The historic city of Exeter – known to the Roman’s as Isca Dumnoniorum – is widely acknowledged as Devon’s cultural capital (we won’t tell Plymouth if you don’t). From its twisted cobbled streets to its picturesque quayside, there’s a myriad of independent businesses and landmarks to explore…
During your visit, take the rare opportunity to explore one of England’s greatest cathedrals and one the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Founded in 1050 AD, construction of a cathedral on the present site began as early as 1114. Inside, Exeter Cathedral’s impressive vaulted ceiling is a sight to behold, but to truly appreciate its magnificence you should opt for a rooftop tour – the views over the city are spectacular.
Multi-disciplinary art venue ‘The Phoenix Centre’ connects filmmakers, dancers, DJs, drag performers, musicians and anyone interested in creativity in their hub behind Gandy Street. Pop in for a pint in their bar or terrace before catching live shows, comedy or arthouse films.
THE ROYAL ALBERT MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Whether you’ve got kids in tow or you’re just young at heart, RAMM is fun for the whole family. This world-class museum tells the story of Exeter and Devon from the prehistoric era to the present, along with interactive exhibits and a beautifully curated gift shop. On a rainy day this should be your first stop!
This microbrewery and tap house is one of the hottest spots for music in town. On summer nights, you can take a seat on the historic quayside and listen to live performances under the twinkling lights, with a craft beer in hand.
FORE STREET FLEA MARKET
Look out for this monthly gathering of local artisans, selling everything from handmade ceramics to macrame. wall hangings. For details of their next event keep your eye on social media
COFFEE SHOPS IN EXETER
THE EXPLODING BAKERY
If coffee and cake is on the agenda, get over to The Exploding Bakery Café next to Central Station (above left). This laidback venue is a saving grace for commuters and shoppers looking for a quality flat white and a spot of people watching. We recommend getting yourself a piece of the sour cherry & pistachio polenta cake or a slice of their delicious almond brownie…
From the hands that nurtured Exeter indie shop ‘No Guts No Glory’ comes plant-based cafe and brunch spot Sacred Grounds (above right). Tuck into crispy waffles and vegan wraps, order a calming beetroot latte or an iced americano and spend your morning in the warm, light atrium of McCoy’s Arcade. Look out for their regular live music sessions and feast nights as well!
By day Artigiano (below right) serves an extensive coffee menu of flat whites and dirty chai lattes. But come evening this trendy coffee house is transformed into a stylish bar space where you can sip on cocktails and catch live music performances.
GROW COFFEE HOUSE
The star of Grow is its sheltered outdoor decking area. Or maybe it’s their coffee. Or perhaps it’s their eco-friendly ethos? We can’t actually decide! What we do know is that it’s a bright and friendly spot to enjoy Devon roasted coffee and a pastry. Also attached to Grow is music shop Life Guitars Co. who lovingly revamp second-hand guitars back to glory.
This Californian-inspired venue is seriously Instagrammable. Self-described as a ‘Grab ‘N’ Go caf., modern brunch space & social restaurant’, Pink Moon is decked out with pastel pink walls, neon signage and white marble floors. There’s an entire segment of their brunch menu devoted to how you like your eggs, as well as six different varieties of dirty fries on the all-day menu.
VEG BOX CAFE
Elsewhere on Exeter’s historic quayside, you’ll find Veg Box Cafe. – a vibrant cafe. that’s giving veggie and vegan food a thoroughly modern makeover. Its pink tiles and botanical-print cushions are matched by an equally vibrant menu, comprised of plant-based wraps, pancake stacks and Buddha bowls
SHOPPING IN EXETER
THE RECYCLED CANDLE COMPANY
This canary yellow shop on Gandy Street (above left) is doing its bit for the environment by melting down old candles destined for the bin and recycling them into beautiful new creations. Their lovely candles come in a variety of shapes and scents and they also host regular workshops to learn how to reuse your own wax scraps. The best bit? They’ll take all your half-used candles and tea-lights off your hands – just pop into the shop and donate what you can!
HUTCH HOUSE PLANTS
Love plants? Do yourself a favour and drop into Hutch. Lush greenery bursts out from every corner and drips in strings from the ceiling. Purchase a leafy pal to improve the air quality of your home and add colour to a space – be it a stylish succulent, a fluffylooking fern or a spiky cactus. Owners Rob and Frankie are real houseplant aficionados and are on hand to impart their expert advice.
SILVER LION JEWELLERS
Hammered silver jewellery, fiery precious stones, and quirky charms embellish the plush cushioned stands of Silver Lion Jewellers. Specialists in 9ct gold jewellery and unique pieces of silver, the shop offers a large selection of adornments that can be tailored to the wearer.
Chococo’s colourful signage will no doubt tempt you inside, where you can browse their tempting range of award-winning chocolates or sip on local Crankhouse coffee. It goes without saying that their artisan chocolate truffles are the main lure, but there’s also Chococo gelato, brownies, cakes and bakes to enjoy.
HYDE & SEEK
Across the road from Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum is Hyde & Seek. This vibrant shop is a celebration of all things bright and colourful, offering quirky and fun products at affordable prices. It’s a one-stop-shop for gifting, as you can buy everything from eco-friendly presents and funky homewares to wrapping paper and cards.
Head down a set of stairs into this trendy basement space for a showcase of the very best designer makers from Devon and beyond. These guys are passionate about supporting local products and crafts, so expect a fabulously curated selection of wares on sale, from quirky gift cards to macrame decorations and handmade jewellery.
Pack your Kilner jars and head to Zero Exeter for eco essentials and planet friendly homewares. Their reclaimed shelves are filled with a wide array of package free goods, from dried spices to refillable oils and cleaning products. There’s also plenty of locally made, artisanal products on sale, as well as stylish reusable bottles and coffee cups.
Elsewhere in McCoy’s you’ll find The Real McCoy, purveyors of vintage clothing and accessories. They stock everything from retro varsity jackets and Levi jeans to beaded gowns from the roaring ‘20s. There’s also independent bookshop Bookbag contained within the arcade’s walls, as well as indie gems like Exeter Tea Merchants, and Hops + Crafts
Lead Image The Exploding Bakery Cafe.
Find more ideas for your next trip to Devon in The Maverick Guide to Devon Vol 2.