Standing on the east coast of Scotland, where both the River Don and River Dee meet the North Sea, Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland. It is believed that the area has been inhabited by humans for over 8,000 years, with individual settlements near the mouths of both of the local rivers slowly growing together over time until the 12th Century, when Aberdeen was granted its first official charter.
Today, Aberdeen is known for its shipbuilding and fishing heritage, its impressive grey granite buildings and for its transportation links, its airport and ferry terminal providing connections with the islands of Shetland and Orkney as well as to northern Europe and Scandinavia. It is also particularly notable for its role in offshore oil drilling, since the discovery of oil beneath the North Sea in 1969.
Aberdeen is also home to miles of golden sandy beaches and its proximity to the nearby Cairngorms National Park, both of which make it a bold but very rewarding choice as a holiday destination for both you and your furry friend. Just remember to pack your raincoats!
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Dog Friendly Aberdeen Must Sees
Girdle Ness Lighthouse
Located in the south of the city, the Girdle Ness Lighthouse stands at the tip of the peninsula just to the south of the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour. The 37 metre-tall structure was opened in 1837, partly in response to the sinking of The Oscar – a whaling ship – in 1817. Since 1991 the lighthouse has been fully automated, but it remains one of Aberdeen’s most notable and celebrated landmarks.
It is a great place to take your dog for a walk around the beaches and the green space around Torry Battery, and one sure to provide some spectacular shots for the family photo album.
A day out to Balmedie
A village found 8 miles to the north of Aberdeen city centre, Balmedie is particularly notable due to its spectacular beach, part of a long and wide area of golden sands and an impressive network of sand dunes.
While restrictions exist on the beaches in the centre of Aberdeen, here there are no such limitations and your dog can run around and investigate to their heart’s content. If they grow tired of the sand, there is also a nearby country park to explore. Happily, Balmedie village also offers a selection of different refreshment options for weary dog owners!
Enjoy the local dog parks
The area around Aberdeen is particularly well served by specially-designated dog parks. Runfree Dog Fields can be found just to the north of the city, close to the suburb of Bridge of Don. Runfree have two large fields, completely fenced off from any nearby road traffic or other potential hazards, which are complete with shelters, picnic tables and obstacles: a perfect place, in other words, for your dog to run around and play until they are fit to drop.
Meanwhile, to the south of Aberdeen you can find Ruff Pastures, just outside the town of Portlethen. Again, it’s a completely secure dog exercise facility which, like Runfree to the north, offers great views of the countryside beyond as well as every facility a dog walker could possibly need.
If you’ve brought your car (and we recommend that you do for any holiday to Scotland not based around the central belt), a visit to Crathes Castle is a must. Located about 17 miles to the east of the city centre along the path of the River Dee, Crathes is a 16th Century turreted castle set inside impressively picturesque and peaceful gardens in and around the countryside surrounding Banchory.
As is fairly standard for such places, dogs (with the exception of assistance dogs) are not allowed inside the castle buildings themselves, but there is plenty for your four-legged friend to see and do besides.
The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Aberdeen
Located in the south of the city, Duthie Park is a Victorian-era park and garden which is one of Aberdeen’s leading attractions for locals and visitors alike. Set in 44 acres of land along the banks of the River Dee, the site offers a variety of varied attractions including a glasshoused Winter Gardens, a Japanese garden, boating lake and outdoor art installations. It is also the starting point for the Deeside Way walking trail, which goes along the former route of the defunct Deeside Railway.
Sitting on the eastern edge of the city, close to the (sadly not dog-friendly) Gordon Highlanders Museum, Hazelhead Park is a 445 acre area of heavily-wooded green space. It is particularly popular with joggers and runners thanks to the array of lengthy walking trails that criss-cross its boundaries.
Found in the north of the city on the banks of the River Don, near to St. Machar’s Cathedral, Seaton Park is another of Aberdeen’s largest public spaces. In addition to its riverside walk, Seaton Park boasts a walled garden and a children’s play park, as well as mature woodland and wide open areas of grassland and fields.
