Welcome to Exeter, a vibrant city in the south-west of England!
With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Exeter is a great place to explore and experience.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away or an action-packed adventure, there’s something for everyone in Exeter.
From exploring the city’s history and ancient Roman walls to taking a stroll along the River, there are plenty of things to do in Exeter.
Read on to discover some of the best activities, fun things and attractions in the city.
Things To Do In Exeter
1. Visit Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral is a beautiful and historic building and is the seat of the Bishop of Exeter and the mother church of the Diocese of Exeter.
The cathedral is a Grade I listed building and is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in the country.
The original building was a Norman-style church, but it was extensively rebuilt in the 13th century in the Gothic style.
The most notable feature of the cathedral is its impressive west front, which was built in the 14th century and is decorated with sculptures of saints and angels.
Inside the cathedral, visitors can admire the beautiful stained glass windows, which date back to the 15th century.
The cathedral is also home to a number of important historical artefacts, including the Exeter Book, a 10th-century collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry.
Exeter Cathedral is a beautiful and historic building that is open daily and well worth a visit.
Address: Exeter Cathedral, 1 The Cloisters, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1HS
2. Explore the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is a museum located in the heart of the city, and is home to a wide range of collections, from archaeology and natural history, to fine art and decorative arts.
The archaeology collection includes artefacts from the Iron Age, Roman and Medieval periods, as well as a range of objects from the early modern age.
The natural history collection includes specimens from the local area, as well as from around the world.
The museum was founded in 1868 and was originally known as the Albert Memorial Museum as it was built to commemorate the life of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.
The museum was opened to the public in 1869 and has since become a popular attraction in the city.
Good for families, the galleries are open daily, except Mondays, and hold over 8,000 objects, they also runs many temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
Address: Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Queen St, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3RX
3. Take a stroll along the Exeter Quay
Exeter’s Historic Quayside is home to a variety of attractions, including a marina, a theatre, a museum, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
The quayside has been a popular destination since the 19th century, when it was used as a port for the export of wool and other goods.
In the 20th century, Exeter Quay was redeveloped to become a leisure destination, with the marina being built in the 1970s.
The marina is also home to a variety of boats, from small fishing vessels to luxury yachts.
Visitors can take a boat trip along the River Exe, or take a stroll along the quayside and admire the views of the river.
Address: Exeter Quay, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AN
4. Visit the Exeter Underground Passages
Exeter is home to some of the UK’s oldest underground passages, which date back as far as the medieval times.
These subterranean walkways are an integral part of Exeter’s history, and history buffs can take a guided tour of some of the most fascinating aspects of the city’s past.
The tour includes a 10 minute film presentation, which provides an overview of the history behind the passages and how they have been used over time.
After this guests are led through 25 minutes of exploration in the passages themselves.
Throughout the trip, you will encounter interactive displays and artefacts from archaeological digs that date back hundreds of years.
Seemingly dripping with history, these atmospheric passages give visitors an intimate look at how people lived in this ancient city throughout different eras in its timeline.
From learning about merchants from Roman times and beyond, this unique tour gives guests a deep understanding of how people lived in this area in the distant past.
Take your time walking through these extraordinary passageways; you never know what secrets they may hold!
Address: Exeter Underground Passages, 2 Paris St, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1GA
5. Explore the Exeter Castle
Rougemont Castle, more commonly known as Exeter Castle, is an 11th century historical site first built during or shortly after 1068 and has undergone several renovations throughout its history.
The castle is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Richard III and was originally constructed into the northern corner of the existing Roman city walls.
By 1770s, all of the building structures within the walls had been removed and replaced with a brand new courthouse which was later extended by two wings in 1895 and 1905 respectively.
The castle is now owned privately with the aim of the owners to create a hub of art, music, food and drink, although the Rougemont gardens around the castle are open to the public.
Address: Rougemont Castle, Castle St, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3PU
6. Visit Haldon Forest Park
Haldon Forest Park, located just 15 minutes away from Exeter, is a magnificent 3,500-acre woodland which provides an ideal place for nature lovers that enjoy the great outdoors.
Open 364 days a year, this forest park offers many different activities suitable for all ages and interests.
Visitors can explore miles of walking trails designed for running, cycling, horse riding or walking with lots of opportunities to take in the views.
There is also an array of mountain biking routes with different levels of difficulty that are filled with natural features such as jumps, berms and drops.
For those looking to climb trees there is a Tree Top Adventure course which takes you through several wooden platforms at different heights connected by zip lines and rope bridges.
Haldon Forest Park also provides a number of orienteering courses that are set up according to skill levels so even beginners can join the fun without getting lost!
Address: Haldon Forest Park, King’s Rd, Exeter, Devon, EX6 7XR
7. Take a boat trip along the River Exe
Taking a boat trip along the River is an unforgettable experience, allowing you to enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife of the nationally renowned Exe Estuary.
From the comfort of your vessel, you can explore all that this unique area has to offer, from tranquil meandering rivers to majestic castles.
Cruises depart from Exmouth Marina, travelling upriver with Powderham Castle in view before arriving at where the river opens out into the English Channel by Exmouth seafront.
As the water on this section of river is so calm, these cruises are able to run all year round – no matter what weather conditions prevail!
