- For other places with the same name, see Exeter (disambiguation).
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.
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 main 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.
UK domestic flights operated by Flybe to Exeter International Airport are available from the following destinations:
- Aberdeen (IATA: ABZ)
- Belfast City (IATA: BHD)
- Edinburgh (IATA: EDI)
- Glasgow (IATA: GLA)
- Guernsey (IATA: GCI)
- Jersey (IATA: JER)
- Leeds Bradford (IATA: LBA)
- Manchester (IATA: MAN)
- Newcastle (IATA: NCL)
- Norwich (IATA: NWI)
Skybus operates services to and from St. Mary's - Scilly Isles (IATA: ISC) during the summer.
International flights to Exeter operated by Flybe are available from the following destinations, with services from France under a codeshare agreement with Air France (IATA: AF):
- Alicante (IATA: ALC)
- Amsterdam (IATA: AMS)
- Avignon (IATA: AVG)
- Bergerac (IATA: EGC)
- Chambéry (IATA: CMF)
- Dublin (IATA: DUB)
- Dubrovnik (IATA: DVK)
- Düsseldorf (IATA: DUS)
- Geneva (IATA: GVA)
- Hanover (IATA: HAN)
- Helsinki (IATA: HEL)
- Málaga (IATA: AGP)
- Palma (IATA: PMI)
- Paris (IATA: CDG)
- Rennes (IATA: RNS)
- Salzburg (IATA: SZG)
Air Transat operates a scheduled service to Toronto, Canada. There are charter flights to many holiday destinations.
Transport to and from the airport is by public bus or taxi. Buses run fairly frequently, with a twenty minute trip to the city centre bus station, and costs about £3.00 single. A taxi costs between £10.00 and £20.00.
Exeter is on the London Paddington to Cornwall line, with a train roughly every hour from Paddington to Exeter through most of the day. 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 Central, St Thomas and 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 anywhere between 2 and 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, ane along the main lines.
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 £2.00 return, and Megabus runs once a day starting at £1.50.
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 £12.00. 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.
- City walls - some date to Roman times and there are easily-accessible remnants next to Rougemont Gardens.
- 1 Exeter Cathedral, Exeter, EX1 1HS, ☎ . 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.
- 2 Guildhall, High St, Exeter, EX4 3EB. Claimed to be the oldest municipal building in England still serving its original purpose.
- Historic quayside including the 17th-century 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.
- Parliament Street. Claimed to be the world's narrowest.
- 3 Rougemont Castle. 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.
- St Nicholas Priory. closed in 2016 for repairs. The 900-year-old guest wing of a former Benedictine Priory.
- Underground passages, 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.
- University of Exeter parkland campuses and sculpture walk.
- 5 Killerton, Broadclyst, EX5 3LE (8 miles north of Exeter), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 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
- Crealy Great Adventure Park, Sidmouth Rd, ☎ . Just outside Exeter, and easily accessible from the main bus station via the 52A or 52B bus, this adventure park has a decent collection of indoor and outdoor slides and rides which should keep children occupied for a full day.
- 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.
- Odeon, Sidwell Street (Near The Duke Of York Pub)
- Picture House, Bartholomew Street (Near The World Food Shop), with a cafe-bar and free wi-fi
- Vue, Summerland Street (Near The Bus Station)
- Northcott Theatre, located on the University campus
- Barnfield Theatre
- New Theatre
- Bikeshed Theatre
- Exeter City Football Club play in the third tier of English football. The 8830-seat St James' Park stadium is 10 minutes walk from the city centre.
- Exeter Chiefs Rugby Union Club have a well-equipped new stadium at Sandy Gate near the M5 motorway junction for Exeter and play in the English Premiership.
- Exeter Falcons Speedway (niw without a home in the city)
- Exeter Racecourse is on the Haldon Hills, on the A38 road south out of the city.
- 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
- 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.
- Mall-type shopping developments in the city include the Guildhall and Harlequins.
What follows is a small selection of the city's restaurants; the national chains of pizza houses etc. are also well represented, some of them in attractive settings, e.g. ASK and Pizza Express on Cathedral Green, and Zizzi's in Gandy Street. The suburb of Topsham also has a good range of restaurants.
- The Plant, Cathedral Green. Café with a good choice of vegetarian and other snacks and light meals.
- Chadni's, Heavitree Rd. Kashmiri.
- Dinosaur Café (Mediterranean food), 5 New North Rd (At the clock end of Queen Street), ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-9PM. Turkish and English food. Family-owned. Includes a small bookshop. All sorts of meze dishes, which are truly delicious. Large portions and inexpensive compared to similar restaurants. Something of a legend for people connected with Exeter University. £15 for three courses without alcohol.
- Gandhi, New North Road.
- New Horizon Café, 47 Longbrook St.
- Taj Mahal, Queen Street.
- Mashawi, Sidwell Street.
- Al Farid, Cathedral Green. Moroccan
- No 21, Cathedral Green. Excellent cream teas and a full lunch and dinner menu.
- Cohiba, 36 South St, ☎ . Tapas
- Hour Glass Inn, Melbourne Street. Superior pub-type venue.
- The Fat Pig, John St, turn off Fore St by Taunton Leisure. Superb pub food.
- On The Water Front, The Quayside, ☎ . Pizzeria/Italian.
- Olive Tree, in the Queen's Court Hotel.
- St Olave's Court, Mary Arches Street.
- @Angela's, New Bridge Street, ☎ .
- The Conservatory, North Street.
- The Double Locks, Canal Banks, ☎ . 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.
- Imperial, New North Rd. 10 minutes walk from the city centre, a decently priced J D Weatherspoons pub.
- The Angel, 32 Queen St, ☎ . 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.
- Timepiece, Little Castle St, EX4 3PX, ☎ . A bar with a nightclub above.
- The Well House, Cathedral Green. Attached to Michael Caine's restaurant on Cathedral Green. Good selection of Real Ales, and a skeleton in the basement!
- The Old Firehouse, 50 New North Rd, ☎ . 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 £7.00 each. Live folk/surf-rock on Fridays, jazz/world on Saturdays, flamenco guitar on Thursdays. Occasionally there is an entry charge on weekend nights.
- The Cavern, Queen St (between Boston Tea Party and Tony & Guy). 8:30PM-1AM. 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.
- Globe Backpackers, 71 Holloway Street, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. £16.50.
- Holiday accommodation at the University of Exeter. £19.50 single, £29.50 double.
- Silver Springs, 12 Richmond Road, St. Davids, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. £35 single, £65 double.
- Premier Inn Exeter Central St.Davids, Bonhay Road, EX4 4BG, ☎ . Rooms from £29
- Great Western Hotel, St David's Station Approach, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. single £46, double £72.
- City Gate, Iron Bridge, Lower North Street, ☎ . £75 single, £85 double.
- Jurys Inn Exeter, Western Way, EX1 2DB. Rooms from £79.
- Hotel Barcelona, Magdalen Street, closed until December 2009
- Mercure Southgate Hotel, Southernhay East. Great breakfast, decent rooms, friendly staff. £115 double.
- St Olaves Hotel, 18-22 Mary Arches St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. £115 double, £155 suite.
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.'
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.
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