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Located between England and France is the largest island in the English Channel, Jersey. People might have heard of Jersey as it is the home of Man of Steel and The Witcher actor Henry Cavill. Besides being home to one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, Jersey is also known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and rocky shoreline. It was also occupied by the Nazi Germans during World War II. If you are planning a trip to this island, you’re probably wondering what activities you can do there. Well, we here at Road Affair don’t want you to miss out on any of its top attractions, which is why we have carefully crafted a list of the best things to do in Jersey, from thrilling hikes and tours to fantastic museums.
Explore Elizabeth Castle
There are many castles and old ruins to discover on the island, and Elizabeth Castle is one of the best tourist attractions in Jersey.
This 16th-century fortress lies on a small rocky inlet on St. Aubin’s Bay off the shores of St. Helier. The castle seemingly erupts from the sea and offers tourists 24 acres of ruins and land to discover. There are two ways to get to Elizabeth Castle. The first is by walking out at low tide, and the second is by taking the Castle Ferry. Visitors also have the option of exploring the castle via the Elizabeth Castle App, which offers a self-guided tour, or they can sign up for a tour of the castle with a local volunteer.
Elizabeth Castle remains in quite good shape, offering secret rooms, ramparts, passageways, and bunkers to discover. There are four main areas, and the oldest area still intact is the Upper Ward. The castle has a rich and interesting history and has been used for many purposes. King Charles II famously sought refuge there during the English Civil War. It was a military garrison until 1923. It was then sold to the state and, later, during the Nazi occupation, was refortified.
Visit La Hougue Bie Museum
This neolithic tomb on the island of Jersey is one of the most interesting archeological finds in the English Channel. The name derives from two words from Old Norse: haugr, which means a mound, and byr, which relates to a medieval legend about a dragon and a knight.
This fascinating site is home to a neolithic passage (also known as a dolmen), where the earliest settlers of Jersey buried their dead and engaged in ceremonies over 5,000 years ago. The site was also used as a concrete bunker for Nazi German forces. Unlike other sites of its kind, visitors are actually able to enter the dolmen and marvel at its construction. During the rising sun at the spring and autumn equinox, the sun aligns perfectly with the passage and illuminates it with natural light.
Today, visitors can roam the site and learn about its history. There is also a replica neolithic longhouse, recently built using traditional techniques to create a realistic version of what might have stood here many years ago. The longhouse was built so accurately that it received the Discover Heritage Award from the Association for Heritage Interpretation in 2019. After wandering through the site, visitors can head to the tearoom for a snack.
Tour the Jersey War Tunnels
If you have an interest in World War II history, then this is a can’t-miss place to visit in Jersey.
The Jersey War Tunnels are an underground military complex built by the Nazi Germans during the occupation. The museum tells the story of the 5,000 European war slaves who built the complex, along with what life on the island looked like during the five-year Nazi occupation. The tunnels run 50 meters deep and span over 1,000 meters. These tunnels were built so that if there was an Allied invasion, the German occupying infantry could survive air raids and bombs. It was converted into an emergency hospital in 1943.
There is much more to see at the Jersey War Tunnels than just the tunnels, though. There are also war-themed escape rooms! Visitors can sign their team of a maximum of 10 people up and try to escape. Currently, there is one escape room called Operation Constellation, but another is in the works. Your mission, should you choose to escape, is to help Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten on an offensive mission on the island. You and your team must solve the puzzles and find the clues in the German commandant’s office to discover the location of newly constructed German fortifications. You have 50 minutes to complete your mission (hopefully successfully), after which you can reward yourself and your team with a bite to eat at the on-site café or head to the gift shop to purchase a souvenir.
Discover the Medieval Ruins of Grosnez Castle
Just outside St. Ouen on the northwest side of the island sits this stunning 14th-century castle perched on a cliffside. This castle is definitely one of the more unique things to discover, as it is much more in ruins than other castles on the island, but it holds an interesting history and is a great free thing to do in Jersey.
The castle was built around 1330 by Sir John des Roches but has been a ruin since the mid-16th century. Originally, the castle was built as a refuge for farmers and their families during the French invasions. However, the French did occupy the island from 1461–1468, and afterward, the castle fell into disuse. It wasn’t until 1808 that the locals decided to revamp the site and use the castle as a signal station so that the people of Jersey could communicate with those on the island of Guernsey.
