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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > West Country > Devon > Exeter

Exeter

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For other places with the same name, see Exeter (disambiguation).
Exeter Cathedral

Exeter is the county town of Devon and historically the administrative capital of the south-west peninsula. A historic mid-sized cathedral city with a good blend of arts, education, retail and history.

Understand[edit]

In AD 50 a Roman military base was built at a strategic crossing point on the banks of the river Exe, seven years after the Roman invasion of Britain. The settlement quickly gained in importance as the administrative centre for the Dunmommi tribe once the legionnaires left. Indeed, its Roman name, Isca Dumnomiorum, means "town of the Dumnonii (Devonian) tribe". Parts of the original Roman walls can still be seen today. The city continued to hold regional significance through the turbulent Dark Ages, being twice captured by the invading Vikings. Following the Norman Conquest, the inhabitants rebelled against William the Conqueror, who laid siege and subsequently built Rougemount Castle to ensure future compliance. During the renaissance period it developed into an economically powerful city through the wool industry, and a period of rapid growth commenced. Later, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, industry was driven by water power from the River Exe. It remained a significant seaport (courtesy of its Ship Canal) until the age of steam, but there was no major industrialisation in the later 19th century. The city was badly damaged in an incendiary bombing raid on the High Street and surrounding areas in 1942, and although post-war reconstruction has been limited, a number of interesting buildings remain.

Now Exeter is the commercial and service centre for a largely agricultural hinterland, with a population of around 110,000. Good facilities for tourists exist, but tourism does not dominate; regularly voted among the top 3 cities in the UK for quality of life.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

UK domestic flights operated by Flybe fly to Aberdeen (ABZ IATA); Belfast City (BHD IATA); Edinburgh (EDI IATA); Glasgow (GLA IATA); Guernsey (GCI IATA); Jersey (JER IATA); Leeds Bradford (LBA IATA); Manchester Airport (MAN IATA); Newcastle (NCL IATA) and Norwich (NWI IATA).

Skybus flies to St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly (ISC IATA) March-October, Monday to Saturday.

International flights to Exeter operated by Flybe are available from the following destinations, with services from France under a codeshare agreement with Air France: Alicante (ALC IATA); Amsterdam (AMS IATA); Avignon (AVN IATA); Bergerac (EGC IATA); Chambéry (CMF IATA); Dublin (DUB IATA); Dubrovnik (DBV IATA); Düsseldorf (DUS IATA); Geneva (GVA IATA); Hanover (HAJ IATA); Helsinki (HEL IATA); Málaga (AGP IATA); Palma (PMI IATA); Paris (CDG IATA); Rennes (RNS IATA); Salzburg (SZG IATA). Most of these flights run year-round, but less often in winter.

The bus to the airport is Stagecoach Bus 56 between Exeter St David's railway station and Exmouth. Buses run hourly till about 10 pm and take 20 mins, single fare £3. A taxi costs £10-20.

By train[edit]

Exeter is on the London Paddington to Penzance line, with a train roughly every hour from Paddington to Exeter through most of the day. Alternatively all Exeter stations (except St James's Park) are on the Riviera Line serving Exeter, Starcross, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torre, Torquay and Paignton.

2 Exeter St. Davids is the main train station, a 15-minute walk or bus journey to the city centre. Several smaller stations for local and regional trains exist, including 3 Central, 4 St Thomas and 5 St James's Park. Central station is a 5-minute walk into the city centre along Queen Street. The journey time from London Paddington to Exeter St. Davids is 2-3 hours, with the average being around 2 hours 30 minutes. There is also a slower service from London Waterloo via Salisbury, about every 2 hours, which can take up to 4 hours. This service calls at Central station and at St David's. National services are run to Bristol, South Wales, Birmingham, the north of England and Scotland; service to Bristol is approximately hourly. Local trains run to Barnstaple, Exmouth, and along the main lines.

By bus[edit]

National Express operates a number of bus services from points around the United Kingdom that arrive at the city's bus and coach station, in Paris Street, a few minutes walk to the main shopping area in High Street and the cathedral green.

