University of Exeter First Year Bucket List

Life in Exeter

Life at University is about more than just spending your time in the Library (although that's certainly advised!). 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 and you'll love having the stunning south west on your doorstep during your time here. 

Devon

While there’s so much to do and see in Exeter, if you want to get out of the city for the day, the surrounding areas of East Devon and beyond are beautiful. Coastal towns, Exmouth, Teignmouth and Dawlish Warren are short train rides away – wrap up warm for a stroll along the beach with a hot chocolate in tow and explore quaint local shops in the winter months, and when summer rolls around celebrate the end of essays and exams with swimming, sunbathing, fish and chips, ice cream, and beach barbeques! The stunning Jurassic Coast stretches from Exmouth to Studland Bay in Dorset, and it is classed as a World Heritage Site. In East Devon, the standout beaches alongside Exmouth, Teignmouth and Dawlish Warren, have to be Budleigh Salterton, Dawlish, Sidmouth, Beer, and Seaton.

Devon itself is filled with bustling market towns and picturesque villages to explore, and two outstanding National Parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. You’re not far from holiday destination, the English Riviera, and Devon’s most famous moor, Dartmoor, is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Cornwall

While living in Devon for the next few years, you must head west to Cornwall! We have another campus there, and Cornwall is a glorious place to visit. Driving is usually the best option to get to Cornwall, but you can get around by train and bus. Find out more about Cornwall here.

Other cities

On the other hand, if you’re craving the excitement of alternative city life to Exeter, cultural maritime cities Bristol and Plymouth are both approximately an hour away by train (and also accessible via the South West Falcon bus), while the beautiful city of Bath is no more than an hour and a half away. You must visit the Bath Christmas Market in November-December – it’s amazing! Yearning for London? London Paddington is just over 2 hours from Exeter by train, and there are frequent trains to London Waterloo – a slower journey, but an opportunity to see more of the rolling countryside. Check trains on the National Rail website. If train travel is not up your street, you can drive or take the National Express or Megabus.

Further afield

If you fancy a holiday abroad, Exeter Airport is 20 minutes by car from the centre of campus, and you can catch a bus from Exeter St David’s or from Exeter Bus and Coach Station. Bristol Airport is accessible by car, bus or train from Exeter. As flights are usually cheaper from London airports, you can travel to Heathrow, Gatwick or City, by car, bus or train (look at Travelling to and from Exeter for more details).

16-25 railcards

While it is easy to get around the UK by car, bus and train, we highly recommend that you invest in a 16-25 Railcard*, in which you get a third off the price of rail tickets – absolutely worth it! If you’re a mature student, there is an alternative option which entitles you to similar perks as a 16-25 Railcard – a Two Together Railcard. If you have a friend or a partner to share with, you also get a third off train fares and you can go on many adventures together around the South West!

*Also a tip for those of you interested in a 16-25 Railcard, it doesn’t have to expire after you turn 26. Buy a railcard just before your 26th birthday and you’ll have it for a whole extra year.

While many students do choose to take a car to University, one of the best things about living in Exeter is that you don’t need a car to get around. Nearly everywhere in the centre of Exeter is within walking distance of the campus. You may have to get used to how hilly the campus and Exeter are, but you are strong and will survive – just be prepared for Cardiac Hill!

Buses are very frequent in and around Exeter. The D bus circulates the Streatham Campus every 15 minutes, passing through the city centre, to our campus at St Luke’s and a local Tesco superstore. The University also run a morning and evening minibus service, taking you to and from Streatham Campus, St Luke’s and our nearest train station, Exeter St David's.

There are a number of taxi services in Exeter, with a favourite of students being Apple Taxis. They have central offices by Exeter St David's and Exeter International Airport - ideal when you'd prefer to pop into a taxi with a heavy suitcase than walk home after travelling!

Exeter is a cycle-friendly city. The University provides a range of cycle parking facilities across the Exeter campuses. To find your nearest cycle parking facility, use the campus map.

For a small cathedral city, Exeter is a haven for arts and culture. Home to a variety of theatres, performances venues, cinemas, museums and art galleries, there are a wide range of opportunities to see plays, concerts, and films.

Performance venues and theatres

The Exeter Northcott Theatre is based in the heart of Streatham Campus. It offers a mixed programme of touring theatre, in-house productions, local shows, drama, opera, music, dance, comedy and family theatre. The Barnfield Theatre is a large charity-run venue for amateur and professional theatre; and the Cygnet Theatre doubles as a theatre space and a drama school. The Exeter Corn Exchange is the largest city centre venue in Exeter with capacity for 500. 

Exeter Phoenix is a vibrant multi-artform venue, and is home to several art galleries, a theatre, cinema, film production resources, a radio station, print workshop and recording studios. An exciting variety of festivals take place across Exeter throughout the year, so keep an eye out for festivals that pop up.

Cinemas

There are four cinemas in Exeter – the Vue and the Odeon are chain multiplexes, while Studio 74 (based at Exeter Phoenix) and Exeter Picturehouse are smaller cinemas that show a mixture of arthouse, mainstream and independent cinema. You are entitled to student discounts, and at Exeter Picturehouse you are entitled to Student Membership, which provides you with brilliant perks and discounts. 

