Edinburgh, Scotland’s Capital, is a fabulously dog-friendly city. As evidenced by the story of the Greyfriar Bobby, a little terrier who spent 14 years protecting the grave of his deceased owner. Bobby is commemorated by a statue on the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge. A must-see for all dog lovers visiting the city.
A few years ago we decided to spend a few weeks in Scotland. To break-up the long drive, we spent one night in Edinburgh on the way up and one day on the way down.
On the way up we were lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) to be in Edinburgh the same evening as hoards of jolly Rugby fans who had attended a major match between Scotland and Ireland earlier that day. It was alive with packed restaurants and bulging bars. Something that we hadn’t been aware of nor planned for. We couldn’t get a table at any of the dog-friendly restaurants we had researched. Instead, we walked aimlessly around the city looking for any establishment with a ‘Dugs Welcome‘ sticker that had a spare table.
After some time we decided to ask a bouncer for some advice. To our surprise the bouncer claimed that dogs were welcome in most places and invited us in. Relieved, we squeezed our way to a table near the bar that had some floor space. Everyone loved our dog and she relished the attention they paid her. Many of the Irish and Scottish patrons joked that we (the English) were always welcome when we bring dogs – something to remember! That night we took the pooch on a mini bar cruise/pub crawl and found that she was accepted in most places. We avoided anything that looked more dance-floor/club style. It was an unexpected but brilliant evening.
My advice to you is to ask and you’ll usually be surprised at how welcome dogs are!
Things to do and places to see in Edinburgh
Ahead of our long drive back to Southern England, we decided to spend the gloomy morning outdoors exploring Arthur’s Seat.
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that people climb to take in the stunning views over Edinburgh and beyond. Situated about a mile from Edinburgh Castle, the site is popular with walkers, runners, tourists, dog-owners, and many more. There are various routes to the top, some easier than others. Make sure you select a route that matches your fitness level (we picked a steep route up and I was exhausted!).
For lunch, we headed back towards the castle. You can spend hours walking through the winding streets of central Edinburgh. There’s lots of historic sights, shops, stalls and street acts to keep you entertained, and lots of new smells to entertain your pooch. A highlight for us was convincing a dubious street cartoonist to draw our dog – it was brilliant and now proudly hangs on our lounge wall.
If we had more time I would have booked onto one of the numerous walking tours in Edinburgh. Many of these allow you to take a dog with you (if they’re made aware before-hand). When we go again, I will do the Edinburgh Expert Walking Tour as advertised on dogfriendly.co.uk.
Dog-friendly accommodation in Edinburgh
There are lots of dog-friendly places to stay in Edinburgh, but accommodation is expensive. Dog-friendly or not. The time that you go will influence the price. Avoid the Edinburgh Fringe Festival period (August), unless you’re going of course.
We visited in February and stayed at Fountain Court Apartments for a really reasonable price (£63 for the night). The apartment was separate to the main complex and carpark (about 2 minute walk). It was clean, had all of the necessary basics (e.g. TV, kitchenette) and floor to ceiling windows that let in lots of natural light. We told them that we were bringing a dog and they supplied bowls for food and water. We were all very happy there.
I used Booking.com to find dog-friendly accommodation. Do your research to find the best option for you. You can find dog-friendly accommodation on all the usual sites (e.g. airbnb, booking.com holidaylets, tripadvisor).
Other useful sources
We loved our short trip to Edinburgh. We wish we had more time to take advantage of the many other things you can do with your pooch. Here are some other sources that I found useful in planning my trip:
- Dugs welcome – an amazing guide to dog-friendly establishments
- https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/best-in-edinburgh/whats-on-news/15-surprisingly-dog-friendly-places-16055453 – an article listing things that you can do with your dog in the city
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