Where and What to Hire
Exeter has a selection of car hire companies to choose from. Europecar, Budget, Hertz and Avis are all available from the airport while Enterprise, Thrifty, Hertz and National Car are all located in Marshbarton, near Riverside Valley Park, close to the city centre. Simple Car Hire is available near Exeter central station while there is a branch of Enterprise located just off the M5 motorway. Available cars include small city two-door vehicles and up to five-door family cars with ample boot space.
Exeter is a small, compact city and easy to get around. There is no need to drive but for those who decide to do so, it is worth noting that some areas, particularly in the centre of the city, are pedestrianised and there are also a few one-way streets. Exeter is quite a popular city for cycling so keep an eye out for cyclists merging with traffic on the road. Rush hour in Exeter coincides with commuters starting work, from 7.30am to 9am and from 4.30pm to 6pm.
Parking in Exeter is a mixture of on-street pay and display parking, multi storey and park and ride. Park and ride is the cheapest and most effective option, with free parking and then cheap buses into the city centre.
Where to Go and What to See
While having a hire car in Exeter may not be necessary, it does come in very handy for exploring the surrounding area. One of Exeter’s most alluring qualities is its proximity to Dartmoor. Just 10 minutes from Exeter city centre is this spectacular national park with its sweeping moorlands, cosy bed and breakfasts, charming villages and pre-historic and Bronze Age artefacts. The local pubs complete with crackling fires and fantastic food really pack in the crowds. Just 30 minutes southeast of Exeter are the Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. This beautifully sculpted park features extensive outdoor walks among the grounds with glasshouses and exotic plants to tempt every budding horticulturist. There are even fun play areas and nature trails for kids to enjoy. An hour south, towards Plymouth is the National Marine Aquarium. Here adults and children can feed sharks and marvel at weird and wonderful creatures, some brought all the way over from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Children who love animals may also like a visit to Paignton Zoo, an hour south of Exeter close to Torquay, with its menagerie of over 2000 animals and stunning gardens. Couples or anyone looking for a romantic spot should hire a car and make the 40 mile journey to The Bar and Cove Vean in Scilly. Two softy sandy, isolated beaches offer both rock pools to potter in and Bronze Age remains to study. Alternatively, a swim, a blanket and a book make for an equally lovely day out. For couples looking for high octane adventure, Thurlestone Sands are a great spot for kayaking, windsurfing, surfing and diving.