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. Hull’s full title is the City of Kingston-upon-Hull. It is a shortened version of the historical King’s Town upon the River Hull. Hull has been a city of culture for more years than I care to remember so 2017 is merely a formal recognition of its cultural heritage. University alumni include a very distinguished cast across the arts and sciences including Jacob Bronowski, Roger McGough, Philip Larkin, Douglas Dunn, Tom Paulin, Sarah Greene, Rosie Millard, Anthony Minghella, Anthony Giddens. Hull is famous as the home of Hull Truck Theatre and prolific playwright John Godber, bands such as The Beautiful South, Everything But The Girl, The Housemartins and Fine Young Cannibals Lead Singer and actor Roland Gift, and actor Sir Tom Courtenay, singer David Whitfield and comedy doyenne Maureen Lipman to name but a very few

      Some great facts to know about the city!

    You’ve just reminded me I need to go back to Hull. I was there a couple of years ago for a weekend (a random choice of place, but my friend and I wanted to go somewhere we’d never been and didn’t know much about). I had zero expectations and ended up being really pleasantly surprised. Purely by chance we were there the weekend it was announced that Hull had got City of Culture. I thought then it would be nice to go back during the year it happens, but had kind of forgotten about it! I also need to go back to have dinner in the aquarium as it looks like a really cool thing to do, but was fully booked out when I was there.

      You should definitely go back this year during the City of Culture celebrations! There’s even more going on.

    Thank you for your write-up on ‘ull. I was born in Hull 44 years ago, and although I moved away with my parents when I was 11, I I came back 17 years ago and I wouldn’t swap it for anywhere else (and I’ve travelled everywhere) ?

      It’s great that you’re able to appreciate the place you came from – a lot of people aren’t able to look at their hometowns that way!

    Thanks for writing such a good review of Hull. I’ve lived in Hull for the past 17 years & it really is a city on the up. The 2017 City of Culture year has really brought Hull to life & it is busy with lots of arts and culture events. There has always been lots to see & do in Hull, but now the people of Hull are all joining in the fun. All visitors are welcome to see Hull & join in the excitement. Hopefully the creative buzz will keep going strong after 2017. Hull welcomes everyone!

      I certainly hope the momentum continues even after the City of Culture year is up!

    I have lived in Hull all my life and for years it’s been difficult for residents listening to outsiders who didn’t really know our wonderful city tell the rest of the world that Hull is boring, dull, uncultured and one of the worst places to live in the UK.
    Finally, being awarded UK City Of Culture 2017 has opened people’s eyes to what the majority of Hull residents already knew, we are brimming with culture and history, we are some of the friendliest and welcoming people you’re ever likely to meet and we have embraced our new cultural position.
    Thank you so much for a wonderful, unbiased opinion of my beautiful home town, hopefully it will encourage others to pay us a visit and discover what they too have been missing.

      I’m so happy to be able to introduce people to Hull! It definitely seems like the City of Culture designation has been a huge boost to the city.

    I like the interior of the featured pub! 🙂 It truly adds to the place.

      Definitely! That pub was so cool.

    Great tips! I’m take aback by how much I like the idea of Hull now when I didn’t even consider ever visiting it before!

      Right?!? Well, my work here is done then. 🙂

    Don’t be fooled by the pretty photo’s, they were all taken within a 100m square box. The rest of the city is dire! You will cruise all the highlights in literally 10minutes

      I was there for 3.5 days and managed to find plenty to do. 🙂

      No you won’t . There is a lot more to the city than thus and if you did all this properly it would take you ages.

    It definitely looks interesting enough:)

      I had absolutely no trouble filling up a couple days here. 🙂

      We don’t have Red Phone Boxes in Hull, we have cream ones as we have an independent telephone company ‘Kingston Communications’. Just thought I would mention it ?

        That was a fun fact that I had no idea about until I got there and saw the cream-colored boxes in Hull!

    Apparently they also have Britain’s best fish and chip shop:

      Oooo good to know for next time!

      East Hull Chippy is better! Holderness Road, ten minutes bus or bike ride from the centre, by East Park, on the way out east toward the North Sea coast and Hornsea and Bridlington (both worth a visit; especially for long beach walks beneath huge skies at low tide).

    This is gorgeous! I really love cities that have rich history and this definitely seems like one of them!

      It’s definitely an interesting city! And while the local blogger I was with kind of brushed off the architecture, this American was still pretty impressed! We don’t really have all those old stone and brick buildings where I’m from.

    How about number 7: the best accent in the U.K. A phone call is a ‘fern curl’ and a coke is a ‘kirk’! I went to Hull uni in the 90s and loved it – the slogan was ‘it’s never dull in Hull’.

    The inside of that pub looks so cool! I love places like that. Have to say Hull isn’t on my radar at all, but maybe I’ll consider it as a side trip from somewhere like York! (which I have never been to!!! Massive oversight on my part!)

      It would make a great little side trip from York! Only an hour away by train. 🙂

    I remember Hull being my first choice when deciding which university I wanted to study English Literature at (as the course was reportedly one of the best in the country), and everybody saying to me “why do you want to go there?”

    Unfortunately I narrowly missed the grades I needed to get into Hull and I went to Chester instead, but wow, it looks like the city’s come on in leaps and bounds since then! 🙂

      I of course don’t know what Hull was like 5 or 10 years ago, but today it’s certainly a bustling place. I love that Hull has completely embraced its City of Culture designation this year – they’re doing so much work to improve everything!

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