things to do in exeter

Last Updated on: 16th July 2024, 05:39 am

Hello, my name is Ollie Anderson and I’m here to share with you the best things to do in Exeter. If you’re wondering where to go in England for a delightful weekend getaway, Exeter is the answer. This charming city, located in the county of Devon, offers a perfect mix of history, culture, and outdoor activities, making it an ideal destination for all types of travelers. Whether you’re planning a family holiday, a romantic break or a solo adventure, there are plenty of things to do in Exeter to suit your interests.

Explore historic landmarks, immerse yourself in the local culture, indulge in tasty food, and appreciate picturesque green spaces. In this article, I will guide you through the best places to see in Exeter to help you make the most of your visit. Let’s dive into the wonders of this fascinating city!

Things to do in Exeter

1. Explore Historic Exeter

If you love history, Exeter is the perfect place for you to explore. As one of the oldest and most historic cities in the UK, it offers plenty of ways to immerse yourself in its rich heritage.

Make sure to visit the impressive Exeter Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture dating back to the 12th century. Marvel at its intricate stonework, beautiful stained glass windows, and soaring vaulted ceilings. With a guided tour, you can learn all about the fascinating history of this iconic landmark.

Another must-see attraction is the ruins of Rougemont Castle, which dates back to the 11th century. Its strategic location, atop a hill overlooking the city, makes for breathtaking views. Explore the castle’s walls, towers, and dungeon, and learn about its medieval past.

For a leisurely stroll, visit the Ancient Exe Bridge, which is over 900 years old and one of the oldest bridges in the country. Take in the views of the River Exe and the city’s historic quayside.

Don’t forget to capture your memorable trip to these historic sites with a photo, like the beautiful image below:

historic Exeter
For history buffs, St Albans provides a rich cultural experience with its historical sites. Here are the things to do in St Albans.

2. Immerse Yourself in Exeter’s Culture

Exeter offers a vibrant array of cultural experiences for art enthusiasts. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery is a must-visit destination, it houses a diverse collection of artworks and artefacts across several floors, including galleries dedicated to local history and fine arts.

To witness cutting-edge performances from emerging talent, visit the Exeter Phoenix. A contemporary arts venue showcasing theatre, dance, and music performances that is located in the heart of the city.

Don’t miss the Exeter Festival held annually, it is a celebration of arts and music. It brings together artists from across the country and features a lineup of music, poetry, and other performances that promise to create an unforgettable experience for all visitors.

cultural experiences in Exeter city

Exeter is a haven for cultural enthusiasts. The city’s lively arts scene offers an opportunity to soak in the rich artistic heritage of the region.

3. Discover Exeter’s Quayside

When visiting Exeter, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the charming Exeter Quayside. Known for its picturesque waterfront views, this area is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Exeter Quayside

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Browse through independent boutiques and shops, where you’ll find unique products and gifts. Take your time exploring the historic Exeter Custom House, where you can learn about the city’s trade and maritime history.

With its stunning riverside setting, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. Choose from an array of charming cafes and restaurants overlooking the River Exe, and indulge in delicious food and drinks.

4. Experience Exeter’s Green Spaces

If you’re looking for a quiet place to unwind in Exeter town centre, look no further than the city’s beautiful green spaces. Despite being a bustling metropolitan area, Exeter has plenty of parks and gardens where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the fresh air.

The Oldest Public Gardens in England

Northernhay Gardens

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Northernhay Gardens is the oldest public garden in England and is located just a stone’s throw away from Exeter’s city centre. Take a leisurely walk in the gardens and discover the beautiful flower arrangements, trees, and sculptures. Don’t forget to check out the castle ruins inside the park.

Exeter University Streatham Campus

Head to the Exeter University Streatham Campus, one of the most beautiful campuses in the UK, and explore the 300 acres of stunning scenery. The campus features a botanical garden, lake and gardens, and arboretum – it’s the perfect spot for nature lovers.

