Once described by the poet Philip Larkin as a place where “only salesmen and relations come,” Hull has undergone a renaissance in recent years.
A staggering £25 million was invested into the port city ahead of its reign as the UK’s City of Culture 2017, and there’s real sense of excitement in the East Riding air.
Yet while Hull is striving forward it hasn’t forgotten its past: expect to see a cornucopia of cream coloured telephone boxes as Hull has had its own telephone exchange (KCOM) – the only city in the UK to do so – since 1902.
Cruise port location
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Hull, which lies on the north bank of the River Humber, just 20 miles from the North Sea.
It’s a popular stop for cruises to both the Baltic States and European continent, as well as ferry crossings to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge.
Meanwhile the port’s location, just 2km from the city centre, makes for easy exploration of Hull.
Can I walk to any places of interest?
We’re not going to mince words: there’s not much of interest within walking distance of the port.
However, The Deep – Hull’s Lottery funded flagship millennium project that’s home to over 3,500 fish, sharks, rays and penguins – is only a short taxi ride away. From here you can head to Humber Bridge, one of the engineering wonders of the UK and the seventh longest suspension bridge in the UK.
Walking is the best way to see Hull – almost every (cobbled) street has something of interest.
That said, if you’re suffering from sore feet, fret not: EYMS run regular bus routes throughout the city, taking you to all of Hull’s hotspots.
Alternatively take a taxi (cheaper than elsewhere in England) to your destination.
Hull can be easily reached by train, from cities around the UK. Trains pull into Hull Paragon Railway Station where passengers are greeted by a statue of Hull’s adopted son, Philip Larkin.
“When your train comes to rest in Paragon Station against a row of docile buffers, you alight with an end-of-the-line sense of freedom,” wrote the poet, who made Hull his home for over three decades.
The taxi fare from Hull train station to the ferry terminal is approximately £10.
Travelling by car? Parking must be pre-booked with your travel agent or tour operator.
Trinity Hotel and The Embassy Hotel are two of the closest hotels to the port.
However, if you’re staying for a day or two either side of your cruise, check into the family-run Kingston Theatre Hotel in the heart of Hull’s historic old town, that was the former home of Victorian couturier Madame Clapham.
What can I do in four hours or less?
Being either a embarkation or disembarkation port, very few cruise lines organise excursions around Hull – meaning you’re free to see what Kingston upon Hull (to use the city’s full name) has to offer, under your own steam.
Telegraph Travel recommends signing up for a Hull Walk with the knowledgeable Paul Schofield. His affordable (£4) tour takes in the historic old town – that somehow survived the Second World War unscathed – whose atmospheric, cobbled and quirky named streets (Land of Green Ginger, home to England’s smallest window, anyone?) are lined with pretty, pastel painted Georgian houses.
What can I do in eight hours or less?
Got eight hours to kill? The Museums Quarter is a must visit. Most cities have museums but Hull’s are exceptional and, the icing on the cake, they’re free to enter.
Standouts include the Streetlife Museum of Transport – where you can walk down a 1940s high street – and the Maritime Museum to discover more about Hull’s intimate relationship with the sea.
Then wander to the Wilberforce House Museum to learn a little more about Hull’s most celebrated son, William Wilberforce, and his fight for the abolition of the slave trade.
What can I do with a bit longer?
Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture may have finished. but there’s always plenty to see and do here – it’s never dull in Hull.
Football fans can watch the Hull Tigers battle to rejoin the Premier League over at the KCOM Stadium (which is also the home of Hull FC Rugby League Club).
You could also see a show at the iconic Hull Truck Theatre. Formed in a squat in 1971, the company has subsequently earned national acclaim.
Eat and drink
The local specialty is the patty – deep fried cakes of mashed potato, onion and sage – served with chips. These calorific treats were invented for those who couldn’t afford fish with their fries, and are a great source of local pride.
Wash it down with a pint at a historic watering hole like Ye Olde White Hart. Built in 1550, the pub has ‘plotting rooms’ upstairs – where talks that triggered the Civil War are said to have taken place.
Don’t leave Hull without…
Heading to the locally loved Grade 11 listed Victorian Hepworth Arcade – home to Dinsdale’s Joke Shop, one of the country’s oldest joke shops, to pick up a novelty present.
Meanwhile, the disused warehouses and cobbled streets of Hull’s historic fruit market, have been transformed into independent galleries and boutiques selling tempting trinkets.
Need to know
Hull is as safe as any UK city – just keep your eyes peeled for pickpockets around the major tourist attractions.
Best time to go
Typically spring, summer and autumn are the best times to visit, when the weather is warmer and drier.
Hull’s Freedom Festival, a weekend of music, dance, spoken word, poetry and street theatre, draws the crowds every August.
Most museums and shops are open seven days a week.