The ancient city of Exeter stands on the River Exe in the southeast of Devon. There have been human settlements in the Exeter area since prehistoric times, with the city first coming to national prominence in the year 55 when it was fortified by the Romans.

For much of its history, Exeter has been a major wool trading hub, thanks both to the area’s farming and also the fast-moving River Exe estuary leading towards continental Europe. Today it is mostly known for its business and tourism, in addition to its universities and the headquarters of the UK Meteorological Office.

Set in rich, varied Devon countryside with both the river and the sea nearby, in addition to serving as the county’s key transport hub, Exeter is an ideal place for you and your dog to spend some holiday time.

Dog Friendly Exeter Must Sees

Exeter Cathedral

Central Exeter’s most notable landmark is St. Peter’s Cathedral, which was built between 1112 and 1400 in both Gothic and Norman architectural styles. It features some very fine early examples of misericords (carved wooden statues underneath prayer stools), an astronomical clock and the world’s largest uninterrupted vaulted stone ceiling. Your dog will not care about any of this which is just as well, since they are not allowed inside the building. Still, they may be able to have some fun exploring the grounds.

The interior of Exeter Cathedral, with thick stone columns, impressive arched ceilings and rows of wooden seats lead to an ornate alter
Source: Flickr

Exeter Ship Canal

All of the best dog-friendly action in the city of Exeter can be found by following the River Exe southwards, from Exeter St. David’s station to the Quayside and then all the way along past the Riverside Valley Park to the Exeter Ship Canal. Energetic dogs (and owners!) may like to do this all on foot – it is roughly five miles – but there is also the option of hopping aboard a train at St. Davids and alighting at Topsham.

Dartmoor National Park

You weren’t thinking of going on holiday to Exeter and not going to see Dartmoor, were you? The National Park is unconditionally recommended as one of the most stark and beautiful areas of natural wilderness in the UK and is an absolute must-visit. Three suggested places within about half an hour’s drive from the centre of Exeter: Canonteign Falls, the UK’s largest man-made waterfall; Kennick Reservoir, a 50 acre lake popular with trout fishermen; and Blackingstone Rock, a typical example of the ancient granite rocks that dot Dartmoor’s landscape.

A train passes by a large body of water with rolling green hills in the background on Exeter's Great Scenic Railway
Source: Wikimedia

Ride The Great Scenic Railways

Devon is amongst the most picturesque and beautiful places in the UK, so what better way to explore it than by letting the train take the strain? The Great Scenic Railways are based at Exeter and feature a number of lines that will take you straight into the middle of many of the county’s most desirable locations. 

Our recommendations are the Riviera Line for Torquay, the (dog friendly) Model Village at Babbacombe and Paignton; the Tarka Line north to Barnstaple and Exmoor; The Dartmoor Line for the National Park; and the Avocet Line to nearby Exmouth.

Boat Cruises

Much of the coastline around Exeter forms part of the Jurassic Coastline UNESCO World Heritage site and it goes without saying that it is well worth slowing down to investigate further. There are few better ways to get a really good look than by booking a boat trip. Based in Exmouth, 11 miles to the southeast of Exeter, you will find Stuart Line Cruises, a dog-friendly company that has been running a variety of boat tours in south Devon for over 50 years. A thoroughly relaxing and pleasant way to discover the Devon coast.

The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Exeter

Haldon Forest Park

Just 15 minutes outside of Exeter and open every day of the year except Christmas Day, Haldon Forest Park offers paths or trails for every level of fitness and adventurousness, without the concern of getting too horribly lost in Devon’s sprawling wilderness.

A man in a grey t-shirt walks two dogs along a tree-lined path in Exeter
Source: Flickr

Belle Isle Park

Just to the south of the city centre, you and your furry friend will find Belle Isle Park, a 7.5 acre green space on the banks of the River Exe. It is Exeter’s newest park but also one of its most popular, particularly with wildlife lovers.

Mincinglake Valley Park

The former site of a waste tip, Mincinglake Valley is now a protected nature reserve located in Stoke Hills to the north of the city. It combines open meadowland with dense woodland and is home to a variety of important native wildlife species. There are signposted trails to try, or the option to go exploring off-piste.

Heavitree Recreation Ground

Situated not far from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Heavitree, the Recreation Ground is a firm favourite for families from all over Exeter. It combines open spaces and trees with a variety of playgrounds, picnic areas and a skate park.

Riverside Valley Park

One of a number of parks that can be found along the flood plains of the River Exe in the south of the city, Riverside Valley is a 99 acre green space noted for its buttercup-filled meadows and endlessly Instagrammable river views.

Stoke Woods

A large area of woodland at the northern tip of Exeter city limits, Stoke Woods is home to some of south Devon’s oldest trees. There are several marked trails to choose from, as well as picnic areas and abundant wildlife.

A white Yorkshire Terrior stands in some tall grass by a river in Exeter
Source: Flickr

Dog-friendly Cafés and Restaurants in Exeter

Hub Box

14 Catherine Street, EX1 1EU

One of a growing chain of twelve restaurants spread across south-west England and Wales, Hub Box are burger specialists but also offer chicken, barbecue and hot dog options, as well as extensive vegetarian and vegan alternatives. In Exeter you’ll find them near the Cathedral in the city centre.

The Lounges

Puerto Lounge, 38 Commercial Road, EX2 4AE

Lloyds Lounge, Catherine Square, EX1 1DY

If you’ve read any of our other city guides you will know how hopelessly devoted we are to The Lounges. From brunch or morning coffee to after-show cocktails, The Lounge will always have both you and your furry friend covered. Exeter has two Lounges: Puerto is in the Quayside area of the city near the river; the other is in the town centre near the Cathedral.