Exeter town centre

There is nothing more calming than connecting with nature in the middle of the city.

Enjoy a picnic with family or friends, read a book under a tree, or simply take a leisurely stroll through these picturesque green spaces. Exeter’s green areas offer ample opportunity to relax and rejuvenate, even in the midst of urbanity.

Families will also enjoy visiting Huddersfield, which offers plenty of fun and educational activities. Check out our guide on things to do in Huddersfield.

5. Enjoy Exeter’s Food and Drink Scene

When it comes to food and drink, Exeter has plenty to offer. Whether you’re craving a locally brewed beer or some fresh produce, you’ll find it in Exeter town center.

One of the best places to indulge in local delicacies is the Exeter Farmers Market. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh produce, baked goods, and artisanal treats. I highly recommend trying the Devonshire cream tea, a quintessential West Country treat.

For beer enthusiasts, Exeter has a vibrant pub scene. The city is home to many pubs that offer locally brewed beers, including the famous Otter Brewery. I recommend visiting The Fat Pig, a cozy pub that boasts an impressive selection of beers and ciders on tap.

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, make sure to check out some of Exeter’s award-winning restaurants. The Olive Tree and The Rusty Bike are two popular spots that offer delicious food and a fantastic atmosphere.

Exeter town centre food and drink

Tip: Don’t forget to try some of Exeter’s famous cream teas, made with clotted cream and jam, when visiting.

6. Shop ‘Til You Drop in Exeter

If you’re a shopaholic like me, you’re in for a treat in Exeter. The city offers a fantastic shopping experience, with a wide range of stores to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re after high street brands or unique boutiques, Exeter has got you covered. Here are some of my top picks for shopping in Exeter:

Princesshay Shopping Centre

Princesshay Shopping Centre

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If you’re looking for well-known retailers, the Princesshay Shopping Centre is the place to go. You’ll find all your favourite brands, including Apple, Topshop, and Zara. The shopping centre is located in the heart of Exeter city centre, so it’s easy to access and a great place to spend an afternoon.

Gandy Street

Gandy Street

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If you’re after something a bit more unique, head to Gandy Street. This charming cobbled street is full of independent boutiques and vintage stores. You’ll find everything from retro clothing to handmade jewellery here. It’s the perfect place to find a unique gift or treat yourself to something special.

Exeter Christmas Market

Exeter Christmas Market

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If you’re visiting Exeter during the festive season, don’t miss the Exeter Christmas Market. Located in the city centre, the market offers a range of festive gifts and crafts. You’ll find everything from handmade decorations to gourmet food and drink. It’s the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit!

“I love shopping in Exeter – there’s something for everyone here, and the city has such a great atmosphere!”

Whatever your shopping style, Exeter has plenty of options to keep you busy. From high street brands to unique boutiques, you’re sure to find something you love. Happy shopping!

7. Experience Exeter’s Nightlife

As the sun sets over Exeter, the city’s nightlife comes alive. From trendy bars to lively nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. As an experienced nightlife enthusiast, let me guide you through the best ways to experience Exeter after hours.

Cocktail Bars

Start your night with a delicious cocktail at one of Exeter’s many bars. Head to The Terrace for stunning views of Exeter Cathedral while sipping on your favorite drink. For a touch of luxury, visit John Gandy’s, an elegant bar boasting a wide range of cocktails made with high-end spirits.



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If you’re in the mood to dance the night away, Exeter has plenty of options to choose from. Timepiece is a popular nightclub among students, known for its lively atmosphere and top-quality DJs. For a more sophisticated club experience, head to The Monkey Suit, an underground club with a great selection of drinks and live music.

Pubs with Live Music

If you prefer a more relaxed evening, visit one of Exeter’s pubs with live music. The Old Firehouse is a favorite among locals, with a vast selection of beers and ciders and live music every night of the week. The Bike Shed Theatre and Bar is another great option, offering a cozy atmosphere and a diverse program of music performances.

