Dog friendly beaches

Finding the best shores for your family – including Fido

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Sophie Gackowski

Sophie Gackowski
HomeAway travel expert

Dog on the beachIt’s often surprising how many beaches disallow dogs – especially when you believe your pooch to be the best behaved of his ilk. My basset hound is, I’m sad to say, no such companion (begging, stealing, slobbering – yeah, she’s got bad behaviour pretty much covered), but she’s still this woman’s best friend, and I love my time at the shore with her. 

We’re both allowed to walk along my neighbourhood stretch in Scotland (a Blue Flag winner, might I add!) during spring, autumn and winter, but when the local population get their swimsuits and ice-creams out, ready to burn their fair British complexions to a crisp, her love of the sand and sea is no more. And it’s frustrating; I know.

But not all beaches restrict dogs: some welcome them year-round; some have curfews; some will dedicate areas solely to dog walking. Look a little further and research the beaches of Europe, and you’ll also be surprised at how many cater to dog friendly holidays. To that end, here’s my rough guide to the best pooch friendly places for beach breaks.


Top five destinations for dog friendly beaches


Dog friendly beaches in Scotland Dog friendly beaches in Scotland

Unless you fancy visiting me and Frankie (a.k.a Frankenstein) on the East Coast, you’ll need a little more info about where to take your dog to the seaside. Generally speaking, Scotland’s a welcoming country – and that includes receiving pets. There’s Eyemouth Beach in the Scottish Borders, where little ones can explore rock pools; Heads of Ayr Beach in (surprise surprise!) Ayr, with its farm park and adventure playground; two sandy shores in Gairloch, set amidst stunning Highland scenery; and Fraserburgh Beach, beside the Waters of Philorth Nature Reserve. All in all, you’ll find Scotland welcomes pets with open arms.

View pet friendly cottages in Scotland



Dog friendly beaches in France Dog friendly beaches in France

Hop across the pond, and it’s somewhat of a different story when it comes to dog friendly holidays. Restrictions in France have tightened in recent years, and it seems France has only a handful of sandy shores on which you and your dog can roam free. Most, you’ll find, expect dogs to be leashed (en laisse) at all times, and many only welcome dogs outside of 8am-8pm; not so handy when you’re on holiday to drink fine French wine. That said, your best bets are Brittany and Normandy (perhaps it’s the absence of St Tropez-tan-clad tourists). In the village of Coudeville-sur-Mer, for example, there’s a long, golden stretch, ideal for leisurely walks – and the village itself is pretty as a picture.

View pet friendly villas in France



Dog friendly beaches in England Dog friendly beaches in England

When it comes to dog friendly shores in England, there’s no doubt the West Country’s the place to be. Cornwall, Devon and Dorset are all lovely spots for a holiday – and their beaches are generally perfectly unspoilt for days out with your pooch. Dorset’s Studland Beach offers three and a half miles of sand backed by dunes, while the secluded Porthcurnick Beach in Cornwall is home to Hidden Hut (told you it was secluded!), a little beachside café that holds pop-up feast nights in summer (dogs welcome). In Devon you’ll find the fishing village of Beer, where dogs are welcome on its eastern shore. After your stroll, you’ll both be welcome at the Anchor Inn for a well-deserved bowl of water (or pint).

View pet friendly cottages in England



Dog friendly beaches in Italy Dog friendly beaches in Italy

Italy is a dog-loving country. From Dog Beach (yeah, you read that right!) in San Vincenzo, Tuscany, to Bau Beach (Italian dogs don’t bark – they bau!) in Rome, there are lots of options open to holidaymakers travelling with pets. One of the best choices is La Spiaggia di Pluto, in Bibione – it’s a recent development only an hour and a half from Venice. But whether Italy is friendlier to dogs than us or not, it’s important to remember its weather is infinitely supreme – your dog might suffer in the heat. Haven’t heard of dog sunscreen before? Consider it, as well as bringing water with you – I laugh when I see my friend quenching her Tibetan spaniel’s thirst with a bottle of Evian, but she has the right idea.

View pet friendly villas in Italy



Dog friendly beaches in Wales Dog friendly beaches in Wales

Every single beach in Pembrokeshire welcomes dogs – and there are over 50 to choose from. Wide expanses; rocky coves; secret bays; golden swathes: you’re spoilt for choice in Wales. That said, some of Pembrokeshire’s beaches do have restrictions in the summer, but usually just during sunbathing hours (if you’d call going to a Welsh beach in summer a chance for sunbathing!). The Gower Peninsula is also very popular for pet friendly holidays, and home to Rhossili Bay – voted the number one dog friendly beach in the UK. It offers three miles of pale-amber sands, amazing surf, and tall grassy cliffs of wildflowers.

View pet friendly cottages in Wales

When browsing for your perfect property, simply select 'More Filters' from the top of the page. From there, simply check 'Pet Friendly' from the 'Property Details' section. For more info, check out Nearest Beach to find dog friendly beaches in the UK. For Italian dog friendly destinations, Explore Italian Culture is a great resource, and this helpful blog lists all beaches that welcome dogs in France (but is, unfortunately, in French – time to perfect your online translation skills!).

Main image by Peyri Herrera
Image 1 by graham mcallister
Image 2 by Ian McKellar
Image 3 by Peter Burgess
Image 4 by Michela Simoncini
Image 5 by Chris_Parfitt

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