There are plenty of fun things to do in Exmouth, from enjoying the beach to exploring the Triassic cliffs! I live in the town; here’s my guide to the wide range of attractions in Exmouth.
With the red sandstone cliffs of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast rising from the golden beach on one side and the vivacious Exe Estuary, a popular bird-watching spot, on the other, there’s so much to love about Exmouth.
The fifth-largest town and oldest coastal resort in Devon, here you can take a cruise around the estuary or up the coastline, try out watersports, relax on the beach, learn about its history, take a hike on the moor, or visit one of the most interesting National Trust properties, A La Ronde!
Exmouth’s also the starting point of the Jurassic Coast, England’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plus, it’s an ideal spot to explore the East Devon region.
I’m an Exmouth local – after spending a lot of my childhood visiting family in the town, my partner and I decided to buy our first property here.
We know all of Exmouth’s best attractions and some local spots that tourists might miss; and I’ve put them all together in this comprehensive guide.
So, here are the best things to do in Exmouth – there’s something for everyone!
The Best Things to Do in Exmouth
The best things to do in Exmouth include lazing on the beach, going on boat trips with Stuart Line Cruises, watersports, hiking the South West Coast Path and a range of indoor attractions (perfect if the weather’s not so kind).
Enjoy the Seafront
Wondering what to do in Exmouth?
Most people head to the seafront first. This bustling two miles of beach should be your first point of call on your trip to Exmouth.
As well as the golden sandy beach, you’ll find amusement arcades and kids’ playgrounds, and plenty of beachside pubs, restaurants, bars, and ice cream stalls.
Some of my favourite walks in Exmouth are along its seafront, but it’s also a great place to spend a day relaxing and enjoying Great British seaside culture.
Check out the Victorian buildings as you walk – Exmouth was Devon’s first beach town, and these houses built up as the tourism industry grew!
Take a walking tour!
Take in views of the sea from The Beacon, discover Exmouth’s most famous residents, learn about how it became Devon’s first seaside destination and hear tales of smugglers and pirates…
Exmouth walking tours is a tour company started by myself and my partner – and I’ll be your tour guide!
Our walking tours traverse the most important and historical parts of Exmouth town centre.
On the way, I detail stories of smugglers, information about the first Georgian tourists, pirates, significant Tudors who called the town home and Devon’s World War Two history, along with plenty of local information about where to eat and what activities to try while you’re in town.
The best way to see any town is through a local’s eyes, and my tours can offer just that.
Tours run Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays throughout the summer.
Go on a boat trip with Stuart Line Cruises
Locals and tourists alike adore Stuart Line Cruises; they’re an asset to Exmouth.
Offering a range of cruises along the coastline or up the Exe Estuary with al-fresco and covered areas and full commentary, this is one of the best ways to see the town from another angle.
I’ve done the Exe Estuary cruise, which points out places of interest along the river, and the Jurassic Coast cruise, which looks at the Triassic rock and guides the most interesting geological features.
The orange cliffs and brilliantly blue sea are so gorgeous that on a clear day, you could think you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean like Paphos, Cyprus!
Fancy an even more quintessentially Devonshire experience? Order a cream tea, complete with fruity jam and lashings of decadent clotted cream!
If you’re keen to learn about the rich history of East Devon, or if you are looking for things to do in Exmouth in the rain, the Exmouth Museum in the town centre is a great point of call.
Costing just £1.50 for entry, the museum details the social and geographical history of the town. It is located just off the High Street.
Go Hiking on Woodbury Common
Most people come to Exmouth for the beaches, but few know that there’s a large common area located to the north of the town that’s perfect for hiking.
Here, you’ll find miles of trails – perfect for a morning’s hike; they pass through woodland, lakes and around quarries.
To reach Woodbury Common, drive to the Brixington area of Exmouth and up St John’s Road (Google Maps location).
There’s a lovely churchyard here (my grandparents were both laid to rest there, so I visit quite a lot!) and eventually, you’ll reach the glimmering Bystock Pools. Follow trails up from here, and you’re on Woodbury Common!
