7 popular dog-friendly holiday locations in the UK

7 popular dog-friendly holiday locations in the UK

A holiday isn’t a true holiday unless the whole family can come along. If you’re planning a UK break, don’t leave your four-legged friends in boarding kennels - check out this guide to some of the most popular dog-friendly holiday locations the UK has to offer:

1. Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

cairngorms national park scene
Credit: FrDr (Wikimedia Commons) via Creative Commons


It might seem like the obvious choice, but it is for good reason that the Cairngorms is one of the best locations for a dog-friendly holiday in Scotland. Covering 1,748 sq miles, Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK and has been a popular location for walkers and their dogs since it was created in 2003.

With hills, mountains, woodland and three rivers within the park, the variety of stunning scenery offers almost limitless possibilities for walks you will all enjoy. Better still, Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code means that you can walk your dog in most areas, as long as they are kept under proper control.

The Park is home to a wide range of nature, so be careful to avoid off-lead walks near fields of farm animals and follow seasonal guidance to protect nesting birds. Three dedicated off-lead spaces can be found in Rothiemurchus, at the heart of the Cairngorms, alongside dog-friendly cafes.

2. Perran Sands, Cornwall

perran sands landscape view of the beach
Credit: Duncan Toms (Flickr) via Creative Commons

If your pup loves nothing more than running at full speed or playing in the water, then having a holiday located by a great beach is essential. Cornwall has around 200 dog-friendly beaches to choose from including Perran Sands, which connects with Perranporth beach at low tide to become part of the largest stretch of unbroken beaches in the region.

Dogs are generally welcome on beaches in Cornwall, with just six that have year-round dog bans. Most operate restrictions at peak times - often between 10am and 6pm in July and August. Perran Sands welcomes dogs all year round, but requires a lead until 5pm during peak summer months.

With so many nearby caravan parks and holiday cottages, taking a break in this region is open to all ages and budgets, so why not explore the coast with hiking routes, enjoy the local villages or watch the surfers from the 'Watering Hole' - a dog-friendly pub located on the beach itself!

3. Wales Coast Path, Wales

dog and owner on the wales coast path
Credit: Deborah Tilley (Geograph) via Creative Commons


In 2012, the unique Wales Coast Path opened, becoming the first walking route to follow an entire country’s coastline. Depending on your passion for walking, you and your dog could take on the whole route over several weeks, or break off manageable sections for day routes - but either way, you will experience some of the best views Wales has to offer.

If you decide to follow the coastal path, why not try out some of Wales’ dog-friendly campsites in your tent or campervan along the way? Many campsites have additional facilities for dogs, such as fields for off-lead exploring, to make their stay memorable.

Visit Wales recommends the following dog-friendly campsites along the Wales Coast Path:

  • Trawsdir Touring & Camping Park, Barmouth
  • Bolmynydd Camping Park, Llanbedrog
  • Silver Fern Glamping, Aberystwyth
  • Tretio Caravan & Camping Park

4. River Dart Country Park, Devon

river dart country park scene
Credit: David Smith (Flickr) via Creative Commons


Devon has been known as dog-friendly for many years, making it one of the best places in the UK to holiday with your four-legged family members. When a half term or the summer holidays arrive, the whole gang should be able to enjoy your short breaks - not just the humans! 

River Dart Country Park is located in Dartmoor National Park and offers adventure activities for kids of all ages - including zip lines, adventure playgrounds, a bike park and canoe or kayak hire. The site is dog-friendly and has enough riverside walks and trails to ensure that your pup can enjoy the holiday as much as everyone else.

5. Durdle Door and Corfe Castle, Dorset

durdle door scene - stone archway at sea
Credit: Saffron Blaze (Wikimedia Commons) via Creative Commons


In addition to the obvious natural beauty, Dorset is rich with history and heritage sites. Luckily, many of the most popular attractions happily welcome four-legged visitors.

A great example is the iconic Durdle Door rock formation, which is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. After parking in the nearby village of Lulworth, explore the cove and walk the dog-friendly surrounding beaches to enjoy some spectacular views. Dogs are welcome all year round, so take the opportunity to enjoy the long summer evenings and spectacular autumn sunsets on what are sure to be memorable walks.

