Exploring Exeter's Quayside This Summer

By VisitExeter | Jul 6, 2020
Europe > United Kingdom > England > Devon > Exeter

Exeter's Quayside is one of the most attractive areas of the city, popular with locals and visitors alike for its interesting architecture, artisan shops and lively pubs, cafes and restaurants. The Quayside is also a hub for all things active! It's only a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre or a short bus ride. It's really easy to get there – just follow the walking signs from South Street or Fore Street.

Exeter Quayside

Exeter Quayside

Places to visit

There's no better place to sit and watch the world go by, than on Exeter's beautiful Quayside, but if you want to learn more about it's intriguing history,or take in a wonderful show, then we recommend a visit to the following...

The Custom House Visitor Centre

The Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of Exeter's woollen cloth industry. Today it is a fascinating visitor centre and the meeting point for Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours. Watch 'Exeter: 2,000 Years of History', a short film, detailing how Exeter Quay was once one of the busiest ports in England.

The Custom House

The Custom House

Cygnet Theatre

The Cygnet Theatre is a beautiful little theatre which has thirty years' experience of helping young actors to develop their individual qualities. With a changing calendar of shows and unique performances, there’s always a reason to visit.

Try something new

The Quayside is a great place to try something new. Here are some suggestions to get you started...

Join a Red Coat Tour

The Red Coat’s ‘Canal Trip’ and ‘Exeter’s Historic Quayside’ tours depart from outside the Custom House Visitor Centre throughout the summer. Join the 1-hour Canal Trip on Wednesdays at 11am between June – end of August. The tour includes a one-way boat trip to the Double Locks with on-board commentary. There is a fee for this tour and tickets need to be obtained from the Custom House Visitor Centre on the day of departure. If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, then the Exeter Historic Quayside tour takes place on Wednesdays at 6pm, and Saturdays at 2pm between May – August. The tour includes a stroll along the Quayside to see the oldest pound lock canal in the country.

Mess about on the river

Situated right on the Quayside, Saddles & Paddles and AS Watersports kayak, paddleboard and canoe hire. Alternatively just around the corner is Haven Banks where you can have a go at paddle boarding or climbing their 23 metre tower before jumping off it! Yes, you can abseil down or do the power fan descent: it's like a bungee jump!

AS Watersports

AS Watersports

Explore on two wheels

Saddles and Paddles is an independent business offering bicycle hire. Located right on the Quayside this popular business hires out bikes for all ages and abilities. With an extensive network of traffic free routes and trails to choose from, your only problem will be deciding where to explore first.

Aim for a strike

Bowling is a great way to spend time with your friends and family and at Tenpin Bowling in Exeter, you are treated to a full complex containing arcades, a fully licensed bar, Sky Sports, café, pool tables and of course plenty of bowling lanes.

Head underground

Haven Banks is the South West’s premier outdoor activity center and training facility. Based on the quayside, there are over 30 land and water based sports to choose from, including caving in an artificial system located within the facility. With an extensive range of equipment and fully qualified instructors, Haven Banks is the place to go when you want to pack a little action into your weekend.

Climb the walls!

The Quay Climb Centre and Clip ‘n Climb are home to the South West’s largest indoor climbing wall. Running a welcoming, safe and vibrant wall for climbers of all ages, abilities and experiences, this is an ideal active day out.

Discover the Quay's vibrant shopping scene

Warehouses and cellars from the height of the industrial age now house workshops where you can see craftsmanship of the very highest quality, with local craftspeople working in wood, stone, glass and metal. Not only is the Quayside a fantastic place to find the perfect gift, but also a place to find bespoke furniture to complete any room in the home.
Being so close to the water, it’s no surprise that there are fantastic water sports shops that stock not only all the gear that you need to stay warm and safe on the water, but also the boats and boards themselves. For those who want to take in Exeter and the Exe Estuary on two wheels but don’t have the bike to do it, Exeter Quayside also has fantastic new and second-hand bicycle shops whose friendly and extremely-knowledgeable staff are always happy to help.

Shopping on the Quay

Shopping on the Quay

Eating & drinking

There’s a fantastic choice of places to enjoy some delicious local food and drink on Exeter’s Quayside. Here’s a few suggestions to tickle the taste buds!

On The Waterfront

Perched on the edge of Exeter’s famous quayside, On The Waterfront is a popular restaurant offering a tempting menu of lunch and dinner dishes, including their renowned, homemade and freshly cooked to order pizzas.

The Prospect Inn

Located only a few doors down from The Waterfront, The Prospect Inn is another fantastic little quayside spot, ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. With a delectable menu running from midday right through until 9pm, you can sit back, relax enjoy a tasty bite to eat and wash it down with a range of popular cask mark ales from the local Heavitree Brewery and more.

The Prospect Inn

The Prospect Inn

Samuel Jones Smoke and Ale House

This classic ale & smoke house built in an old bonded warehouse offers an extensive range of craft beers and delicious smoke-house style food. Smoked and cured in house, cooked on chargrills and barbeque ovens, their imaginative tasty dishes fit perfectly with their contemporary stylish surroundings and with a beautiful outdoor patio and terrace, it’s perfect for those warm summer evenings.

Bar Venezia

This popular Mediterranean cafe and bar has fast become one of Exeter’s trending restaurants. This hidden jewel of the city is located right on the waterfront and it’s substantial menu offers a range of cuisine from Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and France, including a delightful array of vegetarian and pasta dishes.

The Coffee Cellar

Located at the far end of the river walk, this charming coffee house provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere as well as a range of fantastic coffees, teas, smoothies and freshly prepared lunchtime snacks. With outdoor and indoor seating, is ideal no matter what the weather.

The Coffee Cellar

The Coffee Cellar

Puerto Lounge

Puerto Lounge sits on the edge of the River Exeter and boasts an informal café/bar, ‘all are welcome’, community feel. An eclectic scattering of colours and furniture lends itself perfectly to the laid back but lively vibe. Take a seat on the terrace and watch the world go by. The all-day menu offers huge variety, no matter what time of day. From brunch to hearty dinners, there is no shortage of variety.

The Hourglass

Cosy, quirky, quaint, unique – just some of the fitting words used to describe this wonderful hidden gem of a gastro-pub located just above Exeter Quay. The small inventive menu offers just enough variety to tease the palette. Whether you opt for a hearty rib-eye or the Portuguese Fish and Chorizo Stew, you’re guaranteed a true taste sensation.


The latest addition to the Quayside, Rockfish Exeter is a stunning fish and chip restaurant, owned by celebrity chef, Mitch Tonks. Already popular amongst visitors and locals alike, this family-friendly restaurnt serves up classic seafood dishes and daily specials, offering something for everyone.



PLEASE NOTE: Openings may vary due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, please check before travelling.

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Written by Visit Exeter
A small city that packs a big punch, Exeter is one of the most vibrant, attractive and historically interesting cities in England. Pre-dating the arrival of the Romans in AD 50, Exeter’s history is rich and long. This is reflected in its fascinating visitor attractions including its unique Underground Passages, free Red Coat Guided Tours, magnificent Cathedral, imposing Roman wall and beautiful Quayside. Exeter is also home to the award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum where visitors can explore the city’s 2,000-year history under one roof! Exeter has a real sense of individuality, its varied cultural scene is embraced by proud ... Read more

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