Exeter, South Devon

Exeter, South Devon

Beautiful, compact city and gateway to South Devon

Travel to South Devon via the M5 or train and you'll come to the beautiful, compact city of Exeter. It's a great place from which to start a holiday in South Devon.

 

Why holiday or weekend break in Exeter?

Visit one of the finest buildings in the UK, explore Exeter's remarkable underground passages and discover the city's history in the Westcountry's best museum.

To help you choose Exeter, we've listed some of the local attractions below.

 

Exeter's Historic Quayside

The River Exe flows through Exeter into the Exe Estuary which leads to the South and East Devon coastlines. The city's historic quayside is a hub for outdoor activities and is packed with places to eat and drink.

Explore Exeter Canal (also called Exeter Ship Canal) which was one of the first canals to be built in the UK and runs alongside the River Exe until it meets the Exe Estuary.

Walk in Riverside Valley Park or follow the Exe Estuary Trail or the Exe Valley Way. You can also hire bikes at Saddles & Paddles on the quayside.

Kayak/canoe along Exeter Canal.

Take a boat trip on the Southern Comfort down the canal to Double Locks Inn with Exeter Cruises.

Climb at the Quay Climbing Centre.

If nature's your thing then visit Cricklepit Mill which is Devon Wildlife Trust's HQ before spending time at some of the nature reserves that line the Exe Estuary and South Devon coastline. This area is recognised as being one of the best places for wildlife in the UK.

Alternatively, Exeter's Historic Quayside is great for distinct, quality crafts and antiques products sold in its independent shops.

 

Exeter Cathedral

One of England's great buildings, Exeter Cathedral has 'the longest uninterrupted gothic vaulting in the world and is one of the finest examples of architecture anywhere'. (Exeter Cathedral website.)

Take a roof tour and enjoy spectacular views over Exeter and Devon.

Whilst you're at Exeter Cathedral, learn more about The Exeter Book. 'The Exeter Book is an anthology of poetry in Old English, written down around 970 CE, and is one of only four surviving major poetic manuscripts in that vernacular. Since it is the largest and probably the oldest of them, and since its contents are not found in any other manuscript, it can claim to be the foundation volume of English literature and one of the world's principal cultural artefacts.' (Exeter Cathedral information board.)

 

Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

Amazing regional museum in the heart of the city. Revamped in recent years, it's like a mini British Museum. Can't recommend this place highly enough.

'The museum's collections contain an extraordinary wealth of artefacts and specimens that tell us the story of Devon and Exeter from their formation, but RAMM is far more than a local museum. Its internationally important world cultures and natural history collections tell a story of global exploration and collecting in the 18th and 19th centuries, and contain examples of life and cultures that have long since disappeared from the world.' (Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery guidebook.)

 

Exeter's Underground Passages

One of South West England's quirkiest visitor attractions, explore the underground passages below the city. The passages were used as part of a system to bring fresh water into the city.

'Exeter's Underground Passages are a unique ancient monument: no similar system of passages can be explored by the public elsewhere in Britain.' (Exeter's Underground Passages guidebook.)

 

Shopping

From major retail outlets in Princesshay and the High Street to independent shops in The West Quarter, Exeter is one of the best places to shop in the Westcountry.

 

Food and drink

If you're on holiday in Exeter, try one of the many restaurants and cafes on and around the Cathedral Close.

We'd also recommend Exeter's Historic Quayside as a location for lunch.

 

History

Walk the Exeter Wall Trail, the Exeter Woollen Trail and the Exeter Medieval Trail to discover the city's history.

For specific historical attractions, in addition to Exeter Cathedral, Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) and Exeter's Underground Passages, highlights include the remains of Exeter Castle, St Nicholas Priory and the City Wall which was 'built by the Romans about 200A.D., since repaired by others. Much of the City Wall still stands, some of it of original Roman workmanship'. (Plaque on City Wall by Princesshay.)

 

Walking

For longer walks, we'd recommend the Exe Estuary Trail and the Exe Valley Way.

 

Cycling

If you prefer cycling, the Exe Estuary Trail is superb on bike. Hire bikes from Saddles and Paddles on Exeter's Historic Quayside.

 

Watersports

Try canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding on the Exe.

Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre. Located on Exeter Quay, offers a huge range of activities including watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and power-boating. Adults, kids and family activities.

AS Watersports. Kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding are among the activities on offer. Again, located on Exeter Quay.

Saddles and Paddles. Another outdoor activity supplier based on Exeter Quay. Hire kayaks and canoes. Note that this is a great place from which to hire bikes to ride the Exe Estuary Trail.

Head to the coast for windsurfing, kite surfing and boat trips.

EXE Adventures (Exe Estuary). Kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding among activities available on the Exe Estuary and South Devon beaches around Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth.

ExeWake Watersports (Exmouth). South Devon 'watersports school specialising in wakeboarding, waterskiing and inflatable rides'.

 

Theatre

For theatre, check out performances at Exeter Barnfield Theatre, Exeter Northcott Theatre and The Bike Shed Theatre.

 

Exe Estuary

The Exe Estuary is delightful. Lined with nature reserves and pretty villages, explore on foot, by bike or from a boat.

Nature Reserves we'd recommend visiting include the RSPBs Exminster and Powderham Marshes and Bowling Green Marshes at the top end of the estuary. Down by the mouth, explore Exmouth Local Nature Reserve and the superb Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve.

Topsham is stunning.

Walk or cycle the Exe Estuary Trail.

If possible, also explore the estuary by boat. Try the River Exe Cruise. The trip takes between 1-2 hours and is supplied by Stuart Line Cruises.

A ferry runs between Starcross and Exmouth. Other ferries cross the water further up the estuary at Topsham. For example, a ferry runs from Ferry Road in Topsham across to Topsham Lock. Another runs from Topsham across to The Turf pub.

 

Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site and East Devon

Follow the Exe Estuary to the coast and you're at the start/end of an internationally important UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs along the East Devon coast.