A compact 12 acre park situated in the centre of Aberdeen, Victoria Park was opened in 1871 and named for the then-reigning Queen Victoria. At its heart stands a grand fountain, made from fourteen different types of the granite which is so typical of the city’s architecture. It’s a terrific place to let your dog explore while you are otherwise surrounded by the day-to-day life of a busy city – especially when combined with Westburn Park, located just across the road.
Aberdeen beaches – Are dogs allowed on Aberdeen beaches?
As is so often the case, there are myriad restrictions and local by-laws dictating exactly where and when dogs are able to access the beaches around Aberdeen. However, it is definitely doing that extra research because – in common with much of the rest of Scotland – the golden sands of Aberdeen are some of the most beautiful and unspoilt seaside areas in the UK.
You can find a list of the unrestricted beaches in the Aberdeen area here but, as that site says, always be sure to check for any local signs and make sure you abide by the rules they set out.
This large nature reserve can be found in the Kincorth area in the south of Aberdeen, roughly halfway between Bridge of Dee and Cove Bay. As well as sizable areas of gorse scrub, heathland and woodland, Kincorth Hill also offers fantastic views across both the city below and the Aberdeenshire coastline.
Dog-friendly Cafés and Restaurants in Aberdeen
Amuse by Kevin Dalgleish
1 Queen’s Terrace, AB10 1XL
This is something of a rarity: most dog-friendly restaurants you will find in British cities tend to be robust, family-focussed diners. But in Aberdeen, you can take your pooch into the bar area of this fine dining experience so they can find out how the other half live. Amuse offers the very best of the local, seasonal, produce, skilfully prepared by Kevin Dalgleish’s kitchen team. Definitely worth a visit.
52 The Grn, AB11 6PE
Located at the heart of the city centre, not far from Aberdeen Harbour, Cafe 52 specialise in lunch and dinner, with a definite accent of the best Scottish and British dishes made from local ingredients. They are particularly noted for their selection of afternoon tapas dishes.
The Long Dog Cafe
66 Claremont Street, AB10 6QY
Found about half a mile northwest of Duthie Park, The Long Dog Cafe makes so little secret of their dog-friendly policy that they even included it in their name. Better yet, your dog doesn’t even have to be especially long to be welcomed here. Long Dog specialise in coffee, with a variety of breakfast, lunch or teatime choices also available.
Barking Mad Coffee & Cakes
Unit 2, 9 Esplanade, AB24 9NS
Another establishment so enthusiastic about dogs that they reference it in the title of their shop, Barking Mad can be found on the green at Queen’s Links just to the north of the harbour. Barking Mad offers a selection of coffee and homemade food in picturesque – if at times a little windswept – surroundings.
11-15 Thistle Street, AB10 1XZ
An intimate and rustic coffee shop and restaurant, Foodstory is located at the west of the city centre not far from either the railway station or the harbour. Foodstory are open from morning until evening to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a selection of drinks. Foodstory is well known for their delicious plant based food and drinks, well worth a visit for you and your dog!
The Craftsman Company
2 Guild Street, AB11 6NE
The ultimate solution to the age-old “pub or coffee shop?” quandary can be found just around the corner from Aberdeen Ferry Terminal: The Craftsman is both. As well as roasting their own coffee, Craftsman are also a hub for all the best of the local craft beers and real ales. And if that wasn’t already enough there are plenty of food options available, day or night.
Roots @ the Beach
Beach Boulevard, AB11 5DN
Knowing dogs as we do, your pooch will probably be keen to spend as much time as possible down by the seafront as they possibly can. Fortunately, Aberdeen is well prepared for such eventualities: take Roots, for example. This fully plant-based food truck operates all year round from its spot just north of the North Pier, offering a tasty variety of completely vegan junk food favourites.
Dog Friendly Pubs in Aberdeen
Siberia Bar & Hotel
9 Belmont Street, AB10 1JR
Situated in the centre of the city, close to the park at Union Terrace Gardens, the Siberia is an impressive boutique bar and hotel with a high-ceilinged restaurant area and an outdoor terrace.