Boston Tea Party

84 Queen Street, EX4 3RP

A thriving and expanding local success story, Boston Tea Party now has 22 locations across the south and west of England. They offer a wide variety of breakfast, brunch and lunch options – including plenty of vegan and free-from alternatives – and are well worth a visit. The Exeter location is in the town centre, near the Guildhall Shopping Centre.

The Ridge Coffee Shop

The Coolings, Haven Road, EX2 8AX

Located in an old converted industrial space near the Quayside, The Ridge are a coffee shop who are particularly proud of their array of baked goods, all of which are baked in-house daily.

Mango’s Cafe

King’s Wharf, The Quay, EX2 4AN

A cafe-bar situated near the Quayside in the city centre, Mango’s is an ideal place to sit and watch the river flow by with a coffee or a glass of wine. However, they are also increasingly noted for their impressive and hearty breakfast and brunch options.

The Daisy Cafe

98 Fore Street, EX1 2RS

Based just around the corner from Heavitree Recreation Ground, the plant-filled Daisy (named for the owner’s pet dalmatian)  is a great place to stop off for breakfast, brunch or lunch. However, be sure to stay around for a cake or another sweet treat! The Daisy is also a fully-licensed bar.

Dog Friendly Pubs in Exeter

Mill on the Exe

Bonhay Road, EX4 3AB

A two-storey red brick converted mill standing on the banks of the River Exe, not far from the Cathedral. The Mill on the Exe is a favourite Exeter pub with its quirky interiors, riverside gardens and extensive menu of both food and drink.

Samuel Jones

37 Commercial Road, EX2 4AE

Located in a renovated warehouse at the heart of the Quayside, the Samuel Jones is another pub with a welcoming atmosphere and unique interior styling. A great place to sit and watch the river go by.

City Gate Hotel

Iron Bridge, North Street, EX4 3EA

Based just to the west of the Cathedral in Exeter city centre, the City Gate is a hotel and pub boasting a full restaurant menu as well as sandwiches, brunch options and a roast dinner on Sundays.

Double Locks Hotel

Canal Banks, EX2 6LT

An 18th Century Inn based at the Exeter Ship Canal, the Double Locks have a combination of outdoor seating as well as two log fire-heated snug areas: ideal for almost any scenario if you’ve spent the day with your dog down by the riverside.

The Cowick Barton Inn

121 Cowick Lane, EX2 9HF

Situated to the south of the river in Cowick Barton, the independently run Cowick Barton Inn is a traditional pub set in typical English village surroundings. A friendly local with a strong accent on its restaurant menu.

On The Waterfront

Southern Warehouse, 4-9 The Quay, EX2 4AP

Set in a converted 19th Century warehouse at the heart of the Quayside, On The Waterfront is a popular and sizeable family-orientated pub and restaurant. In addition to a selection of real ales and buffet dining, there’s also homemade pizza and riverside views.

The Fat Pig

2 John Street, EX1 1BL

Based just around the corner from Exeter Cathedral, The Fat Pig unsurprisingly specialise in pork cookery, raising their own pigs to provide meat for their modern European-style recipes. There is also plenty of locally brewed ale and microbrewery beer on the menu.

A small dog stands on the pavement in Exeter, attached to a leash, with its owner's black shoes visible in the corner
Source: Flickr

Dog Friendly Shops in Exeter

Exeter Guildhall

40 High Street, EX4 3HP

Exeter’s largest covered shopping centre, found in the town centre, is also dog-friendly. Of course, individual store policies within the Guildhall will also need to be respected, but there are regular dog-positive haunts such as CEX, Wilko and Primark to be found within.

Seasalt Cornwall

24 Gandy Street, EX4 3LS

Located close to the central station, Seasalt specialise in outdoor clothing, homewares, footwear and a range of gifts and prints. An ideal stop-off to buy your pooch a souvenir of their trip to Exeter.

Darts Farm Shop

Darts Farm Village, Topsham, Clyst St. George, EX3 0QH

Based not far east from the Ship Canal in the village of Cyst St. George, Darts Farm is a large retail park which specialises in selling locally-made produce, from clothing to food. 

Dog-friendly Exeter: Where to Stay

If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Exeter, here’s our recommendations:

City Gate Hotel

Iron Bridge, North Street, EX4 3EA

We’ve already mentioned them in our pub guide and happily the City Gate Hotel is just as dog-friendly when it comes to their overnight guests. Up to two dogs can stay, at a cost of £15 per dog per night.

Holiday Inn Express

Tudor Street, EX4 3FL

Exeter Business Park, Guardian Road, EX1 3PE

Holiday Inn have two three-star hotels in Exeter which both allow doggy guests. The Tudor Street location is in the city centre, close to the river and the Quayside while the Business Park hotel is near to the M5 motorway to the east of the city. One dog is allowed per booking, for a fee of £15 per night.

Hotel du Vin

Magdalen Street, EX2 4HY

A four-star hotel in the city centre, just a ball’s throw from Bull Meadow Park. Hotel du Vin are happy for dogs to stay with them provided they are given advance notice.


Moto Services, Sandygate Roundabout, EX2 7HF

Based at the Moto Service park on the M5, near to the village of Clyst St. Mary, this Travelodge is about 4 miles to the east of the city centre. As usual with Travelodge, there is a limit of two dogs and a fee of £20 for each one.

Private lets and cottages

Perhaps the best option for a longer holiday in Exeter and the surrounding area is to find yourself a private let or holiday cottage. These are particularly abundant in Devon, although be sure to double check with your map of choice before booking: some of the listings are a little cavalier with their definition of exactly what constitutes “Exeter”!