Heritage, art galleries and museums 

For lovers of history, heritage and art, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is a world class museum with stunning displays, galleries, and exhibitions. There’s also an exhibition space at the arts centre Exeter Phoenix which is currently undergoing a refurbishment and expansion, as well as other independent art galleries such as South Gate Gallery, Surridge Gallery and Studio 36. Or why not hop on the number 39 bus and visit the prestigious Devon Guild of Craftsmen, on the edge of the moors, an acclaimed exhibition space for contemporary craft and design, where you can both buy and learn about contemporary art.

One of Exeter's greatest cultural landmarks is the Exeter Cathedral; dating back 900 years, it is one of the world's most beautiful medieval cathedrals and examples of Gothic architecture. There are also castles nearby, including Rougemont CastlePowderham Castle and Castle Drogo, and National Trust buildings like Killerton House – lovely for a day out! 

Live music

Exeter's live music scene is buzzing with top venues such as Exeter Corn ExchangeExeter Phoenix, Powderham Castle, The Cavern, Timepiece, The Monkey Suit, and The Old Firehouse, plus campus venues like The Great Hall and The Lemmy.

For on-campus arts opportunitues, take a look at the Societies page and check out the Entertainment section in What's on campus.

Shopping for necessities

Department stores like John LewisArgos and Debenhams are brilliant places to find student essentials. Also try Wilkinsons, Lakeland, Primark, Marks and Spencer, and even supermarkets like Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, and Aldi. As a tip, Poundland is a great place to pick up things like cleaning products and brand name items at discounted prices. There’s even a new Ikea store on the outskirts of town, so you can indulge in meatballs and a Daim bar cake whilst buying everything you need!

High Street shops

Exeter's High Street is full of major chain stores, including H&M, Waterstones, Boots, Urban Outfitters, Office, Thorntons, Lakeland, Paperchase, Vision Express, Specsavers and many more. So many shops in Exeter offer brilliant student discounts and offer - always remember to keep your student card in your wallet!

The Princesshay is an open-air shopping centre with over 70 shops, a range of cafes and restaurants and a combination of high street names and independent stores. Shops include Schuh, The Gap, Apple, Hotel Chocolat, Neal's Yard, Monsoon, Accessorize, Zara, HMV, Next, River Island, Cath Kidston, Miss Selfridge, Coast, New Look, Topshop, Lush etc. For a full list of stores, visit here. At the Guildhall Shopping Centre, you will find shops like Primark, Superdrug, Claire's Accessories, Argos, Wilko, CEX, Game and WH Smith. 

If you want to go shopping in a bigger city, Bristol and Plymouth are an hour a way on the train, Bath an hour and a half and London is over 2 hours away by train.

Independent shops

If you're into independent stores, antique shops and vintage shops, Exeter has an array of shops in nooks and crannies across the city. On Queen Street, you'll find lovely shops like Toot Garook, Aromatika, Roly's Fudge and The Card Gallery. 

Gandy Street, a cobbled street off the High Street (and the unofficial inspiration for Diagon Alley from Exeter alumna J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series) is full of small bijou shops and boutiques, making it the perfect place for birthday or Christmas present shopping! Highlights include Moko, Chococo, Seasalt, Firkins and Mantis jewellery store. 

The Quayside has a selection of charming craft, gift and antique shops overlooking the River Exe, like the Exeter Antiques Centre, Quay Presents, and Eclectique. You can even rent a bike or a boat at Saddles and Paddles! 

Exeter's West Quarter hosts quirky Fore Street which thrives in independent shopping, such as The Real McCoy, (a haven for vintage clothing and items!), fancy dress shop Fantasy World, and a range of retro stores and vintage shops, selling antiques, vinyls, games, instruments, fashion, and accessories. 

Banks

There are Exeter branches of TSB, Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Co-operative, Santander, HSBC, Halifax, Nationwide, Virgin Money, Yorkshire Building Society, etc. When signing up with a bank, check to see if there is a local branch. 

Restaurants

Favourite restaurants with students are family-run restaurant Harry's, Herbies is ideal for vegetarians, Rabbit for vegans, Hubbox is Exeter's favourite hangout for burgers, On the Waterfront has great food overlooking the Quay, Brody's has all-day breakfast, Truffles and the Old Firehouse for pizza, Lloyds Kitchen for local food, El Bocado and Forn for tapas, Goa Spice Premier, The Gurkha Kitchen, and The Curry Leaf for Indian, and well-known chains like Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamama, Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas, Cote Brasserie and Giraffe. 

Queen St Dining Quarter

There is also an exciting array of foodie flavours on offer in the new Queen St Dining quarter, including Turtle Bay (Caribbean), KuPP (Scandinvian), Comptoir Libanais (Lebanese), Absurd Bird (American South soul food), The Stable (organic pizza, pies and cider) and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, to name a few.

