Exeter Car Hire

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  • Exeter has the second largest population in Devon.
  • The Exeter Guildhall is the oldest civic building in the UK with parts of it dating back to 1160.
  • There are seven other places around the world called Exeter including towns in Canada, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
  • The Royal Clarence hotel is the oldest hotel in Britain which was built in 1796 and parts of it are from the 1500’s
  • Many famous people come from Exeter including JK Rowling, Joss Stone and Chris Martin.
  • Quicke’s Cheese is a pride and joy of many Exeter natives. Its cheddar has even won several awards, so stop by the farm for a tasting.
  • The warmest and driest months to visit are June, July or August.
  • Underneath the streets of the city is an extensive network of tunnels. Originally these tunnels were used to bring clean water to city residents back in the 14th century but now you can take a guided tour around them.
  • If you’re a fan of a nice gin and tonic, be sure to order your drink with Exeter Gin. This gin company tries to stay true to the ancient Roman heritage of the city.

Guide to Exeter

When you think of UK city breaks it’s easy to overlook Exeter, especially given its proximity to more obvious choices such as Bath or Cardiff. However, this Gothic city has so much to offer it would be a shame not to give it a second look. This charming city has a historical and political timeline that dates right back to the Roman era. These days however you will find there is a real ‘history meets modern’ vibe in this eclectic city.

It’s large student population ensures a buzzing nightlife, there’s a bustling high street packed with modern shopping centres, coffee shops, restaurants and bars and if all that wasn’t enough for you the vibrant quayside acts as a launch pad for cycling or kayaking trips.

Things to do in Exeter

The number one attraction in the city centre has to be Exeter Cathedral. Construction started at the beginning of the 12th century and finished just under 300 years later and is decorated with stunning Gothic architecture and carvings. The absence of a central tower at the cathedral has created the longest unbroken Medieval vaulted ceiling in the world, at just under 100 metres. This incredible building is also home to a number of riches including a 60ft bishop’s throne and sculptures of Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror and King Canute. Exeter Cathedral receives no regular funding from the Church of England or the UK Government so charges a small admission fee which goes directly to maintaining one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the UK.

Rougemont Castle (also known as Exeter Castle) was built on the northern walls of the Roman city in 1068 during the Norman Conquest. Following nearly 1000 years of Crown occupation this gorgeous castle is now an incredibly popular wedding venue. The Castle Courtyard is popular for outdoor events and has hosted famous acts such as Coldplay and La Roux as well as number of local acts. For a truly unique city break there are also two apartments that you can rent out for the weekend.

Exeter’s underground passages once brough fresh spring water into the city into the city in the 13th century but now, with the help of a local tour guide, can be explored by curious tourists. The network of passages stretch right across the city and although they are deep underground you can hear city life bustling above you with ease. These tight passages survived bombardment by the Nazi’s during WWII and are not for the claustrophobic. Tours only last around 25 minutes which is more than enough for most people.

Exeter Quayside has so much on offer you won’t know where to start. This vibrant area is the perfect mix of history and modernity that make Exeter so unique. There are cafes, restaurants, pubs and a range of boutique shops aplenty in this beautifully redeveloped area of the city. If you are feeling adventurous you hire a kayak to explore the waterfront by boat. AS Watersports offer kayak and canoe taster sessions as well as 1-2-1 lessons in addition their kayak hire options.

If arts and culture are your thing then the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery should be one of the first places you visit. They showcase the world-class collections and collectors that have helped RAMM to become one of Britain’s finest regional museums. The museum tells the story of Exeter and Devon from the prehistoric to the present, but it is so much more than a local museum. Its internationally important world cultures and natural sciences collections also tell a story of global exploration and collecting in the 18th and 19th centuries. This museum houses one of the most eclectic permanent collections of any museum outside London and best of all it’s free to enter!

If you want to get a feel for the whole of Exeter on foot then Red Coat Tours offer free guided walking tours of the city. Tours last around 90 minutes and no booking is required simply choose a time, meet your Red Coat Guide and start discovering the city. Tours depart from the Hooker Statue on Cathedral Green, or from the Custom House. Whilst the tour guides will do their best to accommodate everyone please be aware that there are steep slopes and steps that might not be suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.

