If a visit to the capital city of Scotland isn’t already on your to-do list then it needs to be. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful, vibrant and historic cities in the world; a friendly, welcoming cultural hub where there is simply masses of stuff to see and do. Better yet: your four-legged friend doesn’t need to miss out, because Edinburgh is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the UK.
Yes, they will encounter one or two small issues – some of Edinburgh’s most famous tourist attractions, such as its Castle, the Scott Monument or the Royal Botanic Gardens are all off-limits to anything except assistance dogs – but there are such a wealth of other activities, cafes, pubs and shops that your hairy pal is unlikely to be particularly bothered. Dogs don’t really understand what castles are, anyway.
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Dog Friendly Edinburgh Must Sees
The Old Town
This may seem like an awfully broad choice, but bear with us because we’ve got our reasons and we’ve also got a plan. Edinburgh is so rich in heritage that vast swathes of its Old and New towns are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, an unusual distinction for any city, and as such it can be an overwhelming place to visit. Where do you start? What do you really need to see?
If the fear of missing out is something that troubles you, our solution is to take an Edinburgh City Bus Tour. These guide you through all the most historically significant and attractive places in the city with the added benefit of conserving your energy for later. Edinburgh is built on the side of an extinct volcano (more of that later), and as such is a very hilly place. Expect steep gradients and plenty of staircases at every turn.
Dogs – provided they are well-behaved – are welcome on all sightseeing bus tours around the city.
Located near Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is one of the oldest purpose-built tourist attractions in the United Kingdom, having first opened its doors in 1835. It boasts six floors of exhibits, featuring optical illusions, mirror mazes, holograms and even a virtual tour of the city itself. Dogs are welcome to come and have their minds blown along with their owners, although it is worth bearing in mind that the building is an old one and the only access between floors is via staircases.
No dog-lover should visit Edinburgh without taking a pilgrimage to the church at Greyfriars, home to one of the most famously loyal pets in history. It was here that a Skye Terrier named Bobby sat vigil on the grave of his owner, a police nightwatchman called John Gray, from the time of Gray’s burial in February 1858 until Bobby’s own passing fourteen years later in 1872. Greyfriars Bobby became a celebrity all over the city, the country and eventually the world, with Edinburgh’s animal-loving lord provost Sir William Chambers seeing to it that the city council paid for the loyal pooch’s dog licence.
Bobby now rests alongside his old master and is commemorated with both a headstone and a recently-erected statue. Dogs are permitted to come and pay their respects but please remember that Greyfriars is still an active church and as such your pet will need to be kept on a lead.
The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Edinburgh
Like many British cities, Edinburgh is full of public parks and recreation grounds. However, the central area is dominated by Holyrood, a 650 acre park in the Old Town which climbs up, over and down Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano which sits at the heart of the city. This unique location gives Holyrood Park an unusual variety of habitats and landscapes for a public park, including glens, rocky ridges, patches of gorse and three separate lochs.
The walk up Arthur’s Seat itself is particularly recommended. It is an occasionally challenging but richly rewarding hike, with the peak being the highest point in Edinburgh and boasting stunning views out across both the city and its coastline on the Firth of Forth.
If you (or your dog) prefer your walks to be a little flatter, Edinburgh also boasts an expansive coastline. Portobello is to the east of the city, about a mile from Holyrood Park and offers a two mile stretch of golden sand for your dog to gallop around on and explore, while the promenade area is ideal for those who enjoy a traditional British seaside holiday.
On the other side of the city entirely, this time in its northwestern corner, you will find the quiet and secluded Cramond Beach. It’s a popular spot with locals, who appreciate the change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. If you especially enjoy peace and quiet time away from it all, Cramond Beach has another trick up its sleeve: at low tide, you can walk out along the Cramond Causeway to the uninhabited Cramond Island.
Dog-friendly Cafés and Restaurants in Edinburgh
8 Polwarth Crescent, EH11 1HW
Based in the Stockbridge area of the city, Cafe Florentin specialises in pastries, cakes and coffee. However, there will also be a little something available for your four-legged friend if you pay them a visit.
2 Polwarth Crescent, EH11 1HW
Located nearby Cafe Florentin you will also find the fully licensed Piecebox, a cafe and bakery which specialises in hearty fare.
5 Upper Bow, EH1 2JN
At the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town (they also have another location near the Forth coast at Leith, which you can find at 40-42 Queen Charlotte Street, EH6 6AT), Hideout are a friendly neighbourhood-style cafe offering hot drinks, sweet treats and brunch options.
23A Howe Street, EH3 6TF
Near the Royal Circle in the centre of Edinburgh’s New Town, the artisanal Leo’s Beanery offers breakfasts, lunches and cakes, as well as outdoor seating options.
