Life in Exeter, Devon
A modern city with a rich history
The historic cathedral city of Exeter is home to two of our campuses: Streatham, located on the edge of the city, and St Luke’s in the centre. Set in the heart of the beautiful Devon countryside, Exeter is consistently rated as one of the best places to live, work, and study in the UK.
Exeter is a lively, vibrant place with a strong independent sector. There are boutique shops alongside high street stores, and quirky cafes peppered amongst independent restaurants using locally sourced produce. A safe and walkable city, you can find everything you need right on your doorstep.
Devon’s capital city, Exeter is just a short drive, cycle, bus or train journey away from the beautiful coastline and impressive national parks. With direct flights from Exeter to destinations across the UK and Europe, the city is better connected and more accessible than ever.
Exeter is at the heart of the South West food scene with a vast array of outstanding restaurants, coffee shops, delicatessens and markets. From small independent eateries to chain restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy here.
Eat your way around the world without leaving the city by exploring Exeter’s international cuisine. Thai, Japanese, Greek, Mexican and Lebanese restaurants are just a few on offer. However, if you fancy traditional British pub grub, then Exeter is also home to many gastropubs.
A student favourite, especially in the summertime, are the restaurants and cafes at Exeter’s historic Quayside. What could be better than enjoying a pizza al fresco while overlooking the beautiful River Exe? Foodies will also want to check out Queen Street Dining. Home to several delicious restaurants and rooftop bars, it is the perfect location in Exeter to wine and dine.
You’ll also find a range of supermarkets represented in Exeter including Aldi, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. Many of them are located in or close to the centre making it easy for students without a car to go food shopping. There’s also a good range of international supermarkets catering for Asian, Indian, African, European and religious cuisines. However, if local produce is what you’re looking for, you can find some excellent options at delicatessens, bakeries, butchers and greengrocers across the city. Vegetarians and vegans also have good choice both on and off campus at supermarkets and plant-based restaurants in Exeter such as Sacred Grounds and The Flat.
Exeter has one of the longest and most distinguished histories of any British city and you're never more than a few steps away from a reminder of its diverse and exciting past.
Take in Exeter’s rich history with a walk around the City Wall Trail which explores the 2000-year-old Roman wall that once surrounded the city. In 1068, Rougemont Castle was founded within the walls for William the Conqueror. The Castle’s strategic position on the top of a hill allowed its occupants to see across the city. Today the Castle is a hub of art, music, food and drink and hosts a number of events throughout the year.
Exeter Cathedral with its impressive vaulted ceiling, astronomical clock and stunning stained-glass windows is another must-see. The beautiful Cathedral Green is also a popular meeting spot with students. Running beneath the cathedral and across the city are the medieval underground passages. Dating from the 14th century, the passages were built to bring clean drinking water into Exeter. Today you can take a guided tour of these narrow passages in an experience unique to Exeter.
Many of the city centre’s ancient buildings were destroyed during World War II as part of the so-called Baedeker Blitz, in which targets were chosen for their cultural and historical value. This has created an intriguing mix of ancient and modern architecture across the city, making the areas that survived all the more special and interesting to visit.
Beyond the city
One of the most attractive areas of the city, Exeter’s Quayside is popular with locals, students and visitors alike. A 10-minute walk from the city centre, it has a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, lively pubs and restaurants, and a cluster of antique shops. A multitude of events happen on the River Exe throughout the summer, including dragon boat racing, open air concerts, markets, street food, charity events and art exhibitions. The Quay is also a launchpad for accessing National Cycle Route 2 which stretches down both sides of the Exe Estuary, to Exmouth and Dawlish beaches.
Many people hire bikes or kayaks to explore Exeter’s historic Ship Canal. Enjoy the calm waters and beautiful scenery before taking a pitstop at the Double Locks or the Turf Locks Inn, two student-friendly pubs, for a drink or bite to eat. If you don’t fancy paddling yourself, you can take a scenic boat cruise with Exeter Cruises. Cruises normally take place at weekends between Easter and September, and daily from mid-July to August.
Beyond Exeter, there are lots of diverse and exciting places to explore. Discover the deep wooded valleys, flowing rivers and rugged wide-open spaces of the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. Just a quick train ride away, a trip to the stunning Devon coastline is another popular activity with students. Try your hand at some water sports, marvel at the beauty of the English Riviera or explore the incredible geology of the Jurassic Coast.
