Things to do in Exeter

The city of Exeter offers the best of all worlds. There’s the urban environment, with plenty of green spaces amongst all the houses and buildings, it’s close to the countryside and the sea is nearby. As a result, there are plenty of things to do in Exeter whether you’re coming for the day, have booked a weekend break, or a longer stay.

Exeter’s historical past

Exeter is a thriving city with a deep and varied historical past much of which can still be seen today. The cathedral dates back 900 years and provides a mixture of medieval influences and beautiful Gothic architecture set in a spacious green area. Nearby fragments of the Roman wall can be spotted as you walk around one of the city’s guided walks.

Exeter Cathedral dates back 900 years

The quayside, a short walk from the main shopping streets, is another example of the area’s link with its maritime past. Warehouses have been transformed into business premises, shops, and eating places while the Custom House, built at the height of Exeter’s woollen cloth industry, is now a museum.

Dotted along the river are opportunities to try out water sports, with paddleboards and kayaks the most popular. If you want to stick to dry land you can hire bikes, have a go at scaling climbing walls, or just take a gentle stroll up and down the river. 

Once you’ve finished exercising you can recharge the batteries in any number of restaurants and cafes.

If you’re looking for a deeper delve into Exeter’s historic past head over to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery. Here you’ll find objects and artefacts dating back through history, many pertinent to the local region. Coins and medals, costume and textiles, decorative arts, fine art, local archaeology and history, and natural sciences make up the comprehensive collection. It also runs a number of exhibitions, some free, some ticketed, throughout the year.

Cultural things to do in Exeter

You’re never too far away from lively cultural experiences in the city. Exeter boasts four arts venues the Exeter Phoenix, the Northcott and Barn Theatres, the Cygnet Theatre, and the Exeter Corn Exchange. These offer a mix of plays, live music, dance, and comedy nights from acts touring the country to those more local. All are passionate about building a strong arts community and many offer workshops and courses that all help to bring a thriving cultural environment to the city.

The Exeter Phoenix offers a host of entertainment from film, live music, and art exhibitions

There are also four cinemas where you can watch blockbuster movies, eclectic indie arthouse films, and everything in between. So plenty to do if you’re staying for a few nights or need to shelter from rainy weather.

Where to shop in Exeter

The city centre is one of the best places to shop in Devon. National stores can be found around the Princess Hay and Guildhall shopping centres while there are a number of shopping quarters that are home to independent businesses and retail outlets. 

McCoys Arcade on Fore Street is home to a number of indie shops

Some of the best shops in Exeter are located on Fore Street. Here you’ll discover a range of cafes and shops supplying an abundance of goods including toiletries, clothes, books, food and drink, home and garden items. The community runs the Fore Street Flea Market on Sundays every month between March and November between 12-4pm where you’ll find a mix of handmade items, artwork, street food, vintage clothes, and much more.

Tucked away off one of the main shopping streets is Gandy Street, said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, (JK Rowling was a student at the university). It’s home to a mix of stores, including second-hand clothing, accessories, jewellery, gifts, and cafes.  

If that wasn’t enough there are also indie shops based along Magdalen Road and Sitwell Street.

Take a break for a bite to eat in Exeter

When you’re done with the shopping and sightseeing, or just want to take a break from it all, Exeter offers a variety of eating places catering for all taste buds. Everything from restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bistros is open throughout the day and night. 

Exeter provides a great day out for anyone visiting East Devon and offers plenty to those of us who live here all year round. There’s history, culture, ways to keep fit, great shops and places to eat. A winning combination for the region. Why not check it out the next time you’re in East Devon. 

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