For those looking for fresh air and outdoor sights and sounds, upper decks provide just that; while those wishing to relax in a more sheltered environment can take advantage of heated lower decks.
Whichever option you choose, you will be sure to get an up-close view of some of Devon’s most impressive wildlife and nature reserves as well as beautiful riverside towns and villages.
Address: Marina, Pier Head, Exmouth EX8 1FE
8. Visit Topsham Museum
Topsham Museum is located in the vibrant river town of Topsham and offers a unique window into its history, from shipbuilding and ship owning, to wildlife found on the Exe Estuary.
The museum is fully registered with the Museums and Galleries Commission, and features a late 17th Century house that has been furnished to reflect this period in time.
Inside you can explore fascinating displays which include costumes, ceramics and local photographs, as well as interactive activities for adults, children and families alike.
The Riverside Garden at the museum is beautifully designed with seating areas where visitors can take a moment to appreciate their surroundings while learning more about maritime history through informative plaques.
The garden also provides a leaflet box full of free Topsham Trails leaflets which are designed to encourage exploration of the area.
Address: Topsham Museum, 25 Strand, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0AX
9. Explore the Exeter Guildhall
Located in the High Street, Exeter Guildhall has been the centre of civic life for Exeter for at least 600 years.
It is known as one of the oldest municipal buildings still in use in England and it has served a variety of purposes over its long history, from marketplace to prison.
The current building was constructed between 1468 and 1470, with additions made in the 1590s.
It is built mostly of Heavitree stone and stands two stories high, with a central tower that rises above the roofline.
The guildhall houses a large chandelier made by Thomas Pyke of Bridgwater, installed in 1789.
All other internal fittings are Victorian, including stained glass windows depicting scenes from Exeter’s history, and heavily restored Tudor panelling which dates back to 1887.
The interior also contains several impressive pieces of artwork such as an 18th century painting of Edward VI granting Exeter’s first charter.
In recent years, it has become a popular destination for tourists visiting Exeter due to its age and historical significance to the city’s past.
The building is open for viewing by appointment only but guided tours are available on certain days throughout the year.
Address: Exeter Guildhall, 203 High Street, Exeter, EX4 3EB
10. Custom House
The Custom House Visitor Centre is located on Exeter’s historic quayside and is housed in one of the most fascinating, historic buildings on the waterfront.
Built in 1680 during the time of Exeter’s woollen cloth industry, it now houses artefacts and displays that bring the history of Exeter’s Quayside to life.
One of the best free things to do in Exeter, Custom House also hosts a variety of arts and cultural events and activities, including temporary exhibitions, throughout the year.
Address: Custom House Visitor Centre, 46 The Quay, Exeter EX2 4AN
11. Take a tour of the Exeter City Walls
The Exeter City Walls are a marvel of ancient engineering and provide stunning insight into the evolution of the city itself.
The walls, which date back to around 1800 years ago when they were first built by the Romans, form a vital part of Exeter’s history and character.
Today, over 70% of the wall still stands and reveals much about the geology of the area.
It is made up of different rock types and many alterations and repairs have been undertaken throughout its existence.
The wall towers majestically above nearby buildings and provides spectacular views out to sea, making it an ideal spot for sightseeing or photography.
The Exeter City Walls are protected by two Scheduled Ancient Monuments – the Cathedral Green and City Wall – as well as numerous listed buildings such as the Grade 1 listed building, Exeter Cathedral.
These monuments provide insight into how life was lived during ancient times in what was then one of Britain’s most significant cities.
Address: Exeter City Walls, Paris Street, Exeter EX1 9SA
12. Visit Exmouth Beach
Exmouth Beach is an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of the rare gems along the south coast of England.
Located at the mouth of the River Exe, it boasts two miles of golden sand, which is exceptionally rare in this part of the world.
But that’s not all – the beach also features fascinating rock pools, making it a paradise for both adults and children alike.
With its ideal location at the gateway to the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the surrounding cliffs are teeming with geological finds waiting to be explored.
Exmouth beach is renowned for water sports such as windsurfing, or visitors can take a walk along the South West Coast Path or explore nearby Orcombe Point for some spectacular views out to sea.
The beach also has a two-mile long promenade where families can enjoy traditional seaside attractions like swing boats, parks and crazy golf.
Address: Exmouth beach, Esplanade, Exmouth, Devon, EX8 2AZ
Is Exeter, Devon worth visiting?
Exeter has so much history with Exeter Cathedral being one of the most visited places in Devon.
Visitors can hire bikes, take a guided or self guided tour and explore this interesting city.
Is there a trail that showcases Exeter’s medieval times and fascinating history?
Medieval Exeter is home to a host of medieval buildings.
The Exeter Medieval Trail takes visitors to Castle Street, Wynard’s Almshouses, Cathedral Yard, Southernhay, Smythern Street, The Carfax, Cathedral Precinct and Catherine Square.
Visitors can get a trail leaflet from the Custom House Visitor Centre.
Where can you shop in south west’s Exeter?
Exeter city centre is a great place to go if you want a good selection of shops that are within walking distance of the main shopping centres and dinning areas.
Is Crealy Great Adventure Park worth a visit?
Known as the biggest family theme park in the area, it has over 60 rides and attractions.
Located near Exeter, it has some great outdoor and indoor attractions for the whole family.