A few years ago, Hull was a city which was somewhat concealed on the short-break radar, but after it proudly assumed UK City of Culture 2017 status in 2013, the city is transforming into a cultural hub and must-visit destination in the East Yorkshire region. From its intriguing attractions and majestic marina to its infamous chip-spice seasoning and cream-coloured telephone boxes, Hull is seeing thousands of people flock to the city to get a flavour of what 2017’s culture capital has to offer.
If you’re planning a two-day break to the UK’s newest cultural hotspot, there are plenty of sights to see, foods to sample and unique quirks to discover – you just have to know where to look.
If you’ve come to while away a couple of days in the UK City of Culture, it’s important that you tick off the cultural musts when visiting the city. To kick-start your break you’re going to need some energy, and a great place to devour a delicious breakfast is the quirky Thieving Harry’s. Overlooking the scenic Hull Marina on Humber Street, this foodie stop is famed locally for its fresh food and speciality coffee – the poached eggs on toast with charred avocado and bacon is a real winning combination. Due to its prime Marina location, it’s only a short 5-minute walk away from the city’s unique and world-famous The Deep – this is a great first culture stop as it’s the world’s only ‘submarium’. The aquarium’s impressive architecture is a definite talking point of the city, but its aquatic residents are also definitely worth meeting. Everything from jellyfish & penguins to sharks & turtles, there’s lots to see and do at this interactive attraction as you explore over 4 billion years of oceanic history – see if you can snap a selfie with The Deep’s newest resident members, the Loggerhead sea turtles!
After you’ve spent the morning and early afternoon discovering the fascinating creatures of the deep, it’s worth heading back towards the city centre for a spot of lunch and to continue your Hull adventure. It’s only 15 minutes on foot to reach the centre, and there you will find a wealth of museums, galleries and excellent shopping amenities. To kick off your cultural discovery, it’s worth heading to two of the city’s most cultural and free attractions, the Hull Maritime Museum and Ferens Art Gallery. The Maritime Museum provides an interesting insight into the city’s maritime roots and features many different exhibitions about fishing and the whale trade, as well as the fun, fascinating & curiosity-inducing Bill Bailiey’s Cabinet of Curiosities exhibition in which you discover the hilarious untruths about some of the museum’s most intriguing artefacts. Located just a couple of minutes’ walk away, the Ferens Art Gallery is another place to spend an hour or two discovering the extensive collection of paintings and sculptures, including masterpieces by Lorenzetti and David Hockney. There’s also some wonderful pieces which support the incredible ‘Sea of Hull’ activity last year which are on display until 13th August 2017.
After a busy morning and afternoon exploring some of the city’s cultural gems, you could take a short bus ride from Hull Paragon Interchange (Buses 115 & 103) to explore an authentic side of Hull’s culinary scene. Famed for their popularity with students and local residents, it’s worth taking a couple of hours to explore two of the city’s most charming avenues, Newland and Princes. These avenues offer a wealth of restaurants, cocktail bars, coffee shops and bespoke boutiques – the perfect place to eat, drink and experience Hull like a local. Depending on the type of cuisine which piques your fancy, there are a few great places to grab a bite to eat; from the contemporary Level Café Bar & Grill which serves up great pizzas and pasta and delicious cocktails, to the much-loved Yorkshire-based The Hull Pie². A pie shop unlike any other, The Hull Pie² hosts a mouth-watering selection of pies, sides, gourmet sausage rolls and a real Yorkshire staple, gravy. Local tip: if you choose fries as your side, be sure to add Hull’s classic condiment, chip spice; the spiced salt has been part of the city’s foodie landscape since the 1970s and is ingrained in the Hullensian way of life. Alternatively, if you fancy a coffee-stop before heading back towards the city centre, Planet Coffee and The English Muse both offer a cosy setting with freshly-brewed coffees and delicious sweet treats. With so many eateries to explore, you could continue bar- and restaurant hopping into the evening if you wish, or you could head back towards the city centre and see what’s on at the city’s Hull Truck Theatre.
On your second day in 2017’s cultural capital, there’s plenty more culture and history to be unearthed. To take a step back in time and discover 200 years of transport history, the Streetlife – Museum of Transport in Hull’s Old Town is one of the city’s most popular museums. You can experience what it’s like to walk down a 1940’s high street, step on board a classic tram & even experience a simulated horse & carriage ride – there’s lots of fun & interactive things to see and do within the museum, making it a great place for all the family to spend the morning. For history lovers, Wilberforce House is another museum which is located just a 2-minute walk away from the Streetlife Museum, and as well as exploring the history of the slave trade, it’s also the birthplace of the famous English politician and philanthropist, William Wilberforce. It’s also home to some of the items and journals which belonged to him.
If however, you’re feeling all historied-out, you could always skip out the museum and take a stroll around the cobbled streets of Hull’s beautiful Old Town. The Old Town is a hidden treasure which is not only home to many museums, but it’s also replete with quirky sights to see, ranging from traditional pubs and stunning period buildings to the quirky Fish Trail and the world’s smallest window at the George Hotel. The Fish Trail map is a fun way to see the Old Town; you’ll follow 41, life-size sculptures & pavement artwork created by the artist Gordon Young, ranging from a miniature anchovy to a 10ft ray, but brace yourself for some rather fishy humour when you find a plaice in the Market Place and a shark outside a bank… Once you’ve worked up an appetite following the fish, it’s time to head for somewhere to eat some of the city’s best fish & chips. There are many places to enjoy this Yorkshire delicacy but two of the best are are in the city’s oldest pub, The Lion & Key: a cosy pub with great food and beer mats on the ceiling, or a 10-minute walk away to the quayside Leonardo’s: a bistro bar which serves up a serious portion of fresh fish and home-made chunky chips.
If you don’t fancy exploring the city’s museum scene and would prefer to uncover some of the sights and attractions a little further afield, the quaint market town of Beverley is located only 30 minutes’ drive away and features a weekly Saturday market from 8am-4pm. There you can meander through a sea of traditional and modern stalls, and it’s also worth taking a stroll to see the impressive Gothic Beverly Minster. Then for something a little different, the scenic Skidby Windmill is located just a 15-minute drive from Beverly (25 minutes from Hull centre); a four-sailed tower windmill which features a museum and it offers stunning vistas over the Wolds – well worth a trip if you have the time!
All in all, Hull is a pretty special city whose history, culture, culinary treasures and endearing oddities have in the past been greatly undervalued, but the 2017 culture capital has finally acquired the limelight it deserves and is now recognised as a place to tick off any UK travel bucket list.
Whether you’re planning a trip to the city for the first time, or whether you’re a seasoned Hull visitor, let us know your favourite spots in the comment box below.