Hi everyone, it’s Amelie, and today I’ll be talking a bit about one of the most common misconceptions about studying in Exeter – that because located down in the beautiful South West of England there might not be much to do in and around the area. I have to admit, when I was thinking of coming to Exeter I’d heard the same things, but luckily had spent enough time in and around Devon before so I could cast aside those negative assumptions. And, before you start thinking ‘I don’t have a car so I may as well click off this post’ – stop – because neither do I most of the time, so these trips are car, train and sometimes even foot friendly.

Sunset over the station



Topsham is first on the list because it is one of the most easily accessible day trips. A quaint Devon town adorned with beautiful old houses, it’s Exeter’s chic little sister, and there’s no shortage of ways to pass the day here. What’s more, an open return train ticket will only cost you £2.90 at off peak times or £4.40 at peak times (with a student railcard) and you can get there direct from Exeter St. David’s station in less than 20 minutes. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk alongside the river which will take you to Topsham in about an hour and a half. Once you’re there, there’s loads of nice independent cafes, shops and pubs/restaurants to browse around, and even a big antique shop if you like that sort of thing. When I’ve been to Topsham before, I’ve got the train and walked from the station to Dart’s Farm – which has a lovely cafe and farm shop – had a browse there, and then taken the public footpath route into the centre of Topsham. After this, I tend to have a little look in all the shops, and then stop for a drink and a snack in one of the good pubs before heading back to Exeter. It’s a long way of going around Topsham, but the public footpath walk is very scenic and not to be missed!

View of Topsham from across the river at Topsham Lock

Exmouth Beach

Chilled summer afternoons at Exmouth beach

Also easily accessed is Exmouth beach, and as every Exeter student will tell you, it’s one of the best things to do in the area when the sun is out. Getting a train down to Exmouth is scenic and fairly inexpensive, with a return ticket (with a student railcard) being £4.20 off-peak, but you can also cycle or drive. In the summer months, go early to avoid the rush for spaces, and stay there until the sun goes down. Barbeques are allowed on the beach, so you could grab a disposable and host your own beach barbeque, which is made easy by the nearby supermarkets. If you don’t fancy that, there’s plenty of places to get a traditional English fish and chips – or if you’re feeling fancy, there’s also a Rockfish. In the winter, Exmouth makes a great location for a stroll along the beach, and like I’ve mentioned, there’s loads of places to get food and drink that suit any occasion.


Pizzas at Rivershack

Totnes is a little further afield, but is really unique and worth a visit! Its £6.10 return on the train and takes around half an hour, which is about the same time as the drive as well. In Totnes, there’s loads of quirky cafes and restaurants as well as independent shops, but also a good mix of well-known high street retailers. Additionally, there’s a market on Fridays and Saturdays which sells all sorts, so the best time to go is at the end of the week. I really enjoy the restaurant Rumour, which does lovely food in a casual setting, and is great after walking around the market and shops. If you have a car and fancy going the extra distance, the area isn’t too far from the famous riverside town of Dartmouth, or the Rivershack restaurant in the nearby village Stoke Gabriel which does amazing pizzas on the Dart river, but is only open in the spring and summer.


A firm family favourite, Salcombe is definitely worth the extra hassle it takes to come down from Exeter (if you don’t have a car, that is – otherwise it’s as easy as any other day trip). To get there via public transport, you’ll have to get the train to Totnes and then a 30 minute taxi into Salcombe itself, but once you’re there it’s definitely worth it. I love wandering around the town and popping into the various shops, and grabbing a picnic from the bakery and deli before heading up the highstreet to catch the ferry onto the beach on the other side of the estuary. If you’re happy to walk a bit further, you can reach a beach called Sunny Cove, which is my favourite in the area. Once I’ve exhausted the beach, I’ll usually head back to one of the many great places to get an afternoon drink in Salcombe. There’s also no shortage of good places to eat if you want to get a later train and stay for dinner.

Views from Salcombe

Bristol and beyond


Bristol harbourside at dusk

I may be biased because it is my home town, but Bristol is a great place for day trips, as you could keep coming back and go somewhere different each time. My top recommendation though would be to visit the Clifton area – there’s the really lovely Clifton Village which is full of boutique shops and independent cafes, not to mention lovely park spaces and an amazing view of the iconic Suspension Bridge, as well as Whiteladies Road and the Triangle which has loads of great restaurants and bars. The Downs, a vast park, also spreads across the Clifton area, and is great for a short walk in the winter or a picnic in the summer. However, the City Centre is also not to be missed due to the Cabot Circus shopping centre which is great for a cheeky spending spree, and the harbourside which is similar to Exeter’s Quay with places to eat and drink as well as tourist attractions like the M-Shed museum. All in all, a return train ticket to Bristol Temple Meads station ranges from about £18-26 with a railcard, and you can get there in an hour by train or an hour and a half by car.


If you’re making the trip to Bristol, you may as well go to nearby Bath as you only need to take a 15 minute train, or about a 20 minute drive, to get there from Bristol – or go directly from Exeter and change at Bristol Temple Meads. Bath is one of my favourite day trips because it has great shops, the fashion museum, Roman Baths, and, of course, stunning Georgian architecture. However, Bath is not just a site of historical interest. There’s also some really unique places to eat and drink – one of my favourites is the Bath Pizza Company – as well as places to go for entertainment. In the summer, my boyfriend and I went to the comedy club at a local place called Komedia, where they had three really funny comedians performing and entry was £10 each for students. They’ve also recently opened a Lido in Bath which would be ideal for cooling off in the summer and only costs £4 for a concession ticket. Similarly to Bristol, I would really recommend spending as much of the day in Bath as you can or revisiting, so you can see everything in the day and enjoy the vibey evenings. A return train ticket from Exeter to Bath will cost you just under £30, and all things considered, it is well worth the money spent.