Things You Probably Don’t Know About Hull, England

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There are a handful of things that I particularly love when I travel: cities with lots of cool history, places with beautiful landscapes, and going to destinations that haven't been written about to death by other bloggers.

This last point is what made me say yes to a trip to a fairly unconventional destination: Kingston upon Hull.

Hull, England

Normally just known as “Hull,” this English town in East Yorkshire isn't likely to be found on many UK travel itineraries. It's a maritime-turned-university city that struggled for a long time to get back on its feet after being heavily bombed during WWII (and when I say heavily, I mean it – Hull was the second-most war damaged city in the UK after London).

And the collapse of the local shipping and fishing industries in the '70s further challenged people trying to make a living in Hull. Just a couple years ago, Hull was voted one of the worst places to live in the UK.

But things are swiftly turning around for this almost-coastal city: in 2017, Hull has the distinction of being the UK City of Culture.

And the city is going all-out in celebration.

Hepworth Arcade in Hull, England

I spent four days in Hull earlier this month, hanging out with a local blogger and getting to know all the reasons why Hull ISN'T one of the worst places in the UK. In fact, Hull surprised me with just how cool it really is.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting of Hull, but after a day of walking around its Old Town streets and wandering around its marina, I found myself exclaiming, “This isn't what I was expecting at all!

Hull Marina

View out over Hull, England

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by my entire visit to Hull. I ate great food, visited some cool museums, took some nice photos, and got a taste of the history that I love discovering when I travel.

After my time spent in Hull, I decided that I want to share with you some things that you probably don't know about the city – and therefore reasons why it's worth visiting!

6 Reasons to visit Hull

1. It has history

I mentioned the WWII history that Hull suffered through, but the city's history goes back much further than that. Originally founded by monks as a port in the 12th century, Hull was an important thoroughfare for centuries, first in the wool trade and later in the fishing/whaling industry.

Old warehouse in Hull, England

It's also cited as possibly being the spot where the English Civil Wars first kicked off. In 1642, King Charles I was denied entry into Hull through the old Beverley Gate, which is often seen as the trigger for the start of the war.

The remains of the infamous gate were excavated in the 1980s, and you can see them today in Hull's Old Town.

2. It has free museums

Free museums are typical throughout the UK, but in Hull ALL the museums are free. And there are some pretty good ones, too, like the Ferens Art Gallery, the Hull and East Riding Museum (full of history), and the Wilberforce House, where you can learn about William Wilberforce and his contribution to ending the slave trade in the UK.

My favorite Hull museum was the Streetlife Museum, which is part transport and part history museum. Inside you'll find Victorian-style street scenes, as well as old trolleys, buses, cars, and even bicycles.

Streetlife Museum in Hull
Inside the Streetlife Museum

3. You'll find art everywhere

Hull has always had lots of art and culture, local guide Paul Schofield told me. But, with the city being the Capital of Culture this year, now it's absolutely bursting with it. There are small gallery exhibits as well as large art installations all over town.

When I was there, they had just removed a large wind turbine blade from Queen Victoria Square and were installing a work called the “Weeping Window” on the outside of the Maritime Museum, which consists of hundreds of ceramic poppies cascading down the side of the building.

Weeping Window at the Hull Maritime Museum

4. It has good pubs and food

Yes, I'll say it: England DOES have some great food! (Don't pay attention to all those stereotypes about British dining…) And I found Hull to be absolutely bursting with great pubs, cafes, and restaurants.

Lion & Key pub in Hull, England
The Lion & Key pub

Some of my favorite eats and drinks included:

  • Tea at Liquid Jade
  • Fish and chips at the Lion & Key (I LOVE the inside of this pub!)
  • Burgers and huge milkshakes at Furley & Co.
  • The best chips (fries) at Head of Steam
Liquid Jade cafe in Hull, England
Inside Liquid Jade

What I think I liked best about eating in Hull was that there aren't a ton of huge chains. It's easy to find a cool independent cafe or restaurant here.

Freak Shake from Furley & Co. in Hull
A “Freak Shake” from Furley & Co.

5. It's incredibly affordable

The UK is not necessarily known for being a budget-friendly destination. But I found Hull to be extremely affordable – and not just because the US dollar is so strong right now. Meals were usually under £10, and I got a movie ticket on a weekday evening for just £4!

We also went for afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel, which only cost £13.95 per person. While local Hull blogger Courtney said this was actually pretty pricey for Hull, you certainly won't find ANY high tea for even close to that price in places like London.

Afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel Hull
Afternoon Tea at the Royal Hotel

6. It's close to lots of other cool places

Lastly, even though you might not visit Hull exclusively like I did, it's actually close to a lot of other cool places to visit in this part of the UK.

A 10-minute drive will get you to the Humber Bridge, which is a massive 1.4-mile-long suspension bridge spanning the Humber estuary.

Humber Bridge
The Humber Bridge

A 15-minute train ride will take you to the adorable market town of Beverley.

Market town of Beverley
Beverley, England

And in just an hour by train you can get from Hull to York, which IS a city many people visit in the UK.

The top of York Minster
The view from York Minster

RELATED: A First-Timers Guide to York

Where to stay in Hull

I stayed at the Royal Hotel in Hull, which is right in the city center and actually connected to Hull's main train stations (this is SUPER handy, since arriving by train is the easiest way to get to Hull from other parts of England).