Two companies run coaches between Exeter coach station and London's Victoria Coach Station. National Express offers a nine times a day service (service numbers 501, 404 & 406) with some advance fares as low as £2 return, and Megabus runs once a day starting at £1.50.

Get around[edit]

The central area of the city is fairly small, so it is easy to get around on foot.

Buses within the city are operated by Stagecoach Devon, who also operate buses to most regional destinations. A day pass within the city costs £4, with a regional pass valid on Stagecoach and Western Greyhound costing £6.50, 1-week passes are £12. Some regional routes are operated by FirstBus, and by small independent operators.

Cycle paths of varying quality run through the city. The most scenic route runs along the canal towpath.

See[edit]

Exeter Clock Tower
  • City walls - some date to Roman times and there are easily-accessible remnants next to Rougemont Gardens.
  • 1 Exeter Cathedral, Exeter, EX1 1HS, +44 1392 255573. And the Cathedral Green; Exeter's top attraction and a very beautiful gothic building. The cathedral lays claim to having the longest unbroken stone roof beam of any building in the world. The Cathedral Green opposite can be a good place to chill out on in the summer, ideal for an inexpensive picnic. Adult: £8.50, senior/student: £6, child: free. Exeter Cathedral on Wikipedia Exeter Cathedral (Q1131208) on Wikidata
  • 2 Guildhall, High St, Exeter, EX4 3EB. Claimed to be the oldest municipal building in England still serving its original purpose. Exeter Guildhall on Wikipedia Exeter Guildhall (Q5420117) on Wikidata
  • Historic quayside including the 17th-century 3 Custom House, which has been renovated as a headquarters for the city's archaeological service.
  • Medieval churches in the city centre: St Martin's, St Mary Arches, St Mary Steps, St Olave's, St Petrock's, St Stephen's.
  • 4 Parliament Street. The world's second most narrow street at 1.22 metres (4 ft) wide. Parliament Street, Exeter on Wikipedia Parliament Street (Q950663) on Wikidata
  • 5 Rougemont Castle (Exeter Castle), Castle St, EX4 3PU, +44 1392 420703. The grounds and the remaining Norman structures are open to the public, but the central part of the castle has been retired from service as an Assize Court. It is now a wedding and events venue with holiday lets. Rougemont Castle on Wikipedia Rougemont Castle (Q7370785) on Wikidata
  • 7 St Nicholas Priory, Mint Lane EX4 3BL. Su 13:00-16:00. The 900-year-old guest wing of a former Benedictine Priory, furnished as the 1602 home of a prosperous family. Free. St Nicholas' Priory, Exeter on Wikipedia St Nicholas Priory (Q7594961) on Wikidata
  • 8 Underground passages, 2 Paris St, EX1 1GA, +44 1392 665887. One-hour tours are easily arranged of the city's unique medieval (and now out of use) water system. Not for the claustrophobic! The entrance can be found next to the Princesshay shopping development. It is open all year, £4.90 adults, £3.40 children.
  • 9 Killerton, Broadclyst, EX5 3LE (8 miles north of Exeter), +44 1392 881345, e-mail: . Killerton on Wikipedia Killerton (Q6988604) on Wikidata
  • 10 Met Office open days, Fitzroy Rd, EX1 3PB, +44 370 900 0100 (inside the UK), +44 1392 885680 (outside the UK). The Met Office hosts occasional public tours via open days for visitors aged 10 and over. Part of the tour includes the Met Office's National Meteorological Library which has a small museum dedicated to the Met Office's history including artifices such as Robert Fitzroy's equipment. Note that photography and recording is strictly prohibited. Met Office on Wikipedia Met Office (Q1851405) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