If you keep walking, you’ll reach Woodbury Castle; or, just stick around the common and enjoy birdwatching and the far-reaching views of the coastline.
Explore the Estuary
Most tourists in Exmouth stick to the coastline, but there’s a whole estuary to explore too!
The end of the River Exe is ideal for walking, cycling or jogging, as there’s a mostly-flat trail that runs alongside it (all the way up to Exeter!).
The estuary is famous for its birdlife – in particular, it’s one of the best places in the country to see Avocets (our train line was named “the Avocet Line” as a tribute to this!).
I’m not a twitcher, but I love the glorious vistas over the water, often punctuated by the train running down the other side and with a backdrop of the Haldon Hills.
You can access the estuary by walking past the station and taking the footpath that branches to the left, or by walking north away from the gym (along the river), where there’s another footpath. This is my favourite sunset spot in town!
On the estuary, you’ll find the quaint village of Lympstone and the historic town of Topsham.
It makes for a wonderful hike or a popular cycle route – or you can explore the estuary by car, train or bus.
Take A Boat to the Other Side of the Estuary
And once you’ve explored the east bank of the estuary – head west, to see what’s on the other side!
In summer, you can take the ferry to Starcross, a charming little village, and head south to Dawlish Warren or north to Powderham Castle.
Dawlish Warren is a popular seaside settlement and nature reserve, with gorgeous beaches (one of which is blue-flag) and rock formations, and the historic Powderham Castle is the seat of the Earl of Devon – it’s open for visitors to look around.
Dawlish is also a quick journey on the train, which is famous for its black swans – you can check out the best things to do in Dawlish here.
If you want to drive to the other side of the estuary, it’s about a 50 minute drive from Exmouth to Dawlish Warren, with plenty of stops on the way.
Excape: Exmouth Escape Rooms
“Our rooms are known for being tricky”, the owner of Excape advised me when I met her at a Visit Exmouth event a few months ago.
If you’re up for a challenge and want to do an indoor activity, head down to Excape, an escape room complex with Einstein and Sherlock Holmes-themed games.
Solve puzzles, find clues and answer riddles to ultimately escape the room or series of rooms within the allotted time.
Set in Exmouth town centre, this is the ideal activity for the evening or a rainy day.
Do some water sports
Exmouth is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and windsurfing all possible from the shore.
The combination of relatively calm sea water (it’s part of the sheltered Lyme Bay) and the current of the Exe Estuary makes it a haven for all water sports fans.
If you don’t have your own gear, head down to Sideshore, a community-owned watersports centre right on the beachfront where you can rent or buy virtually all watersports gear under the sun, seek advice about the best spots to visit for each particular sport or even embark on a lesson.
This area is also home to Mickey’s Beach Bar and Grill, a beachside restaurant with unbeatable vistas looking out over the sea. It is pricier than restaurants in Exmouth town centre (more on those below) – but you are paying for the view!
You can’t really surf in Exmouth – I’ve seen surfers on the waves a couple of times, but they usually aren’t large enough. If you’re looking for surf beaches in Devon, check out Woolacombe or Westward Ho! in the north.
A La Ronde
One of the National Trust’s quirkiest properties, A La Ronde is a 16-sided house that was once occupied by two spinster sisters.
The sisters travelled the world, collecting souvenirs from far-flung countries – and nowadays, you can step into A La Ronde and admire their exhibitions!
It’s a bit different from National Trust’s stately homes, but it’s an interesting place to visit – particularly if you’re keen on unusual architecture or travel – and it’s less than 10 minute drive from Exmouth Beach.
If you’re a National Trust member, you can enter free. Click here to read my full review of National Trust membership.
See the Geoneedle
One of the main reasons I’m baffled that Exmouth doesn’t have more tourism is that it literally sits at the start (or end) of the Jurassic Coast, the UK’s only natural UNESCO site.
Thie World Heritage Site boasts 250 million years (the official number is 185 million, but the cliffs around Exmouth are older!) of the earth’s history; as you explore the 95 miles of coastline, you’ll traverse through layers from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
It’s the only place in the world where you can see rocks from all three eras in one place.
