For many people, pets are more than just a companion—they’re like family. That means many of us like to travel with our pets. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opinion of our four-legged friends and, in many places, you’ll find that Fido isn’t welcome to join you. Things are a bit a different in Europe: many countries are incredibly pet-friendly, which makes them perfect destinations for pet lovers from around the world. Here are 8 pet-friendly stops in Europe.
The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway tend to get a bad rap with travelers who want to bring their pets with them on holiday; these 3 Northern European countries are considerably less pet-friendly than other European countries. Still, that doesn’t mean pets are never welcome. A good example is Norway’s famed fjords, which you can tour via cruise liner. Your dog is more than welcome to join you on the trip and will be treated as a guest too. Oslo, Norway’s capital, has many pet-friendly hotels, so finding accommodations for you and Fido shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Norway also has plenty of open space, meaning travelers and their dogs can get their daily exercise. Shops, restaurants and public transit pose more of a challenge to four-legged travelers, who may not be welcome inside most establishments.
7. United Kingdom
With the introduction of the (PETS), the United Kingdom has become an even friendlier destination for you and your four-legged friend. More and more visitors are bringing their pets with them on holiday, most notably those from other EU countries; cats and dogs arriving from North America and other places are still required to enter quarantine on arrival. Once quarantine is over, however, the U.K. opens up to four-legged travelers. The National Rail system allows dogs of all sizes, provided they’re leashed, which means you can travel anywhere you want, whether it’s Cornwall in the south or north to the Scottish Highlands. The British Isles also offer plenty of green space with lots of national parks to visit, which makes for ideal dog-walking conditions. Pet-friendly accommodations are available throughout the U.K.
Some parts of Ireland are pet-friendly, while other parts are not so friendly toward four-legged travel companions. Dublin is often considered very pet-friendly, and many restaurants and cafes are quite happy to have your pup accompany you on outdoor terraces and patios, provided that they’re leashed. Hotels and other accommodations are often pet-friendly as well, although you want to call ahead and ensure that Fido is welcome. While dogs are often unwelcome on walking trails, particularly because they cut through sheep country, a few trails welcome leashed dogs: Killarney National Park admits four-legged friends, as do some of the trails in the Wicklow Mountains (although not the Wicklow Way). Your best bet in Ireland is to take a cottage vacation—a popular option with pet owners, since you’ll be in the countryside.
The Netherlands are perhaps most famous for being incredibly cyclist-friendly, but Dutch cities like Amsterdam are also rather pet-friendly. Much like other parts of Europe, many restaurants are pet-friendly, often allowing diners to bring their leashed pet with them to outdoor dining areas. Hotels are often pet-friendly, and shops may allow dogs inside (although it’s best to ask). Amsterdam in particular recommends itself as a great pet-friendly destination for those traveling with dogs, thanks to plentiful parks. Vondelpark, the largest and best-known in the city, is a great location, while Oosterpark is divided into 2 zones: a children’s zone that is dog-free and the other where dogs are welcome. This park is well-known to the locals and is becoming more popular with tourists traveling with their pooches.
Think of Switzerland and you’ll probably think of Bernese mountain dogs and St. Bernards bounding through the snow to rescue stranded skiers in the Alps. Given dogs’ importance, it should be little surprise that the Swiss are fond of dogs—and of four-legged travelers. Most restaurants are more than happy to welcome you and your furry dining companion (even if Fido won’t be ordering off the menu). Like other places in Europe, dogs are also welcome in most shops and hotels, although you might call ahead to ask about specific pet policies. Public transit is also pet-friendly; all cats and dogs are allowed on trains, although you’ll often need to purchase a half-price, second-class fare for animal companions. Smaller animals may be required to sit in a purse or basket for travel—but it’s still better than boxing your friend up in a carrier.
Italians love their furry friends and most of the time, you’ll be able to bring your dog with you into stores, hotels and even restaurant dining areas. Northern Italy is usually considered to be more dog-friendly than the south, but Rome is also cited as one of the most dog-friendly destinations in Europe. Yes, even in a big tourist center, dogs are more than welcome. Public transit also welcomes furry travelers, often without a carrier, although a muzzle may be required during your ride. Some places may also ask you to purchase a fare for your four-legged travel companion—although often at a discount of 50% or more. Most hotels will welcome pets, although some charge extra fees. Good practice is to call ahead to to a restaurant or hotel before you make your reservations.
While Germany isn’t the most pet-friendly place in Europe, the country is pretty friendly toward your four-legged friends. Much like other parts of Europe, pets are welcome on public transit, so long as they are on a leash; a muzzle may be required, but there’s no reason to put your pup in a carrier. Small dogs are often welcome in the dining areas of restaurants, although larger breeds may not be as welcome. Dogs are often welcome in shops as well, and you can expect most accommodations to be pet-friendly. Of course, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and ensure that Fido will be welcome—and to suss out if there’s any additional fees for having him tag along with you to dinner or to your hotel.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Paris and lunch at a bistro, but can’t bear the thought of leaving Fido out of the experience, don’t fret. France is consistently rated as the most pet-friendly country in all of Europe—and that’s saying something, considering how pet-friendly most European countries are. Dogs are more commonly permitted into dining areas than not; in fact, it would be strange to see an owner leave their dog outside while they went into a shop or restaurant. As a result, many hotels are pet-friendly, as are other establishments. If you plan to travel about, public transit is also pet-friendly, allowing you to take your pet with you on the train, often on a leash rather than in a carrier. So go ahead and make your dream trip to France a whole-family affair!