The Lady Chapel of Exeter Cathedral
  • Take a free guided tour with the City's volunteer Redcoat guides - tours leave the Cathedral Green or the Quay and last 1–2 hours
  • 1 Crealy Great Adventure Park, Sidmouth Rd, EX5 1DR (8 miles E of Exeter. From M5 jcn 30 follow A3052; bus 52A or 52B from main bus station), +44 1395 233200. Jun-Aug daily 10:00-17:00, from Sept outdoor rides only Sa Su. Adventure park mainly aimed at younger children, with indoor and outdoor slides and rides. Accommodation includes cabin lodges, glamping and camping. Adult £21, others by height. Crealy Great Adventure Parks on Wikipedia Crealy Great Adventure Parks (Q5183338) on Wikidata
  • The canal and river offers opportunities for watersports and cycling. Bikes and canoes can be hired from Saddles and Paddles, No. 4 Kings Wharf, The Quay, EX4 2AN, who offer good advice and the local bike route maps. A series of cycle paths exist on either side of the river. Along the west river bank, the village of Starcross and the beach of Dawlish Warren are easily reached, and Dawlish, Teignmouth and the south west coastpath can also be reached via this route. On the east bank, the gastronomic town of Topsham, Lympstone village, and seaside resort town Exmouth can be reached.

Watch[edit]

Cinema[edit]

  • 2 Odeon, Sidwell St, EX4 6PL (near the Duke of York pub), +44 333 014 4501.
  • 3 Picture House, Bartholomew St, EX4 3AJ (near The World Food shop), +44 871 902 5730. Has a cafe-bar and free Wi-Fi.
  • 4 Vue, Summerland St, EX1 2DD (near the bus station), +44 345 308 4620.

Theatre[edit]

Sport[edit]

  • 9 Exeter City Football Club, St James Park EX4 6PX (off B3212, next to St James Park railway station), +44 1392 411 243. City play in League Two, the fourth tier of English football. The 8830-seat St James' Park stadium is a 10-minute walk northeast from the city centre. Exeter City F.C. on Wikipedia Exeter City F.C. (Q48939) on Wikidata
  • 10 Exeter Chiefs Rugby Union Club, Sandy Park Stadium, Sandy Park Way, EX2 7NN (3 miles east of city at jcn 30 of M5 with A379), +44 1392 890890. Exeter Chiefs play in the English Premiership, the top tier of English Rugby Union. Sandy Park, opened in 2006, has a capacity of 12,800. There are plans to enlarge this beyond 20,000 to meet the stadium requirements for later stages of European rugby tournaments. Exeter Chiefs on Wikipedia Exeter Chiefs (Q675305) on Wikidata
  • 11 Exeter Racecourse (Haldon racecourse), EX6 7XS (8 miles south of city, off A38), +44 1392 832599. This is a National Hunt ie jumps racecourse, with regular meetings during the winter season. Perched on top of the Haldon hills, it's the highest racecourse in the UK, at 260m. There's a caravan & motor-home park within the course. Exeter Racecourse on Wikipedia Exeter Racecourse (Q5420128) on Wikidata

Learn[edit]

Work[edit]

  • The largest employers are the Devon County Council, the University of Exeter, and the Met Office.
  • Employment agencies cluster around the west end of the High Street.
  • The Job Centre is at Clarendon House, Western Way
  • Exeter Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) is at Wat Tyler House in King William Street

Buy[edit]

  • The High Street is mostly taken up by national clothing and electronics chains, and was branded a "clone town" in a 2005 poll of bland high streets. At that point Exeter High Street had only one "independent" shop (a tobacconist).
  • Larger concentrations of independent shops can be found in the streets just off the High Street. Fore Street has a number of good outdoor goods shops. Gandy Street and the Cathedral Green offer a similarly eclectic range of retailers. Magdalen Road, a few minutes walk from the city centre, offers award-winning butchers and fishmongers as well as handmade jewellery and gift shops.
  • A major redevelopment of Princesshay and surrounding streets has brought many new or redeveloped shops and restaurants including an Apple store.
  • 1 Princesshay, 9 Catherine St, EX1 1QA. Princesshay on Wikipedia Princesshay (Q7244916) on Wikidata
  • Mall-type shopping developments in the city include the Guildhall and Harlequins.
  • 2 Guildhall Shopping Centre, 40 High St, EX4 3HP, +44 1392 201910. M-Sa 8AM-7PM; Su 10AM-5PM.
  • 3 Harlequins Shopping Centre, Paul St, EX4 3TT, +44 1392 219 366.

