How to Travel from London to Exeter by Train, Bus, Car and Air

Find the best travel solutions for your budget and schedule

Exeter Cathedral
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Exeter, 196 miles west of London, is the capital of Devon and the gateway to  two National ParksDartmoor 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

By Train

Great Western Railway runs frequent direct trains from London  Paddington to Exeter St. Davids throughout the day.

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. St Davids is a 15 minute walk from the city center and the major attractions of the castle and cathedral. The cheapest fare in November 2017 for advance tickets and off-peak travel to Exeter St Davids, is £51 when purchased as two, 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  regularly throughout the day. Their trains make more stops and and take 3 hours and 23 minutes for the journey. Using the cheap fare finder, you can find some cheaper journeys on this route - (In November 2017, we found a few trips at £48.40 when purchased in advance as two, one-way tickets) - but generally fares are higher from this station and the trip takes longer.

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.

By Bus

National Express Coaches operates 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.

By Car

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.

By Air

Both British Airways and Flybe fly from London Gatwick to Exeter  for about £222 round trip in 2017. But by far the best deal - saving you time and money as well as traffic aggro - is the Flybe route from London City Airport to Exeter. There is only one flight a day in each direction. In spring 2017, it only costs about £60 each way.