Take a tour

One of the best ways of discovering more about this ancient place is by taking one of the many free Red Coat tours on offer.

Starting at the gorgeous Gothic cathedral, the town’s crowning glory – a massive structure with handsome arches and hundreds of statues, it truly is stunning – the taster tour leads us from the ancient ruins of what was once the city wall to Exeter Castle to the High Street.

Meanwhile tales of witches, duel fighting and novelist Jane Austen are all interwoven into the scenery before us. 

Time to relax

The history lesson over I wander down to the Quayside, where an air of relaxed laziness complements the sunny afternoon. Beside the pretty canal bordered with antique and craft shops, restaurants and bars, I find a little café and order some tea and scones while watching the locals pass by with their dogs.

It doesn’t take long before afternoon tea turns into an early dinner, and a tasty round of home-made roast beef rolls is added to the bill.


Shop till you drop

With its mix of high-street stores and one-off boutiques, Exeter is a great place for shopping.

Back in town, I meander in and out of the varied shops on Gandy Street before exploring the recently developed Princesshay shopping quarter – an eclectic mix of high-street chains and independent retailers.

While the history and culture of Exeter certainly impressed me, it’s good to know that a girl can still get a bit of shopping in too.

Food festival

If you like your grub fresh, local and delicious, make tracks for the Exeter Festival Of South West Food And Drink.

This annual event runs for three days in April and offers fantastic local produce. Set in the Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle, it’s like Borough Market on steroids. Stock up on cheeses, meats, sweets, seafood, marinades and more. There are also demos from award-winning chefs and a brewery’s worth of beer. See exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

And while you’re in town, also pay a visit to the Exeter Farmers’ Market on South Street.

» Natasha Vuckovic travelled with First Great Western (08457 000 125) and the Thistle Hotel Exeter (0871 376 9018). Doubles start from £135