The area around Exmouth is the oldest – the red sandstone rocks here date back to when the world was one supercontinent, Pangea, and Devon was much closer to the tropics than it is now – the cliffs were part of an inland desert.
You can see these cliffs by climbing to the geoneedle at Orcombe Point, which is at the top of the cliffs located at the Eastern end of the beach.
It was unveiled in 2002 by the then-Prince Charles and is made of seven stones that are found along the coastline.
It’s a beautiful walk to reach the Geoneedle; from the top, take in the beaches and rolling countryside around the town!
Hike to Budleigh Salterton
From the Geoneedle, it’s possible to hike a segment of the South West Coast Path to Budleigh Salterton, the next beachside town.
This is a fairly easy walk (for South West Coast Path standards) that runs through the Haven Devon Cliffs Park and then leads to a solitary path, travelling over cliff edges and through (what we think is) temperate rainforest before descending into the pleasant town of Budleigh.
Budleigh Salterton is a smaller town with a pebbled beach. It isn’t quite as popular as Exmouth due to its lack of sand – but the pebbles are impressively round and there’s a variety of lovely cafes to relax in after your hike.
It’s also close to a few of the other best attractions in the area!
Visit Otterton and its mill
Just up the River Otter from Budleigh Salterton, Otterton is home to a thousand-year-old mill, as well as various quaint thatched-roof cottages.
The mill is open to visitors year-round and has some ‘milling nights’ that help people see exactly how corn has been milled here throughout the ages.
If you’re really lucky, you might see beavers in the River Otter by the mill.
They appeared here after not being seen in the wild in the UK for 500 years – nobody’s sure how they got there, but they are making efforts to conserve them now.
You can learn about all of this history on a guided Beaver Walk – click here for more information about these.
Visit East Budleigh
East Budleigh is a quintessentially British village inland from Budleigh Salterton.
It’s home to thatched-roof cottages, quiet country roads, and a lovely village atmosphere.
It’s famous for being the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, and you can visit his statue here as well as drink in the pub named after him.
There’s also a designated pew for the Raleigh family in the local church. It’s worth including visiting East Budleigh on a trip to Otterton, Budleigh Salterton, or after walking across the moors from Exmouth.
While East Budleigh is famed for being the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, his house was actually Hayes Barton, which is 1.3 miles from the village.
It’s not open to the public at the moment, but if you’re interested, you can hike or drive along the lane to see the house from the outside.
Lily Farm Vineyard
Also close to Budleigh (around a half-hour walk) is Lily Farm Vineyard in Knole.
This is a boutique vineyard, growing grapes which make several award-winning wines.
The couple who run the vineyard got into vine-growing by accident, but the patch is prime for producing grapes for wine – and their impressive portfolio of delicious wines shows this.
You can take a tour around the vineyard, learning about its history and the grape-growing process as you go, then head to the tasting room to try some of the beverages!
We’ve hiked from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton on the coast path and then inland towards Knole before, to enjoy a tour and then take a taxi back to Exmouth afterwards (I always use AJ Taxis).
You could also hike on the cycle trail from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton, which isn’t quite as stunning but still very pleasant – and is flatter and shorter!
If you aren’t free when tours are on, you could also visit just to sit outside and enjoy a glass of their wine.
Hike to Otterton and Ladram Bay
If you are into long-distance hiking, my partner and I cobbled together a 30 km hike taking in the moorland and South West Coast Path.
It’s not waymarked (we made it up of different routes) but I wrote about it in a full blog post here: Otterton to Exmouth loop hike.
It involves starting in the town and heading up to the moors.
After visiting East Budleigh and Otterton, it drops down into Ladram Bay and then traverses the Jurassic Coast to Budleigh Salterton. Then, it reaches Exmouth Beach.
It’s a wonderful way to see some more of the Jurassic Coast and East Devon’s inland villages!
Visit Crealy Adventure Park
I used to visit Crealy Adventure Park with my gran when I was a child, and I was delighted to see that it was still open when I moved here!
Covering over 100 acres of Devon countryside, Crealy offers a variety of rides, attractions, and entertainment options suitable for children of all ages.
