Exeter: The Complete Guide

Exeter
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The historic cathedral city of Exeter is unrivalled in the region for the choice of things to do. The county town of Devon, Exeter was established by the Romans some 2000 years ago as a gateway to the southwest, a role it was perfectly suited for given its location on the wide River Exe, which is navigable and flows southward from here to the English Channel. The city is segmented into distinct quarters to help you explore hidden gems and surprises along the way.

In Roman Britain, Exeter was established as the base of Legio II Augusta under the personal command of Vespasian,  in the Middle Ages it became a religious centre. Exeter Cathedral, founded in the mid 11th century, became Anglican in the 16th-century English Reformation. Exeter became an affluent centre for the wool trade, although by the First World War the city was in decline. After the Second World War, much of the city centre was rebuilt and is now a centre for education, business and tourism in Devon and Cornwall. It is home to two of the constituent campuses of the University of Exeter: Streatham and St Luke’s.

Visiting Exeter for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Exeter on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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16 Best places to See in Exeter

This complete guide to Exeter not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Exeter and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Exeter's Underground Passages

Exeters Underground Tunnels
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Malcolm Etherington
Exeter’s unique Underground Passages offer a fascinating look at the city’s early infrastructure. Dating back to medieval times, the city’s unique network of underground passageways and tunnels were originally built to provide clean drinking water from a series of springs located outside the city walls. The only such water system in Britain, it initially consisted […]
Location: 2 Paris Street, Exeter, Devon | Hours: 9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 10.30am-4pm Sun Jun-Sep, 10.30am-4.30pm Tue-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm Sat, 11.30am-4pm Sun Oct-May | Price: adult/child £6/4 | Website | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Exeter's Underground Passages

Explore Exeter yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Rougemont Castle

Isca Dumnoniorum
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Krisztina Braun
Rougemont Castle, also known as Exeter Castle, is the historic castle of the city of Exeter, Devon, England. It was built into the northern corner of the Roman city walls starting in or shortly after the year 1068, following Exeter’s rebellion against William the Conqueror. In 1136 it was besieged for three months by King […]
Location: Castle St, Exeter EX4 3PU | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Rougemont Castle

Northernhay Gardens

Exeter City War Memorial, Northernhay Gardens In Springtime
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Smalljim
Northernhay Gardens are located just behind always bustling Exeter High Street, Devon, England, on the northern side of Rougemont Castle. They are the oldest public open space in England, being originally laid out in 1612 as a pleasure walk for Exeter residents. The gardens are Grade II listed in the National Register of Historic Parks […]
Location: Northernhay Gate, Exeter EX4 3SA | Hours: Open 7.30am till dusk. | Price: Free | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Northernhay Gardens

Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Antony McCallum
Exeter Cathedral, properly known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter, is an Anglican cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter, in the city of Exeter, Devon, in South West England. The present building was complete by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an […]
| Hours: 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11.30am-5pm Sun | Price: adult/child £7.50/free | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Exeter Cathedral

Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM)

Royal Albert Memorial Museum RAMM
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Irid Escent
Known affectionately by locals simply as “the RAMM,” the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery is Exeter’s largest and most important cultural attraction. In 2011 this museum dating back 1868 was reopened to wide acclaim following a £24m refurbishment. Highlights of a visit include exploring the museum’s large collection of nearly a million artefacts […]
Location: RAM Museum Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial, Museum and Art Gallery, Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RX | Hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM)

Exeter Guildhall

Exeter Guildhall
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Franzfoto
Exeter Guildhall on the High Street of Exeter, Devon, England has been the centre of civic government for the city for at least 600 years. Much of the fabric of the building is medieval, though the elaborate frontage was added in the 1590s and the interior was extensively restored in the 19th century. It is […]
Location: 203 High Street, Exeter, Devon | Hours: The historic Guildhall remains very much a working building and is in frequent use for Mayoral functions, Council Meetings, Private hire, Weddings, etc. See website for more details. | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Exeter Guildhall

Exeter's City Walls

Old Exeter City Wall
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Sarah Charlesworth
Exeter’s City Wall, of which almost 70% still remains is inextricably linked with the history of the city. Being almost 2000 years old it has repelled rebellions and has been the scene for many civic ceremonies and celebrations.
Visiting Exeter's City Walls

