Travel Guide: Alderney
Alderney is the third largest Channel Island, only a short distance from Guernsey, and at just 3.5 by 1.5 miles, you’ll never be far away from the charm of its town centre, the tranquillity of its bays or the depth of its history.
Golden beaches, historical intrigue and unique island charm await you on Alderney. A bird watchers’ paradise, the island is renowned for its rich wildlife and boasts over 50 miles of scenic walking trails and over 300 species of bird. It is also home to the only working railway in the Channel Islands.
HOW TO GET TO ALDERNEY
The easiest way to get to the most northerly Channel Island is a 15 minute flight from Guernsey to Alderney airport. Alternatively, you can catch the one hour ferry every day during peak season.
WHERE TO STAY ON ALDERNEY
Despite its small size, Alderney still has plenty of holiday accommodation to choose from. From a converted fortress to beach camping, luxury independent hotels to friendly guest houses, there is something to suit everyone.
Saye Beach Campsite is the place for camping in Alderney. Alongside a very high 4* standard bathroom block, dry room facility and an extensive play area for children, they also offer a well-stocked shop, picnic area, teas & coffees, ice creams and beach goods, as well as the perfect location to pitch your tent. Tents and sleeping bags are available for hire, or you can bring your own. It is situated in a superb location behind the sand dunes of Saye Bay, a lovely beach of white sand and beautifully clear sea.
On the edge of Braye Beach, boasting stunning views across the bay and harbour, this AA rated 4* hotel offers a high standard of comfort and excellence. It has 27 bedrooms, some with balconies and sea views, which offer guests the perfect place to relax and unwind. The restaurant serves delicious, fresh local produce, from lobster and locally dived scallops, to rich Alderney cream and fresh seasonal vegetables flown in directly from the markets of France. The bar and beach-side decked terraces overlook the bay and serve coffee, lunch and afternoon snacks, whilst the Diver’s Inn next door is open for traditional pub food. The hotel also has a private cinema, comfortable lounges to relax in and complimentary wireless broadband access throughout the hotel. A favourite beachside stay for many visitors.
Farm Court Guest House
Farm Court Guest House is a renovated old farm complex that is particularly popular with artists, musicians and naturalists looking for quality accommodation on the island of Alderney. The Guest House has room for up to twelve people and also has a self-catering cottage for 5. It is set around an enclosed area, giving privacy to guests, in a quiet part of St. Anne.
Villa Mondrian is a new concept to Alderney, offering high quality, room-only accommodation. There are 4 en-suite bedrooms, each with individual access from the garden, which has a decking area with a table, chairs and sun loungers. The rooms can be made up with either twin beds or a super king size double bed. They offer a complimentary welcome pack to enjoy in the rooms. Each room is equipped with a mini fridge, toaster, crockery, cutlery and tea and coffee making facilities.
Formed of three lovingly restored historical buildings, The Blonde Hedgehog has 9 stylish rooms and suites, and a charming 3-bedroom cottage perfect for families and larger groups. It is located in the heart of town, just a short walk from all the Island has to offer. The rooms are beautifully finished and you can always find a nice nook around the hotel to sit in with a coffee or glass of wine. The hotel also boasts a wonderful restaurant, serving seasonal farm-to-table dishes made from locally-grown ingredients, including produce from their own kitchen garden.
Built in the 17th century to accommodate animals, grain and people, 5 Little Street has been both a family home and a holiday house over the last 40 years. Little Street is one of the older streets in Alderney, and it is worth making your way there to see the other interesting buildings; The Old Barn, some random numbering at 8 1/2 Little Street, and the spooky steps outside some houses where it is said witches and evil spirits sit. At the top of the street there are some truly elegant windows, very typical to Alderney, and even a German bunker, with dragons.
Sandpiper is a traditional 3 story town cottage that has recently been refurbished to a very high standard throughout. The property offers a comfortable, cosy living space with a spectacular south facing garden and patio. Located on a quiet street just a few minutes walk from the centre of St Anne.
If you are looking for a unique place to stay, look no further than Fort Corblets. This converted fort right on the coast is now available to hire. The Northern Ramparts has 2 Bedrooms, with stunning views over the sea, and The South Wing has 2 Bedrooms and a large Balcony overlooking the beach. All linen, electricity, central heating etc is included.
