If you have a pet in your family, you probably already know how hard it can be to leave them behind when you go on holiday. So if you’re thinking about booking a break, why not take your furry friend with you this time? Not only can this save on pet-sitting fees and stop you feeling bad when you see those puppy-dog eyes, but it can also be a lovely experience for your pet, and a chance for you both to have fun together and bond in new, beautiful surroundings.
From specific UK destinations that are known for welcoming pets to the very best dog-friendly accommodation companies, here are seven ideas for pet-friendly UK holidays.
1. North Cornwall
Thanks to its rugged coastline, beautiful beaches and subtropical climate, North Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK – and if you have a dog, you’ll be pleased to know it’s one of the most dog-friendly too. While many of the most popular family beaches ban pets in the summer months (Easter to October), others welcome dogs all year around. To save yourself a wasted journey, check out The Beach Guide to see if the beach you want to visit is dog-friendly.
The Visit Cornwall website is also really useful for dog owners, as it has a filter that highlights all the attractions, events, accommodation etc. where pets are welcome. Some of the top attractions in the county welcome dogs too, from the Camel Estuary to the historic castle of Tintagel, and there are countless dog-friendly pubs and restaurants too. The lovely Lusty Glaze beach restaurant even provides dogs with cosy dog beds at the table, a dog menu, and plenty of treats!
If you’d like to do plenty of walking on your holiday, you’ll be spoiled for choice in North Cornwall: from woodland trails to riverside walks, there’s plenty of varied scenery here, and many of the best routes are dog-friendly. From the mystery and history of the King Arthur Tintagel walk to the flat Camel Trail, and the quiet beauty of Cardinham Woods, there’s a walk for every dog – and owner! You can have a look at some of the best dog walks in North Cornwall over on the Corncott website.
One of the most pet-friendly towns in North Cornwall is Padstow, where if you’re walking around the harbour, dogs often seem to outnumber humans! To plan a dog-friendly day out in Padstow, have a read of this article by Harbour Holidays. If you’d like to stay at a dog-friendly hotel in North Cornwall, you can find a list of 15 of the top dog-friendly hotels over on Global Grasshopper. Or, if you’d prefer to camp, you can check out the best campsites that welcome dogs over on Cool Camping.
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2. Snowdonia & North Wales
With its green valleys, dramatic peaks, thundering waterfalls, and gleaming lakes, Snowdonia is just as magical in the eyes of dogs as humans! And just as there’s plenty of variety for people, this region provides plenty of variety for pets, too. If you enjoy getting active and so does your dog, you can even spend the day climbing Mount Snowdon. There are several different routes that vary in difficulty, so you can choose the one that best suits you and your four-legged companion. To find out more about climbing Mount Snowdon with your dog, you may want to read this guide by Visit Wales.
If you don’t fancy such a strenuous trek, there are plenty of other dog-friendly walks to take through Snowdonia National Park – just be aware that many of these walks pass through farmland, so it’s important to keep your dog on a lead. To find out more about some of the most dog-friendly walks in Snowdonia, head over to the National Trust website for more ideas; you might even want to follow in the footsteps of the legendary hound Gelert, and hike up to his bronze statue at Beddgelert!
If you or your dog aren’t ones for walking long distances, there are plenty of other interesting places in Snowdonia that welcome dogs. The pretty town of Betws-y-Coed is one of the top attractions in the National Park, and it has lots of dog-friendly shops and cafes. If your dog likes swimming, they can even enjoy splashing around in the river! The nearby Conwy Falls is a popular beauty spot where you and your pet can relax and admire the majestic waterfall before refueling in the cosy dog-friendly café around the corner.
Snowdonia is also famous for its historic castles, and many of them, like Penrhyn Castle and Criccieth Castle, welcome dogs on leads. In Snowdonia, you can even head underground with your dog if you like. Sygun Copper Mine is a popular tourist attraction that welcomes dogs, and if your dog is up for it, you can explore this fascinating Victorian mine together (just be aware there are some metal steps to climb).
To find out more about dog-friendly days out in Snowdonia, have a read of this article by Your Dog, and to learn more in general about this spectacular region, you may want to read our own guide to Snowdonia.
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With its rolling dales, wild moorland, craggy castles, and picturesque coastal towns, Yorkshire is incredibly diverse, and offers plenty of variety for pet owners as well as pets themselves. If you and your dog like going for long walks together, the Yorkshire Dales are packed with scenic walking trails. You might want to check out Miles without Stiles, which is a collection of walking routes in the Yorkshire Dales that are suitable for wheelchair users, people with limited mobility, and dogs.
