Both the capital of Wales and its largest city, Cardiff is also the 11th largest city in the United Kingdom. It is located in the south-east corner of Wales, standing on the River Taff and with a coastline provided by the Bristol Channel. 

Originally coming to national prominence thanks to its coal mining and role in the Industrial Revolution, Cardiff has recently reinvented itself as a major cultural, political and media hub. We unconditionally recommend it as one of the UK’s most charming, multicultural and friendly cities. The warmth of the welcome you will receive here will also be extended to your four-legged friend: Cardiff loves dogs and you will be spoilt for choice for places to go and things to do.

A wide shot of Cardiff Bay, with a church and a walkway on one side and blue water on the other
Source: Flickr

Dog Friendly Cardiff Must Sees

Cardiff Bay

Considering the proximity of its coastline, perhaps the only visual clue to Cardiff’s seaside credentials you might spot as you wander around the city centre are the large black-backed gulls. To really see the best of the Cardiff coastline, your best bet is to take a boat trip to the Bay. You can either hop on the Aquabus and just go, or you can arrange a guided tour on the Princess Katharine, which operates an hourly river taxi between Bute Park and Cardiff Bay.

St. Fagan’s Living Museum

Located out at the city’s far western edge on the River Ely, St. Fagan’s National Museum of History is a fascinating time capsule, a preserved open-air museum with shop buildings, farms and cottages that tell the story of Cardiff and of Wales throughout the centuries. Dogs are welcome to join in.

Dyffryn Gardens

A National Trust-administered property about 8 miles to the west of the centre of Cardiff, featuring a manor house, restored Edwardian gardens, expansive lawns and an arboretum for your furry friend to explore.

Insole Court

Insole House, located in the Llandaff area of the city, was originally built as a Gothic-style mansion for the Cardiff businessman James Harvey Insole in 1855. Now a Grade-II Listed building, since 2016 Insole Court has been operated as a public charity with an extensive programme of events and activities. Unusually for this kind of grand old house, dogs are welcome both inside and out.

Cardiff Castle

Unfortunately, Cardiff Castle operates a more standard dog policy. This medieval castle, originally built by 11th Century Norman invaders, dominates the Cardiff skyline but while dogs are welcome to enter the grounds they are not permitted inside any of the buildings. Nevertheless, it is well worth a visit, with hundreds of years of history to discover and explore right in the centre of Cardiff.

Two Rhodesian Ridgebacks frolic in a green field
Source: Flickr

The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Cardiff

If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Cardiff, here’s our recommendations:

Bute Park

Cardiff is a city filled with glorious parks and open spaces, but Bute Park is regularly cited as the cream of the crop. And it is deserving of the honour, too. Right in the centre of the city, this 130 acre site combines playing fields, meadows, arboretums and even a stone circle, all on the banks of the River Taff. Beautiful, vast and brilliantly located, it has everything anyone could want from a park.

Llandaff Fields/Pontcanna Fields

A community park in the heart of the Llandaff and Pontcanna areas of the city, Llandaff and Pontcanna Fields are huge open areas of grassland and woodland that will give your dog an almost indefinite supply of things to investigate and sniff, as well as acres of space to run and play.

Roath Park

A Victorian park opened in 1894, Roath Park is one of the oldest in the city. It is also one of the most distinctive, as it contains an enormous 30 acre boating lake which is home to a variety of waterfowl and even its own lighthouse. The park is also home to wild and botanical gardens, woodland and green open spaces. Something for everyone, on two legs or four.

Fforest Fawr

An area of peaceful woodlands set in the beautiful valley countryside to the north of the city. Here you will find walking trails, archaeological sites and Castell Coch, or the opportunity to go off-map and explore the vast tree-lined countryside above and below.

Taff Trail

The Taff Trail is a 55-mile route of footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways that runs between Cardiff Bay and the Brecon Beacons National Park. While you and your dog might not necessarily have the legs to do the whole thing, there are plenty of areas throughout the city where you can hop on for a bracing and scenic few miles (or more).

