Halfway between England and France, the Channel Islands combine the best of both countries – without the crowds of either.

The islands of the Channel Islands are organised as two self-governing dependencies (or ‘bailiwicks’) of the British crown, Guernsey and Jersey. Yet, while polite Guernsey is rather British in culture, in Jersey (closer to France) the locals speak Jerriais, a French derivative dating back to the Norman era. Despite a turbulent World War Two history (commemorated at the must-see La Vellette Underground Military Museum), today the Channel Islands are all sleepy old-world villages, historic castles, and exquisite coastline. With sunnier days and milder winter weather than the mainland UK, it’s hard to see why you shouldn’t come explore one of Europe’s hidden gems.

The need to know

Touring the Channel Islands

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. There is an extensive bus service on the Islands that will take you pretty much everywhere you want to visit. Bikes are a very common (and safe) mode of transport on the Channel Islands – the maximum speed limit for cars is 35 miles per hour. Ferries are the best way to get between islands – bring your sea legs!

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography environment & weather

The Channel Islands are split into two ‘Bailiwicks’, Jersey and Guernsey. A bailiwick is a self-governing British Crown dependency with its own parliament, laws and government.

The Islands are – unsurprisingly – situated in the English Channel, just off the coast of France. The two main islands of Jersey and Guernsey make up 92% of the landmass, and the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark make up most of the rest. There are many more smaller islets and plenty of rocks and reefs.

The Channel Islands have a temperate maritime climate, and can be visited at any time of year. Extreme weather is very rare. This means warm (rather than hot) summers and cool to cold winters. The weather can be unpredictable, however. It is possible to experience four seasons in one day – be sure to bring a waterproof coat just in case.

World Heritage Sites

While there are no World Heritage sites on the Channel Islands, there is certainly no shortage of historic sites – both man-made and natural. These include the sixteenth century Elizabeth Castle and the 800-year-old Mont Orgueil Castle.

Festivals & events

Both Jersey and Guernsey celebrate Tennerfest, a six week long food festival that takes place in Autumn. Both also celebrate the Channel Islands Heritage Festival, a five week focus on the history of the islands that marks the anniversary the end of the Nazi occupation during World War Two. Be sure not to miss Jersey’s ‘Battle of Flowers’, one of the biggest carnivals in Europe. Not to be outdone, Guernsey has a rival Floral Festival and a Nerine Festival which coincide with the best bloom times on the island.

Reading list

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Island Madness by Tim Binding
  • Island Gardens by Jackie Bennett and Richard Hanson
  • Jersey: Witches, Ghosts and Traditions by Sonia Hillsdon

Eating & Drinking

The Channel Islands have a strong traditional of fresh locally produced cuisine. Given their maritime nature and the huge number of prized cows, the Islands are particularly strong on fresh meat and seafood.

Fast food chains have yet to reach these shores. Instead, locals and visitors buy fresh food from ‘Hedge Veg’ stalls, miniature roadside fruit and vegetable stores that use an honesty system of payment.

Across the islands, there are plenty of cosy pubs, beach cafes and al fresco dining – something for everyone.

Health & Safety

While the Channel Islands are usually very safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. As always, keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical supply

The Channel Islands has a single time zone (excluding its overseas territories), Greenwich mean time . The nation observes daylight saving time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

Crafted tours for mature world travellers

Channel Island Tours

Castle, Gorey - England, Jersey - England, France, Grouville
Guaranteed

This fully escorted, small group walking tour, takes the active senior on a journey of discovery through the fascinating small Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm.

18 days
British Isles
Level 3 - Moderate to Challenging
mount of Mont Saint Michel, France
Guaranteed

Our 21 night program explores the north-west corner of France before hopping across the English Channel to the tiny autonomous islands of Jersey, Guernsey and Sark as well as the historic Isle of Wight. The tour combines the dramatic scenery of Normandy and Brittany with the quirky history and natural beauty of the Channel Islands together with the natural and historic splendour of the Isle of Wight in the English Channel.

22 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

FAQs

 

 

Responsible travel tips for the Channel Islands

  • Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  • Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  •  Before departing, make sure you have a number of pounds in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

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