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Harbour in Devon

Historic Exeter does a fine trade in welcoming tourists and showcasing the highlights of its past, though the city is not overcrowded with visitors. Situated on the River Exe in lovely Devon, breaks in Exeter are about meandering along the streets to view the celebrated past, shopping in boutiques, and sampling the great produce of the south west in cafés and restaurants.

And you must not visit this part of the UK without nipping in somewhere for a perfectly scrumptious Devon cream tea - a pot of tea accompanied by a warm scone and - as you're in Devon not Cornwall - lashings of clotted cream topped with glistening strawberry jam (the jam is applied bPretty hotel in Devonefore the cream in neighbouring Cornwall).

The most south-westerly Roman settlement in Britain, Exeter has plenty of historic beauties to show off, including Exeter Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century.

With a thoroughly modern and lively university in the city, the destination has a youthful air, and you won't have any problem finding hotels in Exeter. From budget hotels to luxury rooms, the city caters for every type of visitor.

Exeter hotels are often occupied by tourists using the city as a base for their explorations of Devon and Cornwall, and, as Exeter is a major transport hub of the south west, this is a fantastic idea if you are without your own wheels. In addition to the many locally-run and managed B&Bs and small hotels, you will find well-known names such as Premier Inn and Travelodge. You can also stay in hotels from international chains such as Jury's Inn, Mercure, Thistle, ABode and Holiday Inn Express.

There is plenty to see and do within Exeter though, and you can easily keep your party occupied for more than just the weekend with attractions and great facilities. It's a compact city, so you don't need to be worried about booking a “city hotel” to find you are miles and miles away from the action. You'll find plenty of good-value hotels in the central area, and this is the best location to make the most of your city break.

There are more budget options to the north of the centre, close to the university campus.

Top five attractions

City walls

The Roman fortifications, plus the later Norman Rougemont Castle, stand testament to the turbulent past of Exeter. Take a few hours to journey into history. 

Exeter Cathedral

This beautiful gothic structure attracts thousands of tourists and hosts a number of events, as well as being a place for worship. The cathedral is worth a look, even if you wouldn't normally bother with such attractions.

Historic Quayside

Just ten minutes from the city centre, the Quayside is a charming place to indulge in a little shopping or grab a bite to eat.

Parliament Street

Take a peak down Parliament Street, though don't expect to drive down there - it's one of the world's narrowest streets.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum

Admission is free to this splendid museum, which houses a huge collection of objects mainly from the south west, but also those showcasing the rest of Britain.

Events

Devon County Show; March: Known as the capital city of Devon, Exeter is the place to be to celebrate life in the county, or, in this case, rural life. The annual show features family entertainment, from livestock parades and animal shows, to the chance to have a go at clay pigeon shooting; you can also tuck into the county's famous food and drink.

Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink; April: Rougemont Castle, also known as Exeter Castle, is the setting for this event that highlights the best of local produce. You are guaranteed to eat very well during this fun event.

Historic Buildings Open Days; June: Take advantage of the annual opportunity to see behind normally closed doors at attractions such as St Nicholas Priory.