The 20 best dog-friendly days out in Britain

dogs running on shady path
Woof! Forgo your usual circuit around the park and pick one of these exciting things to do instead - Mike Linnane

Travelling with your dog should be about much more than lovely hotels and long walks. When we travel without our pets, we visit galleries, museums, experience local attractions, be they boat trips in search of wildlife or iconic sights that draw crowds from across the world. Why then, shouldn’t we do the same with our dogs?

Thankfully, as a nation that’s seemingly more in love with its pets than its people these days – just ask the DINKWAD millennials – there’s plenty of opportunity for days out with your dog by your side. As our canine population grows – in 2023, it was estimated there were 11 million dogs living as pets on British shores – so do the number of places they are allowed to explore.

If you’re planning a dog-friendly holiday, or you simply fancy a day out with the dog that’s a little more intriguing than your usual circuit around the park, pick one of these exciting things to do.


Take a dip in Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall

Lidos have enjoyed a quiet resurgence in recent years, with formerly dilapidated and abandoned public pools being given a new lease of life – and at this pool in Penzance, your dog can get in on the action, too. The 1930s lido isn’t dog-friendly year-round, but for one day every October at the end of the peak swimming season, dogs can dive into its waters for a dip before the pools are emptied for cleaning. It’s not heated, so bring your wetsuit and dive in for a bracing swim with the dog.

Where to stay: Woodstock Ark to keep things nautical; sleeps two, self catering, from £140 per night. Plan the perfect trip to Cornwall with our guide.

The Jubilee Pool in Penzance welcomes dogs every October
The Jubilee Pool in Penzance welcomes dogs every October - Hugh R Hastings/Getty

Race around on Saunton Sands, Devon

Hugged by a grassy, sloping hill at one end, Saunton Sands is so vast that it simply peters out into the distance. At low tide, it can be as long as seven kilometres, curving all the way around to Crow Point at the estuary of the River Taw. This makes it the perfect spot for a day out with the dog – there’s plenty of space for racing around, splashing in the surf and strolling through the grassy dunes.

There's plenty of space for racing around and splashing in the surf at Saunton Sands
There's plenty of space for racing around and splashing in the surf at Saunton Sands - Lottie Goss

Where to stay: the delightfully thatched Speedwell Cottage; sleeps eight, self catering, from £174 per night.


Go for a walk in Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

Be it bluebell season or an autumnal morning, a walk in the woods at Westonbirt Arboretum at the southern tip of the Cotswolds can be the highlight of any weekend. Come for the dappled shade below the luscious, plump trees in summer or the brilliant yellow, red and orange canopy that alights within its national collections of maple and walnut trees every autumn. There are 27 kilometres of footpaths here, including a raised walkway that takes you up into the forest canopy.

Where to stay: The Old Swan in Sherston, just 10 minutes from the arboretum; sleeps up to eight, self catering, from £135 per night. Plan the perfect trip to the Cotswolds with our guide.

Take a walk with the dog around the 265 acres of vineyards at Denbies Wine Estate
Take a walk with the dog around the 265 acres of vineyards at Denbies Wine Estate

Sample the Surrey terroir at Denbies Vineyard, Surrey

English wine just keeps getting better, and a day – or even better, a weekend – spent at Denbies may just convince you to swap that French Picpoul or Pinot for a British Bacchus or delicate Blanc de Blanc. Take a walk with the dog around the 265 acres of vineyards (or join one of the outdoor train tours) heading to the onsite hotel, where a small but excellent restaurant serves food and wine pairings with locally-sourced cured meats and cheeses.

Where to stay: The Denbies Vineyard Hotel (01306 876777), where bedrooms overlook the vines and access to English wines is mere steps away; double rooms from £180, including breakfast, dog £25 per night.

See the sights of London from Tower Bridge

There’s plenty to please the city dog in London, from long walks in its myriad of green parks to pubs, restaurants and bars that welcome patrons with four paws. And Tower Bridge, one of the city’s greatest icons, also loves our furry friends, welcoming them up into its exhibition spaces and onto the glass-bottomed walkway that stretches between its two stone towers. From here, you’ll get brilliant views along the Thames in both directions, and timing with a bridge lift is even more exciting.

