City Guide

Things to Do in Exeter

Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021
Exeter canal

Exeter is one of the country’s oldest cities and home to one of the most prestigious universities in the UK.

Things to do in Exeter


Located in Devon, Exeter boasts a population of roughly 124,328 according to the most recent figures. Exeter is 37 miles northeast of Plymouth and 70 miles south-west of Bristol.

Things to Do in Exeter

For students looking to go to a night out, Timepiece Nightclub is the first place to check out. The club has had a lot of big name music acts over the years including Marcus Mumford, Will Young, Chris Martin, Joss Stone (who celebrated her 18th there) and Snoop Dogg. The club recently opened it’s own Bunker Bar, designed in the style of a fallout shelter.

Another exciting place is Unit 1, which is one of the best clubs in the city for students, with VIP guests and live music and DJ sets and also comes complete with a VIP experience.

If you feel like visiting any of Exter’s museums and getting to grips with the city’s history, then you can always visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. There is also the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum for those interested in films, which is free for the public to see and comes very highly recommended, in fact, for those studying a Film degree the museum is a must-visit!

Speaking of film, there are several cinemas in the city, including Vue Cinemas, the Exeter Odeon or the Exeter Picturehouse, all of which offer the latest films, however, if you’re looking for more independent features.

As for festivals, the city runs the annual Lockdown Festival, a music festival in Powderham Castle. Exeter also runs another festival known as Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, which is a festival devoted to the best food and drink the city can offer, from regional chefs and cookery classes.

Things to do with kids in Exeter


Exeter’s railway station is so extensive and of such excellent quality, that it is considered to be the main rail centre of the South-West. There are three train stations in the city: Exeter St. Davids, which is the city’s main station and has easy access to major cities; Exeter Central, which has equally good routes out of the city, (the bus is especially good for those looking to travel to London); and Exeter St. Thomas. There are also six smaller stations around the city as well, which are Topsham, St. James Park, Polsloe Bridge, Newcort, Digby & Sowton and Pinhoe.

The city’s main bus service is Stagecoach South West, however, there are other services in the area as well such as Dartline, Stagecoach, First Devon & Cornwall and Plymouth Citybus. Stagecoach also operates as a country-wide bus service as well. National Express also operates in the city.

There is an airport in the city as well, Exeter Airport, which is in the east side of the city. The airport flies commercially, locally and internationally and will also allow for private flights as well and is the base for a number of airlines, such as Flybe.

Universities in the City

There is only one university in the city, the University of Exeter. The university was initially established in 1838 as St. Luke’s College and, after a number of rebrands, the college was granted university status in 1955 and rebranded for one final time as the University of Exeter. It is also part of the coveted Russell Group of Universities. The university is also a part of Universities UK, the European University Association, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The university is also an accredited institution of the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

The university’s student body is represented by the Students’ Guild. There are over 200 different affiliated student societies which the Guild represents. The university also has a number of student volunteers and all contribute to Raising and Giving (RAG) Week and the RAG Group.

The university’s sporting union is the Exeter University Athletic Union (AU) and they are responsible for a number of sports clubs at the university. The university does compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) League.

The university publishes Exeposé, the student newspaper, every two weeks and has been published every year since 1987. The students also have their own TV station, XTV and have their own radio station Xpression FM and are produced by the Student Guild, the university also has a year-round FM licence as well, one of only three student universities to actually have one.

Things to do with family in Exeter

History and Culture

Exeter can be traced back as far as the Roman era, however, it is thought that people may have inhabited the area long before the Romans conquered what was to become Britannia. The city is also unique in that it is a city that has had city status for “time immemorial”, essentially meaning that there has never been a time where it hasn’t been considered a city.

However, the Romans did eventually move into the city and built a 42-acre fort in the city, in the shape of a playing card. The fort meant that more people came to live in the settlement and when the ford was abandoned in 75 AD, the grounds were then converted to accommodate more civilians.

Exeter’s history is something of a mystery from the Roman evacuation up until the 7th century, which was around the time that the city was held by the Saxons.

The city was essential in the early years of the industrial revolution and was one of the best places to find locally made agricultural products, however, after the creation of steam-powered equipment, Exeter fell behind as it was located too far away from sources of coal, this therefore meant that the city was no afforded the expanded series of factories etc that plagued other cities at the time.

During the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe bombed Exeter eighteen times, destroying most of the city centre, the worst being during the Baedeker Blitz, where the Luftwaffe took revenge for the RAF’s attacks on Lübeck and Rostock.


Rugby is the main sport of the city, specifically around Rugby Union and the Exeter Chiefs. The Exeter Chiefs play at Sandy Park and have done so since September 2006. The team won the LV Cup in 2014, after defeating Northampton 15-8. The Chiefs were also crowned English champions in 2017, beating Wasps RFC at Twickenham in the AVIVA Premiership Final. There is also Wessex Rugby Club and Exeter Saracens Rugby Club in the city as well.

The city’s main football team is Exeter City, who play at St. James Park and play in League Two. The club was one of the founding members of the Football League’s Third Division in 1920.

Exeter’s main source of Cricket is the Exeter Cricket Club, who play at the County Ground, a stadium they have played at for over 180 years!

The city also indulges in Rowing as well with Exeter Rowing Club who play nationally and locally and are one of the country’s oldest sports clubs! The City of Exeter Rowing Regatta is played every July and is the oldest (and the largest) Regatta in the South West, with the first race even dating back as far as 1860.

Who’s from Exeter?

There are plenty of famous people born in Exeter too including; Chris Martin, Tony Burrows, Fred Karno, Cliff Bastin, Jane Griffiths, William Temple and Clare Morrall.

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