Exeter: Why not?
Exeter has a special place in my heart. It's the city that I spent four years of my young adult life at University.
Applying to Exeter was a joke to wind up my Mum (as it was the furthest University that did the course that I wanted to do). Now, the thing is, while I did this as a joke, when it came to the interview process (compulsory for a teaching degree) it was Exeter University that impressed me the most. I had two interviews on that day, and the one thing that stuck with me as I drove back up to North Yorkshire was how nice everyone seemed to be. And it was genuine.
Devon does have that effect on you. People down here tend to be, generally, happy and content. This was only reinforced with a recent survey done by The Guardian (click).
So I put Exeter University as my first choice and that's obviously where I ended up.
If you are visiting Torquay for a reasonable length of time then I would definitely recommend a day trip.
How to get there?
You've got three options: car, train or bus.
We've never done it with a bus as we find the other two options easier.
Either from Torre Station or Torquay Station, there is usually a direct train to Exeter and it takes roughly 25 - 30 minutes depending on which station in Exeter you're wanting as your destination.
We like to get off at St. Thomas, walk 10 minutes to the Quay for lunch/drink and then head up the Roman Wall to the Cathedral (uphill mind you).
Or, get off at Exeter Central and you are a stones throw from the high street, the Cathedral and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Head up the A380 and you'll be there in roughly 20 - 25 minutes. You can park in the city as there are several car parks within a short distance from the centre or you can use the 'Park & Ride' in Sowton (avoid the one in Matford as it's usually full before 9am because it's been reduced in size and therefore spaces).
What to do?
The Cathedral is always a good place to visit. It survived WW2 despite being a target (the High Street wasn't so lucky - look up when you're on it and you'll see the pre-war and post-war architecture).
Shopping? There are shops for everyone in Exeter, from high-end luxury brands to LOADS of charity shops (remember, students make up a considerable number of the population so there's lots of goods constantly being donated when it's time to go home).
As mentioned earlier, there is the fascinating Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Well worth a look if you like history.
The Quay has some great cafes and restaurants to sit in and watch the world go by and you will also find several places for water sports, from canoeing to SUPs.
The city also has some underground passages that can be booked for tours. You'll need to book in advance though in the summer months as it is busy.
Hope that helps.