If you are in need of some retail therapy, the quaint town of Topsham with its vibrant mix of boutiques, galleries, gift shops and gastropubs is a great place to visit. A short journey away is the South Hams region, much of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take a day trip and explore the popular coastal spots of Dartmouth and Salcombe or venture to Totnes, a town full of character and charm.
Entertainment and sport
Exeter is home to a diverse and dynamic arts and culture scene, making the city a vibrant place to live and study. There are several great theatres, including the Northcott Theatre located right on our Streatham Campus. In the city centre, you will also find two multiplex cinemas (Odeon and Vue) plus a pair of smaller independent cinema venues (Picturehouse and Exeter Phoenix) should you prefer world cinema, arthouse and independent films as well as mainstream movies.
The Exeter Corn Exchange is one of the largest multi-purpose venues in the city. Catch a concert here or laugh out loud at one of their frequent comedy shows. There is also an award-winning museum of national importance in Exeter, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), and you can find The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum right on our Streatham Campus too.
Exeter offers a wealth of opportunity to get involved with sport and leisure activities. With swimming pools, golf courses, climbing walls and even a dry ski slope, you can partake in all your favourite sports here or even try something new. The University's Athletic Union also has over 50 different clubs and caters for everyone from complete beginners to elite athletes.
In addition to the University’s award-winning sports teams, we are fortunate to live in a city which is home to several other high-achieving teams. Exeter was a Rugby World Cup host in 2015 and our Premiership Rugby club, the Exeter Chiefs, play their home games at Sandy Park, located on the outskirts of the city. Football fans can also be entertained by supporting our League One football team, Exeter City, who play at St James' Park in the centre of the city.
With a high proportion of students, Exeter has a lively nightlife despite the relatively small size of the city’s population.
There are pubs a-plenty within mere minutes of both our Exeter campuses, including one on our Streatham Campus, The Ram Bar. Student favourites include the Imperial (or Impy), a giant Wetherspoons with rolling gardens between St David’s train station and Streatham Campus, and The Old Firehouse, famed for its excellent range of beers and ciders, and giant late-night pizzas. If you are looking for cocktail bars, Exeter has some great options. Visit The Bootlegger for some incredible cocktails and live music, enjoy a drink on The Terrace’s rooftop bar or check out the extensive cocktail menu at Revolution. For something a bit different, visit Board and play a board game from their vast library while having a drink or bite to eat.
Exeter has a buzzing live music scene with a wide selection of pubs and music venues hosting bands and artists. The underground Exeter Cavern regularly hosts live music and the venue has seen some of the world’s biggest bands launch their careers, including Muse, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Biffy Clyro, Scouting for Girls and Kaiser Chiefs. You can also find one of the largest entertainment venues in the South West right on our Streatham Campus, The Great Hall. Catch the big names playing here or at our other live music venue, the Lemon Grove (Lemmy).
Exeter hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. Dance music fans won’t want to miss Hijacked Festival, a popular springtime event at picturesque Double Locks. Celebrate diversity through the performing and creative arts at Exeter Respect Festival or catch one of the many outdoor music events at Powderham Castle. Oktoberfest at Exeter Castle is another fun event to enjoy with friends. With live music, German beer and street food, you can have a taste of Bavarian culture in the heart of Exeter.
While Exeter might not compete with the likes of London or Manchester if you want to dance all night, the city is home to several great nightclubs. Timepiece (TP) is Exeter’s self-proclaimed “half-decent nightclub” and caters for both the city’s more discerning club-goers and an inordinate number of sports team socials. Unit 1 is a firm favourite of many students with their sing-along throwback hits at their Cheesy Tuesdays club nights. Other popular clubs include Fever & Boutique, Cavern, Zinc, The Vaults, Move and The Terrace, all offering an array of fun nights out.
Why our students love Exeter
Don't just take our word for it, find out why our student bloggers love living in Exeter.
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by gg428, 15 February 2024
Not only is Exeter a beautiful place to live, but it's also such a great learning environment. There is so much support available to aid your studies and future career as well as your general wellbeing.
Since starting university I feel like I've become more confident as a person. I've been able to meet, work alongside and become friends with people from all walks of life from all over the world.
Studying Materials Engineering