The Deep in Hull: Is it worth a visit?

The Deep in Hull is an award-winning aquarium but is it worth the trip...

The Deep in Hull external image on a clourdy day
(Image credit: Grace Holliday)
GoodtoKnow Verdict

We spent just over two hours walking at our own pace, exploring the incredibly well-laid out route. We were never far from a toilet or changing room, or place to sit down, and while it was understandably busy during the summer holidays, there was nothing we weren’t able to see by waiting for a minute. We loved that there are are no ‘boring’ parts; once you enter, everyone is fully engaged. We can't wait to go back and, brilliantly, each ticket grants you free re-entry from 12 months following your first visit (remember to set this up at reception).

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Loads to do and see

  • +

    Suitable for all ages

  • +

    Rainy weather suitable

  • +

    Fairly priced

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Quite noisy and echoey (but they do quiet sessions on Tuesday)

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The Deep in Hull is an award-winning aquarium, open since 2002, it's one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world - and biggest in the UK.

If you're looking for days out in the North East for fun things to do with kids over the summer holidays then this is the one for you. Home to over 5000 animals, including sharks and rays, a colony of Gentoo penguins, sea turtles and more, plus the UK's only pair of Green Sawfish. This family-focused aquarium has seen a £5million extension and is part of the regeneration of Hull, The Deep is now a recognised landmark. Go on a journey through prehistoric seas, past tropical lagoons, into the vast open oceans, down to the darkest depths, through the chilly Kingdom of ice & into the future.

Grace Holliday, her daughter and husband visited The Deep to check it out and make sure it's worth your visit, time and money. She looks at everything from parking and places to day to where the toilets were, how noisy it was, and whether you could bring picnics...

The Deep in Hull: is it worth a visit?

Well, I for one, can't wait to go back. The whole thing was immersive and interactive in equal measure, The Deep, Hull, has a fantastic reputation for good reason. My husband and I took our 1-year-old daughter for the very first time, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from start to finish. Sitting in a back carrier on my husband’s shoulders, she was awestruck by the lights, sounds and animals, of which there are over 3,000.

We spent just over two hours walking at our own pace, exploring the incredibly well-laid out route. We were never far from a toilet or changing room, or place to sit down, and while it was understandably busy during the summer holidays, there was nothing we weren’t able to see by waiting for a minute. We loved that there are are no ‘boring’ parts; once you enter, everyone is fully engaged, from tiny babies in their parent’s arms to boisterous toddlers and teens exploring on foot. Be sure to look out for the colony of penguins; you can see them the best from viewing window inside the Kingdom of Ice exhibit. 

The Deep in HUll mother holding baby infront of fish

(Image credit: Grace Holliday)

Even if you’re just visiting to see the fish and fins, it’s impossible to not take in new information. We happened upon an interactive talk about sharks, and learned that there are over 500 types and there poo is green! The talks were far from dull; staff had the kids in the audience do a Congo line to feed a toy shark with different paper fish, which went down a treat, so it’s definitely worth trying to catch one if you can (a talk that is, not the sharks!). 

We had no trouble manoeuvring the pushchair we also took, and everything has been designed to be fully accessible for guests with disabilities. You can make the trip most affordable by packing your own picnic and drinks, which you are welcome to eat inside the exhibit; there is even a dedicated small area for this about halfway around. 

Top tip: Each ticket grants you free re-entry from 12 months following your first visit if you set this up at reception. 

What age is The Deep best for and, how long can you spend there?

The site claims it's suitable for all ages, babies to teens, and I'd agree. There's just so much to keep everyone engaged. I'd say a family could easily spend two hours if you’re just walking through and stopping to look at the tanks and exhibitions, three hours if you’re stopping to read and learn using the many educational signs and joining an interactive talk, maybe more if you're incorporating a stop to eat.  

What’s The Deep in Hull like for families?

 There is such a huge range of activities and exhibits that there genuinely is something for everyone. The level of immersion from start to finish is so brilliant that kids will remain engaged - you won’t hear the words “I’m bored” once.

The Deep in Hull illustrated by family photos

(Image credit: Grace Holliday)

What’s The Deep like for people with disabilities?

The Deep is fully accessible and you can hire of wheelchairs, mobility scooters, rollators and tri-walkers for free, subject to availability. Free carers tickets are available for those who require an essential carer, proof of DLA/PIP required. Should anyone for any reason require a quiet area during their visit, a crew member will help you find an appropriate quiet area or room. Every Tuesday during term time, The Deep hosts Tranquil Tuesdays. From 3pm until closing, the lights will be brighter and the audio turned down.  

The Deep in Hull illsutarted by family photos

(Image credit: Grace Holliday)

Can you visit The Deep on a rainy day?

It's all indoors so makes a fantastic rainy day activity.

Top things to definitely do!

