Travel & Hotel Guide When Visiting University of Exeter




university of exeter

I have arranged dozens of events at the University of Exeter and understand what visitors from the UK and abroad want to know. You will find a detailed answer to the most common questions about visiting Exeter, giving you advice on how to get here, accommodation, and making the most out of your short stay in Exeter.

Most visitors to the University are either academics visiting to attend an event such as a workshop or ‘viva,’ visitors attending an open day, or relatives of a student for such an occasion as graduation.

I will assume you know nothing about Exeter or even travel in the UK and that you are here for 24 – 48 hours only.

How to Get to Exeter University by Public Transport?

The University has two main campuses in Exeter, the main campus ‘Streatham Campus’ and ‘St Lukes,’ that houses a lot of the education and medical disciplines. Exeter is not a big city, the word city is a bit misleading, its really just large town. As such, it does not take much time to navigate between most points of interest.

Where From?Quick Summary
London Heathrow1) Coach from Heathrow airport terminals with National Express into Exeter city centre. 7 services a day approx 3 hours 25 mins duration, inexpensive and direct. There are coach pick-ups from the central coach station (for terminals 1,2 and 3) at Heathrow and terminals 4&5.
2) Heathrow Express from the airport terminals to London Paddington, change for mainline rail services. Take a South Western Railway train from London Paddington to Exeter St Davids.
Rail can be expensive so see my detailed notes below on how to beat the cost if interested.
London GatwickGatwick is a bit more tricky to get to so if you can fly into Heathrow this is the easiest.
1) Train from Gatwick Airport Railway station, you will be required to change (typically Clapham) continue to Exeter st Davids railway station. Journey approx 3-4 hours)
2) Currently, due to the impact of COVID on buses, there are fewer options than there used to be. The previously recommended route was previously to catch a bus connection from Gatwick to Reading train station (from Gatwick air terminals) then board a train at Reading to Exeter St Davids.
Central London1) Quickest and most expensive train from London Paddington to Exeter St Davids
2) Slightly longer (but cheaper) train from London Waterloo to
Bristol1) There is not a train station at Bristol Airport, the train station is some miles north of the airport. So train is possible but is not recommended as a further bus is needed on arrival at the train station.
2) The recommended service is the Falcon Flyer coach service as no change is required
Exeter Airport1) Apple Taxi’s inside the airport arrivals area has a desk that is operated 24×7. The fair into Exeter is a standard rate. Go here for booking
2) A Stagecoach bus (search for timetable for bus no 56) from Exeter Airport (right outside) that goes directly into the centre of Exeter. It is much cheaper than a taxi and fairly frequent during the day. The duration is about 20 minutes

Why Take a Coach from Heathrow To Exeter?

I have always recommended that travellers travel by coach (National Express) from Heathrow to Exeter if they are looking to use public transport. The coach station is in the centre of the airport, meaning you do not need to lug your suitcase too far and can indeed use a trolly right up to the coach departure bay. Main provider is National Express but there is also MegaBus. Megabus routes are often a bit longer but the fare and timetable might be worth checking out if National Express does not suit your needs.

National Express coaches are large comfortable and air conditioned. You can buy a flexible ticket if needed (in case of delays) and add extra baggage. Disabled passengers are advised to call ahead to discuss their needs. The driver is on hand to load your suitcase into the storage of the coach.

Group Travel To Exeter

If there are a group of you arriving into a regional airport it might be cost effective for you to gain a group transfer by taxi or mini bus. Preferably by booking in advance to obtain the best price. Addison Lee (London based) and Exec Cars come recommended.

Where To Stay Close to the University

If you are looking for a boutique option consider the Southernhay House Hotel which is in in the heart of the city close the cathedral. Alternatively Hotel du Vin, again walking distance to the centre.

For modern, new build option Jury’s Inn

Somewhat closer to the Streatham campus favourite options are Queens Court Hotel, Benedine and the Telstar. A more ‘vanilla,’ plain option which is opposite the Exeter st Davids station is the Premier Inn. (Note if you are expecting to arrive late after 10:30pm at night do inform reception of your expected arrival times).

Event Exeter part of the University, additionally offers some accommodation, though not necessarily with the Character of the B&Bs listed above, but this option if available does have the convenience of being on campus.

24 Hours in Exeter – What to See?

If you have a few hours free in Exeter here are the recommendations

Where to Eat

There is reasonable range of food outlets in Exeter, this is just a selection of the favourites.

For a beautiful view of the cathedral lit up at night book at table at Cote, ask for an upstairs window table. Rendezvous and Harry’s are slightly more expensive, are often booked for celebration meals, Rendezvous having a wider menu selection. Dinasour Cafe is Turkish restaurant within close walking distance to Streatham campus it is much loved for its informal, simple food and warm hospitality. (only accept cash). See also review on The Cork and Tile, a wonderful small Portuguese bar / restaurant.

Exeter Cathedral

Book Early to Avoid Disappointment

If you are intending to arriving during graduation do book early (early as you can) for any restaurant or hotel reservations, as expected these venues get very busy.


Exeter’s main taxi company is Apple Taxis tel 01392 666666, or Exe Cars on 01392 55 55 55. Taxi’s can be high demand and it is recommended that if you are looking for a taxi during peak times, graduation, rush hour, or pub closing times on a friday night there may be a delay so book ahead if this is a concern.

If you are looking for a more executive service Exec Cars is recommended, they are very competitively priced for such a great service.

Please note I do try to keep this site up to date, but as things change often, it is recommended that before travelling any distance you do your own checks.

If you wish to feedback on the site content please get in touch.

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