Corfe Castle is estimated to have been built just after the Norman conquest in 1066 and has a rich history of royal connections, particularly during the civil war. Today it is a dog-friendly National Trust site that makes an ideal starting point for long walks. After exploring the castle grounds, you can head towards the 280-acre Durlston Country Park to continue exploring the Jurassic Coast.

6. Broads National Park, Norfolk

river and riverbank view of norfolk broads
Credit: Roger Green (Flickr) via Creative Commons


Norfolk is an ideal location for a holiday in the great outdoors, with forests and over 80 miles of beaches to explore. But what sets it apart from other coastal destinations in the UK is the Norfolk Broads.

The combination of rivers, woods, marshland and waterways that can be explored via almost 200 miles of walkways and cycling routes will delight you and your dogs as they run, play and swim. Just remember to follow the regulations around lead use in certain areas to protect the local wildlife.

Of course, the best way to experience the broads is on a boat. Whether a day boat or a full boating holiday, many hire companies not only welcome dogs but will help you choose the boat most suited to helping your dogs get on and off.

7. Windermere, Lake District

lake windermere scene with boats
Credit: Jorge Franganillo (Flickr) via Creative Commons


Depending on your definition there are 16 lakes in the Lake District, but there is no disputing that Lake Windermere is the largest and most impressive. As a popular location for walkers, Windermere and the surrounding area is dog-friendly and there are many activities that the whole family can get involved in together.

One of the first things many visitors want to do is experience the views from the water itself, and there are plenty of dog-friendly options including cruises or day-hire boats of all sizes.

The surrounding area is rich with historical sites and stately homes. While restrictions on dogs vary from location to location, most will at least allow your pets into their lush gardens to explore on a lead. Check out Brockhole or the National Trust’s Allan Bank for great examples of the many picturesque places to enjoy and relax.

FAQ

Which UK hotels allow dogs?

  • The following UK hotel chains do allow dogs:
    • Ibis
    • Novotel
    • Holiday Inn
    • Best Western
    • Marriott
    • Travelodge
  • The following do not allow dogs:
    • Premier Inn

Contact the hotel you are staying at to confirm any requirements they may have for four-legged guests. Many chains have rooms that are used especially for guests with pets.

Dog-friendly hotels will likely include an additional charge at check-in for each pet staying with you. The amount will vary depending on the number of dogs you have and the length of your stay.

Which beaches allow dogs in summer?

To protect water quality, many local councils in the UK enforce beach bans for dogs between May and September, with a £100 fine for owners that ignore the rules. This will vary depending on the popularity of the location. Even when restrictions are in place, there are likely to be smaller areas nearby that are not restricted and will accommodate dog walkers. Make sure you check the regulations on the local council’s website before visiting any beach for the first time.

Blue Flag or Seaside Award beaches may ban dogs entirely or restrict them to certain areas of the beach away from popular bathing and swimming areas.

How can I prepare for a holiday with my dog?

  • Choose accommodation where they will be comfortable - don’t plan a camping holiday if your dog has never slept in a tent before.
  • Make sure you have identified dog-friendly parks or beaches for walks.
  • Bring enough food and treats to last the whole trip. The combination of a new diet and a strange location could make them uncomfortable.
  • Find a local vet in case emergency treatment is needed.
  • Check that their harness is comfortable, especially if the holiday is likely to involve a lot of walking. Use Topdog’s harness size guide to make sure your pup is as comfortable as possible.

Ready for your dog-friendly travels?

The accommodation is booked and everyone is ready to set off. But first, make sure everyone is looking their best. Just as you’ve probably treated yourself to new sunglasses or shorts, get your pooch beach-ready with Topdog’s Shore Thing reversible harness. £1 of every Shore Thing harness sold will be donated to Surfers Against Sewage to help the charity continue to keep our beaches and oceans clean of plastics.

Check out our range of stylish dog harnesses to keep your furry friends comfortable and secure on your adventures.

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