Six Degrees North
6 Littlejohn Street, AB10 1FF
Based at the northern tip of the city centre, Six Degrees North are noted for their broad selection of local and imported beers as well as a hearty and homely menu of comfort food classics.
4-6 Exchequer Row, AB11 5BW
Don’t be put off by this bar’s rather aggressive-sounding name: it is a reference to the name of the local brewery for which this pub serves as a taphouse. As a result, there are always a huge variety of different brews available to try, from light lagers to rich and dark porters and stouts.
The Wee Glen
35 Holburn Street, AB10 6BS
A traditional pub, located just to the east of the city centre roughly in-between the parks of Queen’s Terrace Gardens and Bon Accord Terrace Gardens. The Wee Glen specialise in good beer, simple pub grub and local entertainment.
St. Machar Bar
97 High Street, AB24 3EN
Located in the heart of the University of Aberdeen, just to the south of Seaton Park and the cathedral from which this pub takes its name, the compact St. Machar Bar is as traditional a British boozer as they come. There’s no loud music: just beer, darts and plenty of local atmosphere.
18 Wellington Street, AB11 5BT
Fittie Bar can be found in the Quayside area of the city, near to the harbour and ferry terminal to the south of Aberdeen. It’s another pub where tradition is key, with plenty of local ales and traditional homemade food on the menu.
23-25 Victoria Road, AB11 9LS
Located just south of the Victoria Bridge that crosses the River Dee in the south of the city, Grampian is another local where a good friendly atmosphere is key. You’ll find a wide selection of food and drink in recently-modernised surroundings.
Dog Friendly Shops in Aberdeen
Unfortunately, there are not a wealth of independently-owned boutiques that allow dogs in Aberdeen. However, all is not lost: remember to check out our article on some of the UK’s favourite high street stores which (usually) do, many of which you will be able to find in Aberdeen.
Dog-friendly Aberdeen: Where to Stay
If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Aberdeen, here’s our recommendations:
15 Shiprow, AB11 5BY
A three-star budget hotel situated in the Castlegate area of the city centre, just to the north of the ferry terminal, Ibis Aberdeen is an ideal base for exploring the city and beyond. Dogs stay for an additional fee of £10 per dog per night.
Residence Inn by Marriott
Guestrow, AB10 1AS
Located at the heart of the city centre, dogs are allowed to stay at this informal three-star hotel for a (in our opinion rather excessive) fee of £50 per night.
Holiday Inn Express
29-43 Chapel Street, AB10 1SQ
A large three-star hotel handily located just to the east of the city centre, within easy walking distance of many of Aberdeen’s key attractions and best eating spots. Dogs stay for £10 per night.
Macdonald Norwood Hall
Garthdee Road, AB15 9FX
A luxurious four-star hotel situated on the banks of the River Dee, just to the southwest of the city. Dogs stay for £15 per dog per night.
Dalriada Luxury Lodges
Cowie, Stonehaven, AB39 3RH
A collection of luxury self-catering lodges which offer you and your dog a home away from home, located near the town of Stonehaven, 15 miles south of central Aberdeen. A great base for anyone wanting to investigate the surrounding countryside and Fetteresso Forest. A maximum of two dogs can stay for £15 per dog per night.
Aikenshill By, Foveran, AB41 6AT
A richly characterful five-star bed and breakfast located about 10 miles to the north of Aberdeen, close to the village of Balmedie. The modern conveniences provided by the recently-renovated hotel are starkly contrasted by the ancient beauty of the surrounding countryside, plus the owners’ very own herd of Highland Cattle! Dogs stay for a fee of £10 per dog, per night.
Private lets and holiday cottages
Aberdeen is surrounded by some of Britain’s most spectacular countryside – not to mention several of its most prized forests and national parks – so it is well worth checking out the listings of any locally available holiday cottages, apartments or private lets.