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Exeter Underground Passages

exeter underground passages adventure

Descend into History at Exeter’s Underground Passages

Beneath Exeters bustling streets lies a fascinating hidden world awaiting discovery. The medieval Exeter Underground Passages provide an opportunity to explore unique hand-carved tunnels revealing over 800 years of the city’s past.

A visit to the Underground Passages makes for an intriguing and very unusual day out uncovering Exeter’s subterranean history. From the mysterious medieval tunnels to the sandstone carvings and interactive activities, it captivates visitors of all ages. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to make the most of this underground day out.

Getting There

The Underground Passages are conveniently located right in Exeter city centre just off High Street near the cathedral. Look for the red passage signage marking the entrance on Paris Street.

By Car

If driving, there are several central pay car parks within a 5-10 minute walk. The Ram Park on Northernhay or Guildhall car parks are handy options.

Public Transport

Exeter is well connected by train and bus if you’d prefer to use public transport. Exeter Central train station is just over 0.6 miles from the passage entrances.

Opening Times and Prices

The passages are open 6 days a week from Monday to Saturday:

April – October: 9:30am – 5:30pm November – March: 10:30am – 4pm

They are closed on Sundays and for one week in January. Check the website for any seasonal variations.

Current prices are:

  • Adults: £7.50
  • Children (5-16): £6
  • Concessions: £6
  • Family (2 adults + 2 kids): £22
  • Under 5s: Free
exeter underground passages

Visiting the Underground Passages

Tours of the passages run frequently throughout the day, so you can normally join one within 15-30 minutes of arriving. Knowledgeable guides take groups of up to 25 people down into the atmospheric tunnels to learn about the secrets beneath the city.

Tours last around 45 minutes as you explore the medieval and Victorian passageways. Highlights include:

  • The medieval tunnels – Dating from the 14th century, these provided vital water access during siege times. Look out for mysterious alcoves along the way.
  • Carved dates and symbols – Remarkable inscriptions carved by past inhabitants mark the tunnel walls and ceilings. Historians are still deciphering the meanings behind these today.
  • Sandstone carvings – One passage ceiling has been intricately carved creating a unique ornate ribs effect unlike any other.
  • Vaulted passageways – Admire the brick barrel shapes of the Victorian passages added to access gas and telecomms.
  • Interactive exhibits – Costume zones, audio experiences and visual projections bring history to life.

Emerging back into daylight after discovering the hidden passageways is an unforgettable experience!

visit exeter underground passages

Above Ground Exhibits

As well as the underground tours, exhibitions above ground teach more about the passages’ history and construction:

  • Progress Wall – Learn about the ambitious “Underground Passages Project” restoring these historic tunnels.
  • Model Room – Get your bearings with the intricate scale model showing the full underground network.
  • Main Hall – Browse themed displays and watch an introductory video before descending.
  • Gift Shop – Continue your subterranean explorations through books and souvenirs.

Combining the underground tours with ample time to appreciate the above ground exhibits really allows you to delve into the rich history of Exeter’s buried past.

Food and Facilities at the Exeter Underground Passages

The Underground Passages are located right in Exeter city centre, so you’re surrounded by cafes, bakeries and restaurants when it’s time for a lunch break. There are also vending machines and toilets within the Passages building.

Wheelchair access is available on site and baby changing facilities are provided. Check the website or call for full accessibility details.

Making a Day of It

Alongside the 45-60 minutes spent exploring below ground level, allow 1-2 hours to appreciate the above ground exhibits and introductory materials to get the full experience.

The Underground Passages combine perfectly with Exeter’s other historic attractions, especially the Medieval Exeter Quayside which can be explored afterwards. Many visitors also enjoy browsing the shops and cafes around the historic cobbled streets after emerging from the atmospheric tunnels.

With its hidden history and secrets waiting to be revealed, descending into Exeter’s buried Underground Passages provides a uniquely immersive experience for all ages.

exeter underground passages

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any special events at the Exeter Underground Passages? Yes, they will often hold Christmas and Easter events in the passages.

What were the Exeter Underground Passages used for? They housed the pipes that brought water into medieval Exeter

Can I bring my dog? No, only guide dogs allowed.

Other Local Attractions

  • The Royal Albert Memorial Museum offers a diverse range of exhibits, including art, natural history, and archaeology, providing an engaging and educational experience for visitors interested in cultural and historical exploration
  • Exeter Quayside is a picturesque area along the River Exe, featuring historic buildings, charming cafes, and scenic walks, offering a delightful setting for leisurely strolls and riverside dining
  • Clip ‘n Climb Exeter provides an exciting indoor climbing experience, featuring a variety of climbing challenges suitable for all ages and skill levels, offering a thrilling and active adventure for individuals and groups
  • Exeter Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, featuring the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England. Visitors can explore its impressive interior and learn about its rich history
  • Naturally,being underground means that you will not get wet when it rains. Here are some other ideas to vist when it rains in Exeter.

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