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Part of the UK’s Channel Islands, Guernsey is a group of pretty islands with a picturesque countryside and quiet seaside towns. The islands are one of the last remnants of the Dukedom of Normandy, and although English is spoken by all, Norman-French Guernésiais is still spoken in some communities. The islands are small and best explored by car.
Roads in Guernsey are narrow, with different rules and signs to those in the UK. The condition of the roads is excellent, but they are often enclosed by hedges or granite walls. There are signs at main junctions but otherwise there is little signage. Drivers should bring a good road map.
Driving licences: UK drivers can drive here with their UK photo licence for up to 12 months.
Which side does Guernsey drive on: the left, as in the UK.
Motorways: 35mph (56kph)
Rural areas: 25mph (40kph)
Built-up areas: 25mph (40kph) or less
Alcohol limits: 0.08 per cent, as in the UK, with random checks and immediate arrest of offenders.
Driving age: 17 years. Most suppliers require you to be over 21 to hire a car though.
Seatbelts: fitted seatbelts are a must for all passengers over the age of 12. A child seat is necessary for children up to six years of age, while those between the ages of 6 and 12 must be in a child seat or wear a seat belt.
Mobile phones and GPS: it is illegal to drive while using a mobile phone unless it is accompanied by a hands-free kit. GPS systems can be used here.
Cost of fuel in Guernsey: petrol is slightly cheaper here than it is in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: most petrol stations and all car hire suppliers accept credit cards. It is recommended to inform your card supplier that you will be using your card abroad before travel.
Insurance: third-party insurance is included in car rental but it is advisable to purchase excess insurance.
Traffic and parking: public parking is free, although some on-street parking requires the use of a ‘parking clock’ that can be purchased at garages, news agents or Visitor Information. In town centres, the maximum amount of time one can park is usually three hours.
The only working train in Guernsey can be found on Alderney; however, it does not provide any actual links. It is used for pleasure rides only, taking riders on a two-mile coastal route from Braye Road to Mannez Quarry. Tickets cost around £3.00 each way (for adults). The train only runs on weekends from Easter until the end of September and is available for private charters on weekdays. For timetables and information, visit Alderney Railway.
Taxis are regulated, licensed and quite expensive with a start fee of around £4.00. There are four ranks where travellers can get a taxi, two in central Saint Peter Port, one at the airport and one on the bridge at St Sampson's. It is also possible to have a taxi meet you elsewhere, although this must be arranged in advance.
Guernsey has an extensive bus system which travels to most parts of the main island and Alderney Island. Bus travel within Guernsey is an affordable way to get around, with ticket prices of about £1.00, and all buses have disabled persons’ access. There are also special coach tours which take visitors on tours of the coast. For a complete bus schedule, visit buses.gg.
There are two main ports on Guernsey Island that receive service from other Channel Islands, the UK and France, while Alderney’s port receives summer ferries from France and Guernsey Island. High-speed catamaran service is also available from the UK to Saint Peter Port. Ferry is the only way to reach the islands of Sark, Herm and other smaller islands. The main ferry providers are Manche-iles Express and Condor Ferries. Ticket prices vary considerably depending on the season and whether you are travelling with a vehicle.
The only international airport serving Guernsey is Guernsey Airport, situated less than five kilometres from the capital, St Peter Port. Services from various centres across the UK, including London Gatwick and Stansted are provided. There are also various flights from European centres but these are mostly seasonal and charter services. Airport taxi transfers to St Peter Port cost around £27.00.
Saint Peter Port, the capital city, is where most visitors arrive on the island and where the main port is located. Here, some famous landmarks can be visited, including the historic Castle Cornet, Hauteville House (Victor Hugo’s house) and the Guernsey Aquarium.
Saint Martin and its stunning beaches to the south feature rugged coastal cliffs, the beautiful Sausmarez Manor and its sculpture park and sub-tropical garden, and the world class beaches at Moulin Huet Bay. It is also home to the showroom of the award-winning jeweller Catherine Best.
Torteval, at the western point of the island, is less popular and made up of picturesque rugged cliffs. It is home to the Napoleonic Fort Pezeries and the Plienmont Nature Reserve, which was redeveloped for the recent Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
At the very north end of Guernsey Island visitors will find Vale, which is home to the coastal Fort le Marchent and the fortified Vale Castle that dates back to the Iron Age.
The small island of Sark is one of Guernsey’s hidden gems, with its natural beauty, stunning coastal views and rural interior. Herm is equally as beautiful, with its tranquil beaches its main draw.
Guernsey has a much milder climate than the UK due to its location in the Bay of St Malo. It rarely snows; however, like in the UK, winters here are wet and cool, with an average temperature of 6°C. July and August are the warmest months, making them the most popular times to visit, although temperatures are typically cooler than UK readings in these months. Still, Guernsey enjoys more hours of sunshine than the UK.