Heath Park

A large park to the north of the city centre, Heath Park offers something that no other green space in Cardiff can: its own miniature railway and tramway. Even if your dog isn’t impressed by the feat of engineering, it is bound to enjoy the park: like all of its fellows in Cardiff it is a charming and peaceful oasis of grassland and woods that everyone will love.

Dog-friendly Cafés and Restaurants in Cardiff

Coffi Co

A fast-growing local chain of coffee houses, with five locations within Cardiff and a sixth just across the bay in Penarth. Coffi Co boasts over 40 different types of coffees, plus brunch and lunch options and a cocktail menu. They are also expanding, with a location in Abergavenny and another in Monmouth, and more to follow! You’d be pleased to know too that Coffi Co are proud supporters of Guide Dogs UK, which we love!

Scruffy Pups

Located on the edge of Coed y Nant Park in the Llanrumney area of the city, Scruffy Pups combines a cafe with an impressive food menu – for patrons with either two or four legs – with a grooming salon for your four-legged friend. Every Saturday and Sunday, Scruffy Pups also run special puppy and doggy playtime sessions.

Secret Garden Café

Located opposite Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s Sofia Gardens stadium, Secret Garden Café is an independent café with strong environmental leanings. Big on using local suppliers and seasonal produce, it’s an ideal place to visit after a morning spent yomping around Bute Park.

Picnickers sit on the lawns at Bute Park in Cardiff, with an old stone church in the background
Source: Flickr


A modest-looking cafe in Pontcanna located just yards from the park at Llandaff Fields which serves excellent, creative, contemporary Welsh food. Milkwood are brunch specialists but also have many breakfast and lunch options, as well as coffee and cocktail menus and outdoor seating options.

Hub Box

One of a growing chain of twelve restaurants spread across south-west England and Wales, Hub Box are burger specialists but also offer chicken, barbecue and hot dog options, as well as extensive vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

The Lounges

We have extolled the virtues of the Lounge group in these guides before, but they really are a gem – particularly for people who are out with their dog. Their locations are friendly, quirky and fun, their menu options extensive and there’s even a fully licensed bar. If you’re looking for a cafe for a relaxed morning coffee, a place for brunch, a restaurant for lunch or somewhere for dinner, one of Cardiff’s three Lounge locations will tick every box.

The Stable

Located not far from both the Cardiff International Arena and the St. David’s Centre, The Stable are sourdough pizza specialists who are well worth a visit. The Stable also offer cocktail happy hours during the week and a generous bottomless brunch every Saturday between 11.30 am and 4 pm.

The Smoke Haus

The Smoke Haus was established in 2014 with the goal of bringing the best of American BBQ to Cardiff. It embraces its task with gusto, with a big menu and even bigger portions of their burgers, ribs and wings. 

A man in a black coat walks a small brown dog in a green coat on a street in Cardiff
Source: Flickr

Dog Friendly Pubs in Cardiff

The Grange

Located in the Taffs Mead area of the city, not far from the Central Station, The Grange offers an extensive menu of real ales and craft beer in a relaxed and friendly setting. There’s also a menu of traditional pub grub.

The Cricketers

Set in a large old Victorian townhouse not far from Sofia Gardens and Bute Park, The Cricketers is a charming and roomy pub with a traditional decor and extensive outdoor seating in its own walled garden. A great place for a drink or a meal after a day out in the centre of town.

Tiny Rebel

Tiny Rebel are Cardiff’s own increasingly successful and popular craft brewery, and this was the company’s first bar premises. Located not far from the Principality Stadium, it is as offbeat, modern and eclectic as you might expect – as well as offering an unrivalled range of Tiny Rebel’s finest and latest creations. A happy, welcoming and thriving place to have a drink or get something to eat.

The Pen & Wig

A proudly traditional British pub with an extensive and well-maintained private courtyard garden, located a few minutes walk from the National Museum. Despite being located in the centre of the city, The Pen & Wig maintains the vibe of a country pub, offering pub grub, a roast on Sunday and even afternoon tea options.

