Are you looking for the best day trips from Exmouth? Read on for my full guide to the best places to visit around the East Devon town!
The beautiful town of Exmouth is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Devon and the entire south coast. Situated where the Jurassic Coast and the Exe Estuary meet, and with moorland stretching out from the town, there are so many things to do near Exmouth town centre.
I was lucky enough to spend three months living in Exmouth and spent the time exploring both the town, checking out all of the town’s highlights like Powderham Castle, the golden Exmouth beach and seeing the beautiful moorland around the town.
Whether you’re living in Exmouth too, or are just on holiday here, use this list to find some inspiration for your visit!
This is a list of the closest places to Exmouth, most of which can be accessed by bus or train – or even hiked to.
Top day trips from Exmouth, Devon
The top Exmouth day trips include parts of the Jurassic Coast like Beer and Branscombe, the historic city of Exeter with its gorgeous cathedral, the ocean-based city of Plymouth which is home to the country’s oldest gin distillery and the historic Powderham Castle.
The Western Jurassic Coast
The Western Jurassic Coast actually ends by the beach itself, but the nearby towns are definitely some of the best places to visit near Exmouth.
The Jurassic Coast is a 90 mile stretch of coastline starting at Old Harry’s Rocks, near Bournemouth in Dorset, and ending in Exmouth. Old Harry’s Rocks is a 2 hour drive from Exmouth, but the area around Exmouth is the oldest part of the coastline, with parts of it formed 185 million years ago.
Some of the best hikes around Exmouth are on this part of the coast. From the beach, you can climb up the cliffs where the endpoint is marked, and you can also walk all the way to Budleigh Salterton, a smaller town with a pebble beach, and Ladram Bay, a cove that’s tucked away and has a holiday park.
You can also take a bus to places like Sidmouth and Seaton, which are other charming towns with beautiful coastal views. You could even hop over to Dorset to the Regency resort town of Lyme Regis, which is only an hours drive.
How to get there: you can take a bus to Sidmouth, Seaton, or Budleigh Salterton, or even walk to Budleigh Salterton. Lyme Regis is only really accessible by car.
East Budleigh is a small village close to Exmouth. You won’t find enough attractions to spend all day here, but it is worth driving through to take a look at. East Budleigh was the home of Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous explorer, and it’s possible to visit his birthplace. There is also a statue of the man himself in the village.
The houses in East Budleigh are charming, and it’s a quintessentially British village. Definitely visit to get some snaps of the thatched roof cottages and surrounding countryside; if you’re visiting Devon to experience rural life, East Budleigh is one of the best attractions near Exmouth!
How to get there: Driving takes 15 minutes, or you can take a bus directly to the village. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also walk through the moors north of Exmouth to reach East Budleigh, which takes about 90 minutes! Here’s a guide to an all-day hike that encompasses East Budleigh, Otterton, Ladram Bay and Budleigh Salterton, before returning to Exmouth.
Otterton is another old-timely settlement not far from East Budleigh. It is most famous for its working mill and its location on the River Otter.
Otterton Mill is a historic working watermill that is still in operation today and is one of the best things to do near Exmouth. You can visit and learn all about the mill and how it has worked throughout the centuries, and do nature walks to see beavers in the river!
Side note – the beavers are something of a local mystery – they were discovered in the River Otter after 400 years of being supposedly extinct!
How to get there: it’s around a 15 minute drive to Otterton, or a half-hour bus journey. Or, click here for an all day hike from Exmouth that includes Otterton.
The Exe Estuary
Another place that’s walking distance from Exmouth is the Exe Estuary.
Encompassing the villages of Lympstone, Exton and Topsham, the Exe Estuary is a lovely place for a walk. Enjoy village life and take in beautiful riverside views, with lots of birdwatching opportunities.
Other spots include the marshes of Exminster and the museum of Topsham, where you can learn all about this area. As it’s so close to the town, it’s one of the easiest things to do around Exmouth.
