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Student city guide to Exeter: top 10 things to do

Thinking about studying in in this historic town, but not sure if you'll be so bored when you get there you'll want to make a swift Exet (er)! Here's our guide to the top things to do to help you decide...

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
19 May 2023

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If the University of Exeter is your choice of university then you will be pleased to hear that there will be plenty to do and admire around the city, which is located in the heart of Devon.  when you arrive there.

The vibrant city life is a big part of the reason why the University of Exeter has earned a very respectable 4.3/5 in our student rankings. Here's just some of the reviews Exeter students have given about their city...

Exeter city review 1

Exeter city review 2

Exeter city review 4

Exeter city review 5

To read more reviews from students in Exeter, click here.

So if you're hoping to head to Exeter this September (or even if you’re already a student there, but looking for ways how spend your time),  you can immerse yourself in one of the most historic yet vibrant places in the south-west of England if you follow our Top 10 list….

1) Exeter Cathedral


Exeter Cathedral

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Good for: History fans.

What it is: A beautiful cathedral based in the city of Exeter dating back to 1400.

Why you should visit: If you’re in need of a study break then this cathedral has some stunning gothic architecture. If you’re wanting to explore this 900 year old cathedral in more depth then why not take a guided tour to see how this masterpiece came to be such an iconic tourist attraction. The cathedral also holds various events such as art exhibitions for all to enjoy.

2) The Old Firehouse

Good for: People who love huge pizzas.

What it is: A popular rustic pub that’s popular with both students and locals.

Why you should visit: The Old Firehouse is known for being one of the best ale and cider pubs in Exeter so it can be a great place to start a night out or visit for a bite to eat in between lectures. Here they will serve up the largest pizzas you've probably ever seen, so make sure you're ready to take some home.

3) The Quay

exeter quay
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Good for: A date night.

What it is: An abundance of bars, restaurants and shopping by the water.

Why you should visit: To really make the most of your time in Exeter you have to come down to the Quay. Depending on whether you fancy some alfresco dining, to spend some of that student loan or even delve into some watersports, Exeter quayside has it all.

There are some great little coffee shops to go to with friends or family friendly restaurants that your relatives will enjoy when they come down to visit you. As well as waterside dining there are many cute little boutique shops you can spend your time browsing in.

4) Exmouth Beach

exmouth beach
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Good for: Relaxing in the sun after you hand in yoiur essay.

What it is: The perfect place to practice your watersports.

Why you should visit: Only a 40 minute train ride from Exeter St David’s, you can explore a stunning two miles of golden sand and multiple rock pools. You can admire views of Dawlish and Torbay which also have lovely beaches you can visit. Whilst being right down on the coast you can even enjoy a spot of mini golf along with ma cosy hot chocolate in one of the many cafes on the promenade.

5) Princesshay

Good for: Finding a new outfit.

What it is:  A shopping centre in the heart of the city.

Why you should visit: Home to over 70 of your favourite high street brands as well as some great little independent stores you will have a great time spending that student loan (but don’t get too carried away!). Fancy a cheeky Nandos or Wagamama for lunch after carrying around all those bags? This place has you covered.

6) Chococo

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Good for: A great hot chocolate.

What it is: A chocolate lovers dream! A whole shop dedicated to chocolate, need we say any more?

Why you should visit: Located on Gandy Street, this place has some amazing homemade chocolates if you’re looking to treat yourself or someone else. You can enjoy other light bites to eat with toasties, scones and cakes on offer. Of course you can indulge in some heavenly milk, white or dark hot chocolates made with pure chocolate to keep you nice and toasty.

7) Timepiece

Good for: Dancing the night away.

What it is: The best student nightclub in Exeter.

Why you should visit: This nightclub holds many events and plays a variety of music with cheap drinks to keep everyone happy. Also a wine bar, this place has nights out to suit everyone with silent discos, salsa nights, live DJ’s and other themed nights to give you a chance to go and let off some steam.

8) Phoenix

pheonix exeter
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Good for: Checking out some local art.

What it is:  A multi art-form venue.

Why you should visit: Exeter Phoenix is home to various art galleries, a theatre, a cinema, dance studios and the list goes on. If you’re wanting a comedy night, some live music or are simply wanting to admire some contemporary art then this place has it all. You can satisfy all your artistic needs with a trip to the Phoenix.

9) Food and drink festival

Good for: Well, food and drink.

What it is: A festival celebrating some of the best food and drink in the south-west of England.

Why you should visit: Although you have to wait until May for this (8th-10th to be exact!), it is a great day out and gives you a good excuse to just eat food all day. As well as eating you can enjoy some live cookery demonstrations and workshops from professionals. This three day festival has over 100 stalls serving up delicious treats. After you’ve taken advantage of all the food on offer and also paid a visit to the festival bars, you can enjoy great live music in the evenings.

10) Royal Albert Memorial Museum

ram museum exeter
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Good for: Learning local history.

What it is:  A museum and art gallery.

Why you should visit: It is the largest museum and art gallery in the city and is home to a great variety of collections including anthropological and archaeological artefacts. The displays in this gallery can give you a true insight to the history of Exeter and with numerous exhibitions held all throughout the year it is a great way to enrich your cultural knowledge.

So there you have it! Exeter is a beautiful and vibrant city with so much to do if you’re ever in need of some time out from university life and revision.


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** Main image courtesy of The Independent

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