United Kingdom

8 of the best dog-friendly destinations in the UK

Photo of Tamara HinsonPhoto of Tamara Hinson
By Tamara Hinson

23 June 2021 | Updated 25 August 20229 min read

A golden retriever running on the beach while holding a stick

Still all about the staycation? If you're keen to travel with your pets in tow, it's a good bet! They’re part of the family after all, and the UK has plenty of dog-friendly options your four-legged friend will love – and all you’ll have to do is load up the car and hit the road!

From golden beaches in Cornwall that welcome dogs all year round and quiet countryside scribbled with gentle walking trails, to the streets and parks of London, here’s eight top spots for a holiday in the UK with your dog.

1. North Cornwall

The northern half of this coastal county is a paradise for four-legged friends, who can chase sticks across its wide golden beaches before accompanying owners to one of the many dog-friendly restaurants and pubs in the area. Many of the beaches in and around the popular beach town of Newquay are dog-friendly all year round, although we suggest venturing to nearby Holywell Bay, where canine companions can paddle in streams and sniff their way around the towering sand dunes.

Dogs are also welcome to visit one of Cornwall’s most famous attractions, the Eden Project. Although they’re not allowed in the biomes, there’s plenty of room to roam, and there’s even an undercover dining area for dogs.

When hunger strikes, head to Catch Seafood Bar & Grill in Mawgan Porth. This dog-friendly restaurant is just off the South West Coast path, making it ideal for hungry hikers with pets in tow.

Where to stay with your dog in Cornwall: Dogs checking into the Talland Bay Hotel in Looe get a pooch pamper pack and direct access to both a dog-friendly beach and the South West Coast Path. They can join their owners in the bar and restaurant, too.

2. The Cotswolds

There’s no shortage of dog-friendly restaurants, bars and hotels in the Cotswolds, ranging from luxurious retreats where pooches can enjoy some canine pampering, to country pubs with plenty of space to curl up by roaring log fires. The Cotswolds spread into Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, so finding the right base is a breeze.

One of the Cotswolds’ most dog-friendly attractions is the Cotswold Water Park, which straddles the Wiltshire–Gloucestershire border. There’s an inland beach, thick forested areas and miles of footpaths and bridlepaths to explore.

Feeling hungry? Despite the name, we can confirm Tetbury’s charming The Cat & Custard Pot pub is a cat-free zone. The pub is also just a short hop from Westonbirt Arboretum, two thirds of which is open to dogs.

Where to stay with your dog in the Cotswolds: The Mercure Gloucester Bowden Hall Hotel is set in 12 acres of rambling parkland, so there’s plenty of room for Fido to roam. Discerning doggies will also love The Lygon Arms Hotel in Broadway, Worcestershire. There’s a dedicated doggie wash station and the hotel recently partnered with posh wellington boot brand Le Chameau to launch a range of dog-friendly packages.

3. London

London is much more welcoming to dogs than many people realise, thanks to countless large public parks, a growing number of dog-friendly restaurants, bars and attractions, and an increasingly tolerant approach to four-legged friends. For example, many people don’t realise that dogs can travel on the tube, as long as they’re kept on a lead.

Tower Bridge is one of London’s most dog-friendly attractions. Dogs can explore all areas, including the Victorian engine rooms, with its coal-burning boilers, and the bridge’s famous glass-floored walkways.

For some posh nosh, make a beeline for the Parlour at chic London restaurant Sketch, where the animal-loving staff will happily serve up bowls of water to keep thirsty dogs hydrated.

Where to stay with your dog in London: Dogs who stay at the Mercure London Bridge will have easy access to London’s royal parks. Feeling flush? Head to The Savoy, one of the best hotels in London, where dogs are welcomed for an extra charge of just £25.

4. North Yorkshire

Home to two national parks, North Yorkshire is a doggy’s delight. In the Yorkshire Dales, with its vast expanses of heather-scented moorland and bunny-dotted hills to explore, it’s all about long walks. Walk to summit of Roseberry Topping for spectacular views in all directions, or weave along the Deepdale Walk, which meanders through the Three Peaks area.

As for things to do, the region’s most dog-friendly attractions include the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park, near Ripon. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, restore energy levels at the quaint Crown Inn in Hutton-le-Hole. It’s famous for its roasts, and is just a short hop from the dog-friendly Ryedale Folk Museum.

Do be aware that sheep often roam free in the Dales, and you’ll need to keep your pet on a lead when farm animals are nearby.

Where to stay with your dog in North Yorkshire:Sedbergh’s Black Bull is a great base if you’re keen to try some of the Yorkshire Dales’ best walks and Cautley Spout, England's highest waterfall, is just a ten-minute drive away.

5. The Isles of Scilly

White-sand beaches and sparkling turquoise water give this stunning archipelago off the Cornish coast more than a touch of the Caribbean. Accessed by flight or ferry (all services allow dogs), the islands feel much further than its 30-minute air journey from Newquay.

