Freshers': Explore Exeter

July 5, 2022

Exeter is situated within easy reach of two national parks, beautiful sandy beaches and some other great cities with lots going on. Make the most of your time here by exploring Devon! We've compiled a list of our favourite day trips to inspire you.


Exmouth is one of the oldest and most beautiful seaside towns in Devon. It is the western gateway to the Jurassic Coast and lies at the mouth of the River Exe. With its two miles of beautiful sandy beach, and its short distance from Exeter, Exmouth is a favourite amongst students.

How to get there:

By train:

Exmouth is only a half an hour train journey from Exeter, so you can get to the beach very easily from your nearest station, including Exeter St. David’s, Exeter Central, St. James’ Park, and Polsloe Bridge.


If it’s a nice day, many students also enjoy a scenic bike ride to Exmouth from Exeter, through the cycle route and walkway that runs around the entire Exe Estuary. This links Exeter to places like Exmouth, Topsham and Dawlish so that you can experience some of Devon’s most beautiful towns and villages. You can rent Co-Bikes right from campus!

What to do:

Enjoy the beach

Bring a picnic, or buy some food and drink from the M&S Food hall or Tesco Express that are located only a short walk away from Exmouth station. Then head to the beach for a relaxing day in the sun with your friends! We recommend bringing your swimming costume and a towel if you fancy a dip in the sea, a book to read in the sun, and some beach games!

Get some Fish & Chips

If you don’t fancy bringing a picnic, why not head to one of Exmouth’s tasty fish & chip shops to eat by the sea? Along the seafront, there is Harbour View Café & Chip Shop, but there are a huge variety of other places to eat if you walk further into town - why not try Krispies, crowned the best fish and chip shop in the UK in 2019!

Get an ice cream

There are lots of places to get an ice cream in Exmouth, but we recommend Sea Shore Ice Creamery that is located along the seafront and has a huge selection of flavours for you to try!

Powderham Castle

If you’re looking to have a scenic day out, why not head to Powderham Castle, located about 6 miles south of Exeter.

At the heart of Devon, this 600-year old family home offers centuries of stories and stunning scenery, with the wonderful architecture of the Castle itself, as well as its beautiful grounds and deer park. Come along for a day of history or for a peaceful walk.

How to get there:

Powderham Castle can be easily accessed by car, train, and by walking or cycling. You can find a full list of directions on the website here. We’ve included some of the easiest ways to get to the Castle from Exeter, whatever the weather!

By train:

Jump on a train from Exeter St David’s to Starcross, which is less than 2 miles away from the Castle. From here, you can get a bus from the station, or we recommend taking a scenic walk to the Castle along the coast, which will take around 30 minutes.

Walking and Cycling:

Powderham Castle is situated along the Exe Estuary trail and is sign-posted as NCN2. From Exeter Quay, it should take around 45 minutes by bike.

What to do:

Tour the Castle

Depending on the time of year, you can book a guided tour of Powderham Castle to find out about the history of the building and its grounds, including its secret doors, long libraries and hidden ballroom! You can also explore the Castle by yourself and at your own pace in the Open House sessions!

Explore the Grounds and Gardens

Alongside the Castle tours, you can opt for one of the Outdoor Tours to explore the beautiful architecture and surroundings. You can also explore the Deer Park and go on one of their Deer Park Safaris. The grounds are really beautiful, and we recommend bringing a picnic so you can enjoy some refreshments by the lake or in the Secret Garden.  

Go to the Café and Farm Shop

The Courtyard Café is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a bite to eat, with indoor and outdoor seating, and a range of lunch options, drinks and cream teas! There is also a small farm shop on site, with local food and a small café.

Enjoy live music

Powderham hosts events, festivals and gigs throughout the year, check their schedule to see who's playing.


Located between Exmouth and Torquay, Teignmouth is another beautiful seaside town along the South Devon Coast and on the mouth of the River Teign. Only 12 miles south of Exeter, Teignmouth has so much to offer for a relaxing day by the beach, or to enjoy scenic walks along the coast and in the picturesque town.

How to get there:

By train:

You can get to Teignmouth from Exeter by train in around 30 minutes or under. Get the train from Exeter St. David’s and enjoy the beautiful journey through Dawlish and right along the coastline, with stunning views of the sea and Devon’s renowned beaches.

Teignmouth station is located only a stone’s throw from the town centre, so you enjoy the friendly town as soon as you get off the train!

What to do:

Explore the beach and tour the coastline

Teignmouth is home to two beaches, the Town beach and the River beach (known by locals as the Back Beach). The Town beach is the perfect spot to lounge in the sand and sunbathe with your friends, with its large stretch of golden sand overlooking the beautiful and clear waters.

If you’re wanting to go on a coastline walk, you can walk alongside this beach along the promenade, and walk round to the Back beach. Here you will find stunning views of the harbour and its quaint fishing boats.

Go on the passenger ferry to Shaldon

Shaldon is a small fishing village directly opposite Teignmouth, which you can visit via the passenger ferry that will take you across the water between Teignmouth and Shaldon. Here you can explore another coastal village in Devon, and some of its coffee shops and cafés.

Go to the Arcade

Located on the seafront is the Victorian Grand Pier that was built over 150 years ago. Here you will find the amusement arcade, with traditional amusements and games!

Grab a bite to eat

There are plenty of places to get food and drink whilst in Teignmouth, including larger chains like Costa and a Wetherspoons. There are also a variety of local and independent cafes and restaurants that serve delicious food, including fresh fish by local fishermen.

Come along and try local seafood at the Crab Shack, grab a fish & chips at Finn McCools, or go to the renowned Oystercatcher’s Café. There is also The Owl and the Pussycat for some fine dining in the evening.



If you’re wanting to go on a day-trip that is a bit further afield from Exeter, then Bristol is a great choice! Around an hour away from Exeter, this city is full of life and things to get up to, including sight-seeing, shopping, and more.

How to get there:

By train:

The best way to get to Bristol as a student is by train, and you can get there easily from Exeter St. David’s. You can get to Bristol Temple Meads in around 1 hour, and it can cost only £5 if you book in advance!

By car:

If you don’t fancy getting the train, you can also drive to Bristol very easily from Exeter by going straight up the M5. This journey should take around an hour and a half in total!

What to do:

Explore Bristol’s Harbourside

Bristol’s historic harbour was once a busy trading dock, but is now a lively hub within Bristol – complete with restaurants, bars and shops, as well as some great attractions. Go and see an exhibition at the M Shed to learn about Bristol’s history, visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, and grab a bite to eat in one of the restaurants and bars overlooking the water. You might try The Stable Bristol, the Arnolfini Harbourside Bar, Three Brothers Burgers, or The River Grille!

See Bristol’s iconic street art

The streets of Bristol are known for their graffiti art and pop-culture, and you can tour the city to find some of its iconic pieces, including works by Bristol-born artist, Banksy. You can go on a Walking Tour to explore the beautiful art that is hidden around the city, or you can hunt them down yourself!

Hit the shops!

There are a huge variety of shops in Bristol, from high street stores in Bristol Shopping Quarter, to independent and vintage shops like those found on Gloucester Road & Stokes Croft. On Gloucester Road, you will find one of the longest stretches of independent shops, including bakeries, gift shops and art vendors.

Looking for more things to do? Have a look at Explore Exeter.