Looking for your next culture-packed vacation spot? Maybe experience a little more of what England has to offer outside of London? If you’re hoping to spend your holiday doing something a little different, look no further than Exeter. This English city sits on the banks of River Exe and has a history dating back to the Roman era.
Fun Things to do in Exeter, England
Here you can find picturesque riverside views, unique ancient architecture, impressive museums and galleries, and authentic English cuisine. Still not convinced that Exeter is anything more than London’s little sister? Check out the top fun things to do during your time in Exeter, England. I did all of these things when I was there and thoroughly enjoyed them. Whether you do everything on this list or just a few of them, I’m sure you’ll have as much fun doing them as I did.
Visit Exeter Cathedral
The famous Exeter Cathedral is reason enough to visit the city. Not only is the architecture stunning but the surrounding grounds are kept pristine. The original cathedral was founded in the year 1050, but a new cathedral was built around 1400.
People come from all over the world to see the astronomical clock that sits within the cathedral walls. You can also take in the impressive ceiling; it is the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in all of England.
Lunch at Tea on the Green
To experience everything that Exeter has to offer, check out Tea on the Green. It is located in the center of Cathedral Green. This is considered by some to be the city center of Exeter. All year round you can find something going on here, whether it is a musical performance or beer festival. The area is home to the top restaurant in Exeter: Tea on the Green.
The restaurant opened in 2009 and has made a name for itself by supporting locally sourced meats and produce. There is something on the menu for everyone – meat eaters and vegans alike will love this place. Breakfast favorites are the Vegan Hash and the Full English Breakfast. For lunch consider ordering the House Rarebit or Chicken Waldorf Salad. Keep in mind that dinner is not served here, but you can indulge in some afternoon tea on the green.
Paddle Boarding at Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre
If you want to experience the great outdoors in the heart of the city, check out Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre. It is located on the canal and offers a wide range of activities for adventurous travelers and locals. Here you can rent mountain bikes, kayaks, canoes, and even stand up paddle boards.
Paddle boarding is the perfect activity for couples, friends, and family members; it is one of the best ways to appreciate the canals of Exeter. You can rent the boards for 2 hours, 4 hours or a full day. Renting for a full day will only cost 35 euros, whereas 2 hours is 15 euros.
Lunch at River Exe Cafe
Eating at River Exe Cafe won’t feel like your typical dining experience. It isn’t even located on land; the restaurant can be found on a barge floating on the River Exe. The only way you can access it is by boat, so expect to take a water taxi before your meal. Be sure to book a table because the barge can only hold 100 people at a time.
The goal of this restaurant is to utilize the stunning river views as much as possible. But another main priority is to create a top-of-the-line menu with mouthwatering dishes. Every item on the menu is locally-sourced and fresh. If you eat seafood, be sure to peruse through the Mussel Bar. It contains everything from classic to Caribbean curry mussels.
Sample some Exeter Gin
Want a true taste of Exeter? Pour yourself a gin and tonic with the artisanal Exeter Gin. You can find it all over England, and not just for its high alcohol content. This premium gin represents the ancient culture of Exeter perfectly. In ancient Roman times herbs and spices like tarragon, basil, cinnamon, and cardamom were frequently used. The makers of Exeter Gin channel the Romans by infusing the alcohol with these flavors and more.
You can find this gin online, in supermarkets, and lining the shelves of restaurants and bars all across the city. Check out the Exeter Gin webpage to see what local establishments carry it before heading out for your evening meal.
Lunch or Dinner at Terrace Restaurant
The Terrace is not just a restaurant, but a complete nightlife experience. Of course you can book a table here for an elegant meal out. But you can keep the night going strong by visiting the Club Lounge for dancing and drinks – think about ordering an Exeter Gin and tonic! You can even book a Christmas dinner or tickets for the New Year’s Eve bash ahead of time.
While dining in the Rooftop Terrace restaurant, you’ll be served some of the most decadent food and drink in Exeter. Start with the devon blue filled portobello mushroom followed by the 8oz bavette steak. Finish off with a lemon meringue tart and fresh coffee.
Visit Quicke’s Cheese
Cheese lovers everywhere should stop in for a treat at the famous Quicke’s Cheese farm. Unless you are vegan or lactose-intolerant, there is no reason to skip this. When you visit this family-run farm you’ll get a chance to taste matured cheddar, creamy butters, and decadent cheesecakes. You can even sign up for a cheesemaking class to see how it is all done.
Take a Brewery Tour
When you think of the UK, the image of a pub might come into mind. What better way to experience England than settle down with a few cold brews. If craft beer is your thing, spend the day touring and drinking at The Exeter Brewery. You can enjoy your beer in the cozy taproom or sign up for a tour of the brewery.
If you’re hoping for a meal alongside your brew, you’re in luck. The brewery sells an assortment of the award-winning Tom’s Pies. You can get a savory pie with steak and ale or mushroom and spinach. This is the perfect way to end your Exeter getaway. You’ll experience some authentic English beer and get the chance to reminisce on your time in this amazing city.
I trust this post gives you an idea of just a few of the many fun things to do in Exeter.
Thanks to Visit Exeter and Visit Britain for hosting my stay in Exeter, I had a great time. That said, all words are mine as they always have been and always will be. #STSBelfast