Wynard’s Almshouses

Wynards Almshouses Exeter
CC BY-SA 2.0 / David Smith
In the Middle Ages care for the sick and elderly was provided either by the church or financed by wealthy merchants. These Almshouses dating from 1435, were built by William Wynard, (recorder of the City) to house 12 infirm people.
Visiting Wynard’s Almshouses

St Nicholas Priory

St Nicholas Priory, Exeter
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Robert Cutts
St Nicholas Priory, Exeter’s oldest building is tucked away in an area of impressive old homes and set on a narrow laneway known as The Mint. Established by William the Conqueror in 1087 and over 935 years old, this remarkably well-preserved timber-framed building was turned into a merchant’s home under Henry VIII’s rule and offers […]
Location: St Nicholas Priory Mint Lane, Off Fore Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3BL | Hours: Monday Opening 10am-4pm | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 0.70km
Visiting St Nicholas Priory

Exeter Customs House

SONY DSC
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Herbythyme
The Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of Exeter’s woollen cloth industry. Today it is a fascinating visitor centre and the meeting point for Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours. Exeter has had a quay since Roman times. During the 13th and 14th centuries, rival merchants built weirs across the river near Topsham […]
Location: 46 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AN | Hours: Monday - Sunday, 10.00am to 5.00pm | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Exeter Customs House

Tuckers Hall

Tuckers Hall,Fore Street, Exeter
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Derek Harper
Ancient hall of the still existing Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers and Shearmen, one of the craft guilds of Exeter. With 15thC roof timber and Jacobean panelling this building is a real gem and one of the most important in the city’s financial history.
Location: 140 Fore Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3AN | Hours: Tuckers Hall will be open every Thursday and Saturday mornings every week. Opening hours will be from 10:30 until 13:00 on all days.| Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Tuckers Hall

Exeter Ship Canal

The Canal Basin At Exeter
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Bill Boaden
The Exeter Ship Canal, also known as the Exeter Canal is a canal leading from (and beside) the River Exe to Exeter Quay in the city of Exeter, Devon, England. It was first constructed in the 1560s predating the “canal mania” period and is one of the oldest artificial waterways in the UK. It was […]
Visiting Exeter Ship Canal

Cricklepit Mill

Exeter, Cricklepit Mill
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Martin Bodman
The Cricklepit watermill is a Grade II listed building, dating from the 17th or 18th century, with 19th-century machinery; it has an undershot waterwheel. The building was restored in the 1990s by the Devon Historic Buildings Trust, after it was damaged by fire. In 2004 it was bought by the Devon Wildlife Trust, with funding […]
| Hours: The garden is open to the public Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm (except bank holidays). | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Cricklepit Mill

Medieval Exe Bridge

Mediaeval Exe Bridge
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Harry Mitchell
The Old Exe Bridge is a ruined medieval arch bridge in Exeter in south west England. Construction of the bridge began in 1190, and was completed by 1214. The bridge is the oldest surviving bridge of its size in England and the oldest bridge in Britain with a chapel still on it. It replaced several […]
Location: The Medieval Exe Bridge, Exeter, UK | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Medieval Exe Bridge

Topsham Museum

Topsham Museum
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Simon Cobb
Topsham Museum, features the history of the town and port of Topsham including shipbuilding and ship owning, and the wildlife of the Exe Estuary. It incorporates a late 17thC house furnished in period. Pick up a free Topsham Trails leaflet from the leaflet box attached to the Museum’s Riverside Garden gate (also available from local […]
Location: 25 The Strand, Topsham, DEVON, EX3 0AX | Hours: Wednesday-Sunday between 2pm-5pm | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 6.90km
Visiting Topsham Museum

Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle
CC BY-SA 2.0 / raymond cocks
Powderham Castle is a fortified manor house situated within the parish and former manor of Powderham, within the former hundred of Exminster, Devon, about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of the city of Exeter and 1⁄4 mile (0.4 km) north-east of the village of Kenton, where the main public entrance gates are located. It is […]
| Hours: 11am-4.30pm Sun-Fri Apr-Jun, Sep & Oct, to 5.30pm Jul & Aug | Price: adult/child £12.95/10.95 | Website | Distance: 10.40km
Visiting Powderham Castle