“Exeter’s nightlife scene is diverse and vibrant, with something for every taste and mood.”

So, put on your dancing shoes and get ready for an unforgettable night out in Exeter!

8. Explore Exeter’s Surroundings

As much as exploring Exeter town centre and Quayside can be fascinating, there’s more to discover around Exeter. Take a break from the city and discover the delightful Devon countryside. Plan a day trip to Dartmoor National Park and be mesmerized by the breathtaking landscapes and hiking trails that are perfect for the adventurers in us. Those who prefer a more relaxed day out can visit the coastal town of Exmouth, just a short distance from Exeter. Enjoy the sandy beaches, paddleboarding, kayaking, and other water sports.

Exeter town centre

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My Recommendations:

  • Take a taxi or bus to Dartmoor National Park for a day hike and breathtaking views of the moors.
  • Plan a picnic with family or friends at the River Exe and enjoy the views.
  • Visit the charming coastal town of Exmouth for a relaxing day at the beach and try water sports like paddleboarding.

Exeter’s location makes it easy to explore the picturesque towns and natural beauty surrounding it. Make the most of your visit by taking in the sights and sounds of Devon’s countryside and coastline.


In conclusion, Exeter is truly a city that has it all. From its fascinating historical sites to its vibrant cultural scene, there is never a dull moment here. You can soak up the atmosphere at the Quayside, explore the city’s green spaces, or indulge in its fantastic food and drink scene. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a trip to the stunning surrounding countryside?

I recommend booking a visit to Exeter and experiencing all it has to offer for yourself. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed!


What are the best things to do in Exeter, England?

Some of the best things to do in Exeter, England include visiting the Exeter Cathedral, exploring the historic sites like Rougemont Castle, taking a stroll along the Ancient Exe Bridge, immersing yourself in the local culture at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, and enjoying the beautiful green spaces like the Northernhay Gardens.

Where can I find cultural experiences in Exeter?

You can find cultural experiences in Exeter at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, the Exeter Phoenix which hosts theater, dance, and music performances, and the annual Exeter Festival that celebrates arts and music.

What can I do at Exeter Quayside?

At Exeter Quayside, you can take a leisurely stroll while enjoying waterfront views, explore the historic Exeter Custom House, browse through independent boutiques, and dine at charming cafes and restaurants overlooking the River Exe.

Are there any green spaces in Exeter town centre?

Yes, despite being a city, Exeter boasts beautiful green spaces. You can visit the picturesque Northernhay Gardens, which is the oldest public garden in England, or explore the stunning grounds of the Exeter University Streatham Campus, complete with lakes and botanical gardens.

Where can I find good food and drink in Exeter town centre?

You can find good food and drink in Exeter town centre at the Exeter Farmers Market, where you can enjoy local delicacies and fresh produce. There are also award-winning restaurants and pubs where you can dine and sample locally brewed beers.

What are the shopping opportunities in Exeter?

Exeter offers excellent shopping opportunities with a mix of high street brands and independent shops. You can explore the Princesshay Shopping Centre for well-known retailers or visit Gandy Street for unique boutiques and vintage stores. Don’t miss the Exeter Christmas Market for festive gifts and crafts.

Is there a nightlife scene in Exeter?

Yes, Exeter has a vibrant nightlife scene. You can start your evening with a cocktail at one of the trendy bars in the city center, dance the night away at one of the nightclubs, or enjoy live music in the pubs that host local talent.

Can I explore Exeter’s surroundings?

Yes, Exeter’s location provides easy access to beautiful surroundings. You can take a day trip to Dartmoor National Park, known for its breathtaking landscapes and hiking trails, or visit the coastal town of Exmouth for sandy beaches and water sports.

What is there to do in Exeter, England?

There are plenty of things to do in Exeter, England. You can explore historic sites, immerse yourself in the local culture, enjoy the beautiful green spaces, indulge in the food and drink scene, go shopping, experience the nightlife, and explore the surrounding areas. Exeter has something for everyone!


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