The Lansdowne

Located near Ninian Park Station and the extensive green space of Sanatorium Park, The Lansdowne is a traditional free house which boasts an extensive selection of local beers and a consistently reliable menu of well-cooked, wholesome pub food.

Head of Steam

Sitting at the heart of the Castle Quarter, The Head of Steam offers everything you’d expect from a modern pub: a wide-ranging menu of locally-made and craft ales as well as varied and exciting food choices, with extensive vegan options. There are also areas for shuffleboard, pool and live music.

Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn

Located in a village to the north of the city, near Castell Coch and the Fforest Fawr, Gwaelod-y-Garth literally translates as “foot of the hill”. As you can probably imagine, this traditional country pub is an ideal stopping point for anyone who has decided to go for a ramble in the beautiful hills and valleys that mark Cardiff’s northern boundary.

Dog Friendly Shops in Cardiff

Castle Quarter Arcades

Found in the city centre, this series of ornate indoor shopping streets date back to the Victorian and Edwardian eras. They are now home to over 80 different independent businesses, offering modern shopping in a rarefied and traditional setting. Do remember, while dogs are allowed in the Arcades themselves, it is at the discretion of individual shop owners whether or not they are allowed in stores.

An indoor market stall selling fruit and vegetables at Cardiff Central Market with a man and a woman speaking in the background
Source: Flickr

Central Market

Cardiff Central Market is a large traditional-style indoor market located in the centre of the city. There are plenty of independent stores to have a nose around in, as well as places to get something to eat or drink.

Corporation Market

Formerly a large Victorian pub in the city’s Canton area, The Corp has recently been regenerated into a bustling community market, home to some of the city’s most exciting and vibrant independent local traders, crafters and artists. It is well worth – and an enterprise well worthy of – a visit.

High street stores

As you’d expect from such a dog-friendly place, Cardiff is full of high street stores with a dogs allowed policy. John Lewis, Fatface, Lush, Cath Kidston, Vans, Urban Outfitters and Seasalt – among others – will all welcome your four-legged friend warmly. Check out our dog friendly shops guide which will give you more details on chain shops your dog will be welcome in.

Dog-friendly Cardiff: Where to Stay

Mercure Cardiff

Mercure have two dog-friendly locations in Cardiff. North Hotel is located near the large Coed Y Nant Park in the Llanderyn area to the east of the city. It’s a four-star hotel which even offers a special doggy menu in the lounge area. The Holland House hotel and spa, meanwhile, is more centrally located in Newtown, not far from the city centre, Castle or Bute Park. It is also a four-star rated premises.

New House Country Hotel

If you’re looking for more of a countryside getaway, the New House could be the ideal place for you. Set in the valleys countryside between Cardiff and Caerphilly, it is still only 6 miles – or a 20 minute car journey – from the centre of the city. New House Country Hotel is a four-star hotel allows pets to dine with their owners in the hotel lounge and will also allow dogs to be left on their own in rooms.

Staybridge Suites

This three-star hotel is found in Butetown, close to the city centre and on the shoreline of the large, rectangular Bute East Dock. Staybridge Suites Cardiff is a great midpoint for dogs and their owners who are keen to explore both the city centre but also spend time investigating its coastline: the Bay, docklands and wetlands are all equally nearby.

The Angel Hotel

A three-star hotel set in a Victorian building just across the road from Cardiff Castle, The Angel Hotel is an ideal base for anyone wanting to make the most of everything central Cardiff has to offer. Your dog will love the proximity of Bute Park.

The Hilton

If your dog enjoys a sniff of the high life, the luxurious four-star Hilton Hotel in Cardiff city centre will be very much to their tastes. It is located near the Castle, Bute Park and all of the best of the city’s cultural and shopping districts. Owners may also be pleased to learn there is a spa on-site.

Ibis Budget

For those wanting to spend their hard-earned money on enjoying the town rather than on their accommodation itself, the Ibis Budget Hotel is an ideal compromise. This two-star hotel does everything a good hotel should, including leaving their guests with cash left over to enjoy themselves in the city. This one is located in Newtown, close to Bute East Dock.