Now that holidays are back on the agenda after a year at looking at the same familiar walls, we recommend you visit the charming city of Exeter, the county town of Devon and its foremost city.
Situated on the River Exe, this ancient city dates back to Roman times and is dotted with beautiful historical buildings. Its city walls and gothic central cathedral are remnants of a rich history, but not only does Exeter have several incredible sites to visit, it also offers fun activities for young and old alike!
If you are not sure what to prioritize when visiting this ancient English gem, then read on to find out our recommended list of Top 10 Things To Do in Exeter!
Exeter Cathedral boasts stunning gothic architecture and is one of the oldest and most beautiful Cathedrals in England. Situated in the city centre, just off the main shopping street, the Anglican cathedral is arguably Exeter’s most prominent architectural building and serves as the seat of the Bishop of Exeter.
The Cathedral ceiling is the World's longest continuous stone vault at 96 metres (315 feet).
When exploring the cathedral interiors you will find a unique Minstrels’ Gallery, a 15th-century Astronomical Clock, and much more. Cap your visit off by enjoying a light lunch or English tea at the Cathedral Café.
Tickets for adults are £7.50 and £5.00 for students and senior citizens. Children under 18 are free if accompanied by an adult. Exeter Cathedral is open Monday to Wednesday from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, from Thursday to Saturday from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and on Sundays from 11:00 am – 5.00 pm. Read more about the Cathedral here.
Exeter Quay, or Exeter Quayside, is located alongside the River Exe and the Exeter Ship Canal. As a port, it dates back to 1381 for ships to unload their cargoes of goods from overseas. In the late 17th century the Quay was expanded but after the introduction of railways, its use declined.
Today, the Quayside is an area for leisure that includes the Exe cable-crossing ferry, also known as Butts Ferry. It is a great destination for local events and activities. The Quay hosts the annual Dragon Boat Racing, canoe shows and races, Exeter Street Food Night Markets, Quayside Red Coat Guided Tours, and the Inside Outside Summer Craft Fair. Exeter Quay is an excellent place to enjoy one of the many waterfront gastropubs for lunch, dinner or drinks by the river.
Learn more about the Quayside here
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) is the largest museum and art gallery in Exeter. The building itself is a beautiful Gothic Revival building of local New Red Sandstone which has, over the course of time, undergone several extensions. It was founded in 1868 and holds over one million objects in various categories, such as zoology, anthropology, fine art, archaeology, and geology.
Entry to RAMM is free and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Learn more about RAMM here.
Snaking around the mysterious underground of the city is a web of interconnected passages. Initially built for clean drinking water to pass through pipes from natural springs outside the walled city into the city itself, the Underground Passages are now open for visitors to explore. Ever since the 1930s, the city has offered guided tours through the lit passages and it should be noted that Exeter is the only city in the UK to have these types of underground passages.
Before visitors embark on a tour through the fascinating tunnels, they visit an interpretation centre that offers some historical background and information on the place. The underground tour itself takes about 25 minutes and tickets are £7.50 for adults and £4.50 for children.
Find out more about the Underground Passages here.
Situated on the Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter, the Northcott Theatre first opened in 1967 and is the city’s flagship theatre. It promises to “make events that entertain, provoke, and inspire so that people can connect and share moments they'll never forget”.
Watch a local, national or student production, and enjoy an afternoon or evening of family, music or comedic entertainment. And while there, take a stroll and explore the beauty of the University of Exeter grounds, they are well worth it!
Learn more about the Northcott Theatre here
Rougemont Castle, the historic castle of Exeter, is situated in the northern corner of the city walls and is also known as Exeter Castle. It dates back to 1068 and was built by William the Conqueror two years after the Norman Invasion of England. An outer bailey was added in the 12th century.
Shakespeare mentions the Castle in his play Richard III, in which the king visits Exeter in 1483. The Castle once served as the County Court and this was where three Devon Witches, the last ones in England, were tried and convicted for witchcraft and later executed.
Learn more about Rougemont Castle here.
Northernhay Gardens, located on the northern side of Exeter Castle, is the oldest public open space in England. The Gardens were originally laid out in 1612 so that city residents could enjoy nature and the outdoors. The site sometimes hosts art exhibits, such as the 2016 memorial to the Dead killed during the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916). The art installation had one figure for each of the more than 72,000 allied servicemen who died on the first day of the Battle and who have no known grave.
Find out more about Northernhay Gardens here.
Horseracing is a truly English pastime. Be sure not to miss out on experiencing a live horse race!
The Exeter Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing venue, which locals know as the Haldon Racecourse since it is situated atop the Haldon Hills.
Enjoy an award-winning meal for lunch while following the excitement of the races through the windows of the course-facing restaurant and, not that we normally advocate gambling, why not place a bet?
Learn more about the Racecourse here
You will find Darts Farm on the outskirts of Topsham. At its heart, it is a working farm but it is the farm shop which is the draw nowadays.
A shopping destination with an Aladdin’s Cave food hall filled with artisan produce.
There are Master Butchers selling the finest meats, a fish shed selling freshly caught fish and shellfish, as well as hand-picked specialist retailers such as Aga, Fired Earth and Cotswold Outdoor.
There is plenty to do there for adults and children alike.
Find out more about Darts Farm here
You have probably done a wine tasting before, but have you ever taken part in a cider tasting session? Don’t leave Exeter without indulging in Devon’s iconic drink, and what better way than to sample several different ciders?
The Stable in Exeter offers cider tasting sessions. You can sample their 60-minute ‘Strictly Cider’ session at £15 per head, learn about the cider-making process, regions, history, ingredients and expert ways of tasting the varying levels of acidity, tannins, and blends. You will be able to try ten of their best ciders, all introduced to you by their very own Cider Master.
If you want to enjoy the tasting session with food, take part in their ‘Cider and Supper’ session, which adds handmade pizzas, cheese, crackers, and bread at £22.50 per head.
Find out more about The Stable and their cider tasting sessions here.