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Exeter City Break Guide

Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral from an old print

The county town of Devon, Exeter is easily accessible by road or rail and is packed with things to do for the whole family.

Exeter`s top visitor attraction is the famous cathedral, founded in 1050 and rated as one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in the world. Pre-book a place on the roof tour and climb the spiral staircase that takes you to the top of the North Tower for stunning views across the city.

If you don`t have a head for heights, go to the opposite extreme and take a tour of the Underground Passages beneath the High Street. Not for the claustrophobic, these passages were originally part of the system that brought fresh water into the city in the 14th Century and have a rich and varied history.

Visitors can take one of several free Red Coat Guided Tours around the city, or for those who prefer to go it alone there is a choice of self-guided heritage trails to follow. Walk the city walls dating back to Roman times and learn about events that shaped the history of Exeter. Alternatively, pay a visit to the University Streatham Campus where there is a two-hour sculpture trail featuring works by Barbara Hepworth amongst others, set amongst beautiful lawns, ponds and an arboretum.

Also at the Streatham Campus is the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture, which is the country`s largest collection of film-related artefacts as well as a research unit for the University.

Visit Exeter`s Historic Quayside to witness a fascinating blend of historic and contemporary architecture with some buildings dating back to the time of Charles II. Originally a port on the River Exe, a ship canal was built alongside the river and now the area is renowned for its cafes, shops and restaurants. Offering boat trips and cycle hire, this is a fascinating place to relax and unwind and is equally popular with locals and tourists.

Children are well-catered for with Crealy Great Adventure Park offering rides and attractions for children of all ages, including plenty of indoor attractions for wet days. There is also Clip `n Climb at the Quay Climbing Centre offering a variety of fun climbing activities for children and adults. Skirmish Paintball Games is located just outside the city and provides several different games, including Laser Games for children over 8, with a viewing area for non-participants.

With a wealth of shops there is plenty for every member of the family to enjoy in Exeter and when the sun goes down there is no shortage of restaurants to choose from. For fine dining at The Royal Clarence Hotel - allegedly the oldest hotel in England - book a table at Michael Caines at Abode, which offers a seven-course tasting menu. Alternatively visit @Angelas on New Bridge Street for the freshest seafood in the county.

If this has whetted your appetite, Shearings holidays 2012 offer a variety of coach tours and self-drive holidays in the area, offering a range of accommodation to suit every taste and budget. You will find there is so much to see and do that you will want to return again and again to visit this beautiful corner of England.

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