While lockdown has caused many overseas trips to be postponed and cancelled, we have seen a rise in staycations. One of the jewels of the UK is without doubt the South West region with some exquisite coastlines and moors and an array of options to eat out at; potentially to break up a country ramble. Exeter is certainly one of the more accessible options of the South West being just a three hour drive and train journey from London, serviced by several well located stations.
Exeter has numerous options for staying with the Premier Inn directly opposite St Davids. One of the more affordable and overlooked options is The Great Western Hotel at just over £30 a night and fairly close to the centre of the City this is a great option with fantastic access to the largest station.
Top 3 attractions
This is without doubt one of Exeter’s top locations. On a sunny day it can be crowded but just a short walk from the City Centre, you can find yourself alongside the River Exe with a host of food and drink options and a lovely walk to boot. Whether it’s a long walk into the stunning Topsham, which is just outside the main city of Exeter, or a walk to the Double Locks, the Quay offers a fantastic choice of options for walks and for stopping to take a breath with a bite to eat, coffee or a drink or two.
2. Cathedral Green.
Exeter’s Cathedral is one of its top tourist traps, it is a stunning landmark and the surrounding green offers some great space for sunbathing, relaxing, and as with much of the city it is not short on its options for food and drink. In the winter the city’s famous Christmas Market takes pride of place in the green with a host of treats.
3. The University of Exeter.
As one of the country’s leading University cities, one of the top attractions is of course its University campus. Obviously in the summer months there aren’t any classes going on yet. Its an expansive space which can cater for some lengthy walks around its grounds, with plenty of choice for catering options whether that’s chains like Costa, the University pub (The Ram) or independent cafes like Camper or The Grove Diner.
Topsham is just a stones throw away from Exeter and is one of many stunning Devon villages. It really is a stunning location sitting along the River Exe and is chock full of quaint pubs and Tearooms.
One of the many great things about the South West is of course its stunning scenery and Dartmoor offers some of the most expansive and rugged landscapes across the whole of the UK. It is just 20 minutes or so by car from Exeter and is well worth a trip to contrast to the more urban scenery of Exeter itself. The area around Haytor is particularly lovely for a country hike but it is hard to single out a particular area to visit.
Travelling around Exeter.
Exeter is certainly not a huge city and the majority of its central areas are within walking distance. Should you want to break up your walks the bus system is a good way of travelling and as noted above there a good number of spread out train stations.
Top spots for food & drink.
This is certainly hard to narrow down to just a handful but here are a few great spots.
1.The Old Firehouse.
A must for all visitors this really is one of the standout eat & drink spots in the city and can service most moods. Famous for its huge and affordable pizzas and potential inspiration for locations featured in Harry Potter. There is also a range of great drinks options, be that its flavoured ciders or choice of ales. It also delivers a mean Sunday roast.
2. Tea On The Green
A fantastic spot overlooking Cathedral green. Great for an afternoon tea or coffee and a really good place for weekend brunch with a wide variety of options.
3. The Exploding Bakery
One of the best cafes in Exeter, which is high praise as there is a huge amount of choice. It delivers some of the finest brownies one could ask for, sitting just off Exeter Central it can be quite busy but has some fantastic décor and outside space offering a cosy experience.
4. On The Waterfront.
Offering pizza to rival that of Firehouse this quayside restaurant is one of the best eating spots in Exeter, probably wise to book ahead as it can get busy. It’s a sizeable space with a fantastic menu and some top views to accompany lunch or dinner, depending on your mood there is space both inside and out so on a hot summers evening you can enjoy a drink “on the waterfront”
- March Coffee
- Comptoire Lebonais
- Exe Coffee Roasters
- Mill On The Exe
Exeter certainly has its share of treats both in the city and surrounding area. Being relatively well connected you could easily get to the beach or moor within 20-30 minutes but the city itself has more than enough to keep everyone engaged whether that’s river walks, afternoon tea or a few ales from local breweries. This is an incredibly rewarding city to visit and should be highly recommended to those wanting a staycation.
Words by Chris Connor
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