The park has a range of thrilling roller coasters, including the Twister and the Maximus (which is based on Exeter’s Roman Heritage!) as well as more gentle rides like the Flying Machine and the Safari Express, which are suitable for younger children.
There’s also an adventure zone, with 75,000 square feet of soft play – ideal for rainy days (they market themselves as the best thing to do in Devon in the rain with family!).
The park hosts numerous events throughout the year, including seasonal celebrations like Halloween and Christmas-themed events – so if you’re visiting Exmouth in the autumn or winter, look out for those!
It’s a 20 minute drive from Exmouth to Crealy, which is situated near the village of Clyst St Mary.
See the animals at the World of Country Life
Situated by Sandy Bay on the town’s outskirts (walkable from Exmouth Beach if you’re in the mood for a hike!), World of Country Life is a farm that offers visitors an insight into traditional farming methods and rural life.
One of the main attractions at World of Country Life is the animal park, which is home to a variety of farm animals including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens. Here, you can get up close and personal with the animals and even have the opportunity to feed them.
There’s a calendar of daily activities; check it out before you head here to ensure that you visit at the right time.
The park also has a range of vintage vehicles and and Farmer Lee’s Food Barn, where you can fuel up after exploring the area. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Exmouth with kids!
Grab a Krispies fish and chips and eat them on the beach!
It’s impossible to write a travel guide to Exmouth without mentioning Krispies.
An award-winning fish and chip shop (it won the National Fish and Chip Awards in 2008!) that sits on Exeter Road, Krispies are famous for being “the home of the battered chip”; they double batter their chip shop chips to make a deliciously crunchy snack.
My partner loves the fishcakes here (they unfortunately don’t serve plant-based fish), and they also make a wonderful homemade tartare sauce.
They’re not right by the beachfront, but it’s worth the trip to grab these then head back down to the coast to enjoy them.
Just watch out for the seagulls when you do – they aren’t too advantageous in Exmouth, but my partner did have his snickers ice cream snatched out his hand the other day by one!
Best restaurants in Exmouth
As mentioned above, the best restaurants in Exmouth aren’t on the beach; instead, walk towards the town centre to find a variety of eateries offering a range of mouthwatering dishes!
I’ve personally visited all of these Exmouth restaurants – here are a few of my favourites!
This is the best restaurant in Exmouth to enjoy relaxed dining and a few cocktails in a fun atmosphere.
It’s at its finest in the summer when you can eat outside; but their tapas plates, with plenty of options for veggies and meat-eaters alike, are delicious any time of year.
Their halloumi fries are my particular vice!
Spoken also put on a few events throughout the year – they hosted a fun paella party last summer, and offer all you can eat pancakes on shrove Tuesday!
Exmouth’s AA-Rosette winning restaurant, Saveur is the finest dining experience in town.
Come here for an intimate meal or a gastronomical experience; the menu is small, but there should be something for every taste.
The menu changes seasonally, but I loved their truffle and mushroom gnocchi.
Just one note about Saveur; like many other upscale restaurants, the portions are quite small.
Another favourite in Exmouth, Vino 32 is a wine bar and Asian fusion restaurant.
The chef is from Hong Kong, and serves up spectacular dishes like beef or veggie rendang or halloumi teriyaki noodles.
And, because it’s a wine bar, you can bet that you’ll find the perfect pairing for your dinner! This is our go-to restaurant to take any guests to.
It’s only a small place, so booking is essential.
Set in the location of Exmouth’s old newspaper office, The Chronicle is somewhere to go if you’re feeling hungry!
The waitress told me “we’re not known for our small portions” when I visited, and I wholeheartedly agree!
Popular for its steaks, this 1930s-themed eatery also has an extensive veggie menu.
I enjoyed mushroom stroganoff on our recent visit!
This Nepalese restaurant has quickly become our go-to for South Asian food in Exmouth.
It serves rich curries from Nepal and India, with options for meat-eaters or vegetarians.
And don’t forget the momos – these delectable dumplings are filled with vegetables or meat, and served with an incredible spicy sauce – my mouth’s watering just thinking about it!
