1st February 2022

12 Reasons why Exeter is the Perfect Weekend Break

A break to The Devon Hotel in Exeter combines the best of the countryside and the city. When exploring, you will be spoilt for choice. There's marvellous local attractions, irresistible shopping, dramatic countryside, charming Devon villages, Dartmoor National Park and glorious nearby beaches.

Here are our top 12 reasons why Exeter is the perfect weekend break destination:

1. Walking

Only in Devon can you enjoy so many completely different experiences in such close proximity. Head west of The Devon Hotel and you are within easy reach of Dartmoor National Park with its rugged beauty and renowned walks. There are 368 square miles of moorland and forests, dotted with gorgeous villages to explore.

Head south and just a short drive takes you to the Jurassic Coast and sensational walking on the cliff path. All around Exeter, there is beautiful rolling Devon countryside with miles of footpaths through meadows, woodland and nearby areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Blackdown Hills

And Exeter itself offers hours of fascinating city walks, along the banks of the canal or exploring the fascinating heritage of this ancient Roman city. Either explore yourself or take a guided walk.

After a great day walking, return to the comfort and warmth of the Devon Hotel, for superb cuisine and a good night’s sleep.

2. Historic Exeter

Exeter has a fascinating history waiting to be discovered, including a Norman Cathedral and a historic quay and canal.

Exeter Cathedral’s outstanding Gothic architecture is one of the most visited places in the West Country, and when you get inside and have look around you'll see why. 

Exeter’s Historic Quayside has been enhanced to provide a fascinating mix of historic and contemporary design. It is a lovely area in which to stroll and enjoy the riverside, cafes and interesting shops. For a comprehensive history of the quay be sure to visit the Custom House Visitor Centre

Take on a voyage of discovery from pre-history to the present day and from Exeter all around the world at the award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery. Free entry gives everyone the freedom to visit again and again, and to stay for any length of time.

3. Beaches

You’ll find dozens of beaches along the southern coastline within an easy driving distance of The Devon Hotel in Exeter, so you can enjoy a leisurely day at the beach with no rushing.

Sidmouth is renowned for its clean air, beautiful pebble beach and calm waters. It’s a refined town with a stunning promenade and sweeping views out to sea. In the summer months, the Sidmouth Town Band holds an evening concert every Sunday playing beautiful brass band music - a wonderful way to end the day. Sidmouth is also home to two of our finest sister hotels, the elegant Belmont Hoteland the grand Victoria Hotel in which Devon Hotel guests have complimentary use of the heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spa facilities. 

If you want wide swathes of soft sand then Exmouth is perfect. Part of the incredible Jurassic Coast, Exmouth is a beautiful and very popular seaside resort. You can lounge on the sand and soak up the rays, go for a walk along the cliffs or if you’re feeling adventurous try your hand at a huge range of water sports.

Just a few miles along the coast from Exmouth is the picturesque town of Budleigh Salterton. Situated at the mouth of the River Otter, Budleigh offers a quiet beach day, with its pebbly beach and safe waters making it ideal for a refreshing swim. Be sure to enjoy a stroll along the estuary as it’s a breeding site for migratory birds and other important wildlife.

Moving further along the coast you’ll come to Beer situated on Lyme Bay. Sheltered by the craggy mass of Beer Head, this beach is still home to an active fishing community with the boats drawn up on the beach due to the lack of a harbour. If you want to get in on the action there are mackerel fishing trips throughout the day, or you can hire boats by the hour. If you fancy getting out of the sun for a bit then be sure to visit the Beer Quarry Caves, which was a working quarry from Roman times until 1920.

Of course, if you want to venture further, Devon is the only county to have two separate coastlines and the north coast has its own distinctive charm.

4. Shopping

Exeter is the region's favourite place for shopping! The city is a shopaholic's must-do destination with its famous name stores as well as a delightful range of smaller, independent shops and chic boutiques to explore.

Princesshay is at the heart of the city with an abundance of big name shops, cafes and restaurants. More classic independent shops are set around the green of the beautiful 800-year-old Cathedral. If you take a wander down Gandy Street, you’ll find trendy clothes and gift shops, whilst Fore Street offers quirky shops in attractive older buildings.

Take a trip out of the city to uncover some quaint towns with their own shopping experiences. Totnes is well known for its diverse shops and alternative therapies and Honiton is a popular haunt for bargain hunters and people who trade in antiques with an excellent range of antique shops.

If you’re after a taste of the West Country, take a trip to Topsham to visit Darts Farm awarded the ‘Best Farm Shop in the UK’! The farm shop is a food lover’s haven with home-grown vegetables, artisan cheeses, local wines, cakes and much more.

