Student City guide: Exeter


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The Independent Online

What’s the big draw?

At first glance, Exeter can seem a sleepy, middle class city with relatively little going on. Its population is neither diverse nor notoriously lively, and the bulk of its architecture is about as inspiring as the leftovers of last night's student dinner.

Yet the city manages to balance a modern vibe with its steeped history and peaceful feel. What it lacks in bustle it makes up for in convenience: you can walk around all the main attractions with ease, with the stunning university campus and many of the good restaurants and clubs all being within a 20-minute walk. The city's population is heavily student-based, allowing for a fun and friendly atmosphere in a largely serene environment.

What’s the night-life like? (gigs, bars, clubs)

Exeter's limited selection of clubs are all in a fairly central location, not far from campus. But where there are students there is likely to be a vibrant nightlife, and if you pick the right venue on the right night, the clubs are as lively as any. Mosaic, Arena and Timepiece are the most popular, particularly the latter, which plays host to sports socials on Wednesdays.

Meanwhile, on Saturdays, students embrace the somewhat cheesy nature of the campus club - the Lemon Grove - allowing locals to populate the clubs in town for once.

The union pub, The Ram, is a popular day time venue, whilst The Imperial – a spacious Wetherspoons - sees numerous students on the hunt for cheap drinks, with Monkey Suit and 44 below serving more adventurous cocktails – making them good date venues.

The music scene is far from notorious, but there are still a number of events in bars around the city and in alternative venues such as Exeter Phoenix, Cavern and Cellar door, which will appeal to a more indie market.

What can you do in the day? (cafes, restaurants, shops and facilities)

The selection of restaurants in the city is excellent, with all cuisines represented and finer dining available in a number of chic places. Firehouse is particularly popular amongst students, and is said to be the inspiration for Exeter alumna J. K. Rowling's fictional pub The Leaky Cauldron.

The Quay offers good views along the River Exe with superb food being served in a number of venues along the riverside.

Sandy Park, home of the Exeter Chiefs (Getty Images)

Shopping is nothing out of the ordinary - there is not a vast array of outlets, but enough to keep you occupied the time of an afternoon.

Exeter Chiefs play Premier League rugby on the outskirts of the city, whilst the football team hosts League 2 football in a retro ground surrounded by student housing. Further afield, trips to the beach or nearby Dartmoor National Park are popular amongst the more outdoorsy types.

Where’s the best place for to live?

Students can be found in their droves in very close proximity to the campuses. Most choose to live in 'the triangle' between the university, the city centre and the football stadium. If it's a group's priority, the rent can be comparatively affordable in this zone – though many students living in cheaper cities might find Exeter prices extortionate. However, with so many students living nearby, housing is perfectly located for nearly every trip, with a great variety of facilities and prices on offer.