Historic Exeter is a bustling city in the heart of the South West, with plenty of wonderful places to eat, drink, explore and shop.
Exeter is a city that’s steeped in history. Situated on the River Exe, and the most south-westerly fortified Roman settlement on mainland Britain, the Devon city grew with the rise of the wool trade into the vibrant city and county town that it is today.
Book an East Devon cottage and there’s plenty to see and do, from soaking up the vast array of culture such as the castle ruin and medieval cathedral, to partaking in some retail therapy among the many shopping opportunities. There’s a wonderful juxtaposition of big name brands and quirky independent stores and modern buildings standing shoulder-to-shoulder with medieval structures overhanging the streets below, with narrow cobbled lanes revealing hidden treasures around every corner.
You’ll find all the major high street brands you’d expect from a city (over 70 in fact) at Princesshay Shopping Centre, including an Apple Store, Cath Kidston, Gap, Zara and Topshop, amongst others. Centrally located near the cathedral, it’s a great place for meeting friends and grabbing a bite to eat, whether stopping for a quick coffee or sushi.
The Guildhall Shopping Centre is home to yet more household brands, including Body Shop and WH Smith. You’ll also find a luxury spa, should you wish to rest and recuperate with a treatment. Queen St is a dining destination with food to suit every taste and budget, from gourmet burgers and freshly made pizzas, to Scandi, Caribbean, Lebanese and Middle Eastern inspired cuisine.
If you’re looking for something you won’t find on the high street, there’s an abundance of interesting and unusual shops in the West Quarter, including The Real McCoy, which stocks a huge collection of vintage and retro clothing.
Music fans and budding guitarists must pay a visit to the music mecca, Mansons Guitar Shop – some of the biggest rock stars on the planet have called on its services, from Jimmy Page to Peter Green.
The 600-year-old Exeter Cathedral is, in the current Dean’s own words, “one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere,” and it’s hard to disagree. The impressive vaulted ceiling and a fascinating 15th century astronomical clock are worth the trip alone. As with any cathedral city, the cathedral quarter acts as a centrepiece to the city and creates a lively buzz around its many adjoining streets and lanes.
The Cathedral Green is the ideal spot for a picnic in the summer, while in the winter it plays host to a fabulous Christmas Market, perfect for indulging in some yuletide treats and completing your last minute present shopping if you’re enjoying a festive break at one of our cottages.
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), a Victorian Gothic Revival building of local red sandstone, is reminiscent of a slightly smaller (yet no less grand) sibling of Kensington’s Natural History Museum. Home to an array of exhibits from ancient Egypt and other fascinating curiosities, including a life-sized elephant and giraffe, it’s free to visit and a captivating destination in the heart of the city.
But it’s not just the city centre itself that draws people. Exeter Quayside is popular for its arts and crafts boutiques, as well as the outdoor/indoor activity centre, which offers kayaking, bike hire and Clip ‘n Climb – a fun and safe climbing experience for both children and grown-ups. You’ll also find the contemporary Spacex gallery. There are more places to eat here, including On the Waterfront, offering fantastic views over the quay. Serving a wide range of food, there are many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available on the menu.
Exeter is a well-connected city, with beautiful coastal railways taking you to south Devon and Cornwall and good bus routes that can take you to and from your East Devon cottage.