5. Outdoor Activities

You don’t have to go far to find a plethora of outdoor pursuits in and around Exeter. Saddles and Paddles hire out bikes to ride along the pretty riverside cycle paths, or Canadian style canoes to paddle down the canal to one of the two popular pubs.

The canal has the reputation as being one of, if not the best, pike fisheries in the South West. Discover more about fishing the canal with the Exeter Angling Association or visit the Exeter Angling Centre. South View Fishery offers excellent carp and coarse fishing lakes set in six acres of gorgeous countryside.

Exmouth is a centre for water sports including: Sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and diving to explore the myriad of wrecks in Lyme Bay.

Take to the treetops at the UK’s No1 treetop adventure park, Go Ape - set in the beautiful Haldon Forest or explore it by Segway

Horse-riding is the perfect way to explore the heathland of Woodbury Common and its spectacular views of the Jurassic coastline.

Exeter Golf and Country club is nearby if you can’t concede leaving your golf clubs behind!

You can even try your hand at skiing at The Exeter Dry Ski Slope.

There are pools to suit all in and around Exeter and as a guest of the Devon Hotel you can enjoy complimentary use of the heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spa facilities at the Victoria Hotel in Sidmouth. The outdoor pool facilities are open May – September and include a separate children’s pool.

6. Gardens

There are acres of magnificent gardens in Devon open for the public to enjoy and explore with historic house estates of carefully tended grounds that are filled with rare and wonderful plants and trees and tucked-away city oases.

The National Trust property of Killerton is a fine 18-century house set in 6,000 acres with beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Victorian laundry, ice house, chapel and bear hut!

Powderham Castle is steeped in over 600 years of history, with picturesque grounds, deer park, and Adventure Park.

Nestled in the bustling city centre, you can find the hidden oasis of calm of the oldest public open space in England; Northernhay Gardens plus many other gardens peppered around the city.

The University of Exeter’s Streatham and St Luke’s Campus garden's are acknowledged as the most beautiful and botanically interesting of any UK University and are open to the public all year long.

7. Live Music

Exeter’s live music scene is buzzing, with a wide selection of pubs and music venues in the city hosting regular evenings as well as the summer festival scene!

Exeter’s eclectic scene, to name a few includes, Cavern Club where you can expect new and established bands with like of Muse and Mumford and Sons having played here. For a comfy corner and cocktails set against the beat of the Westcountry’s finest Dj’s, pay a visit to The Monkey Suit. Timepiece is Exeter's finest and longest established nightclub and wine bar, open 7 nights a week with something to suit every taste for a great night out.

View more live music venues in Exeter here.

If you fancy a festival then the 80’s retro family-friendly music festival, Let’s Rock, fires up nostalgic beats in the grounds of Powderham Castle.

8. Theatres, Arts & Culture

Arts and culture are an important part of life in Exeter. The city is home to a diverse and dynamic arts and culture scene.

Numerous independent theatres, including The Exeter Phoenix which puts on hundreds of events each year, spanning all genres of music, art, film, theatre and comedy are scattered throughout the city. If you like your venue quirky then head to the subterranean Bike Shed Theatrefor an award-winning programme of work from emerging companies in the area.

Situated on the University’s Streatham Campus, the Exeter Northcott Theatre is a 460 seat venue offering a mixed programme of touring theatre productions, contemporary dance, opera, music, comedy and family shows.

For a night at the movies, The Picture House plays art house films, world cinema, family and independent films, mainstream and cult movies.

Not to be missed is the award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery - home to an amazingly diverse collection. It doesn’t stop there, there are plenty of independent galleries, cinemas and arts centres around the city.

9. Family Days Out

There are too many great days out with the family in and around Exeter to mention! Everything from big award-winning parks such as Crealy Great Adventure Park with 60 rides and attractions set in 100 acres of lovely countryside, to Sidmouth’s Donkey Sanctuary which is bike, dog and family friendly with free admission (donations welcomed).

For oodles of ideas for days out with the family visit daysoutwiththekids.co.uk.

9. Charming Towns

The bigger Exeter region is adorned with a wealth of charming towns. Lyme Regis has its famous Cobb and exceptional views; Sidmouth oozes Victorian elegance; Dartmouth is renowned for its naval history and picturesque streets; Totnes is well known for its diverse shops and alternative therapies and Budleigh Salterton is a beautiful seaside town and that’s just close by!

11. Sporting Haven 

Exeter is a sporting enthusiast’s playground. Home of the mighty Exeter Chiefs, their fixtures are a highlight the cities sporting calendar.

Another highlight is a day at the races at Exeter Racecourse, this lovely racecourse plays host to competitive racing throughout the National Hunt season.

If you’re up for a challenge, there’s plenty of events to take part in such as the Dartmoor Classic cycling challenge; choosing between a 35, 68 or 107 mile course it’s one of the toughest cycling races in Britain.

12. The Devon Hotel at your base