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Located in the English Channel close to Normandy, Guernsey is smaller and less touristy than Jersey, but still offers a wonderful holiday destination. Sunsets and sunrises are rendered stunning against the Guernsey backdrop. St Peter Port, the capital and largest town, is a laidback, sunny spot alongside a peaceful bay. The town highlights Guernsey's cultural makeup, which is a combination of English and French influences.
Though it is geographically closer to France, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency. It is not part of the UK, nor of the EU. The UK is responsible for its defence and external relations. English is the only official language, although a French dialect known as Guernésiais is spoken by a minority. For native English-speakers, this makes Guernsey a good option for those in search of an island destination with cultural and historic interest.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey also includes Alderney, Sark, and a few other islands.
Rising sea levels transformed Guernsey first into the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the emergent English Channel, then, around 6,000 BC, into an island when it and other promontories were cut off from continental Europe.
During their migration to Brittany, the Britons occupied the Lenur Islands (former name of the Channel Islands including Sarnia or Lisia (Guernsey) and Angia (Jersey). In 933 the islands, formerly under the control of the kingdom, then Duchy of Brittany were annexed by the Duchy of Normandy. The island of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy. During the Middle Ages the island was repeatedly attacked by French pirates and naval forces, especially during the Hundred Years War when the island was occupied by the French on several occasions, the first being in 1339.
The 19th century saw a dramatic increase in prosperity of the island, due to its success in the global maritime trade, and the rise of the stone industry. During World War I approximately 3,000 island men served in the British Expeditionary Force. The Bailiwick of Guernsey was occupied by German troops in World War II. Before the occupation, many Guernsey children were evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never re-united with their families.
At 49°28′N 2°35′W / 49.467°N 2.583°W / 49.467; -2.583, Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands have a total area of 78 km2 and a coastline of about 48 kilometres. By itself, the island of Guernsey has a total area of 65 km2. Guernsey is situated about 50 kilometres west of France's Normandy coast and 120 kilometres south of Weymouth, England and lies in the Gulf of St Malo. Lihou, a tidal island, is attached to Guernsey by a causeway at low tide. The terrain is mostly level with low hills in southwest. The southeastern point is Jerbourg Point, used by the Germans during World War II. Elevation varies across the bailiwick from sea level to 114 metres at Le Moulin on Sark. The highest point in mainland Guernsey is Hautnez (111 metres) and on Alderney at Le Rond But (93 metres).
Guernsey contains two main geographical regions, the Haut Pas, a high southern plateau, and the Bas Pas, a low-lying and sandy northern region. In general terms, the Haut Pas is the more rural of the two, and the Bas Pas is more residential and industrialised. There is a large, deepwater harbour at St Peter Port. The Casquets, a group of islets, are notable for the lighthouse facility constructed there.
© All Rights Reserved Mikey B
Guernsey is divided into 10 parishes.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey embraces not only all 10 parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Herm, Jethou, and Lihou. Furthermore, the Bailiwick includes Alderney and Sark, each of which has its own parliament.
Castle Cornet is a big castle that is a former tidal island, which is now on the breakwater for the capital's harbour. The tidal island was originally fortified between 1206 and 1256 with a castle. With the invention of gunpowder and cannons the castle was upgraded between 1545 and 1548. The castle was the official residence of the governor until 1672 when a disaster happened. A lightening bolt struck the magazine storage area causing an explosion that killed the governor, his mother, wife and a large number of staff. Today the castle incorporates several museums.
Vale Windmill is a gracious 5 storey tower windmill that was constructed in 1850. The Germans converted the windmill during World War II into an artillery observation tower, which gave the windmill a three storey extension. This makes the mill tower a total of 21 m (88 ft) high.
The Casquets Lighthouses has been lighting the way fro sailors since 1724. The three stone lighthouses were built to give a distinctive light so they would not be confused with French lighthouses. The lighthouses have gone there several incarnations and at present have been converted to electric lights instead of the original coal and natural gas. Today the highest lighthouse is 37 m above average sea level and flashes five times every 30 seconds. The light house can be seen from 24 nautical miles (22 km) away in clear weather!
Locals, as well as visitors, take to the island’s trails in May for eight days. Walks are guided and it is the best chance to discover parts of Guernsey you would not likely see on your own. These walks meander along the coast, as well as the streets of St Peter Port, and are tailored to different fitness levels.
May 9 is a big day all over the Channel Islands as it marks the day the islands were liberated from the Nazis in WWII. The only part of the British Islands that were occupied, St Peter Port holds the biggest celebration with fun events and fireworks.