Where to stay: The Royal Lancaster (020 7551 6000;) right on the edge of Hyde Park doubles from £240 including breakfast; dog £20 per night. Plan the perfect trip to London with our guide.


Dogs get their own party in a field this summer at Knebworth's DogFest
Dogs get their own party in a field this summer at Knebworth's DogFest -

Party hard at Dogfest Knebworth House, Hertfordshire

Summer means it’s festival season and while we humans tend to pack ourselves off to the likes of Glastonbury or Wilderness, our dogs get their own party in a field too – thanks to the slightly madcap extravaganza that is Dogfest. See canine celebrities like Lucy Heath and her dancing dogs, made famous on Britain’s Got Talent, and TV personalities like Michaela Strachan, nutritionist Chloe Fuller and behaviourist Adem Fehmi, alongside demonstrations by local police and search and rescue dogs. There are seven across the country, from Warwickshire and Bristol to Cheshire and Yorkshire, but the Knebworth House event is always a riot.

Where to stay: The 18th-century Garden House within the grounds of the beautiful Woodhall Estate; sleeps eight, self catering, from £400 per night.

Hop on board an open-top bus in Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Lincoln is by far one of the UK’s most dog-friendly cities: there’s a castle, cathedral and boat trips on a canal that are all dog-friendly, and plenty of shops in its medieval old town that won’t mind the dog sniffing about, too. Best of all, though, is the open-top tour bus that’ll whizz you between the sights with its clever commentary – it’s the ideal way to avoid a cardiac event on the slopes of the aptly named Steep Hill.

Where to stay: Bainland Lodge Retreats (01526 352903), where dogs are welcome at their onsite activities like archery and climbing, as well as in their restaurant. Lodges sleep between two and 24 people and prices for three nights start from £449, self-catering.

The Food Museum, Suffolk

Hungry Labradors will need to be tamed at Suffolk’s excellent Food Museum, a partly-outdoor exhibition across 75 acres of handsome parkland. There are cooking displays and tasting opportunities in the tantalisingly titled Bone Building (dogs will need to wait outside here, mind), and exhibits on everything from how our food is grown and farmed to the lives of the people who have been instrumental in cultivating it. Bring plenty of treats for the dog so they don’t feel left out.

Where to stay: The quirky Gypsy’s Rest in Secret Meadows, where two caravans sleep up to four people; self catering, from £174 per night. Plan the perfect trip to Suffolk with our guide.

The idyllic Holkham Beach is dog-friendly year round
The idyllic Holkham Beach is dog-friendly year round - David Burton / Alamy

Explore the handsome Holkham Hall, Norfolk

On the north Norfolk coast, Holkham Hall ( is a grand Neo-Palladian mansion built in the 18th-century and surrounded by leafy parkland that teems with deer (dogs on leads, please). There are wonderful walks across the estate and inside its pretty Walled Garden, while inside its museum Holkham Stories the dog can join you to learn about the people. Have lunch in the brilliant Courtyard Cafe onsite or the Victoria Inn just beyond the entry gates, then spend an afternoon on nearby Holkham Beach, which is dog-friendly year round.

Where to stay: Seaview Cottage where you can bring up to five dogs for free. Seven nights self-catering from £1,024. Plan the perfect trip to Norfolk with our guide.


Take a tour of Hull’s best pubs, East Riding of Yorkshire

Hull is hardly an obvious holiday destination for most, but spend an afternoon touring the city’s excellent old boozers with local guide Paul Schofield (from £60;) and you’ll end up wondering why you’ve never been before. This much-maligned city has a handful of excellent pubs – the type where you’ll find locals drinking at the bar from tankards with their names on – and some fascinating history. Paul will combine the two on a scintillating tour that’ll have you in stitches, and the dog will get a warm welcome, too.

Where to stay: the colourful Tickton Grange near Beverly, a short train ride from Hull city centre; doubles from £120 per night, including breakfast; dog £20 per night.