Royal Hotel in Hull, England
In the Royal Hotel's lobby

The hotel is old and retains a lot of its Victorian charm. The rooms aren't really anything special (though I found the bed really comfy), but the lobby is gorgeous and the breakfast buffet is tasty. The hotel also gets a thumbs up from me for the free cocktails and desserts that they hand out on Tuesday evenings!

Read reviews of the Royal Hotel | Book a room here!

Or, you can check out the best hotels in Hull here.

My must-dos in Hull

So what are the things that I consider to be must-dos in Hull? Here's my list:

Take a walking tour with Paul Schofield. This guy knows his stuff, and more importantly really loves Hull. He does history tours, pub walks, and more.

The White Hart in Hull
Ye Olde White Harte, the oldest pub in Hull

Visit a couple free museums. The Streetlife Museum is my favorite!

Check out funky Humber Street. Here old fruit warehouses have been transformed into cafes and small galleries. Grab a brownie at Cocoa Chocolatier & Bakery – you won't regret it.

Eat ALL THE FOOD. Speaking of food, check out as many of Hull's cool independent restaurants, cafes, and pubs as you can! (My favorites are all listed earlier in this post.)

Head of Steam in Hull, England
Head of Steam

Go to The Deep. This aquarium is the symbol of Hull, and is a great place to visit on a rainy day. The Deep has everything from sharks to penguins, and is dedicated to education and conservation as a nonprofit. If you visit on the weekend, you can even have dinner next to the largest tank.

The Deep in Hull
The Deep

See the Humber Bridge. Make the drive (or call a taxi) to see the Humber Bridge. When it was built in 1981, the bridge was the longest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Take a half-day trip to Beverley. Lastly, I highly recommend taking a half-day trip to Beverley from Hull. There's a big market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but it's fun to shop and cafe-hop and visit churches any day of the week.

Want to follow in my footsteps in Hull? See my itinerary for this trip on HipTraveler.

So what do you think? Would you visit Hull?


Things to do in Kingston upon Hull


Note: This post was brought to you as a result of the #WelcomeToEngland campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Visit Britain. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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87 Comments on “Things You Probably Don’t Know About Hull, England

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  1. I really want to visit Hull. My grandfather was from Hull. He left for America at age 14. I always wonder how bleak his future must have appeared to leave home and country alone at such a young age. I did not know Hull was so heavily bombed in WW2. My father volunteered to serve in the US Navy when he was 16 during WW2. I wonder if Grandpa would talk about the devastation in his hometown. I really need to make this trip a reality!

    Very interesting article. One of my 4th great grandfathers, ‘Salt Tom’ was Hull’s Mayor and Alderman and was named the ‘Dick Whittington of Hull’ because as a poor, 12 year old son of a Northumbrian farm labourer, he had come to Hull and made a fortune in shipping. He was known for his compassion and philanthropy, once dived into Hull’s harbour to save a man from drowning, and his daughter married one of the biggest ship owners in Victorian England.

    You did a fabulous job promoting Hull. I will consider visiting Hull one day because of your article.

    I should probably visit Hull since that’s my last name. Most likely “Roger from Hull” was the original usage which over the centuries became just Roger Hull.

    Would love to visit one day as my husband’s parents were both born there!

    Thank you so much for this useful and well-written post. I am excited to go now!

    I would love to visit. My ancestor came from this town to New Zealand a very long time ago. He was a McGregor but changed his last name to Hull, where he lived. Very proud of my heritage.

      How interesting! I enjoyed Hull quite a bit, and hope you get the chance to visit sometime.

    I love visiting cities that are completely off the tourist radar. That’s how I discovered some of my favourite cities (like Leeds and Lille).

    I was also pleasantly surprised by Hull. It is a much nicer city that I had imagined and it is certainly cheaper than more visited places down south.

      Same here! It’s nice sometimes to go somewhere that doesn’t get a ton of tourists. And you’re right – Hull is incredibly affordable!

    Travel queries. I am planning a caravan trip from Hull to South America via Russia / Alaska.?
    The trip planned is drive from Hull to dover. Ferry crossing to Netherlands. Drive from Netherlands through Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Russia fery crossing to Alaska, USA, Mexico,Guatemala,Nicaragua, Panama,Colombia, Ecuador,Peru, Chile,Argentina,Brasil then finish in Peru again.
    Hopefully I can obtain visas for the countries but first the route requires to be clarified.
    Any knowledge assistance will be appreciabley received.

      I’m sorry, but visas are not something I’m able to advise you on! You’ll need to visit your own government’s website to check on visa requirements.

    Totally love this post! I am originally from Hull but have lived abroad for the last 23+ years. My friends over here think that the only place to visit in the UK is London. They were shocked when I told them that I was going to be in Hull ONLY for 2 weeks last summer. I had the best time!

      There are so many cool places in the UK other than just London!

    Wow, what gorgeous photographs you took.

    And Hull has certainly changed a lot since I was there years ago. I don’t remember it being anywhere near this ‘cool’ 🙂

    I’m British and it’s now definitely on my list to visit the next time I get back to the UK (I now live in Austria 😉 )

      I think a lot of UK cities are much “cooler” now than they used to be – definitely worth another look!

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