Where to stay in Exmouth
Exmouth isn’t packed with hotels – many tourists stay at the nearby Haven Park – but it has a Premier Inn, along with a few friendly guesthouses and apartment rentals.
Or, check out the Lympstone Manor Hotel for a luxe accommodation experience.
Here are a few hotels I recommend in particular:
Located just a short walk from the beach, on The Beacon road which is set above the main beach area, the Royal Beacon Hotel stands as a historic landmark in Exmouth.
It dates back to 1810 and offers well-furnished rooms with stunning vistas of the Jurassic Coast.
Rooms have comfortable beds and en-suite bathrooms – and a full English is served every morning!
Looking out over the seafront, The Imperial is a historic hotel with gorgeous gardens. The hotel offers comfortable rooms with TVs and en-suite bathrooms.
If you’re looking for a self-catering option, check out Beachcomber Holiday Apartment.
The spacious apartment encompasses two bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, and it’s mere steps from the beach!
Step into luxury at the Lympstone Manor Hotel.
Set in Lympstone, a short distance from Exmouth, here you’ll find opulent en-suite rooms, some with gorgeous estuary views.
The hotel also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant (run by local celebrity chef Micheal Caines) and a winery!
How to get to Exmouth
It’s easy to get to Exmouth from cities like London, Bristol and Birmingham by car, bus or train.
- Driving: Take the A303 or M5 to Exeter, and then follow country roads to reach Exmouth. Journey time from London is around 3.5 hours.
- Bus: National Express buses connect various cities around the UK to Exeter; from here you can jump on the number 57 bus to Exmouth.
- Train: Exeter St David’s railway station has direct links to London, Bristol, Birmingham, Plymouth and a range of other cities; from here, you can take a 30-minute train to Exmouth train station.
FAQs about visiting Exmouth
What is Exmouth famous for?
Exmouth is most famous for its long sandy beach, beautiful coastline, and range of watersports to try out. It’s also known for being the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site that stretches for 95 miles along the coast of East Devon and Dorset.
How many days do you need in Exmouth?
2-3 days in Exmouth should give you enough time to explore the beach and visit any local attractions, of interest – although, if you want to spend longer exploring East Devon, you could of course spend a lot longer here!
Is Exmouth Devon worth visiting?
Whether you want to delve into its history of go kite surfing or learn about the town’s history, there’s so much to do in Devon – plus, it’s a beautiful beach town that’s well worth the trip!
What does Exmouth have to offer?
A long sandy beach, the vibrant Exe Estuary, a range of watersports, interesting history at the Exmouth Museum, the A La Ronde National Trust property, the start of the Jurassic Coast and the South West Coast Path to name but a few!
What should I do with a week in Exmouth?
You could spend 2-3 days seeing the main attractions of Exmouth and then taking some time to explore East Devon, visiting Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Sidmouth, Beer and Branscombe. Tackle the South West Coast Path on either side, or day trip to Exeter!
What is the best month to visit Exmouth?
The best time to visit Exmouth is during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the town is at its liveliest. It doesn’t get as crowded in Exmouth as other places in the South West, but July and August are the busiest months by far – visit in June or September to enjoy summer with less crowds!
Is Exmouth UK expensive?
The tourist-centered parts of Exmouth can be pricey, but the more local eateries and bars are very budget-friendly when compared to places like Bristol and London – head to the town centre to find these!. While it’s not a super cheap beach holiday, it’s also a lot more budget-friendly than the south east (and it’s better, too!).
Can you swim in the ocean in Exmouth?
Yes, I sum until November last year! To be as safe as possible, swim near the lifeguard station, when the lifeguards are on duty. There are some not safe swimming areas, but these are always marked with flags – take note of these before heading out into the water, or ask a lifeguard if you’re not sure.
The Best Exmouth Attractions
Whether you want to check out the Triassic red sandstone cliffs soaring into the sky, take some watersports gear out onto the sea, or are visiting with family and are looking for kid-friendly attractions, the seaside town of Exmouth delivers.
Visit Exmouth, check out this range of things to do, and you’ll be just as awe-struck as I am – and maybe be plotting a move here too!