If you fancy a beachside break – and your dog loves running on the sand – then the North and East Yorkshire coastline is also one of the most welcoming areas in the UK for pets. Head over to The Beach Guide to see which beaches welcome dogs. One of the area’s best-loved coastal destinations is Whitby, a traditional seaside town where you and your dog can get some exercise by climbing the famous 199 steps up to the abbey. Plus, Whitby Beach has restricted dog access, which means that while dogs aren’t allowed on the Southside of the beach, they’re welcome elsewhere on the sand.
There are dozens of dog-friendly attractions throughout Yorkshire, whether you choose to visit the dales, the moors, or the coast. If you’re visiting the North York Moors, have a look at some of the best dog-friendly walks on the moors. You may also want to visit Helmsley Walled Garden, a beautiful five-acre garden next to the historic Helmsley Castle, where dogs are welcome in the garden or cafe. Or why not head to Brimham Rocks near Harrogate, where you and your dog can explore strange rock formations and stroll through heather moorland and peaceful woodland? Dogs are welcome in the shop and exhibition room here too, and water bowls are provided at the refreshment kiosk.
If you love wandering through historic towns, why not step back in time and visit Wharram Percy, in the lovely Wolds valley? This deserted medieval village is fascinating to explore, and you can wander around at your leisure with your dog. The market town of Otley is also well worth a visit, and has lots of dog-friendly shops, pubs, and restaurants. Just be sure to visit the dog-friendly cafe Salami & Co, where dogs have their very own menu and can enjoy a range of treats from handmade pupcakes, biscuit bones to refreshing pupachinos!
For a comprehensive list of the best dog-friendly places to eat in Yorkshire, head over to Dales Discoveries.
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4. The Lake District
Extremely popular with both nature lovers and ramblers, the Lake District is also one of the best destinations in the UK to holiday with your pet – it’s even been awarded first prize in the Kennel Club’s Great Outdoors category in their Dog Friendly awards, two years in a row! This wildly beautiful region provides dogs with so much space to run around in, and if they like swimming, there are countless rivers and lakes to cool off in too.
There are 16 main lakes that make up the Lake District, and these are all great spots to spend the day with your pooch. Windermere is the most widely-known lake as well as the largest, and you can spend hours here walking or swimming – or perhaps even take a cruise around the lake with Windermere Lake Cruises, where dogs are welcome (and free) to bring on board. Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake, and Buttermere are all great spots for dogs, too.
Many of the most popular towns in the Lake District like Coniston, Keswick and Ambleside welcome dogs into shops, tea rooms, and cafes – and if you plan on spending a good portion of your break inside the pub now that restrictions have loosened, you can do that with your pup too. Just check out these dog-friendly pubs in Keswick, Ambleside and Coniston where you and your pet can enjoy some relaxation and refreshments. The Lake District is also home to some truly excellent restaurants, so head over to the Lake District website to browse the best dog-friendly places to eat.
If you’re into history, the Lake District is home to 20 English Heritage Sites where dogs are welcome, so you can spend the day exploring ruins, castles, and brilliantly preserved buildings with your pet by your side. Some of the best dog-friendly attractions include Ambleside’s Roman Fort, the ruins of the 14th century Penrith Castle, and the medieval Furness Abbey and Brougham Castle. For more ideas on dog-friendly days out in the Lake District, you may want to read this article by Sally’s Cottages – or to find out more general information about this stunning region, have a read of our own guide to the Lake District.
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5. Northern Ireland
One of the most popular destinations in Northern Ireland is the spectacular and mythical Giant’s Causeway on the North Coast, which became fully dog-friendly last year. Today your pet can be assured of a warming welcome complete with water bowls, tie-up spots and even homemade treats available to buy, and they’ll be able to stay by your side for every step of the experience, from joining a guided tour to relaxing in the cafe.
If you want to do plenty of hiking with your pet, the nearby Antrim Cliff Path to Dunseverick Castle is one of the best trails in the area for dogs: this five-mile section of the 33-mile Causeway Coast Way boasts some truly awe-inspiring scenery that your pup will love exploring – from gorse-covered clifftops to secret coves. The walk takes you past Benbane Head and the highest point of Hamilton’s Seat, before reaching Dunseverick Castle, where the dog-friendly village of Ballintoy is just a short way away.
