quality will be everything you need for an unforgettable stay in Jersey. (Hampshire Hotel)
Owned by Chris and Patricia Robin, who acquired this hotel in 2011, guests will immediately feel like they are at their “home away from home” thanks to the friendly welcome offered by everyone associated with the hotel.
Spacious rooms are available throughout the hotel and decorated to a high standard. A full English breakfast is available daily for guests staying at this hotel and will certainly prepare you for the day ahead exploring Jersey.
If you fancy a drink prior to heading out to enjoy dinner at one of Jersey’s eclectic range of restaurants, head down to the lounge bar inside The Hampshire to indulge in a cocktail or a pint (or two). For those of you prefer to stay at the hotel, don’t worry because there is a diverse menu available to enjoy dinner and sample the finest “Jersey Catches”.
Location is always one of the most important aspects to consider when booking a hotel. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about the location of The Hampshire because it’s perfectly situated to not only explore St. Helier but also the rest of the island.
Parking can be a challenge if you head into the heart of St. Helier so we recommend guests should leave their car at The Hampshire and take the short walk into the main town center. The biggest obstacle when arriving at The Hampshire for the first time is figuring out where to actually park but simply head down the narrow road signposted “No Entry” (except for access) and take the first left to find the spacious car park to the rear of the hotel.
53 Val Plaisant,
Tel: 01534 724115
Website: The Hampshire Hotel
Best Things to Do in Jersey
Jersey is a well recognized destination for summer holidays in the UK but don’t let the time of the year influence your decision because there are still plenty of things to do all year round. Let’s take a look at some of the best attractions and reasons to visit Jersey at any time of the year, including the freezing cold depths of winter.
The gorgeous fishing port of Gorey is home to one of Jersey’s most spectacular attractions – Mont Orgueil Castle. For more than 800 years, Mont Orgueil has towered above the picturesque fishing village and regardless of what time of the year you visit Jersey, this is one of the attractions you cannot afford to miss.
At the time of publication of this post, visitors to Mont Orgueil Castle can enjoy this experience for £12.55 (adults – cheaper options available for children and seniors).
Explore one of the world’s finest examples of a medieval castle which has cast its shadow over the beautiful fishing village of Gorey for over 800 years. (Jersey Heritage)
Guided tours are available but exploring Mont Orgueil on your own is equally rewarding. Be prepared to climb a number of staircases before you reach the summit but nothing can quite prepare you for the breathtaking panoramic views that you will see from the top.
If you visit on a clear day, views across the Channel will allow you to catch a glimpse of the French coast but it’s perhaps the intertwining network of rooms, staircases and towers inside that will keep your attention. Some of the staircases can be quite narrow and challenging, so be prepared to take your time and enjoy the full experience at Mont Orgueil.
St. Catherine’s Bay
Take a drive to the north-east corner of Jersey to explore the beautiful area of St. Catherine’s Bay. Jersey’s spectacular rugged coastline is prominent here along with the rest of the north coast but the iconic landmark here that needs to be on your radar is St. Catherine’s Breakwater.
Regardless of the weather, get wrapped up with a waterproof (and windproof) jacket and take a stroll along the breakwater. Not only will you enjoy gorgeous views across St. Catherine’s Bay, but you can also learn about the history of this location.
Construction of St. Catherine’s Breakwater started in 1847 and was designed as a naval station. This was going to be the second largest naval station in the south side of the Channel after the French harbor of Le Havre. Measuring 640 meters in length, the original plan was for this to be longer but the final design is what we can enjoy today.
This is definitely a great place to take a relaxing stroll before heading back to St. Helier for an afternoon coffee. Alternatively, you can visit the local cafe which offers a selection of drinks and snack items.
When it comes to iconic landmarks in Jersey, there are not many that are quite as easily recognizable as Elizabeth Castle that sits just a couple hundred meters from the St. Helier coastline. Located on a tidal island which allows visitors to wander across to explore this towering architectural gem (alternatively, you can take the ferry across but be sure to check times to ensure it runs during your intended visit), Elizabeth Castle dates back to 1594 when it first opened its doors.
Unfortunately, the castle is closed to the public between November and March, so you may be wondering why we would include this location in a “winter guide to Jersey?” Well, as you can see from our images, this is a spectacular landmark that you should admire from St. Helier and inspire you to book a return trip during the peak season.
Elizabeth Castle has defended Jersey for over 300 years and similar to Mont Orgueil, it is today an awesome place to explore all the hidden rooms, passageways and bunkers. Just as you can enjoy epic views from the mainland across to Elizabeth Castle, from the summit of this island you can admire the gorgeous St. Helier harbor and perhaps pick out one of your favorite yachts.
Taking a road trip around the island of Jersey is an experience in itself that you cannot afford to miss. Should you venture to the north-west corner, you will have the opportunity to explore the ruins of Grosnez Castle, dating back to the 14th-century.
The ruins are open to the public today free of charge and with ample parking available, you could easily use this as the perfect spot to take various hikes along the northern coastline. Climb the concrete steps to pass through the archway and explore the remaining ruins.
While learning about the history of this French inspired castle, you will find it difficult to keep your focus solely on this because of the breathtaking views available to you. Be careful as you are literally on the edge of a cliff but the panoramic scenes across the English Channel will leave you with memories you will always cherish.
La Corbiere Lighthouse
Visit the south-eastern corner of Jersey to enjoy more epic natural scenery, including the spectacular sight of La Corbière Lighthouse just off the coast.
