The ancient city of Exeter in mid-Devon is delightfully situated, being close to some of England’s most glorious scenery and coastlines. It’s also a lovely looking city with a lively atmosphere and delicious blend of the old and new.
Like the rest of its county, Exeter once thrived on the wool trade, fishing, agriculture and mining. Although the traditional industries have either folded or bring less prosperity to the region these days, the area remains a rural paradise, boasting the Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks and miles of exquisite golden sands on both north and south coastlines. Exeter’s position on the River Exe also gives it and its neighbouring villages a real estuary feel.
If you're visiting Exeter for a business trip, take a look at our Business in Exeter page to help you find a meeting room or conference venue to impress.
Find all you need to know about Exeter below and ensure you make the most of your trip to the city.
Flybe works in partnership with Booking.com so it’s easier than ever to find the perfect hotel in Exeter for your visit. Whether you’re just in need of a place to rest your head or after a little luxury, there is accommodation in Exeter to suit all needs and preferences.
Have a browse through some of the best Exeter hotels and find the perfect accommodation for you to unwind after your Flybe flight.
Things to see
The ancient city of Exeter is a joy to visit and a feast for the senses. From its Gothic cathedral and gorgeous grounds to its prominent position on the River Exe, the city is full of beautiful architecture and places of intrigue lurk around every corner. There’s also a lively restaurant and pub scene and a high street catering for all of your shopping needs.
See our Exeter Airport Arrivals page for all the details you need on reaching the city centre from the airport, and once you’ve arrived you’ll be able to find everything you need on foot, the amenities handily in close proximity to one another. Alongside the cathedral, history lovers will enjoy a Red Coat Guided Tour, free walks that take in much of the city’s important ancient places, including the remains of the Roman Wall and site of the Norman Castle.
Looking for peace and tranquillity amid the hustle and bustle of the city? Try Rougemont Gardens for starters. Next to the Norman Castle, Rougemont Gardens is now an open space of considerable beauty. Formerly the castle grounds – the former ditch is still very much visible – the gardens are a lovely place to walk or rest in regardless of the season. And beyond the city lies some of the most beautiful countryside and coastlines in the UK. However you’re wanting to spend your time during your visit, you’ll find much to love in Exeter.
Shopping in Exeter
Exeter’s High Street is a main thoroughfare through the city, with many familiar high street names on offer for the savvy shopper. Don’t miss Parliament Street, which connects with High Street and Waterbeer Street – it quite rightly lays claim to being the narrowest street in the UK, and it’s pretty much impossible for two people to pass at its narrowest point. Other shopping havens include the Guildhall Shopping Centre and Princesshay, a hub of shops, cafes and eateries.
The Georgian street of Southernhay is not only a delight for the eyes but its spring-to-autumn Street Food Market is a must, taking place on the last Friday of every month. Anyone looking for a local gift or souvenir of their time in the city will find much to love with a journey down to the Quayside. The independent store Quay Presents offers a range of handmade gifts made by local craftsmen and women, including jewellery, bags and ceramics.
Nightlife in Exeter
It may surprise to find that there is much going on in Exeter’s night scene, despite its relatively small size in comparison to the major cities of England. Real ale lovers will be in their element, with the likes of The Ship Inn, The Fat Pig and canal-side Double Locks all serving up a fantastic selection of beer, and much of it local. If in the mood for a boogie, try Timepiece – purporting to be a ‘half-decent’ nightclub, it’s much, much better than that, with a range of different themed nights and a friendly atmosphere.
Fans of live music will find much to enjoy at the Phoenix, a creative centre for music, art, performance and comedy. The venue has regular music nights with folk a specialty. For a bigger music venue, try the Great Hall at the city’s university, and for theatre try the Northcott, for plays, opera and pre-show dining.
Restaurants in Exeter
The farming and coastal communities close to Exeter mean a lot of local, fresh food is on offer within the city, making it a delight for foodies. Jack in the Green Inn offers incredible meals at affordable prices and ranks amongst the finest gastropubs in the UK. Five Bells Inn is another culinary highlight. A gastropub within a 16th century-built inn, the Five Bells specialises in putting fine-dining twists on classic British dishes.
For seafood, try @Angela’s in the west of the city – possibly the friendliest restaurant around – and if looking for something served fast, see Taco Macho for some glorious Mexican cuisine. Curry lovers will find much to adore in the Curry Leaf, which specialises in genuine South Indian cuisine, and Herbies offers wholesome food that shows there’s far more to vegetarian cuisine than tofu and lettuce leaves.
The surrounding county of Devon ranks amongst the most beautiful in all of England, and Exeter is perfectly placed in the middle of the county to explore it. For starters, Dartmoor National Park is just a half-hour drive away. With visitor centres, walks, wildlife and history, Dartmoor is a green space par excellence. The coast isn’t far away either, with the golden sands of Exmouth and Dawlish also around 30 minutes’ drive.
A lovely selection of villages surround Exeter, with Topsham just 5 miles to the south-east. An estuary village with a real maritime flavour, Topsham is the perfect place to get away from it all, for those who want peace and calm without being in the middle of nowhere.
Anyone wanting something a little livelier will find much fun at the Crealy Great Adventure Park which has lots to entertain younger children, and the nearby towns of Buckfastleigh and Newton Abbott offer a wonderful look at life taken at a more leisurely pace than it so often is.