Today, visitors can roam the castle ruins, which are in surprisingly great shape. Many of the walls and footpaths are still intact, as is a gatehouse where a drawbridge and portcullis once stood. The castle is perched 60 meters above the sea, offering fantastic views of the English Channel, especially at sunset.
Enjoy a Wine Tasting
Although the English Channel Islands are not renowned for their wine, a wine tasting is never a bad option on a holiday!
There are a few wineries throughout the island, with the most notable being La Mare Wine Estate, located on the north side of the island. The best thing about this winery is that it isn’t just for those who are fans of wine; here you can also find the estate’s own ales, ciders, vodka, gin, chocolates, and more. A tour of the estate takes visitors through the lush shaded orchards, the winery, and the production area, all the while explaining how the award-winning products are created. At the end of the tour, visitors get to sample goodies like apple brandy cream liqueur, chocolates, and two glasses of wine. Visitors can then sit in the garden overlooking the rolling farmland while sipping on a complimentary gin and tonic.
La Mare Wine Estate is open seven days a week for tours and offers six different tour time slots a day. Children are encouraged to join the tour and are offered complimentary apple juice and chocolate lollies. After your tour and cocktail, make sure to head over to the estate shop to purchase some yummy products to take home.
Head Out on the Water
As Jersey is an island, it stands to reason that one of the top things to do is go exploring by boat!
If you’re looking to head out on the water, you have a few options, but the best place for boat trips is Jersey Sea Faris. One of the most unique tours this company offers is a boat cruise to the French town of Carteret, where visitors have the option of heading into town for a traditional French lunch or dinner or going exploring on their own. If exploring the beaches and cliffsides of Jersey is more up your alley, the company offers three-hour tours of either the north or south side of the island. They also offer tours of Les Minquier islands, the Ecrehous islands, and Causey, Sark, and Herm.
If you’re looking for water activities in Jersey, then you’re in luck! Absolute Adventures offers a range of activities, from sea kayaking and coasteering to stand-up paddleboarding and tubing. The company even offers blokarting, which uses the speed and dynamics of a sail with the body of a go-kart, providing the most fun (and speedy) way to discover the beaches. Wind powers the vessel, and it’s a fun activity for those of all ages and physical conditions! Another fantastic watersport to try while in Jersey is surfing on St. Ouen’s Bay. This west-facing beach offers perfect gentle waves for beginners to get their bearings, and there are plenty of surf schools along the three-mile beach.
Stroll Through the Botanic Gardens at Samarès Manor
The breathtaking gardens at Samères Manor are an absolute must-see in Jersey for tourists.
This lush paradise of plants has been beautifully landscaped and features 14 acres of a variety of plants. Visitors can wander through the Japanese garden to the formal rose and lavender gardens, then through the water gardens and the orchard, finishing at the café in the Victorian courtyard. Other areas of interest on the property include a willow labyrinth, stables, an herb garden, a carriage museum, a playground, a Jersey wildflower hub, a Victorian greenhouse, and much more. The garden paths are also disability friendly. Visitors can opt to take a guided tour of the beautiful H-shaped manor house and the Agricultural and Rural Life Museum.
After a morning of strolling through some of nature’s most beautiful greenery, make sure to hit the gift shop and plant center.
Treat Yourself to an Afternoon Jersey Cream Tea
Spend an afternoon relaxing at a tea room or hotel while nibbling on buttery scones and sipping delicious local tea.
Jersey cream tea is an island must-try and is a unique culinary experience. The name Jersey cream tea is a bit deceptive, as you might think that it is a version of a cup of tea. However, cream tea refers to a light afternoon meal of scones with clotted creams, jams, and a pot of tea. Jersey cream tea is made from cream made on the island, and it can be found in almost all its five-star hotel restaurants and cafés. A few good places to visit in Jersey for afternoon tea are Ramsey’s Tea Room just outside of St. Martin and Rosie’s Tea Room in St. Helier.
Spend a Day at aMaizin! Adventure Park
If you are looking for fun things to do in Jersey for the little ones, then why not spend the day at the largest farm park Jersey has to offer?