Our visit to this part of Jersey saw us explore the coastline pretty much on our own, largely down to the fact it was a pretty rough day – gusts over 50mph made it tough to even stand up when hiking along the cliffs. But the inclement weather simply added to the experience and it seemed fitting that exploring this rugged coastline was done during these tough conditions.
Visitors can walk out to the lighthouse during low tide in better conditions and explore the landmark that literally translates into English as “a place where crows gather.”
Admiring the waves crashing against the lighthouse and the surrounding coastline was definitely a memorable experience but this is certainly a place we want to re-visit when conditions are a little more favorable to explore the lighthouse itself.
Variety of Jersey Museums
Although Jersey may be a small island, there is no shortage of awesome museums to be found across the island. St. Helier is home to various including the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, The Maritime Museum and many others.
La Hougue Bie is one of the world’s oldest buildings and is located just a few minutes outside of St. Helier. The museum dedicated to displaying remnants of this neolithic site along with housing the island’s Archeological and Geology museum is well worth visiting.
If you have any interest in the history of the World Wars, head to the Jersey War Tunnels and Underground Hospital. Once an active hospital, this location has since been transformed into a museum dedicated to sharing the story of this network of underground tunnels.
Best Places to Eat in Jersey
While Jersey is home to an abundance of attractions, it is also worth noting that there is no shortage of restaurants to ensure this island can be renowned as a “foodie haven”. Whether you are looking for a quick bite to eat or enjoy a more luxurious dining experience in a formal setting, Jersey’s eclectic dining scene is such that you will not be left with a shortage of options.
Let’s take a look at a couple of our favorite dining experiences, ranging from the budget friendly options to those that perhaps should be left for a special occasion e.g. A Christmas dinner celebration is the perfect time to go!
In the shadow of Mont Orgueil Castle, the gorgeous village of Gorey is home to a number of local cafes and restaurants that deserve to be featured in this guide. One of our favorites for a quick lunch is Cafe Louise, locally owned and with great service in addition to the delicious menu options that are always available.
Home cooked soup accompanying a fresh sandwich is the perfect snack before clambering to the summit of Mont Orgueil. Whether you opt for this light snack or prefer one of the daily specials, Cafe Louise is an ideal spot to take a break from exploring Gorey.
Tel: 01534 854130
Locke’s Coffee & Grub
We will be putting together a guide of the best coffee shops in Jersey because we quickly fell in love with the coffee scene throughout the island, particularly in St. Helier. Our favorite spot was Locke’s Coffee & Grub, not only because the coffee (and food) was so good but also because the owners are amazing and the story behind this coffee shop is so cool.
The unique atmosphere inside this trendy coffee shop oozes urban farmhouse decor and probably because our own home back in the States follows a similar style, we quickly fell in love with this place.
A variety of traditional (and specialty) coffee beverages are available, each served to perfection and with a number of fresh pastries and cakes to choose from, Locke’s is the ideal place to enjoy a late morning snack or afternoon tea.
Ready for something with a little more substance? Don’t worry, Locke’s offers a variety of freshly prepared meals to satisfy everyone’s appetites.
5 Pitt Street,
Tel: 07700 716968
Dating back to 1997 when it first opened its doors, Sumas Restaurant is one of the best places to enjoy a fine dining experience across the island of Jersey. Located in the harbor of Gorey, Sumas is a popular restaurant choice for both locals and visitors alike…and based on our experience there, it is definitely with good reason!
If you visit Sumas at Christmas, you can enjoy a festive Christmas dinner as part of a three course meal. Alternatively, there is a diverse array of delicious menu items available, whether you prefer a meat or seafood choice.
The menu showcases the best of Jersey’s shellfish, including Hand Dived Scallops, Royal Bay oysters, and Lobster, as well as fantastic steaks and meats. (Sumas Restaurant)
The seafront location overlooking the harbor and Mont Orgueil is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch or dinner on a warm day. But regardless of whether you eat inside or outside, you can be sure that you will receive excellent service to enjoy a luxury dining experience.
Tel: 01534 853291
Number 10 Restaurant & Bar
If you are ready to experience a little creativity and flair when it comes to your dining experience, head to Number 10 Restaurant & Bar in the heart of St. Helier’s town center. Mixing a British and Mediterranean cooking style, Number 10 offers a wide variety of dishes to create an eclectic three course meal.
The interior of the restaurant creates the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a romantic meal after a long day exploring the best of Jersey. Match your preferred menu choices with a glass of wine before leaving enough space to indulge in the decadent dessert options.
10 Bond Street
Tel: 01534 733223
Jersey may not be the first place you think about visiting when you are considering a winter getaway but after heading across to the largest of the Channel Islands, we can 100% attest that this is a great place to visit at any time of the year.
Of course, visiting during the summer months will open a few more opportunities in terms of opening hours and certain places that close for the season but as you can see, there are plenty of things to explore and places to eat regardless of what time of the year you choose to visit.
We are excited about the prospect of visiting Jersey again in the near future to hopefully head across to Elizabeth Castle and also enjoy some more of the breathtaking natural landscapes that can be found throughout the island. For outdoor lovers, there are not many places that offer as many spectacular hiking/biking trails as the island of Jersey!
Even if extreme outdoors adventure isn’t really your thing, be sure to explore Jersey’s awesome coffee and “foodie” scene because there are plenty of options that you won’t be able to resist. Welcome to “The Island Break” – a phrase that perfectly epitomizes the Jersey experience!