24 Hours in Exeter

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Image Credit: Alison Day

Often overlooked, Devon’s capital is one of the country’s hidden gems. Situated on the River Exe in southwest England, and surrounded by rolling countryside, Exeter dates back to the Roman Era. Compact in size, the historic city is easily explored in a day - make the most of it with our guide to what to eat, drink, see and do.


Image credit: The Exploding Bakery/ via Facebook

Can’t start the day without coffee? Then make a beeline for the Exploding Bakery. Although primarily a wholesale retailer, the bakery is pouring some the of the best coffee in the city using beans from London’s premier roaster Monmouth, while a small selection of excellent food, pastries and sweet treats are also available. Sample a superb flat white, and grab one of the mouth-watering cakes to go (the lemon, polenta and pistachio is a fan favourite), before you begin your day at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), just down the street.

A recent £24-million revamp has breathed new life into the award-winning museum, with an array of fantastic interactive displays and exhibitions. Learn all about Exeter’s heritage, check out the impressive Roman-era artifacts and local Tudor carvings, and discover their fine-art collection which showcases over 8000 works ranging from the 16th to the 20th century.

Image credit: Royal Albert Memorial Museum/ via Instagram

Of course, no trip would be complete without visiting the Exeter Cathedral. Dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the Gothic cathedral is easily one of Devon’s most impressive sights. Marvel at the stunning medieval architecture and learn all about the cathedral on a free guided tour, or explore on your own with one of the free audio guides. Better yet, book into a roof tour for a truly spectacular view of the city.

Image credit: Exeter Cathedral/ via Instagram


Avoid the ubiquitous British chains, and tuck into a fabulous lunch at POLPO - the latest branch from the eponymous London eatery. A contemporary take on Italian dining, the all-day restaurant serves superb Venetian classics such as fritto misto and roast stuffed pork with lentils and radicchio. Other great options include The Plant, a vegetarian and vegan friendly café serving organic homemade food from scratch, and HUBBOX, serving American inspired street food including award-winning burgers, New York style hotdogs, and double-fried fries.

Image credit: POLPO Exeter/ via Facebook

After lunch, stroll along nearby Gandy Street. A historic street in its own right, the cobbled pavement and narrow passages - lined with shops, restaurants and cafes - may be strangely familiar to any Harry Potter fan. Indeed, having studied at the University of Exeter, J.K Rowling has acknowledged that the street inspired her vision of Diagon Alley. While you won’t find any broomsticks or potions to buy, make sure to stop by Chococo for exquisite, hand-crafted chocolates or a decadent hot chocolate.


Image credit: Exeter Underground Passages

Take a guided tour of Exeter’s Underground Passages and journey through the narrow, medieval 14th-century network which was built to transport clean drinking water to the city. A perfect activity for the whole family, don’t forget to visit the heritage centre before your tour to learn more about the history of these passages with a range of wonderful interactive exhibits.

Alternatively, keep your feet firmly above ground and discover the fascinating history of the moving image at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum - a cinephiles’s paradise. The free museum, and academic research centre, boasts one of Britain’s largest public collections of cinematic treasures and movie memorabilia, including books, prints, artefacts and ephemera relating to the history and prehistory of cinema.

Image credit: Old Firehouse/ via Facebook

Take a break and enjoy a pint at the Old Firehouse. An Exeter institution (and inspiration for another Harry Potter landmark - The Leaky Cauldron), the snug, candlelit pub offers a fantastic range of draught ciders and cask ales.


Image credit: The Jack in the Green/ via Facebook

Treat yourself to a spectacular dinner at The Jack in the Green - a twenty-minute drive from the city centre. Committed to using the best locally sourced ingredients, the gastropub is a Devon dining institution. The extensive menu features beautifully presented traditional pub grub, vegetarian dishes and a good value kid’s menu. However, for an authentic taste of the Westcountry food culture, the superb three-course ‘Totally Devon’ menu is a must.

Image credit: The Bike Shed Theatre/ via Facebook

Top off the night with a show and excellent cocktail at the award-winning Bike Shed Theatre. The underground performance space features a terrific line-up of shows from the UK’s leading small-scale production companies. If you’re after live music, head to Exeter Phoenix. Located in the heart of the city, the vibrant, multi-artform venue is home to several art galleries, a theatre, cinema and hosts a variety of touring musicians and up and coming artists every month.