One of the many music festivals in Guernsey is this two-day event in mid-June. It spans a weekend and features dozens of acts over several stages, along with fun side attractions. Past musicians have included the Kaiser Chiefs and Macy Gray. There are also attractions put on for the kids, such as a bungee jumping and skateboarding, along with food stalls. Tickets for the weekend are quite expensive.
Sausmarez Park, southwest of St Peter Port, is the setting for the flower show in June. The three-day event features colorful floral displays, along with music and dance.
One of the liveliest and most fun events for Guernsey visitors, Carnival is a weeklong festival in July that has several events at St Peter Port including parades, marching bands, street entertainment, and live music.
The best time to visit Castle Coronet is on Castle Night in July. There is live entertainment and it is free to enter.
Vale Castle is home to two great summer events, the Valestock Music Festival in late July with rock and folk performances and later Vale Earth Fair in mid-August with music and craft stalls.
Music, activities, food and drink accompany the Guernsey Regatta Week in September, where boats of all levels race up and down the island. The marina in St Peter Port is the place to be for fun water-based activities.
Guernsey has a typical maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures in summer average around 20º C during the day or a bit less. Winters are generally above zero with a few degrees below zero sometimes at night. Variations in temperatures, both between summer and winter as well as between days in the seasons, are low. Rain is possible year round, though autumn and winter is a bit wetter compared to the late spring and summer season.
Guernsey Airport (GCI) is the only airport in Guernsey. Aurigny Air Services, a state airline, is based here and has flights to and from Alderney, Bristol, Dinard, Jersey, London and Manchester. Blue Islands flies to Alderney, Bournemouth, Geneva, Isle of Man, Jersey, Paris, Southampton and Zurich. Flybe has flights to Birmingham, Exeter, London, Manchester, Norwich and Southampton. Seasonal flights from the Netherlands are also available with Lufthansa and VLM Airlines.
Although Guernsey only has about 40 kilometers of roads outside the capital, renting a car is good option to travel around at your own pace and visiting more remote places. Cars are available at the airport and in the capital. Traffic drives on the left and you need a national driver's licence or international driving permit.
As the island is small, much of it can be explored by bike and this is a popular and relaxing way of getting around and soke it all up.
There are two bus lines operating throughout most of the island. They usually originate and terminate in St Peter Port, calling at the ferry terminal, airport, most towns and villages and extensively within the capital itself. For more remote places, taxis are widely available.
Besides tours there are no public services.
Although technically not part of the UK (nor EU), the entry requirements are the same.
Passport holders of members countries of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland have the right of free movement and residence in the UK.
European Economic Area: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.
For all other nationals, entry clearance (visa) may or may not be required for visiting the UK.
Nationals from the following countries do not require entry clearance (visa) for a stay of three or six months:
Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Caymen Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, East Timor, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Faroes, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Korea (South), Macau (SAR), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City.
Visa nationals are required to apply for entry clearance before entering the UK.
For the latest visa requirements, visa application guides and other immigration matters, refer to the UK Border Agency Visa Services.
See also: Money Matters
The currency of Guernsey is the pound sterling with the international currency code GBP (Great Britain Pound). The currency sign for pound is £ (the symbol is derived from the letter L). It is also known to the locals as quid (both singular and plural), which a slang term, so you might hear people say "two quid" instead of two pounds. One pound is divided into 100 pence (singular: penny).
Overwhelmingly English is spoken, but Norman-French Guernesais is taught in schools in a bid to preserve it.
Most international cuisines are represented with, not surprisingly, fresh local seafood taking centre stage. For nice views and good food head for L'Auberge de Jerbourg, La Fregate, La Nautique, Pier 17, Sawatdi (Thai) or Mora's. The Crow's nest has good views but is overpriced. Le Petit Bistro and L'escalier for French and Da Nello's for Italian.
Guernsey’s beach kiosks are a gastronomic odyssey in their own right. The Fermain Beach Cafe started life as a kiosk and evolved into a bistro-cafe specialising in seafood. You can work up an appetite (or work off lunch) with a stunning clifftop walk and then sit down to local crab sandwich, scallops with bacon or locally caught monkfish or sea bass with a view of Guernsey's prettiest bay.
There are lots of pubs to be visited all over the island, in St Peter Port the pubs are easy to find and are mostly along the waterfront. Laska's has an enormous list of cocktails and is a popular spot. Start here and work your way north along the waterfront, ending at the taxi rank.
See also: Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Guernsey.
See also: Travel Safety
Guernsey is a very safe place to visit, with just minor things to be worried about.
See also: International Telephone Calls
We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Guernsey
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