Northunberland's underrated Ford & Etal Estate is very dog-friendly, plus it's close to the beautiful Bamburgh Beach
Northunberland's underrated Ford & Etal Estate is very dog-friendly, plus it's close to the beautiful Bamburgh Beach - paul weston / Alamy

Take the kids to the Ford & Etal Estate, Northumberland

This little-known and hugely underrated estate in inland Northumberland, around 30-minutes from the coast and Bamburgh Beach, has family-friendly and dog-friendly attractions. There are miniature steam trains on the Heatherslaw Railway (and its dog-friendly tearoom), a castle ruins, the Heavy Horse Farm for carriage rides, and the wonderfully-preserved Lady Waterford Hall schoolhouse, which has wonderful pre-Raphaelite murals.

Where to stay: Cheviot Glamping (0191 389 7102;), where yurts, pods, bell tents and a pair of cottages make for cosy accommodation next door to the Cheviot Brewery taproom; pods sleep up to four from £80 per night, self-catering. Plan the perfect trip to Northumberland with our expert guide.

Walk the Isle of Man Coastal Path

Over 30 kilometres from the south coast of Scotland and almost 60 kilometres from England’s west coast, the Isle of Man is a Britain in miniature, with inland hills to hike and a coastline peppered with sandy and pebble beaches. The coast path here can be spectacular, especially when the wildflowers are out in spring and summer, so bring the dog across the Irish Sea for a long stroll. The 10km Niarbyl to Peel stretch is gorgeous, with spectacular coastal views and finishing at a seaside castle in the pretty town of Peel.

Where to stay: Knockaloe Beg Farm’s wooden wigwams; sleeps four, self-catering from £65 per night.

Spectacular Isle of Man: bring the dog across the Irish Sea for a long stroll
Spectacular Isle of Man: bring the dog across the Irish Sea for a long stroll - Lottie Goss


See Welsh history at St Fagans, Cardiff

It’s not just the exhibits at St Fagans, an open-air museum on the outskirts of Cardiff, that are fascinating. The very concept and making of this site is perhaps the most impressive thing about it, as each of its historic buildings was dismantled in its original place and rebuilt, brick by brick, timber by timber, on this land near the Welsh capital. There are 12th-century churches, 200-year-old houses, and traditional shops from the 19th century.

Where to stay: Bwncath, a dreamy log cabin just 15-minutes’ drive from the museum; sleeps two, plus two children, self catering from £115 per night.

Go dolphin spotting with Seamor Cruises, Ceredigion

Wildlife and dogs rarely go well together. But there are safe ways to see some of Britain’s most enchanting creatures, and by boat is often the best. Join the 90-minute excursion with Seamor Cruises and you’ll spot dolphins in the water, their silvery backs breaching the surface, while on land there are seals to be seen lolling around beside the surf. The guides will also see what’s landed in their lobster pot – you might get to examine lobsters, prawns or even small sharks up close.

Where to stay: The delightful Irma’s Cottage, where the dog can snooze on the sofa with you; sleeps two, self catering, from £120 per night.

Treat your dog to a trip on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
Treat your dog to a trip on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - bazza1960/istockphoto

Ride the rails of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park isn’t short of great trails for walking the dog, but when your legs are too weary or the kids are tired of putting one foot in front of the other, this heritage railway makes a charming alternative. You’ll trundle through the foothills from its base on the coast at Porthmadog, reaching some of its highest tracks with exceptional views all the way along. Choose from routes that stop at the likes of Blaenau Ffestiniog (the region’s rainiest town that once “roofed the world”) or pretty Beddgelert, a village named after a legendary dog.

Where to stay: Y Boncyn, which has an enclosed garden and a hot tub; sleeps four, self catering, from £135 per night. Plan the perfect trip to Snowdonia with our guide.


Portobello Beach, Edinburgh

On a sunny day, there’s a real carnival atmosphere around Portobello, one of Edinburgh’s coolest seaside neighbourhoods. The seafront cafes and pubs spill out onto the pavement of the promenade, while kids fly kites or make sandcastles on the large sandy beach here. The city’s dogs also descend on this part of the coastline, too, as the beach is dog-friendly year-round and there’s plenty of space for games of fetch or splashing about in the water. Stop in at Harry’s Gourmet Treats to pick up something homemade and tasty for the dog.