How to get there: you can take the train or bus to any Exe Estuary village. However, the best way to see all of the sights is to hike.
Exeter is Exmouth’s nearest city, and although it’s not the most popular city in the UK, there is plenty to do here. Exeter Cathedral is one of the most majestic and oldest in the UK, and is well worth visiting even if you do not normally go to churches or cathedrals.
It’s also well worth doing a Red Coat Tour to learn about the city’s intricate historical tales. It has a fascinating history stretching back to Roman times and during the height of the woollen cloth industry it was one of the biggest cities in the UK.
There are a few different tours available for different historical time periods, so time your visit for your ideal tour!
The Exeter Tunnels are a unique tourist attraction in the UK – here, you’ve got the chance to explore old Medieval water pipes beneath the city, and learn more about the historic city!
They are undoubtedly one of the best things to do near Exmouth.
How to get there: there is a direct train link between Exmouth and Exeter, which takes about half an hour, or bus links, which take around 50 minutes. Alternatively, it is a 20-30 minute drive. Haven Banks Car Park 2 (go to Haven Banks Car Park and drive a little further along the road) has the cheapest parking near to Exeter’s centre.
If you decide to spend the night in Exeter, check out this Exeter hotels guide.
The other side of the Exe Estuary is Powderham Castle.
This castle was built as a stately home for the Courtenay Family, a famous family in the East Devon and Exeter area. The castle has a lot of historical value – it was important in the Civil War – and it’s a must-visit for architectural buffs too.
You can visit independently, or take a tour around the castle.
How to get there: it’s just over 30 minutes drive from Exmouth to Powderham Castle. You can take the boat to Starcross and walk from there (around 35 minutes) in the summer months.
You can actually see Dawlish Warren from Exmouth, and in the summer, it’s possible to take a boat from Exmouth to nearby Starcross.
Dawlish is a Regency resort town, much smaller than Exmouth.
Dawlish Warren is a nature reserve close to the town.
If you’re looking for beachy places to visit near Exmouth it is perfect, with lots of little shops and ice cream stalls, as well as an expansive beach.
You can walk along the dunes and look out over the sea and Exmouth in the distance, and the other way you can walk past the famous railway track which runs right along the sea and even climb one of the rocky outcrops.
There’s a National Nature Reserve nearby which has mudflats and a long sandspit. It’s a beautiful place for birdwatching.
How to get there: it’s about a 40 minute drive from Exmouth to Dawlish Warren. Again, it’s possible to take the boat to Starcross and walk, but this is nearly 50 minutes. Or you can travel from Exmouth into Exeter and take the scenic railway train all the way to Dawlish, taking in the coastline along the way.
The English Riviera
Made of four towns – Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Babbacombe – the English Riviera is the UK’s answer to the South of France, and one of the most popular places to visit near Exmouth.
It’s not quite as exotic, but there are palm trees (yes, really!), and on a sunny day, the beaches are rather beautiful. Meadfoot Beach and Oddicombe Beach are among my favourite.
The English Riviera is also Agatha Christie county – if you’re a fan of the detective novelist, try to visit Greenway near Brixham. There’s also an 800-year-old abbey (Torre Abbey), the famous Paignton pier, beautiful gardens in Torquay, and Kents Cavern caves.
The English Riviera says British beachy summer holidays like no other, and it’s actually jam-packed with attractions to boot. It’s one of the best Exmouth day trips for families and beach-seekers!
How to get there: there are direct trains from Exmouth to Torquay, but sometimes you might need to change in Exeter. The train takes at least one hour and 19 minutes. Drive time is just under an hour.
Dartmoor is slightly further afield – at least an hour’s drive, and up to two in some places – but if you are visiting Devon from elsewhere in the country and don’t know when you’ll be back, it’s one of the most remarkable places to go to in the county, and its hikes are without a doubt some of the best things to do around Exmouth.