This fantastic family-friendly adventure park has plenty of activities and areas to explore. Outside, visitors can ride go-karts, feed farm animals, bounce to their heart’s content on the giant jumping pillow, go tubing on the toboggan tower, and run around on lots of playgrounds and equipment. There are also two corn mazes on the property, but they are only open for eight weeks in the summer months. Both the minimaze and main maze have scavenger hunts inside of them, adding to the family fun!
If the sun isn’t shining during your visit, there is no need to fret. The park also has an extensive indoor play area suitable for all ages. Once you start feeling peckish, bring the family over to Rangers Diner for a bite to eat. There is also a snack bar on the property, and the park holds events all year round, especially around Halloween and Christmas. The best part about the park is that it is budget-friendly. Visitors don’t have to worry about being charged extra for premium attractions as the day ticket gets you access to all the fun in the park! It’s also good to keep in mind that the indoor play area requires little ones to wear socks at all times.
Discover the Secret Rooms at Mont Orgueil Castle
Castles can be a bit of a mystery as we try to imagine what life was like in these grand stone buildings. Well, at Mont Orgueil Castle (also known as Gorey Castle), the mystery continues as visitors will get to discover secret passages and hidden rooms throughout the castle.
This Medieval castle has sat perched above the small fishing village of Gorey for over 800 years and is one of the best Jersey attractions. It’s in immaculate condition and has quite a history to it. The castle was constructed in 1204 by Phillip II of France, also known as the Duke of Normandy, after the French conquered Jersey. As a result of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, much of the Normandy area and the English Channel Islands were under dispute. In 1259, the English renounced their claim to the Duchy of Normandy, except for the islands in the English Channel. In 1290, the islands, including Jersey, became part of the English sovereign and took on Crown Dependency status. As the English and French remained in dispute, Jersey found itself on the doorstep of a rivalry and needed to up its defenses against the French. The French continued to raid the island through the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. By the 16th century, gunpowder and cannons had been introduced, and the castle found itself in need of new defenses. Since its defenses dated back to the Iron Age, extensive work would have been needed to change the castle into a suitable modern defensive hold. It was in 1601 that Elizabeth Castle was built as a new modern stronghold, and Mont Orgueil Castle became known as the Old Castle and served other functions instead.
Today, visitors can learn all about the gruesome history of the castle through artwork and free audio guides. Visitors can roam the ramparts, discover hidden rooms and passages, search for the Prayer Nuts throughout the castle rooms, and much more. Free guided tours are offered by volunteer guides as well.
Learn About Rural Jersey Life at the Hamptonne Country Life Museum
If you are wondering what to do in Jersey, then consider visiting this quaint museum in St. Lawrence.
The Hamptonne Country Life Museum is a small museum that teaches visitors about rural life on the island. This is a great attraction for families or travelers interested in learning the history of Jersey farm life. Visitors can explore the historic 15th-century farmhouse buildings, stroll through the orchard and learn how cider is made in the cider barn, and learn about 1940s life during German Nazi occupation at the Syvret House. There is also a playground for the little ones. The museum is open daily from March to October.
Explore an Old Nazi Bunker at the Channel Islands Military Museum
For those fascinated by military and World War II history, this is a must-see attraction.
The Channel Islands Military Museum is housed in an old German bunker along the seaside near La Crabière. There are many rooms throughout the bunker filled with artifacts and exhibits. Some of the rooms are dedicated to telling the life of civilians who lived through the five-year occupation; included is a 40-minute commentary from locals who lived through the occupation. Other rooms have been rebuilt to show you what the bunker would have looked like at the time. Visitors get to see many exhibits on both military and civilian life. The museum is seasonal, open from April to October.
Stroll Through the Rose Gardens at Howard Davis Park
If you are staying or spending a day in St. Helier, then you should definitely take a bit of time out of your day to visit Howard Davis Park.
This is one of the best city parks on the island and is perfect for all types of activities. The little ones can run and play on the playground while parents set up a picnic on the lush green grass. There is also a lovely rose garden to wander through and plenty of space to kick a soccer ball around. If you feel like you need an afternoon pick-me-up, head over to the AHA Café Lounge and Restaurant in the park for a bite to eat and a coffee. Another great thing about this public park is that it also has public bathrooms, so you can easily spend a few hours here without holding your bladder.