Once there, start your visit by hitting the beach – Pelistry Bay and Bar Point on the largest island of St Mary’s welcome dogs year-round. Away from the beach, Porth Hellick, Deep Point and Innisidgen Pines are all fantastic places for energetic dogs keen to run off some steam.

Dogs are also welcomed at the nearby Atlantic, an airy, spacious bar on St Mary’s. Perks include a large terrace overlooking the ocean. Try the seafood sharer, which includes sea salt focaccia, cod goujons and cider and leek mussels.

Where to stay with your dog on the Isles of Scilly: The dog-friendly rooms at the beachfront Star Castle Hotel in St Mary’s have private entrances and views over the hotel’s stunning gardens.

6. Pembrokeshire

There’s a lot to love about this wonderfully wild chunk of Wales: rugged coastline stretches for miles, there’s more dog-approved beaches than you shake a stick at, and you’ll find some of the best pooch-friendly pubs in Wales. For dog-owners the beaches are a huge draw – many, including famous stretches of sand such as Barafundle Bay, welcome dogs year-round.

Keen walkers will also be in heaven here. Try part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a 186-mile walking route that can be broken down into smaller sections. There are plenty of dog-friendly attractions away from the beach, too, such as Pembroke Castle and Colby Woodland Garden (a National Trust site near Amroth). At Tenby’s fantastic Heatherton World Of Activities, there’s even an agility course especially for dogs.

When you’re hungry, head to Solva’s Harbour Inn. Guests can take their canine companions for a paddle in the stream that runs past the pub.

Where to stay with your dog in Pembrokeshire: Stay at the beautiful Grove of Narberth, a dog-friendly rural retreat and one of Pride of Britain Hotels’ properties, and you’ll have the Preseli Hills on your doorstep.

7. The Chiltern Hills

A chalk escarpment that spreads across four counties, the Chiltern Hills is a beautiful rural area filled with forests, hills and rivers. In other words? Another doggie paradise.

It’s all about long, meandering walks in the Chilterns, half of which has been dedicated an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). In Buckinghamshire, there are some great woodland walks near Great and Little Missenden. For some leg-burning hilltop hikes, head to Ivinghoe, Dunstable Downs and West Wycombe. Hertfordshire’s Ashridge Estate has sprawling dog-friendly grounds that are wonderful to explore at any time of year.

For delicious, casual cuisine, it’s got to be The Grange restaurant at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in Buckinghamshire. The dog-friendly restaurant, located at the headquarters of this brilliant charity, offers a wide range of dishes, including delicious paninis, pies and salads.

Where to stay with your dog in the Chilterns: You’ll find Watlington’s pet-friendly Mercure Thame Lambert Hotel at the foot of the Chiltern Hills.

8. Cumbria

A rambling, rural area of Northern England that includes the Lake District, Cumbria is a brilliant destination for dogs who embrace outdoor life. You’ll also find a wide range of dog-friendly accommodation and some of the UK’s most pet-friendly towns and villages.

Top Cumbrian walks include the Lingmoor Fell Circuit, which twists through the Lake District National Park; Brigsteer Woods for a wildflower-fringed wander in the shadow of a medieval castle; and any of the routes near Grasmere – an area that inspired poet Wordsworth to write his famous Daffodils poem.

The comfort food served up at The Yan in Grasmere is legendary: think braised Herdwick lamb shoulder, Cumberland sausages and delicious crayfish salads.

Where to stay with your dog in Cumbria: Cumbria’s Quiet Site isn’t just one of Cumbria’s most spectacular campsites – it’s famously dog-friendly, too, right down to the dedicated dog showers.

Top tips for safe car travel with your dog

  • Test the waters: Long car journeys can be stressful for dogs, especially if they’re not used to it. Warm them up to it with some shorter drives first.
  • Plan for regular stops: Your pup will appreciate the chance to stretch its legs and burn some energy.
  • Don’t sit them on the passenger’s lap: Not only is it unsafe for your dog to stick its head out the window, it’s also illegal for dogs to be unharnessed according Law 57 of the Highway Code.
  • Get the right harness: Is a dog guard, seat belt or pet carrier right for your pooch? Do make sure it will be comfortable and any harness you purchase both fits correctly and has been crash-tested.
  • Avoid motion sickness: Dogs can experience motion sickness too, so it’s best to feed them around two hours before setting off to allow them to digest.
  • Blast the air-con and keep them hydrated: Remember to keep the car cool and check that the colder air is reaching your dog if it’s in the boot. Dogs can easily over-heat in a warm vehicle.
  • Consider a bigger car: Does your car have room for you, the kids, the dog and the luggage to fit comfortably? Consider hiring a car instead – most companies allow puppy passengers, though some may require dogs to be crated. Read the T&Cs.
  • Get in touch with your vet: If you’re worried about motion sickness or anxiety, talk to your vet about any medication or other products, such as compression coats, that may help.
  • Put your pup’s wellbeing first: No one knows your dog better than you, but do consider that particularly anxious dogs may be happier to sit this one out and stay at home with a trusted friend instead.

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