Exmouth is a picturesque seaside town in East Devon, sitting at the meeting point of the Jurassic Coast which spans into Dorset, and the River Ex’s estuary that spreads northwards to Exeter.
This handy meeting point means that there is plenty of things to do in Exmouth; and it is also a great base to explore the East Devon region.
The town has everything you need – with a population of over 34,000, it is home to plenty of restaurants and a solid amount of bars and pubs too, and plenty of good value hotels.
My gran has lived in Exmouth for my entire life, and my dad spent part of his childhood here. I’ve subsequently spent a lot of time in this area of East Devon over the years, and ended up spending lockdown here due to my gran moving out of her house, leaving me with a safe place to quarantine.
When lockdown ended, I endeavoured to visit all of the best Exmouth attractions, so I could bring you this conclusive guide of exactly what to do in Exmouth, including hiking, cultural activities, and seaside fun.
So let’s take a look at all of the best things to do in Exmouth and beyond
The Best Things to Do in Exmouth
Enjoy the Seafront
Most people who are wondering what to do in Exmouth think of visiting the seafront as the first logical activity. It’s true that the bustling two kilometres of beachfront are well worth visiting on any weekend trip to Exmouth. As well as the sandy shores, you’ve got pedalo boats, amusement arcades and kids’ playgrounds, and plenty of beachside pubs, restaurants, bars, and ice cream stalls. Exmouth seafront is pleasant enough for a stroll along, but it’s also a great place to spend a day relaxing and enjoying Great British seaside culture.
If you’re keen to learn about the history of East Devon, or if you are looking for things to do in Exmouth in the rain, the Exmouth museum 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 the Moors
Most people come to Exmouth for the beaches, but there are mystical moors located to the north of the town that are well worht a trip. There are plenty of trails here to spend a day or two traversing around; they pass through woodland, by lakes and around quarries. It’s a great spot for birdwatching or just enjoying nature, and there are some historic attractions like Woodbury Castle too.
Explore the Estuary
The River Ex has a beautiful estuary that terminates in Exmouth, and is perfect for walking or jogging around. Lympstone, Exton and Topsham are all on the Exmouth side of the estuary and can be hiked or driven to.
Take A Boat to the Other Side of the Estuary
There’s the other side of the estuary too, of course – in the summer, you can take the Starcross Ferry to Starcross, and explore this side. Dawlish Warren is a popular seaside settlement, with gorgeous beaches and rock formations, and Starcross is a really pleasant town with Powderham Castle just to the north. If you want to have your car on 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.
Another boat option is the various boat cruises that are available from Exmouth. Take in the Jurassic Coast from sea level and learn about its pre-historic history, tour all the way to Torquay which is further along the coast, or enjoy an evening cruise with a gourmet dinner. Tours can be arranged from the seafront office.
See the Geoneedle
Exmouth is at the start of the Jurassic Coast, which is potentially the best coastal drive in the UK. Marking the start is the Geoneedle, which is at the top of the cliffs located at the Eastern end of the beach. From here, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the coast and beachfront, as well as the rolling countryside around the town.
Hike to Budleigh Salterton
From the Geoneedle, it’s possible to hike a segment of the South West coastal path to Budleigh Salterton, which is the next beachside town. You can also hike beyond if you want – soon there will be a coastal path going around the entire country – but the South West path is already intact.
Budleigh Salterton is a smaller town with a pebbled beach, so it isn’t quite as popular as Exmouth, but it is pleasant for a mosey around and is well situated to visit the next two attractions on this list.
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 Beaver Walk.
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 really strong village atmosphere. It’s famed 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.
Go to the Birthplace of Walter Raileigh
East Budleigh is famed for being the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, but 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 it is worth hiking or driving along the lane to see the house from the outside.
Do the Ultimate Exmouth Hike
If you are into long-distance hiking, it’s possible to do a 30-50km hike and take in all of the best things to do in Exmouth.
I will write a full post about this, but the hike 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.
From there, you can call it a day, or head up the estuary to Lympstone or Exton. Personally, I have done this in two seperate hikes (you can see the maps below), but if you are speedy and want to do a huge one day hike, it is doable!
The Best Exmouth Attractions
I hope that this post has provided you with some inspiration for the best things to do in Exmouth and beyond into East Devon! Stay tuned for more posts about the best restaurants in Exmouth and where to stay in Exmouth, as well as numerous other blog posts about South West England.