Today is International and National Dog Day #NationalDogDay (26 August) a celebration of dog ownership of all breeds, and the perfect excuse for planning a trip with your four-legged friend. So with the help of our friends at Discover Northern Ireland, we’ve put together a list of dog-friendly accommodation, pubs and restaurants and even some of the best places to walk your pooch…
They’ve been our best friend during lockdown, helping to boost morale and even appearing on the occasional office Zoom call. So taking your dog on a family holiday is the perfect way to say thank-you. Many of us have experienced the guilt of leaving our four-legged friends in kennels as we set off on a foreign holiday, but with a greater number of hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland now happy to give our dogs a giant welcome, the year of the staycation really is for the whole family.
A growing number of dog-friendly places are just a drive away, making it easier to transport your pet. You really don’t need an epic trek to have epic fun in Northern Ireland:
Dog-friendly pubs and restaurants
Fullerton Arms, Ballycastle, County Antrim
- Located along the breath-taking Causeway Coastal Route, which has an abundance of beautiful places to walk your dog, The Fullerton Arms Hotel is the ideal starting point for all your adventures. The perfect getaway with your four-legged friend offering both a
dog-friendly dining area and a room available for them to rest their tired head for the night. Visit fullerton-arms.com
The Dirty Onion, Belfast
- The Dirty Onion is home to one of Belfast’s biggest beer gardens and renowned for being one of the main dog-friendly establishments in the Cathedral Quarter. After a day of walking around Belfast and beyond with your pup, ‘Paws’ for a pint and your dog can enjoy some complimentary water and home-made treats at the Doggie Dock. Visit www.thedirtyonion.com/whats-on/
Pier 36, Donaghadee, County Down
- Visit the award-winning bar and restaurant with a reputation for exceptional food and service. Well situated on the pier in Donaghadee harbour with a cosy and vibrant atmosphere, Pier 36 is a real treat for all your senses. Dogs on a lead are welcome in the bar area and outside where a water tap and bowls are available. The restaurant to the rear of the property has a great atmosphere and a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest places to eat in Northern Ireland. Visit pier36.co.uk/
Picnic Delicatessen, Killyleagh, County Down
- Visit the charming Picnic Delicatessen, located on the high street and right next to the stunning Killyleagh Castle. With tables outside and a covered back space area with a dog bed and water, it is a lovely spot to enjoy a quick bite to eat with your four-legged friend. After you enjoy a tasty treat, take in the stunning scenery with a beautiful walk along the shores of Strangford Lough.
Beech Hill Country House (4*), Derry~Londonderry
- Beech Hill Country House Hotel, gloriously set in 32 acres of woodland, lakes and tranquil gardens, is a wonderful place for your four-legged friend to be spoiled. Start your dog’s break the right way with a ‘Pawsecco’ or Doggy Beer on arrival. Pet guests will also receive their own cosy blanket, as well as treats and a water bowl in a special welcome pack. Beech Hill Country House can even arrange dog grooming and a pet walking service for an additional fee. Visit beech-hill.com/petpolicy. There is a cost of £30 per stay for your pet. Subject to availability.
The Inn on the Coast (3*), Portrush, County Antrim
- Situated on the Causeway Coastal Route between the harbour towns of Portrush and Portstewart is The Inn on the Coast. The hotel offers spacious accommodation with excellent walking routes nearby. There are dedicated pet-friendly rooms on the ground floor for up to two dogs. Your pet is welcome at the seating area of the foyer and in the reception, where you can relax and enjoy a drink or meal. The Inn also provides a pooch-pack filled with goodies for your pet on arrival. Visit innonthecoastportrush.com/all-rooms/pet-friendly-rooms/. There is charge per stay of £20.00 for one dog, £25.00 for two dogs or £30.00 for three. Subject to availability.
Blessingbourne Estate (3*4*5*), Fivemiletown, County Tyrone
- The Blessingbourne Country Estate, nestled on 550 acres of countryside with woodland and private lakes, has five luxury self-catering apartments which are all pet-friendly. You can even bring your horse or pony, as they too can have a holiday at the on-site stables in the heart of Blessingbourne’s working farm. The estate offers an idyllic setting for outdoor activity and dog friendly walks, and is the perfect place to discover the thrill of exploring Northern Ireland’s beautiful countryside. Visit blessingbourne.com/self-catering-accommodation/. There is charge per stay of £15 for one dog. Subject to availability.
Blackwell House (5*), Scarva, County Armagh
- At Blackwell Country House, they love their pets and are happy for you to bring your own. They have three beautiful doggie-friendly rooms in The Blackwell House Cottage, including The Loft Suite, The Charleston Room and The Orchard Room. The package for dogs includes a luxury dog bed, home-made dog biscuits by Joyce, two dog bowls, a doggie towel and a lovely personalised doggie welcome letter. On arrival, you also get to say hello to their Meet and Greet Director, Murphy, a nine-year-old Miniature Schnauzer and an integral staff member of Blackwell House. Visit blackwellhouse.co.uk/. Your pet can enjoy their stay for £30.00 per dog per night. Subject to availability.
Slievenaslat Walk Trail, Castlewellan, County Down
- The steep climb through the forest to the summit of Slievenaslat (272 metres) is most definitely worth it for the iconic views of the Mournes and to take in the panoramic views of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range and surrounding drumlin landscape. If that hasn’t tired you out, then there are lots of other walks to choose from with a trail network totalling 7.5 miles throughout the forest park. Visit nidirect.gov.uk/articles/walking-forests for Forest Service guidelines for dog walkers.
Florence Court, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
- Surrounded by lush parkland and thick woodland with Benaughlin mountain rising in the background, Florence Court enjoys a majestic countryside setting in West Fermanagh. There is something for everyone to enjoy at this extensive and welcoming place. Choose from a number of walks perfect for dogs or a stroll around the walled garden, all providing beautiful scenes against the dramatic backdrop of mountains and forests. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/florence-court. You will need to book your visit in advance.
Murlough National Nature Reserve, Dundrum, County Down
- A fragile 6000-year-old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967, Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fantastic 2.5 mile walk with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Castle. Dogs are welcome to most parts of the reserve however there are restrictions in some areas, such as in spring and summer when ground-nesting birds are breeding, or where cattle are grazing. Please abide by the signage for restrictions and where dogs must be on the lead. Access to Murlough Beach is also available via the reserve if your four-legged friend is still in search of more sniffing opportunities. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/murlough-national-nature-reserve
Let’s help to keep Northern Ireland beautiful and safe during your visit, so always remember to clean up your space before you depart, and please behave responsibly. Please also keep dogs on leads where official signs mention this, and please clear up after your dogs to avoid problems for other visitors.
For more inspiration on where to enjoy dog-friendly spots across Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.
Image: Pier 36, Donaghadee