133-135 East Claremont Street, EH7 4JA
If something more exotic is your style, try Spitaki Greek Taverna, a homely and laid-back Mediterranean restaurant which offers traditional Greek classics and small plate options.
Honourable mention: Chihuahua Cafe
15B Frederick Street, EH2 2EY
Probably not the kind of place it’s a good idea to pitch up with a handful of dogs of your own, we grant you, but the Chihuahua Cafe is well worth a mention for dog lovers everywhere. Visitors can enjoy coffee and a cake in relaxed and comfortable surroundings alongside the owners’ eight friendly and inquisitive chihuahuas.
Dog Friendly Pubs in Edinburgh
The Wally Dug
32 Northumberland Street, EH3 6LS
A popular and friendly local located near to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Wally Dug have plenty of beers on tap and run regular whisky tasting evenings. A traditional British pub, there is no food except for bar snacks – however, your hairy pal will also be offered a treat or two.
The Holyrood 9A
9A Holyrood Road, EH8 8AE
Another pub where your four-legged friend is liable to be lavished with attention immediately upon their arrival, there’s also plenty here for people with a selection of craft beers and an array of gourmet burger options.
62-64 Bath Street, EH15 1HF
Just a stone’s throw from the front at Portobello Beach, The Espy is a gastropub which also offers cocktails and outdoor seating.
The Auld Hoose
23-25 St. Leonard’s Street, EH8 9QN
Located a few hundred metres from Holyrood Park, The Auld Hoose is a high-ceilinged pub that offers a whisky menu as well as a jukebox stacked with punk and metal bangers.
The Scran and Scallie
1 Comely Bank Road, EH4 1DR
A rustic gastropub with a menu packed with modern Scottish cuisine, a wide variety of beers and a selection of whiskies.
Dog Friendly Shops in Edinburgh
14 Deanhaugh Street, EH4 1LY
Your dog is absolutely itching to get to Just Dogs in Stockbridge, THE place in Edinburgh for dog-lovers and their pets. You will find an array of food, treats and toys, as well as advice on training, grooming and healthcare.
Curiouser and Curiouser
93 Broughton Street, EH1 3RZ
A quirky and fun gift shop at the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, Curiouser and Curiouser offer stationery, homewares and handbags; as well as prints and a framing service.
39-41 George Street, EH2 2HN
High end womenswear, shoes, accessories and homewares, plus bridal options. Anthropologie can be a little pricey for some but your dog will no doubt enjoy finding out how the other half live, if nothing else.
30 Broughton Street, EH1 3SB
If we haven’t already made it obvious, the people of Edinburgh are pretty serious about getting a good drink. If you are the same, stocking up at Vino – where there are wide ranges of wines, beers and whiskies as well as other options – could be just up your street.
Harry’s Gourmet Treats
212 Portobello High Street, EH15 2AU
Of all the dog-friendly stores in Edinburgh, failing to visit this one will be the thing your dog never forgives you. Located near the promenade in Portobello, Harry’s makes handmade, healthy dog treats from natural ingredients.
Dog-friendly Edinburgh: Where to Stay
If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Edinburgh, here’s our recommendations:
3 Rothesay Terrace, EH3 7RY
Set in an old Victorian townhouse at the centre of the city, B+B Edinburgh is a four-star hotel which also provides complimentary breakfast and a secure garden where dogs can roam freely. Rooms from around £180 per night, with up to two dogs allowed.
Harbour View Apartments
Heron Place, EH5 1GG
Modern open plan living spaces in the Granton Harbour area of the city on the Firth of Forth. There are great views across the city, including Arthur’s Seat. Accommodation at Harbour View Apartments (including one dog) from £102 per night.
Cramond Village, EH4 6NU
An ideal base for people wanting to visit Cramond Beach. Dogs (one per booking) stay for free, with accommodation at Sailor’s Cottage starting at £46 per night.
A number of Travelodge’s 570 locations across the UK are pet-friendly, including the following five hotels in the centre of Edinburgh:
- Edinburgh Central Travelodge, 33 St. Mary’s Street, EH1 1TA
- Queen Street, 30-31 Queen Street, EH2 1JX
- Cameron Toll, 43 Craigmillar Park, EH16 5PD
- Waterloo Place, 17 Waterloo Place, EH1 3BG
- Princes Street, Meuse Lane, EH2 2BY
1 Prince’s Street, EH2 2EQ
If you decide to push the boat out and organise a no-expense-spared trip to Edinburgh for you and your furry friend, it has to be The Balmoral Hotel. On arrival, every canine guest receives their own bed, water bowl and welcome pack of treats. For their owner there’ll be a list of dog-friendly attractions, locations of parks and places of interest and even contact details for local dog walking and daycare services. Prices (including one dog) start from £280 per night.