Walk Around Battery Moltke
Battery Moltke is an incomplete World War II coastal artillery battery used as a naval defense of St. Ouen’s Bay against the Allied forces.
Today, visitors can explore the site for free and view the old artilleries, structures, and bunker. The view over the bay from Battery Moltke is also quite stunning, so consider taking a stroll along one of the walking paths to other attractions. From Battery Moltke, you can walk to the German Naval Tower MP3 in about 20 minutes or to Grosnez Castle in 25 minutes.
Go on a Hike
There are many fantastic hikes across Jersey, from leisure country paths to coastal paths with stunning ocean views. Hiking is also one of the best ways to go sightseeing in Jersey.
There are quite a few popular hikes to choose from. The Sorel Point to Devil’s Hole is a great moderate hiking trail along the rugged cliffside, which leads from one viewpoint to another. What’s great about this hike is that it’s just under three kilometers, and visitors can reward themselves with a pint of beer or snack at the Priory Inn Devil’s Hole afterward. Another great trail for nature is the St. Savior Ramble loop. This trail is fantastic for seeing the famous Jersey cows along with beautiful countryside views. The trail starts and ends at St. Saviour’s Parish Church and runs about 12.8 kilometers past Millennium Stone and La Hougue Bie.
Have a Picnic in Les Jardins de la Mer
This beautiful seaside park is one of the most picturesque spots for a picnic in St. Helier.
Les Jardins de la Mer is a lovely park located right beside the beach and the Elizabeth Castle Ferry Kiosk. Kids can splash around in the fountains on hot days while parents set up a family picnic. If you don’t feel like packing your own snacks, take a stroll through the park over to La Frégate Café for a snack and a beer while overlooking the sea and castle.
Go Swimming at Havre Des Pas Bathing Pool in St. Helier
If you are looking for a truly unique beach experience, consider spending some time at the Havre Des Pas Bathing pools and beach in St. Helier.
Visitors can experience Victorian-era baths, as tourists did many years ago, all the while enjoying the refreshing ocean water and surrounding period buildings. There are also numerous restaurants and bars to head to after a dip in the pools. If you are visiting toward the end of July, you should definitely not skip out on this attraction as the Havre des Pas Seaside Festival takes place there. The festival celebrates all things seaside and features plenty of vendors, beach games, food stalls, and musical entertainment, all in a carnival-style setting.
Admire the Glasswork at St. Matthew’s Church
This Anglican church in Millbrook on the outskirts of St. Lawrence is known as the Glass Church due to its beautiful glasswork. As you walk through the front doors, you will be greeted by two stunning glass angels set in the double doors that lead into the church. Four crystalline angels sit looking over worshippers in the Lady Chapel, and when the sun hits them right, it is almost like they are glowing with heavenly fire. The glasswork in the church was completed by René Lalique and is a sight not to be missed. St. Matthew’s Church is open for visitors every day except Saturday.
Go Shopping at the Central Market in St. Helier
The Central Markets in St. Helier has been serving the community for over 200 years and is a great place for tourists to wander and shop. The Central Market is located in a stunning building that features seven gated entrances and 37 towering cast-iron columns. This colorful market offers plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and quirky stalls, along with international eats. The market is open every day but Sunday.
Visit the Jersey Zoo
If you’re looking for a place to spend an afternoon, consider visiting the Jersey Zoo.
This fantastic wildlife conservation park focuses on endangered species. Tourists can visit the Brazilian black lion tamarin monkeys, mountain chicken frogs, and other endangered species like the Madagascar big-headed turtle and the world’s smallest pig, the pygmy hog. The zoo offers many animal experiences as well, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with monkeys, bears, lemurs, and more. After visiting with some of the world’s rarest animals, head on over to one of the cafés for a bite to eat and a drink.
There you have them, the best attractions and things to do in Jersey. While this list encompasses some of the most popular and best attractions, we encourage you to be open-minded and venture out to discover the island on your own terms! After all, it’s not a true adventure if you always know where you’re going. As Erol Ozan once said, “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”