Dog-friendly things to do in Scotland

From sea lochs to mountain peaks, Scotland is an outdoors adventure playground – making it perfect for dog-friendly holidays. And while there is indeed always an excellent walk to be had here, be it up a Munro or along a glistening loch, there’s lots more to love, too. Expect wildlife-watching boat trips, glorious gardens and historic homes to explore, plus a little art and culture for the more discerning dogs among us. Here are a few fabulous things to do in Scotland on your next dog-friendly holiday.

Written by Lottie Gross

5-minute read

Get poetic at Ellisland Farm, Dumfries & Galloway

This relatively modest countryside farm near Dumfries, just an hour from the lovely Little Willow shepherd's hut, was described as "the poet's choice" by none other than Robert Burns, Scotland's most famous son. The poet built this property for his wife, Jean Armour, in 1788 and it was here that he wrote so many of his famous poems and songs -- the most famous of which is sung by thousands of people at the turn of the New Year. Explore Ellisland's grounds with the dog, then take it in turns with your travel companion to head inside (no dogs allowed) to see Burns' writing rooms.

See Scotland’s best Himalayan garden in Argyll

Bamboo tunnels and twisting maple trees might not be the scene you expect from a Scottish country garden, and yet this is what Lady Grace Campbell created when she planted the shrubs and saplings at Crarae Garden and Nature Reserve, a short drive from Inverary. Come here to wander on its pretty wooden bridges, overlooking waterfalls and ponds, and explore the trails that lead through this Himalayan style glen. Look out for buzzards and peregrine falcons above, and listen for woodpeckers enjoying the array of trees to tap on.

Bag a munro in the Cairngorms

Whether you're a seasoned mountain walker or new to the addictive hobby of "Munro bagging" (climbing mountain peaks), there are endless routes in the Cairngorms. For beginners, one of the easiest is Cairnwell, a 933-metre-high mountain in the south of the National Park. A trail starts from the Glenshee Ski Centre, around a 90-minute drive from our properties in Huntly, and follows a track between two ski lifts up to the mountain ridge. You'll enjoy exceptional views over the range and bag three whole munros on this 13-kilometre hike.

See eagles and whales on a boat trip, Isle of Skye

Scotland is teeming with exciting wildlife among its mountains and moors, but its seas are awash with equally thrilling creatures, so make time for exploring the ocean, too. If you're staying at Bothean Beileag in Broadford it's just a 35-minute drive to Portree -- Skye's capital -- where you can hop on one of Stardust's sturdy vessels for a tour around the bay with the dog. On these trips, you might be lucky enough to spot dolphins playing in the water or see eagles soaring above you in the sky, on the hunt for their next meal, and at certain times of year puffins (April-July) can be seen nesting in rocks and bobbing about on the surface. In June and July, minke whale sightings aren't uncommon either.

Go to the home of golf in St Andrews

Just a short drive from our handsome Old Parkhill Cottage lies one of the most famous golf courses in Scotland: the Old Course. Even if you're not a golfer, you're welcome here on Sundays as the course closes to players and opens to dog walkers. The game has been played here since the 1400s, it's said, and today you can enjoy a wander across its world-famous Swilcan Bridge and onto West Sands Beach, where the dog can run free off the lead.

See street art in Aberdeen

While most art galleries are closed to dogs, Aberdeen is an open-air exhibition of fantastic works of art -- mostly of the street variety. Thanks to the Nuart Festival, each year new murals and installations are created, filling this silvery granite city with some much-needed colour. Load up the Nuart Trail Map and take yourselves on a walking tour of the city's coolest pieces, from Phlegm's Dali-esque pieces painted in 2018 to Slim Safont's colourful mural that acts as political commentary on punishment and established societal models. The city has lots of dog-friendly cafes and bars, so stop off en route for a coffee or puppacino.

Browse all of our dog-friendly places to stay in Scotland >

Written by Lottie Gross

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