According to the National Trust, there are many other beautiful outdoor spots in Northern Ireland that are perfect for dog walking. If your dog loves playing on the sand, then why not head to Portstewart Strand or Murlough Nature Reserve for a walk on the beach?
If you want to experience a bit of history on your break, you can visit the unique 18th-century mansion Castle Ward with your dog, or the neoclassical house and celebrated gardens of Mount Stewart. If you want to let your dog off their lead and allow them to run and play freely, the training area at Mount Stewart is perfect for this, as is the dog exercise area at Rowallane Garden.
There are over 170 dog-friendly pubs in Northern Ireland – 59 of them in Belfast, 46 in Co Down, 25 in Co Antrim and 16 in Co Derry – and thanks to an EU directive allowing dogs to enter into pubs and restaurants, dog-friendly dining options are growing all the time. For more suggestions on dog-friendly destinations and attractions, head over to Discover Northern Ireland – and to browse some of the best dog-friendly hotels in the country, you might want to read this article by Global Grasshopper.
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6. The Scottish Highlands
The beautiful Scottish Highlands are also an ideal destination for dogs, and the miles of unspoilt wilderness here are just perfect for dog-walking. Boasting heather-covered moors, pristine lochs and deserted, wind-swept beaches, if you’re looking for variety you’ll definitely find that here – and thanks to the 2003 Scottish Land Reform Act, you and your dog have the right to walk pretty much anywhere in the country, as long as you abide by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
If you want to really appreciate nature and do plenty of walking, why not head to Scotland’s first National Park in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs– or alternatively, see if you can spot leaping salmon at the Hermitage and Black Linn Falls in Dunkeld? You might also want to visit the Castle & Gardens of Mey, the former home of the Queen Mother, where dogs are welcome; there’s even a dedicated shaded dog parking area in the woods if your pup needs a break. Brodick Castle Garden & Country Park is another ideal spot for dog walking.
If you want to enjoy a bit of history and culture on your holiday, then check out the Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland websites, as dogs are allowed at many of the most popular properties. Dogs are welcome at Fort George, the most powerful artillery fortification in the UK, as well as Melrose Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey. If you want to explore the coast with your pet, there are 33 dog-friendly beaches in the Highlands: you can check out the full list over on The Beach Guide.
For something a bit different, why not climb aboard a boat with your dog and go hunting for the Loch Ness Monster? Dogs are allowed to join select boat trips with Jacobite Cruises, free of charge. You can even hop on a vintage steam train with your pup and enjoy a breathtaking journey together through the Cairngorms National Park. For more ideas on dog-friendly days out in the Scottish Highlands, head over to Your Dog or Visit Scotland.
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7. Dog-friendly accommodation
If you’re not sure where in the UK you want to visit yet – or you don’t fancy any of the above destinations – then why not have a browse through some of the best dog-friendly cottages throughout the UK? Some of the UK’s biggest holiday rental sites, like Sykes Holiday Cottages, have nearly 9,000 holiday cottages that welcome four-legged friends, so we’re sure you’ll find an appropriate property in a destination that suits you.
Otherwise, there are several other UK-wide accommodation sites that are specifically designed for dog-owners. Head over to Dog-Friendly Retreats to browse holiday cottages in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to find a cottage where your pup will be just as happy as you. Or alternatively, why not check out Dog Friendly Cottages, where you can browse dog-friendly accommodation in some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations – from the Cairngorms to the Norfolk Broads?
Or, if you fancy camping, you can head over to Cool Camping and have a look at some of their most popular dog-friendly campsites. Whether you want to stay in a tent or a yurt, a caravan or a pod, you’ll hopefully find the perfect campsite for you and your pet – and with sites ranging from the Scottish Isles to the South Downs, finding the right location shouldn’t be too difficult.
Many of us are looking forward to a holiday right now – and with more and more cottages and hotels accepting dogs these days (not to mention pubs, restaurants and shops), travelling with your pet has never been so easy. Dogs are part of the family after all, so for your next staycation why not make sure your dog can come along too?
Whether you want to head to a specifically dog-friendly booking site for a browse or figure out which area you want to go to first and then look for dog-friendly accommodation, it shouldn’t be too tricky to find somewhere that both you and your pet will love.
Are you planning a pet-friendly holiday this year? Or do you have any other pet-friendly travel tips for our readers? We’d love to hear your suggestions! Leave us a comment below, or join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum.