Dogs are very much a part of the family so it’s not unexpected that so many people are keen to take their pups with them on new adventures. You might be surprised at just how easy and comfortable it is to travel with your dog by ferry, with dedicated pet lounges and zones on board, pet cabins, kennels and the option for your dog to stay in your own vehicle.
Now we’re heading into autumn it’s cooler and beach restrictions for dogs are being lifted, it’s the paw-fect time to travel with your furry friend. We’ve partnered with The Kennel Club to offer travel advice to dog owners and to identify the essential items to pack for your pooch, and you won’t need to limit the amount of liquids in your paw luggage – so no problems taking plenty of water, medicines, or pet shampoo. We’ve also highlighted some of the wonderful dog-friendly destiniations across the UK, British Islands, Ireland and Europe that are only a ferry journey away.
Going on holiday with your dog offers a great opportunity for a fun and active escape. Take the ferry to visit bucket-list destinations and your four-legged friend will travel in safety and comfort. Depending on the ship, they can either stay with you in a dedicated area, or in a pet-friendly cabin, stay in your vehicle or in the onboard kennels. To find out more about which pet facilities each operator offers please go to our ferry operator pet policies. In our recent research with The Kennel Club, dog owners told us that when selecting a holiday they look for good walking routes, dog friendly beaches and cafes and pubs, so to get tails wagging we’ve put together our guide to the top dog-friendly destinations you can reach by ferry.
Guernsey and Jersey are known for their breathtaking beaches and outdoor lifestyle.
Greve de Lecq, on Jersey’s north coast is a small, sheltered beach with rock pools to sniff and a cave to explore. Head to the Priory Inn at Devil’s Hole after the walk where dogs are welcome in the bar and outside in the beer garden. On Jersey, four-legged friends can charge around the beaches freely from October to April. From 1 May-30 September they must be on a lead between 1030-1800.
On Guernsey most beaches are available for walkies all year round with only a few having restrictions between 1 May and 30 September. However, if you want to combine seeing a bit of the islands’ history with stunning views, the Bordeaux coastal walk is a good option. Providing sweeping views of Alderney, Sark and Herm, the popular walk from Castle Street in Bordeaux takes in the 600-year-old Vale Castle, Bordeaux’s natural harbour and the Neolithic burial mound of Dehus Dolmen.
Sail to Jersey and Guernsey with Condor Ferries from Poole or Portsmouth.
If you’re looking for an escape with picture-postcard villages, delicious cuisine, and a rich history, as well as plenty of outside activities that you can enjoy with your dog, then Normandy is the place for you.
From cliff-top walks along the Alabaster Coast to scampering in the sands of the Pearl Coast, Normandy provides ample space for your furry friend to run around and explore. Normandy’s beaches usually welcome dogs between October and the end of May.
History, culture and coffee
Rouen,soak up the atmosphere by walking through the narrow, cobbled streets, past half-timbered houses. Don’t miss the beautiful gothic cathedral, the famous Great Clock (Gros-Horloge) and the historic market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. There are plenty of street cafes where you can enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat.
Kayaking in the river Eure – bringing your pooch aboard a hired kayak will make gliding down the River Eure that much more special (and fun!).
1944 Radar Station, Douvres-la-Délivrande. Discover the bunker and the surroundings with your dog on the lead at this open-air museum that was the site of Germany’s largest radar station in the Calvados region.
Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War Museum and cultural centre. The museum is fronted by Juno Park where you’ll find part of the remains of the German defensive Atlantic Wall. Small four-legged friends can accompany you in your arms or in a bag at all times, and larger dogs on a lead can enter daily between 1300-1400.
Considered to be one of Ireland’s most spectacular road trips, the Causeway Coastal Route is a mix of rugged coastline, unique geology and beautiful beaches. There are plenty of places en route for your pooch to play, including the 7-mile beach of Benone Strand or the National Trust-protected Portstewart Strand. Dogs on a lead can also visit the Giants’ Causeway. With dog-friendly accommodation and eateries, such as The Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy and 55 Degrees North in Portrush, along the way. Keen walkers can hike the 33-mile Causeway Coastal Way and enjoy some peace with Man’s best friend. Dogs are also able to travel freely between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Looking for spectacular dog walks? You will be spoilt for choice in Waterford, with its mix of forest, mountains, coastal cliffs, and the Waterford Greenway to explore.
Dunmore East Cliff Walk, a stunning cliff linear walk starting at the picturesque fishing village of Dunmore East and following the coast all the way to Ballymacaw Cover, almost 7km away. After your walk head to pet-friendly Loko in Waterford for a bite to eat.
Mahon Falls, up in the Comeragh Mountains, this 80m waterfall is lined with sheer rock faces and has impressive views back towards the sea. Choose between a 4km 40 min walk up to the waterfall or an 11km hike along the trails. After building up an appetite the 360cookhouse in Dungarvan will be a welcome break, it even offers a menu for dogs!
With paw-some walkies such as up Goat Fell – a bucket-list worthy mountain – to one of West of Scotland’s most spectacular waterfalls – Glenashdale Falls – and around pre-historic Machrie Moor Standing Stones, the Isle of Arran gets the tail-wag of approval all-year round.
Auchrannie Resort provides a treat for your pooch on arrival and fluffy towels for muddy paws. Dog friendly bars and lounges are located around the resort.