Cafes

For cakes, teas, coffees and lunch bites, there is The Hidden Treasure Tea Room, Tea on the Green, The Dinosaur Cafe, The Plant Cafe, Boston Tea Party, The Glorious Art House, Devon Coffee, The Coffee Cellar, Cakeadoodledo, and The Exploding Bakery - lovely for spending time with friends, catching up with reading or when your family are visiting. Be sure to get yourself a cream tea while living in Devon! However be aware of this infamous cultural debate: do you prefer your cream tea the Devon way or the Cornwall way? The Devon way is cream first and then jam on the scone, and the Cornish way is jam first and then cream on the scone. Personally? All yummy!

Pubs

For pub food, try Mill on the Exe, Oddfellows The Victoria Inn, The Rusty Bike, The Farmer's Union, The Fat Pig, The Imperial (The Impy), The Hour Glass, the Prospect Inn and the ultimate student favourite hang-out, The Old Firehouse, which has huge pizzas all year round, mulled wine and cider in the winter, twinkling fairy lights and live music.

Fine dining

If you're thinking of splashing out for a special occassion or your parents are visiting, Rendezvous, The Conservatory, Angelas, and Jack in the Green are highly recommended.

Food markets

There is a Farmers Market every Thursday in town (and every Friday on campus!) and the Exeter Street Food market pops up over the city, with chances to taste some of the best food in the South West. Plus, every year, the Northernhay Gardens is taken over by the South West Festival of food and drink, a haven for the tastebuds!

Fast food

Familiar fast food brands like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway and Domino's are in the city centre. Domino's frequently does student offers - handy if you have a group of friends over and no one feels like cooking! There are also a number of fish and chips takeaways - recommended ones are The Dolphin Fish Bar and Polsloe Bridge Fish and Chips.

 

For food shopping, you can find various small branches of Tesco, Marks and Spencers, Sainsbury's, Iceland and the Co-op centrally. Further out there are large branches of Morrisons (a 25-30 minute walk or 10 minute drive from centre of campus), Tesco (can be reached in 45 minutes by the D Bus from campus or 20 minutes by car), Sainsburys and Aldi (45 minutes walk or 15 minutes by car) and right next to St Lukes Campus is Waitrose.

For organic and local produce, The Real Food Store, Bon Gout Delicatessen and Seasons are popular choices. Or head out of the city to Greendale Farm Shop or Darts Farm by bus, car or bike.

Craving international food? Take a look at this blog post on the top 5 international supermarkets in Exeter.

Tips for food shopping and preparation:

  • If you're feeling anxious about carrying heavy bags and/or feeling swamped with work, you could order your food online. Many of the mainstream supermarkets have the online shopping option, saving you a trip out! If the delivery fee is a bother, you could ask your housemates if they'd like to join in the online shop and split the delivery charge
  • Plan meals in advance and make strategic shopping lists to stay on budget and target. Strive to stick to the list
  • As shopping for one can be tricky, you could suggest a money pot/kitty and everyone contribute towards weekly bread or milk. Or if you're cooking together, do a shop together - ironically buying for a group can be cheaper than buying for one when you split the supermarket bill
  • Buy and cook in batches to last several days. Soups especially great for this! Store portions in containers in fridge or freezer
  • Look out for offers! Supermarkets do discounts and offers regularly, e.g. 2 products for £3, 3 products for £10, etc. Also check at the end of the day for reductions. Scout around different supermarkets for different offers
  • Compare prices and don't be fooled by brands. Supermarket-own brands are usually cheaper than familiar brands and could save you a lot of money over time

Pubs and bars

Exeter's pub culture is extremely popular, with an array of traditional pubs to choose from. The Old Firehouse is famous for its enormous pizzas, rustic environment and live music nights (and rumoured as inspiration behind 'The Leaky Cauldron' from alumna J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series), The Imperial (The Impy) is close to campus (and only across the road from Thornlea, the Drama building) and has an excellent beer garden that is perfect for summer nights, while Mill On The Exe has a spectacular view of the Quay. Other pubs popular with students include The Hour GlassThe Prospect InnFarmer's UnionThe Ship Inn, and The Fat Pig. Exeter also has a range of vibrant wine and cocktail bars, such as The Monkey SuitThe Oddfellows BarRendezvous Wine Bar, Urban Underground, ArtigianoOn the WaterfrontJohn Gandys and Hatts.

Nightclubs

The nightclub scene is full of variety, offering something for everyone, from Exeter's biggest nightclub, Unit 1 to the more intimate underground and alternative feel of The Cavern. Other nightclubs in Exeter include TimepieceRosies, and The Vaults. The Students' Guild hosts its own nightclub, The Lemon Grove (The Lemmy), which is based at the Streatham Campus and holds club nights and gigs. Rumour has it that Exeter alumnus Thom Yorke of Radiohead wrote 'Creep' in The Lemmy while he was a student.

Live music

Exeter's live music scene is buzzing with top venues such as Exeter Corn ExchangeExeter Phoenix, Powderham Castle, The Cavern, Timepiece, The Monkey Suit, and The Old Firehouse, plus campus venues like The Great Hall and The Lemmy.