Dartmoor encompasses 954 km² of rolling moorland, with some forests, waterfalls (Becky Falls is my favourite and one of the best in Devon), and plenty of lookouts along the way. You’ll likely see wild Dartmoor ponies, as well as plenty of birdlife and other animals.
Part of Dartmoor’s charm is its towns and villages dotted around the moor – stop into Okehampton for the Museum of Dartmoor Life, as well as villages like Chagford and Bovey Tracey for hearty pub lunches!
How to get there: from Exmouth to Okehampton, which is considered by many to be the hub of Dartmoor, it is around a 45 minute drive, and then a little further to moorland itself. Because you will need to travel to the start of hikes, it is only really possible to visit Dartmoor by car.
A city steeped in history, Plymouth boasts a rich maritime heritage dating back to ancient times.
There are plenty of things to do in Plymouth that can easily fill a day trip.
Explore the Barbican and Plymouth Hoe, a large public grass area that offers stunning views of Plymouth Sound. Plymouth Hoe is also home to the famous Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, which has become a symbol of the city.
One of the must-visit attractions in Plymouth is the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which is housed in a 15th century building and is the oldest continuously operating gin distillery in the country.
If you have kids, don’t miss the National Marine Aquarium, the largest in the country, which is home to a wide range of marine life from around the world.
How to get there: you can take a train from Exmouth to Plymouth via Exeter (just under two hours with the changeover), or it’s about an hour’s drive.
I’ve been all over the world, but Bristol remains my favourite city – in fact, before I moved to Exmouth, I used to live here!
Bristol is a vibrant and diverse city, boasting plenty of attractions for all!
One of the most popular attractions in Bristol is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, spanning the deepest part of the Avon Gorge. Admire the jaw-dropping views of the River Avon and head to the visitor’s centre to learn about how it was constructed.
There are plenty of museums in Bristol, including the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, which features an extensive collection of art, archaeology, and natural history exhibits, and M Shed, which hosts galleries about the people of Bristol.
Bristol is home to some of the best street art in the world too; it’s the home of Banksy, and the area of Stokes Croft in particular has gorgeous bright murals.
On your day trip in Bristol, don’t miss the harborside. This waterfront area’s a wonderful place to learn about the city’s maritime past. Climb on board the SS Great Britain, which was designed by Brunel (the same architect who built the suspension bridge) and is now an interactive museum.
If you want to experience the outdoors while you’re in Bristol, head to Ashton Court Estate. This grassy expanse boasts walking and cycling trails and a deer park.
How to get there: It’s just under two hours on the train from Exmouth to Bristol (you’ll need to change in Exeter), or it’s also around an hour and a half drive.
With stunning Georgian architecture, ancient Roman Baths and a modern Thermae spa, Bath has plenty on offer and is one fo the best day trips from Exmouth for history buffs.
The Roman Baths are a must-visit, providing a fascinating insight into the lives of historical Romans. Explore the remains of the bathhouse, see ancient artifacts, and learn about the history of the site.
Another key attraction in Bath is the stunning architecture. The city is filled with beautiful Georgian buildings, such as the Royal Crescent and the Circus, which offer a glimpse into the city’s wealthy past.
Are you interested in art? Bath is home to the Victoria Art Gallery, which features an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts.
Bath is also a great place to relax and unwind, with a number of spas and thermal baths located in the city. The Thermae Bath Spa is one of the most popular, offering a range of spa treatments and a heated rooftop pool with views over the city.
And if you’re interested in literature, Bath’s perfect. The city was home to the author Jane Austen for a number of years, which you can learn about in the Jane Austen Centre. And, if you’re a fan of Frankenstein, visit Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein – a brand new exhibition all about one of the world’s most famous monsters!
How to get there: It’s about two hours on the train from Exmouth to Bath (you’ll need to change in Exeter and Bristol), or it’s also around a two hour drive.
All of the best places to visit near Exmouth!
With so many attractions near Exmouth, you can be sure that you won’t run out of things to do on your summer holiday!