Things to Do in Exeter
Exeter is unrivalled in the region for the choice of things to do, whatever the weather, night or day. Explore the city's many attractions all within close walking distance of each other. The city is segmented into distinct quarters to help you explore hidden gems and surprises along the way.
View or request a copy of the Exeter Official City Guide to find out what to see and do in the city.
Exeter Cathedral is a magnificent example of gothic architecture. Explore the history of the city on a daily free Red Coat Guided Tour, starting from outside the West Front of the Cathedral. During sunny days, the Cathedral Green is a mecca for people wishing to spend their lunch break soaking up the sun and enjoying the views.
The High Street forms one of the main corridors in the city, so navigating your way around won’t be too difficult and with most city centre buses stopping along the High Street, you won’t get lost!
You can walk from the High Street through the narrowest street in Europe, Parliament Street, through to the Guildhall Shopping Centre. There's free entry to 12th century Exeter Guildhall, which is one of the oldest working municipal buildings in England, serving as the centrepiece of Exeter's civic life for more than 800 years.
Located in the High Street Quarter is the cobbled Gandy Street, as popular by night as it is during the day, with a number of pubs and restaurants. The Exeter Phoenix is located here, with its exciting programme of exhibitions, workshops and live music most nights.
Just off the High Street, Queen Street is home to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, awarded Museum of the Year 2012. Enjoy stunning displays and prestigious loans and exhibitions from national partners. Experience the splendour of the original Victorian spaces, see newly-revealed architectural features and discover new spaces.
Princesshay is a contemporary shopping and leisure development in the centre of Exeter, with over 60 shops and restaurants. When visiting Princesshay, don’t forget to look up and view some of the many public art features dotted around the quarter.
One of your first stops in the city must be Exeter Visitor Information & Tickets, who offer a wide range of services to make the most of your visit. Here you can pick up a leaflet for one of three self guided heritage trails around Exeter. Nearby is the entrance to Exeter's Underground Passages, a network of passages beneath the city's streets which can be explored on a guided tour.
Within the Castle Quarter is Northernhay and Rougemont Gardens and Exeter Castle; it is a green sanctuary in a buzzing city centre. Exeter Castle, formerly known as Rougemont Castle was built in 1068 following the Norman siege of Exeter. Its gatehouse is the oldest standing castle building in Britain today.
Northernhay Gardens are of outstanding historic significance, the site was quarried in Roman times for stone from which to build the adjacent city walls. The gardens celebrated their 400th anniversary in 2012. Explore the area on the City Wall Trail or on a Red Coat Guided Tour.
One of the most attractive and relaxing tree lined streets in Exeter, Southernhay is full of Georgian elegance with taseful townhouses and peaceful gardens in which to relax in after a long day's shopping. Southernhay is currently home to the Veitch Garden, a display to show the wide range of plants introduced by this famous family of Exeter nurserymen.
The Exeter Barnfield Theatre is located just off Southernhay East, showing exciting performances by local amateur and professional companies as well as touring professional theatrical companies. Nearby, Brook Gallery is a is a purpose designed four room gallery in the elegant Georgian setting of Barnfield Crescent, presenting an eclectic collection of fine and applied arts.
Southernhay is home to a monthly Street Food Market, on the last Friday of every month from May - October.
Exeter's Historic Quayside is located about 15 minutes walk from the city centre. It is one of the most interesting and picturesque area of the city, popular with locals and visitors alike for its fascinating history, interesting architecture, lively events and its friendly pubs, restaurants and cafes.
Activities on offer include cycling, walking, relaxing boat trips, Red Coat Guided Tours, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and climbing.
Exeter’s position on the River Exe lead to great wealth in the 17th and 18th centuries, largely due to the woollen cloth trade. In 1680 the Custom House was constructed on the city’s Quayside, a beautiful building renowned for its sweeping staircase and ornate plaster ceilings. Today it is a visitor centre, bringing the history of the Quayside to life.
The West Quarter is home to some fascinating history dating back to medieval times, where Exeter saw a period of rapid growth. The city became the religious, commercial and administrative centre for the region. This period of growth had a huge impact on Exeter, especially the architecture, which can be found in the West Quarter.
There are many unusual places to visit in the West Quarter, even an Egyptian catacomb, which can be visited as part of a Red Coat Guided Tour.
University of Exeter
The University of Exeter’s Streatham campus is built around a country estate overlooking the city and is acknowledged by students as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. A Registered Botanic Garden, Streatham Campus is described by The Times as the ‘best-gardened campus in Britain’ and by The Independent as having a ‘sublime’ setting. The grounds feature many exotic trees and shrubs and with stunning views across the city, join a garden tour to find out more. Film lovers should head to the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum.
The quaint historic estuary port of Topsham has a cosmopolitan atmosphere with an eclectic cluster of specialist shops and fine restaurants, plus wonderful sunsets above the estuary. Once a thriving port and shipbuilding centre, Topsham still retains a strong maritime flavour today. Distinctive buildings include elegant 17 century Dutch-style merchant houses in The Strand.
Good food is a Topsham speciality with many places to eat including historic pubs, and award-winning restaurants. Shopping offers a vibrant mix of boutiques, galleries, gifts, fine wines and foods, and antiques including several floors to browse at the former Customs House on the quay.
On Topsham's outskirts, you will also find Darts Farm, a treasure trove of delicious local produce and lifestyle shopping.
River Exe Estuary
The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl, supporting thousands of birds. One of the best opportunities to view the wildlife of the estuary is at the RSPB's two nature reserves at Exminster Marshes and Bowling Green Marsh, or join a guided bird watching cruise with Stuart Line Cruises or the RSPB.
The Exe Estuary Trail is a 26 mile, mainly flat cycle and walkway which runs around the entire Exe Estuary linking Exmouth, Exeter and Dawlish, with fantastic views along the River Exe.