Exeter, 196 miles west of London, is the capital of Devon and the gateway to two National Parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. It's also home to a historic cathedral and a great introduction to England's West Country. Use these travel directions to choose the best way to get from London to Exeter to suit your budget and your own vacation or holiday plans.
Here's How to Get There
Great Western Railway runs frequent direct trains from London Paddington to Exeter St. Davids throughout the day (every half hour during daytime off-peak). The trip takes from 2 hours to 2 and a half, depending upon the number of stops along the way. Try to avoid the early morning commuter train which can take almost four hours and cost as much as 200% more.
St Davids is a 15 minute walk from the city center and the major attractions of the castle and cathedral. The cheapest fare in June 2019 for advance tickets and off-peak travel to Exeter St Davids, is £63.50 when purchased as two, one-way tickets(A ticket for the same journey when purchased as one round trip ticket was quoted at more than £90 so it pays, on this trip to by single (one-way) tickets. But pick your trains carefully because only a few trips are available at the cheapest fare and the cost of this journey can quickly double or even triple. To get the very best fare, be flexible about your time of travel and use the Cheapest Fare Finder, described below.
Southwest Trains leave from London Waterloo with direct services from this station leaving hourly at 20 minutes past the hour. Their trains make more stops and and take 3 hours and 23 minutes for the journey. The cheapest fare on this service is £43.50 (at June 2019) when purchased as two, one-way tickets. You should be aware, however, that Southwest Trains have been plagued by labor disputes and random delays.
UK Travel Tips The cheapest train fares are those designated "Advance" - how far in advance depends upon the journey as most rail companies offer advance fares on a first come first served basis. Always compare the "single" ticket price to the round trip or "return" price as it is often cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round trip ticket.
If you can be flexible about train times use the National Rail Enquiries Cheapest Fare Finder search tool, to land a bargain fare. Tick the boxes marked "All Day" in the extreme right of the tool to get the absolute bottom dollar available fare, otherwise you can spend hours trying to match up specific times and specific prices.
National Express Coaches operate buses between Victoria Coach Station in London and Exeter Bus and Coach Station. Coaches leave London about every two hours and take between four and five hours for the trip. You can buy the tickets online at the National Express website.
UK Travel Tip Coaches are the cheapest way to travel around the UK. But because of all the promotional fares offered, the cost of a coach trip can be a little tricky to predict before you actually log on to buy your tickets. Add to that the fact that fares are given as singles, or one-way tickets. The best way to find the cheapest fare is to let the coach company do it for you with their Online Fare Finder. Be prepared to be flexible about the time and day you travel to get the best deals.
Exeter is 196 miles west of London via the M4 and M5 motorways. It takes about 4 hours to drive. It is also possible to take a slightly shorter route, the M3 to the A303, but it will take you just as long, if not longer. This route passes Stonehenge and during the high and mid seasons, the traffic delays from rubbernecking tourists can add hours to your trip. Keep in mind too that gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price is usually at least $1.50 a quart.
Flybe have several flights a day from London City Airport, starting at under £70 for round trip tickets (for selected flights in July 2019). You can also fly direct to Exeter from Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Dublin and Belfast City airports. The airport is about 7 miles from the city center. Stagecoach bus routes 56A and 56B run regularly between Exeter St David's train station, Exeter Bus Station, the airport and Exmouth.