These are just a few of the accommodation options available on Alderney. For our full list, click here.
THINGS TO DO ON ALDERNEY
Do not let the small size of the Island fool you; Alderney has a wide range of activities for you to get involved in and fascinating things to see and do. Whether you're interested in history or wildlife, or want to explore hidden gems, there is something for everyone.
Explore on Two Feet (or two wheels!)
Woodland, grassy commons, heaths, beaches and ponds are all connected by a network of over 50 miles of winding lanes and trails. Walking is one of the best ways to explore Alderney. You can walk through peaceful countryside, trek along dramatic coastlines and explore the quaint high street of St Anne with its local shops and eateries, all at your own pace. Or, hop on your bike for a family day out and enjoy more than ten miles of virtually traffic-free roads and miles of tracks and pathways. Whether you are looking for a few hours of cycling fun or to hire a bike for several days, both are possible from Cycle & Surf. They offer bikes for all the family, with tag-a-longs and child seats available for smaller children. Electric bikes and tandems are also available.
Alderney is the perfect playground for wildlife lovers. It is a seasonal hotspot for sea and wetland bird breeds, dolphins, bats and insects thanks to its diverse habitats, ranging from coastal grassland to subtidal kelp forests. Puffins arrive in late March as temporary visitors to rear their young, and leave in early August . Their short stay on the Islet of Burhou is their only time on land during the year, the rest of which is spent out at sea. Boat tours run from April to October, if you want to see these beautiful creatures up close. The gannet colonies of Les Etacs and Ortac account for 2% of the world’s gannet population, a truly spectacular sight which can be seen during a boat or walking tour. Finally, look out for the rare blonde hedgehog, which can be found foraging soon after sunset from spring to autumn.
Discover the Island’s History
Head to the award-winning Alderney Museum and take in all of the fascinating displays, including an Elizabethan shipwreck, one of the most important marine archaeological finds in the British Isles. You can also pay a visit to Mannez Lighthouse, the famous Bayeux Tapestry Finale at the library, and the local Bell Tower. This small Island is rich in history, and there is so much to discover.
Take a Train Ride
The island also has the only working railway in the Channel Islands, dating back to the 19th century. It’s a fun way to explore the island for both train enthusiasts and families alike.
A scenic course on Alderney. This is a coastal course with 9 holes, each with two tees. Visitors are always very welcome, and tailored packages of golf and catering can be put together to meet your individual needs.
Take a Boat Trip
Explore Alderney's wonderful coastline from the best vantage point, the sea. Enjoy a boat tour and discover wildlife, forts, stunning views and more. The Alderney Wildlife Trust offers seabird and fortification tours, seal tours and round Island Tours. Both Avante II and Lady Maris also offer round Island tours. A boat tour is the perfect way to learn more about the Island from a completely different vantage point.
WHERE TO EAT ON ALDERNEY
From home-grown produce and rich dairy products, to seafood straight from the island’s fresh waters, there is an abundance of delicious food on Alderney, much of it with a French influence. With an array of wildflowers, it is also a haven for bees to thrive, so don’t leave without trying the sweetness of Alderney Honey. Juicy crab, lobster, Kiln Farm beef and free range pork can all be found at various cafés, restaurants and pubs. Here are just a few available options:
The Georgian House creates fabulous food, with an abundance of superb local produce right on their doorstep. They aim to make the most of their surroundings, and believe in sourcing local and sustainable produce wherever possible. Menus are contemporary, with a mix of traditional British pub food and European style seafood influences. It offers a cosy pub, a restaurant, a secluded garden with an outside bar, as well as 4 charming en-suite bedrooms.
Alderney's only Thai restaurant is a favourite with locals. All dishes are made fresh with the finest ingredients, featuring the sensational flavours of Thailand. From pad thai to green curry, Mai Thai offers all your favourite Thai dishes, alongside plenty you may not have tried before. Take-away is available and the restaurant is also open for coffee and has a bar, which is well-known for its cocktails.
Opened in 1996 by Mr Matin Miah, who still runs the restaurant, the food is tasty and delicious and the staff are friendly. Experience the ever popular Curries, Tandoori, and Balti Dishes. Takeaway is also available.
