With a rich history that dates back to the Roman era, Exeter lies on the banks of the River Exe in South West England. It serves as the county seat of Devon and provides a wonderful base for exploring everything the region has to offer.
In this guide, discover some of the best places to stay while visiting Exeter and its magnificent surroundings. It highlights neighbourhoods near the city centre and towns further afield that are well connected by rail.
While deciding where to stay, you can browse available properties via an online holiday rental site such as rentola.co.uk. This platform not only allows you to explore a wide range of accommodations but also provides valuable information on pricing, location, and amenities, helping you make a choice for your upcoming vacation or staycation. It provides a good overview of the apartments and homes that are listed in the area while providing plenty of inspiration for your next staycation.
If you want to be in the heart of all the action, then Central Exeter is the place to stay. It’s home to many of the city’s most popular attractions, including the Gothic-style Exeter Cathedral and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery.
Just a few steps from your front door, you can be wandering along Exeter’s Roman-built walls or exploring the 11th-century Exeter Castle commissioned by William I the Conqueror. Central Exeter is also home to living shopping areas and one of the narrowest streets in the world, Parliament Street. There are plenty of dining options to choose from in the area, whether you’re looking for traditional tea and scones or globally inspired-cuisine.
On the bank of the River Exe is an area known as Quayside, which is just a 10-minute walk from all the attractions of Central Exeter. It’s here that you’ll find the Customs House Visitor Centre, which houses interactive displays and artefacts that bring the area’s past to life.
One of the great things about Quayside is that it’s clustered with bars and restaurants, as well as laid-back cafes and the Topsham Brewery. You can pick up freshly caught seafood at the Fish Market or feast on the day’s catch at the Rockfish restaurant.
If you’re arriving by train at Exeter St David’s railway station and don’t want to walk too far with your luggage, then this area is ideal. It’s home to Exeter College and Bury Meadow Park, a historic green space with children’s playgrounds and tree-lined walking trails.
While there aren’t a lot of tourist attractions in St David’s itself, it’s just 15 minutes’ walk from Exeter Central. There are also a handful of restaurants in the area for dining out, with a highlight being the barrel-vaulted conservatory dining room of The Imperial.
On the University of Exeter’s doorstep is Pennsylvania, a lively neighbourhood that’s home to a large student population. It was named after the U.S. state by a Quaker banker who built a terraced residence here in 1821.
If you’re looking for nearby attractions, you can delve into the history of the moving image at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum or enjoy a stroll through the Belvidere Meadows. Pennsylvania is a great place to stay if you’re into nightlife, with lots of bars and pubs in the area.
A short train ride from Exeter Central is the town of Topsham, which also lies on the River Exe. In fact, you can walk the four miles between the two settlements if you’re feeling energetic!
Topsham is a great place to stay if you love nature, with some wonderful birdwatching on offer in the Exe Estuary. It also features a small but fascinating museum housed within a 17th-century building. When it comes to dining out, you’ll find convivial pubs serving hearty English dishes, plus a French-inspired patisserie.
At the mouth of the River Exe is Exmouth, a beautiful beach town that offers an alternative base for exploring Exeter. It’s around 12 miles from the city and well-connected by rail, so you can easily visit Exeter as a day trip. Exmouth has more of a holiday vibe to it while also offering easy access to the natural attractions of the Jurassic Coast.
After sightseeing in Exeter, you can spend the rest of your holiday relaxing on Exmouth’s beaches or hiking along the cliff-top trails. Exmouth also boasts a small museum, a family-friendly Ferris wheel and plenty of waterfront eateries where you can feast on fish and chips.
On the other side of the River Exe is Dawlish Warren, a small beachside village that offers a quieter alternative to Exmouth. It’s another good option if you want to explore all of Devon’s attractions, with just a day or two spent sightseeing in Exeter.
From Dawlish Warren, you can easily catch the train into Exeter or visit Powderham Castle, which is filled with antique furnishings and tapestries. The village boasts one of South Devon’s top family-friendly beaches, plus a nature reserve that attracts a diverse array of birdlife.