Pup-friendly The Drift Inn has a cosy fire to curl up next to for cooler days, and The Corrie Hotel bar has one of the best beer gardens in Britain, looking out across the Firth of Clyde.
Over a hundred miles of coast, eighteen glens and recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere, the Isle of Man is relatively undiscovered. Though world-famous for its motorcycling events, outside of these times the island is uncrowded and perfect for exploring, both on two legs and four!
Many of the beaches in the Isle of Man do not have any restrictions for dogs so they can run around and play in the sea to their hearts’ content.
The plantations and glens have a network of peaceful walking trails through woodland, countryside and parkland. Conrhenny car park is one of 26 registered Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Isle of Man, so after a later afternoon/ evening ramble in Conrhenny Plantation on a clear day budding stargazers will be rewarded with stunning views of the night sky.
For dog-friendly accommodation and facilities Visit Isle of Man runs Dogs Welcome Scheme.
This archipelago 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall is a magical choice for a holiday with your four-legged companion. These islands have spacious, white, sandy beaches and clear blue sea to play in and, as dogs are part of island life, there are many pet-friendly cafes and restaurants. The Island Dog Show happens in June and there are 10 categories to enter such as best dog /owner lookalike.
Although there are restrictions on some St Mary’s beaches from May- September, the ‘off islands’: St Martin’s, St Agnes, Bryher and Tresco are dog friendly all year round, though on Tresco dogs must be kept on a lead. The inter-island ferries happily to take dogs on board.
On St Martin’s the Karma Hotel, which won Bronze for Dog-Friendly Business of the Year in the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2019, welcomes its canine customers with VIP (Very Important Pet) treatment. Dogs get a water bowl and blanket and there is even a special menu featuring Paw-secco and steak. A pet-sitting service can also be arranged.
Sail to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel from Penzance. Dogs must be kept on a lead on board but can travel on deck with their owners.
Isle of Wight
Whether sniffing out the hidden rock pools, spotting red squirrels around the forest or watching over the family while they visit the island’s many attractions, on the Isle of Wight your furry friend never needs to be left behind.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, named UK Heritage Railway of the Year 2023, The Needles Landmark Attraction, Shanklin Chine, Yarmouth Castle and Carisbrooke Castle are just of few of the attractions that welcome pups. At the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, the Grazers Café features a dog station with fresh water, clean towels and a tasty dog menu.
As a special treat for you pooch book a Bare Bones Luxury Spa Dog Grooming with All Canines Great and Small or a fun dog agility session.
Sail to the Isle of Wight with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink. Dogs travel for free and have their own pet lounge on Red Funnel and Wightlink, with pet products from Paleo Ridge, a premium raw dog food company based in Hampshire, available on Wightlink, and Rex’s Range dog-friendly ice cream and Dewkes Treats available for purchase on Red Funnel. On Hovertravel, during the quick 10-minute journey your canine companion can enjoy the ride next to you if on a lead.
Paw-fectly Pampered in Battersea & Chelsea
Battersea Park, is a Victorian Park most famous for its peace pagoda. With its riverside promenade, parkland and woods it’s great place for your furry friend to charge around and enjoy themselves. Afterwards head to Battersea Power Station where there are many pet-friendly cafes and restaurants to choose from before heading to The Pet Spa, Chelsea, for some luxury grooming or to upmarket pet boutique Mungo & Maud near Sloane Square for a new collar or coat!
Feel the wind in your hair – or fur – and enjoy the capital’s sights on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ river bus service. Alight at River Pier: Battersea Power Station.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Texel
The relaxed North Sea island of Texel is a popular holiday spot for Dutch and German visitors, but relatively unknown to Brits. It has white sandy beaches, natural dunes, woods, plenty of dog-friendly accommodation and eateries, and wonderful sunsets to top off a chilled break.
Canine friends can run freely on many westerly beaches year-round, in De Dennen forest and in the dunes between September and March. For hunting dogs and their owners, themed monthly hunting workshops are organised by Jachthondensport. There is even a dog wash on the island, so you can clean mucky paws and get rid of any ticks.
Sail to the Netherlands with DFDS from Newcastle to Amsterdam, P&O Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam or Stena Line from Harwich to Hook of Holland and then take the ferry from Den Helder.
Pet cabins to be available on Commodore Clipper this Summer
(29 January 2024) CONDOR is introducing pet friendly cabins onto a second vessel to reflect the popularity and positive feedback received from passengers.
Following the installation of six cabins on Condor Islander for the ship’s entry into service last November, the company is to convert a similar number on Commodore Clipper for the start of the Summer season.
John Napton, Condor’s CEO, said: ‘We are seeing more pet travel in recent years and the reaction from passengers travelling on Islander has been overwhelmingly positive, so we have listened and are now extending this to Clipper.
‘Our figures show that in 2019, we carried 12,700 pets on our routes from the UK to Jersey and Guernsey and inter-island, whereas in 2022 that figure had soared to 16,600, an increase of 30%.’
The six cabins on Clipper will each feature hard, laminate flooring and an outside deck will be accessible for exercise. Pets can still be carried in a vehicle or appropriate carrier on the car deck on Clipper, Islander, along with Condor Liberation and Condor Voyager.
‘Condor is continually investing in its fleet and services and an important part of this is listening to our passengers. We anticipate that the cabins, which will be converted in time for the busy Summer, to be very popular,’ added Mr Napton.