There really is so much to do and see at The Deep, though the top things I would suggest are;

  • Interactive talk with the crew members 
  • See the penguins
  • Climb the ladders and see a tank from the seabed!
  • Walk through the shark tank

Can you take a picnic to The Deep?

Yes, there are several picnic benches outside and a designated area next to the Cool Seas exhibit about halfway around the attraction. We also found various quiet corners throughout to give our daughter a quick snack or drink There is also a café which you can access either leaving or exiting the exhibition.  

My recommendations for other families visiting The Deep

A pushchair is ideal for younger children, but we also saw lots of babies in front carriers, which gave them a brilliant view. 

For our 1-year-old, we took a back carrier, which was perfect- she was up high and could see everything really clearly but safely. I would also suggest taking your own drinks, as soft drink cans from both the vending machines and the cafes started at £1.60. 

The Deep in Hull illsutarted by family photos

(Image credit: Grace Holliday)

Were there many queues at The Deep?

 We visited on a Friday afternoon in August during the school summer holidays, so The Deep was busy. However, we didn’t have to queue to see or do anything for more than a minute, because everyone kept moving forwards onto the next thing. While there were noisier areas, we never felt far from somewhere quieter and calmer if we needed it. 

Is The Deep pushchair friendly?

Very! It has smooth floors throughout and is either flat or down hill, with just one set of stairs through the exhibition with a lift next to it.  

How Deep is The Deep in Hull?

Well, as referred to by it's name, The Deep is set 10  metres below the surface, and has the UK's only underwater lift and Europe's deepest viewing tunnel at 9 metres (30 ft) down.

How much does it cost to visit The Deep?

  • Adult (16+): £17.75
  • Child (3-15 years): £14
  • Students: £16.75
  • Seniors: £16.75
  • Under 3s: Free
  • Essential carers: Free

Are there any discounts or cheaper tickets for The Deep?

All tickets include free return visits for you and your party for 12 months with the Day Plus Pass. The reception team can set this up for you, they just need your name, address and a photograph. 

Are there any additional charges at The Deep?

A map of the attraction is included in The Deep sticker book for £3.50. You can make your way around very easily without the map, however. You can take a picnic, or buy food from the cafe. Sandwiches start at £3, salads are around £5, and a meal like fish goujons and chips is £4.50. Cans of soft drink from the vending machines or the cafe start at £1.60.

The Deep in Hull illsutarted by family photos

(Image credit: Grace Holliday)

How to get to The Deep?

  • Hull train station is a 20 minute walk or 9 minute taxi ride.
  • Address: Tower St, Hull HU1 4DP
  • Satnav post code: HU9 1TU
  • Nearest motorway: M62
  • The Doubletree by Hilton Hull is an easy 22 minute walk or 7 minute drive from The Deep. 

What are the opening hours and is there free parking?

The Deep is open 10am – 6pm Monday - Friday, and 9am - 6pm weekends & school holidays (last entry 5pm). The Deep is closed 24th & 25th December.

Car parking is available for £3.75 for 5 hours, which is ample time to see the whole exhibit and have a meal, and £2 from 6pm to 6am. Charges apply everyday including bank holidays. The car park machines take both coins and card. 

Where to stay when visiting The Deep in Hull?

There are many places you could look into, such as Air BnB's. We stayed at the  Doubletree by Hilton Hull. It is ideally positioned for a visit to the city and to the Deep, and we were greeted with warm chocolate cookies. Their connecting rooms make staying as a family much easier; we had a King room connected to a twin. Both we’re spotlessly clean, so we were happy to let our little girl crawl around and explore on the floor. The rooms were well-set up for babies and families, with handy electronic temperature units, black-out curtains, speedy kettles and walk-in showers large enough for parent and child. 

The lack of a fridge was a shame, but reception were happy to bring an ice bucket to cool our daughter’s milk. From the lift on the ground floor, where the reception, restaurant and bar are,  you can only access the floors with bedrooms using your keycard, which added a layer of reassurance and security. A buffet breakfast is included with all overnight stays, and there was ample variety of hot and cold options. Our daughter tucked into scrambled eggs and yoghurt and fruit, while we had the full English with double helping of tea. 

The dining room is spacious and clean, with luxurious blue velvet sofas and large windows. In the evenings it becomes the Marco Piere White restaurant, with mains starting at £13. These can also be delivered as room service for an additional £5 tray charge if you’re putting little ones to bed early! Sturdy high chairs were available, while cots can be provided in the rooms free of charge. Parking is a bit of walk from around the back of the hotel, but it is free for guests, as is a small fitness centre. Hull train station is a 4 minute walk away, while there is a petrol station just behind the hotel car park. 

You can reach The Deep in around 20 minutes on foot, or take a taxi in 7 minutes.  

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Grace Holliday

Grace Holliday is a freelance journalist specialising in pregnancy, parenting, and motherhood. She has written for a broad variety of newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph, Glamour, and Stylist. She is also a proud northerner and mum-of-one.