Home City Guides Exeter – City Guide

Exeter – City Guide

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The City 

“With cobbled streets, Medieval and Georgian buildings, as well as a towering gothic cathedral, Exeter is home to thousands of students. Despite being a campus university, students spend as much time in the bustling city centre as they do in the library, whether that’s partying in one of the many bars, or studying in an independent coffee shop.”

Things To Do

Exeter might not have the bright lights of the big cities but never fear, students here are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do.

  • You’ll be the envy of all your friends with idyllic beaches just a quick (and cheap) train ride away. From an afternoon getaway to Dawlish Warren to a summer day trip at Exmouth beach, the whole of the South West is quite literally your oyster.
  • Beaches not your thing? The hippy paradise of Totnes offers something a little bit different; classic South-West but with copious amounts of incense and chai lattes.
  • There’s plenty to do within the city walls though – for a spot of culture, checkout the Underground Passages. Hidden deep beneath the city, Exeter Council runs free tours of the medieval passages.
  • For a spot more history, take a wander round Exeter Castle, tucked away towards the back of the city.
  • Once you’ve seen what’s on offer below ground, venture above for a bit of shopping therapy in the modern Princesshay and Guildhall shopping quarters. With all the high street staples, it’s the perfect place to blow your student loan.
  • Further down from the High street, Fore Street is the quirky area full of independent stores, selling everything from incense to American candy milkshakes.

Arts & Culture

If you’re a film buff, then you’re in luck.

  • Exeter’s independent Picturehouse, and the Phoenix is home to photography and film exhibitions as well as gigs.
  • Exeter also has a vibrant slam poetry scene. With the University Dead Poets society holding regular spoken word sessions for wannabe poets to hone their craft, students can also perform at the Phoenix’s monthly open mic night, or see what’s on at the Bikeshed Theatre, which often showcases the best of the Southwest.

For a chilled Sunday afternoon, there’s loads to keep you busy.

  • Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery is host to everything from world artefacts to pieces of important local history from Devon and Exeter. Even better, admission is free- perfect for students.
  • The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in the Queens Building on the University campus offers a free inside look at the world of cinema through the ages, with one of the largest cinema collections in England.

And if you fancy some theatre, you don’t even need to venture off campus.

  • The Northcott Theatre is right in the heart of the University of Exeter campus. Often offering discounted tickets for students, the Northcott has both touring and student productions performing on its stage.


Music & Nightlife

Exeter has loads to offer for all your nighttime ventures.

  • Unit 1 (known by its previous name Arena, by all Exeter veterans) is your go to for Cheesy Tuesdays, a true throwback to school discos mixed with all the latest pop hits. Expect lots of Taylor Swift.
  • If you’re into sports, then Timepiece Wednesday is where all the sports clubs frequent, or the campus nightclub the Lemmy, a stone’s throw from first year accommodation. The Lemmy’s also home to regular gigs, with acts like Frank Turner and Chase and Status all having entertained Exeter students.
  • The local LGBT bar, Vaults, is a favourite with students for their Saturday night karaoke, and Rosies (previously named Mosaic,) offers not one, but three rooms, ranging from pop anthems to a chilled out bar, complete with champagne and cocktails.

If you’re more of a gig person, then don’t fear. 

  • Exeter Phoenix is also a great option, playing host to Kate Nash and Amber Run next year.
  • Nearby Plymouth is within easy reach by train, meaning you’re never far from a night of music.

And if you’re looking for a classy evening of cocktails?

  • Urban Underground on Queens Street offers all the usual tipples in vintage teapots, in a (you guessed it) underground setting.
  • Over on the other end of town, Monkeysuit is more of a classic bar vibe, and a frequent haunt for university society socials.

Places to Eat

Let’s start at the very beginning: brunch.

  • A great student classic, and super cheap, is Brodies Bistro. Cheap and cheerful, Brodies offers an all day, all you can eat breakfast, ranging from the full English to a pancake machine.
  • Other options include independent café No 1 Posloe in the student area of Mount Pleasant (their instagrammable milkshakes are a hit) or Boston Tea Party for an avocado hit.

But if you want a nice dinner…

  • The new Guildhall centre is full of a mixture of popular high street chains like Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Turtle Bay (their happy hour is a must for cheap cocktails) alongside South West start-ups like pizza restaurant the Stable and upmarket restaurant/bar the Terrace.
  • If you’re looking for pizza, check out The Old Firehouse. Rumoured to be J.K Rowling’s inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron, order a massive pizza (vegan toppings available), served in wicker baskets, alongside a jug of flavoured cider.
  • Other choices include On the Waterfront or Base and Barley, both available on Deliveroo too.

For coffee to fuel your studying:

  • Fore Street’s hippy The Glorious Art House is a welcome jaunt off the usual high street chains, or the independent Artigianos for some serious coffee art.
  • Vegetarians and vegan students will have to visit Herbies, the Plant Café or the newly opened Rabbit Cafe.

Top 5 discounts in Exeter

What’s on this month?

The historic Cathedral square is transformed into a winter wonderland from the 19th November for the annual Exeter Christmas Market. Expect lots of street food and mulled wine.

To get even more in the Christmas spirit, the Exeter Carol Service @ St. James Park on the 5th December always gets good student turnout.

Holly Smith Editor