Jack's Brasserie enjoys an enviable location at the bottom of Victoria Street, and boasts a fabulous terrace area. Inside, the décor and furnishings are modern, giving a light and airy atmosphere. Whether you're looking for a classic breakfast or a light al fresco lunch with a chilled glass of wine, Jack's is perfect, offering café culture and dining in the heart of St Anne.
The Moorings is the go-to venue for families in Alderney who are looking for a place where the kids can let off steam and the adults can relax. Situated alongside Braye Beach, they serve burgers, pizzas, seafood and salads, all home-made by the chef. There are often bands playing throughout the season and there is a large terrace to enjoy.
Cantina Number 6 has a relaxed and chilled atmosphere with amazing views over Braye Bay. Open for brunch, lunch or dinner, their menu is unique. Along with fabulous tapas, handmade pastas and delicious local food, they also have daily specials on offer at lunchtime and in the evening, as well as an array of cocktails, beers, wines and more.
The Braye Beach Brasserie and the Braye Beach Bar and Terrace are part of the ideally located Braye Beach Hotel. The main brasserie restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering casual dining at a high standard, with classical seaside dishes such as tempura battered fish and chips or moules and in season, fresh seafood straight from the nearby fisherman's port. Alternatively, the Beach Bar and Terrace has stunning views over Braye Beach and beyond and is just the place for a morning coffee, a light lunch, afternoon cream tea or an early evening drink.
Tucked away behind the top of Victoria Street, with a lovely enclosed garden, Bumps is open for lunch, dinner, drinks and coffee. Owner and chef, Eddie, offers a daily selection of dishes made with freshly cooked, local produce, from tapas, fish of the day and steak, to lemon tart and sticky toffee pudding. On Sundays, there is a traditional roast.
An original wine vault turned into an up-tempo steakhouse and cocktail bar, The Vaults is very different from anywhere else in Alderney, serving delicious steaks, an eclectic range of wines and a great range of cocktails.
In the heart of St Anne, at the top of Victoria Street, you’ll find Le Pesked. Authentic, rustic and romantic, it is the only French restaurant on Alderney, serving delicious, freshly cooked meals by Brittany chef and owner, David. The menu includes a wide choice of dishes prepared from the finest locally sourced ingredients, featuring freshly caught fish and seafood, along with a tempting array of signature dishes, including the popular Crêpe Suzette.
One of Alderney’s favourites, Braye Chippy is adjacent to the inner harbour. With a wide selection, the Braye Chippy is open in the evenings all year round. They also run special Burger fests and popular Moules and Frites, Bean jar and Chilli Con Carne deal nights. Takeaway is available and, if you want a glass of wine, you are welcome to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.
These are just a few of the fantastic dining options available on Alderney. For our full list of restaurants, bistros, pubs and cafes, click here.
FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT ALDERNEY
1. An unusual animal that inhabits Alderney is the blonde hedgehog, which is extremely rare elsewhere in Europe. Rumour has it that the uniquely coloured creature arrived on the island hidden inside a Harrods shopping bag!
2. Alderney’s own airport is the smallest in the Channel Islands, and even features a box of unfinished knitting to help you pass the time while waiting for your flight!
3. During the Second World War, the whole of Alderney’s population was evacuated to mainland Britain. The Germans established four camps on the island, housing as many as 4,000 forced labourers at one point, most of whom were Russian prisoners.
4. A history like no other, Alderney has its own distinct timeline of events incorporating Roman, Napoleonic and German influences and architecture. In addition to Neolithic remains and the Roman construction of ‘The Nunnery’ at Longis Bay, there is an enormous breakwater and numerous forts and batteries, all built to defend Alderney against a potential French attack. During WWII, German occupying forces constructed a number of bunkers and defences that can still be visited today.
5. Naming a few of her own ‘favourite things’, Oscar winning actress, Julie Andrews, listed Alderney as her favourite place. She lived on the island with her husband, Tony Walton, when expecting her first daughter. She said: "I cherish every hour there. In my wallet I carry a colour snapshot of the cottage and stare at it like a fool when I yearn to steal away and can't. Alderney is my paradise. When there is rain in England, you can count on the sun in Alderney. Spring arrives two weeks earlier, with windblown meadows of maroon and yellow tulips, blue irises and daffodils dancing on the hills."