Eating out in Exeter

Exeter is packed full of fantastic restaurants, cafes and street-food vendors - all vying to serve you delicious food and a great selection of drinks. The large student population meals there is no shortage of budget eateries, but the arrival of the fine dining hub Lympstone Manor and the Exmoor Food Festival means there is something for everyone. From hidden gems to fine-dining establishments, it will be difficult to choose the right place to spend your hard-earned money. Benefiting from fantastic local seafood and farms around which the finest restaurants centre their dishes, Exeter is a real highlight in the British culinary scene.

The Conservatory is one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Exeter, locals have been crying out for years for it to be recognised in the Michelin guide to no avail. The modern European menu features dishes with French and Mediterranean influences but also brings a new twist to traditional English style dishes. They pride themselves on using high quality ingredients sourced from local farms and the light airy surroundings provide a luxurious but comfortable feel to the dining experience. Their delicious yet unpretentious menu is paired with an exceptional wine list and over the ten years since opening they have become a fast favourite in Exeter’s dining scene.

If you are looking for that perfect combination of a child friendly eatery that still offers a little something more than your usual fast-food family favourites then The Daisy Café is for you. Found just on the on the outskirts of Exeter, this traditional café with a modern twist has rapidly won the hearts of locals since its opening. The owner Faye manages to please everyone, with traditional breakfasts, generous sandwiches, belly warming bowls of homemade soup and hot daily specials all made with locally sourced ingredients. Once a month they host a brasserie evening which sells out almost immediately. If you are lucky enough to get a table at one of these evenings in the summer, ask for a table in the beautiful gardens.

The Red Panda brings traditional Asian street food to Exeter and they aren’t here to play games. Using local ingredients for Asian dishes fed into their desire to have a sustainable business and we've tried to stay true to that. Although their culinary roots are largely South-East Asian and Chinese, influences from Korea and Japan can be found woven into the menu. The bao buns are one of the most popular dishes on the menu but a quick glance through their reviews online and you’ll see there isn’t anything on the menu that will disappoint.

About ten miles south of Exeter you’ll find Lympstone Manor, a wonderfully renovated 18th-century mansion which commands breath taking views over the Exe Estuary. From the moment you step through the door you’ll notice that every little detail has been planned to perfection, particularly the world-class food. The à la carte menu (£135) offers delicacies such as langoustine cannelloni, Brixham lobster and duck liver terrine. Taste of the Estuary (£145) is a seven-course tasting menu based around local scallops, sole, mackerel and John Dory. If you can stay overnight then the Oyster Catcher Suite has huge dual aspect windows, a marble bathroom and one of the comfiest beds in Devon. B&B starts at £340 a night so it’s definitely a treat for a special occasion.

If the budget can’t quite stretch to Lympstone Manor the check out On The Waterfront. Built in a 19th-century wool warehouse located on the waterfront, this restaurant has to be one of Exeter’s most sumptuously decorated. Inside features warm lighting and exposed brick, and there’s a lovely outside dining area for the warmer months with views of the water. The menu is international in flavour, with modern pub classics aplenty, a selection of pizzas as a speciality as well as burgers and, naturally, the hearty fish selection you expect from any Exeter restaurant worth its salt. They are also Cask Marque accredited which means you can be sure of a good pint to accompany your meal.

What else should I know?

Exeter has a small airport and the main train station is St. Davids, just 10 minutes walk out of the city centre which connects to Bristol, Birmingham and London. There is also a small train station in the city centre.

A few driving tips

  • The UK uses imperial measurements for road signs. All limits and restrictions are in MPH.
  • Horns should only be used when someone's driving behaviour is dangerous. The use of a car horn is not permitted in built-up areas between 11.30pm and 7 am
  • Some British roads can be very narrow, priority is always given to the vehicle travelling uphill.
  • Unless you are overtaking you should always remain in the left-hand lane.

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FAQs about car hire in Exeter

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Exeter

Exeter Airport is around 6 miles from the city centre and should take about 20 minutes to drive.
Car hire averages at about £18 a day for a compact car, deals are available if booking well in advance but expect prices to be higher in peak season.
In the airport itself you will find Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, Thrifty, Alamo, AutoRentals and Argus.
You’ll need a full driving license and your passport as an additional form of ID to hire a car in the UK. Some hire companies have restrictions on how many endorsement points you can have on your licence so it’s best to double check with the individual company before placing your booking.
Exeter has plenty of city centre parking or use the Park and Ride for a convenient and stress-free way of getting into the city. Exeter City Council's owns and manages most of the city centre's car parks. For opening times, charges and locations click here.
Yes, on most agreements is permitted an additional driver.
3rd party liability insurance - collision damage waivers are included in almost all car hire packages in Exeter.