Eat[edit]

As well as the selection listed here, there are the national chains eg ASK and Pizza Express on Cathedral Green, and Zizzi's in Gandy Street. The suburb of Topsham, 5 km south on the river estuary, also has a good range of restaurants.

Budget[edit]

  • The Plant, 1 Cathedral Yard EX1 1HJ, +44 1392 428144. M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM. Café with a good choice of vegetarian and other snacks and light meals.
  • Dinosaur Café (Mediterranean food), 5 New North Rd EX4 4HH (At the clock end of Queen Street), +44 1392 490951. M-Sa 10AM-9PM. Small family-owned Turkish and English cafe. All sorts of meze dishes, which are truly delicious. Large portions and inexpensive compared to similar restaurants. Also a bookshop, and something of a legend for University folk. £15 for three courses without alcohol.
  • Gandhi, 7/8 New North Road EX4 4HH (At roundabout head of Queen St), +44 1392 272119. Daily noon-2PM & 6-11:30PM. Traditional Brit Indian, inexpensive.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Al-Farid, 3 Cathedral Yard EX1 1HJ, +44 1392 494444. Daily noon-11:30PM. Moroccan.
  • Hour Glass, 21 Melbourne Street EX2 4AU, +44 1392 258722. Tu-F noon-2:30PM & 5PM-11PM; Sa noon-midnight; Su noon-10:30PM; M 5-10:30PM. Wood-panelled pub with real ale & traditional fare.
  • The Fat Pig, 2 John St EX1 1BL (turn off Fore St by Taunton Leisure). M-F 5-11PM, Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-5PM. Central yet rustic atmosphere, they even rear their own pigs.
  • On The Water Front, Southern Warehouse, 4-9 The Quay EX2 4AP (On riverside just S of centre), +44 1392 210590. Daily 10AM-11PM. Italian, in 19th-century brick warehouse, the pizzas are huge.

Splurge[edit]