Where to stay: Kimpton Charlotte Square, where the only animals ruled out are those that can’t fit in their lifts; doubles from £133 per night, including breakfast. Plan the perfect trip to Edinburgh with our guide.

Dive into Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms National Park

Deep in the Cairngorms National Park, surrounded by pine woodland and once described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the glories of wild Scotland”, Loch an Eilein is a small but serene body of water. There’s a trail that skirts the entire loch with views of the island, where fortified structures have existed since the late 14th century. Take the dog for a long walk before putting your water shoes on and plunging into its bracing depths together.

Where to stay: The Boat House (, right on the estate where Loch an Eilein is set, with a generous enclosed garden; sleeps six, self catering from £2,250 per week. Plan the perfect trip to the Cairngorms with our guide.

Cairngorms National Park is 'one of the glories of wild Scotland' - your dog will surely agree
Cairngorms National Park is 'one of the glories of wild Scotland' - your dog will surely agree - DGDImages / Alamy

Go history hopping, Orkney

You could spend a whole week exploring Orkney’s ancient sites, as this island off the north coast of Scotland has some of the best preserved prehistoric monuments in Britain. If you’ve only a day, though, beeline for the astonishing beachfront neolithic village of Skara Brae (, where you can wander with the dog in and out of its stone houses, before driving across the island to the mighty stones at Brodgar Stone Circle, one of the largest of its kind.

Where to stay: The brilliant Kirkwall Hotel (01856 872232;, which will provide a welcome pack for the dog; doubles from £130, dog £20 per night.

Bass Rock Tours, East Lothian

Every February, over 50,000 squawking gannets make their way northwards from the southern hemisphere to find their own little nook on Bass Rock, ready for the mating season. Sticking around until October, there’s plenty of opportunity to see them and you can bring the dog along on the boat trips that travel out to the tiny island from North Berwick– just be prepared for the stench of their guano as you cruise around its shoreline.

Stay at: The contemporary Barn at Williamstone Farm Steadings; sleeps six, self catering, from £230 per night, dog £25 per night.

Northern Ireland

Climb across The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

A walk along the County Antrim coastline is truly mesmerising, not least because it offers an opportunity to clamber over the hexagonal basalt columns that formed here after volcanic eruptions. While the causeway itself is impressive, the views from the clifftop walk are perhaps more arresting, with expansive views and a chance to see even larger basalt columns acting like pillars against the cliffs. Stop in at the National Trust’s visitor centre (also dog-friendly) to see exhibitions on how the region’s geology was formed, and learn about the artists who have been inspired by it ever since.

Where to stay: Galgorm (028 2588 1001), a plush hotel with gorgeous dog-friendly shepherd’s huts and a spectacular indoor/outdoor spa complex; doubles from £193, including breakfast, dog £15.

The Giant's Causeway offers a truly mesmerising walk, and the fascinating visitor centre is also dog-friendly
The Giant's Causeway offers a truly mesmerising walk, and the fascinating visitor centre is also dog-friendly - David Lyons / Alamy

Top dog day-trip travel tips

Pack the essentials

Bringing water, bowls, a spare lead and a familiar bed for the dog are key, but also bring some long-lasting chews or food dispensing toys that’ll keep them busy during your hotel breakfasts or pub dinners.

Be inconspicuous

Not everybody likes dogs, so try to keep yours self-contained. That means no begging for attention at another guest’s table, or running up to unsuspecting children on beaches or in parks. Excessive barking can be irritating and intimidating, so try to keep your dog calm and remove yourselves from any situation that’s getting too noisy.

Follow the rules of the road

Dogs are allowed on trains in the UK, and most buses at the driver’s discretion, but if you’re driving don’t forget to ensure your dog is appropriately restrained in the car (either by a harness and seatbelt or inside a crash-tested cage, or else you risk a hefty dangerous driving fine for not following the Highway Code.

Lottie Gross is the author of Dog Days Out (; RRP £20) which is published in association with Sawday’s and is released on May 9 2024.