  • Olive Tree, in Queen's Court Hotel, Bystock Terr EX4 4HY, +44 1392 272709. Daily 6:30-9PM. Modern British cuisine.
  • St Olave's Court, in St Olave's Hotel, Mary Arches Street EX4 3AZ, +44 1392 217736. Tapas restaurant.
  • @Angela's, 38 New Bridge Street EX4 3AH, +44 1392 499038. W-Sa 6PM - 9:30PM. Modern British & French cuisine, locally sourced.
  • The Conservatory, 18 North Street EX4 3QS, +44 1392 273858. Tu-Sa 12:30PM-2PM & 5:30PM-9PM. Good food, the light lunch and early bird dinner are recommended.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 The Double Locks, Canal Banks, EX2 6LT, +44 1392 256947. The Double Locks pub sits in an idyllic location on the edge of Exeter Canal, 20 minutes walk from the quayside. Occasional live music, child-friendly, a solid selection of real ales and a reasonable menu. On sunny weekends the pub attracts many punters, and the May Day bank-holiday beer festival can get very busy, with long queues.
  • 2 The Imperial, New North Rd, EX4 4AH (10 minutes walk from the city centre), +44 1392 434050. A decently priced J D Wetherspoons pub.
  • 3 The Angel, 32 Queen St, EX4 3SR, +44 1392 432611. The Angel is a warm hearted bar in the centre of Exeter. It is independent and promotes great quality in everything: staff, drinks and music. With a relaxed atmosphere during the day, it then turns into a pumping party bar at night.
  • 4 Timepiece, Little Castle St, EX4 3PX, +44 1392 493096. A bar with a nightclub above.
  • The Well House Tavern, 16-17 Cathedral Yard, EX1 1HB. Attached to Michael Caine's restaurant on Cathedral Green. Good selection of Real Ales, and a skeleton in the basement!
  • 5 The Old Firehouse, 50 New North Rd, EX4 4EP, +44 1392 277279. Open until 2-3AM most nights, the Firehouse is a pub serving local ales, ciders and food until the wee hours. The 14-inch pizzas, served from 9PM (after the normal menu ends) are highly recommended, at £7 each. Live folk/surf-rock on Fridays, jazz/world on Saturdays, flamenco guitar on Thursdays. Occasionally there is an entry charge on weekend nights.
  • 6 Cavern, 83-84 Queen St, EX4 3RP (between Boston Tea Party and Tony & Guy), +44 1392 495370. 11AM-2AM. Live music venue with bands most evenings. Be warned that the toilets are not for the faint-hearted. However, it is a nursery for new talent with bands like Muse, Coldplay and Radiohead playing early in their careers. varies.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • 2 Premier Inn Exeter Central St Davids, Bonhay Road, EX4 4BG, +44 871 527 9278. 3-star chain close to main railway station. Premier Inn has one other hotel in city ("Exeter Centre"), and two edge-of-town ("Exeter M5" & "Exeter Countess Wear"). From £35.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 3 Great Western Hotel, St David's Station Approach, EX4 4NU, +44 1392 274039, e-mail: . Simple 2-star next to main railway station, 1 km north of centre. single £46, double £72.
  • 4 City Gate, Iron Bridge, Lower North Street, EX4 3RB (next to Guildhall shopping centre), +44 1392 495811. 3-star pub with rooms near town centre. £75 single, £85 double.
  • 5 Jurys Inn Exeter, Western Way, EX1 2DB, +44 1392 312400. 3-star, reliable chain choice near city centre. Rooms from £79.
  • 6 Hotel du Vin Exeter, Magdalen St, EX2 4HY, +44 1392 790120. 4-star with spa & bistro, central. Variable room size: "cosy" means kinda small. From £89.
  • 7 Silver Springs, 12 Richmond Road, St. Davids, EX4 4JA, +44 1392 494040, e-mail: . Serviced apartments, short-stay available. Singles from £85, double from £95.
  • University of Exeter. This is primarily an accommodation agency for Exeter students. During Easter and summer vacation rooms with B&B may be available on the Streatham Campus, 2 km north of city centre, if they're not booked out to conferences. From £60 double.

Splurge[edit]

  • 8 Mercure Southgate Hotel, Southernhay East, EX1 1QF. Great breakfast, decent rooms, friendly staff. Parking £12 per day. £115 double.
  • 9 St Olaves Hotel, 16 Mary Arches St, EX4 3AZ, +44 1392 217736, e-mail: . 3-star in Georgian house with restaurant & tapas bar. £115 double, £155 suite.

Stay safe[edit]

Exeter is very safe compared to other cities in the UK. There is a slight likelihood that you will be asked for money by homeless people at some point, but most of them are not aggressive and will simply move to the next person if you tell them, 'No, sorry.'

Cope[edit]

The local newspaper is the Express and Echo, published weekly. It is a good source for local events listings. The Exeter Flying Post offers alternative editorial views.

Go next[edit]

One of the main pulling points for the city is the ease in which one can get out of the urban environment and into the countryside. Exeter is a convenient gateway to Dartmoor, Plymouth and the rest of Devon and Cornwall.

  • Beaches: the nearest are at Exmouth and Dawlish Warren, but the whole of the south-west peninsula is within reach.
  • Scenic towns: Lyme Regis to the east, Totnes and Dartmouth to the south
  • Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks
  • Countryside: The Devon countryside offers rolling hills, fast-flowing rivers, and countless picturesque villages and small towns
  • Other major towns in Devon: Torquay and Plymouth
Routes through Exeter
BristolTaunton  N UK-Motorway-M5.svg S  merges with A38
Land's EndOkehampton  W UK road A30.svg E  towards UK road A303.PNG (London) and UK road A35.svg (Bournemouth)
merges with M5  N UK road A38.svg S  BuckfastleighPlymouth
merges with M5 and A3052  W UK road A376.PNG SE  LympstoneExmouth
merges with A38  N UK road A380.PNG S  Newton AbbotTorquay


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