The first weekend of September, Argo, my husband and I took a little dog trip to Edinburgh. I was a bit saddened to loose so many great dog events that were taking place that weekend in London (the Pup Aid and Battersea’s Annual Fun Day among them), but our travel did not disappoint! Here you are our review with a few tips for planning your Edinburgh dog-friendly visit!
London to Edinburgh dog train trip
The quickest and less stressful way to travel from London to Edinburgh with a dog is probably by train. With Virgin Trains, it takes just 4 hours and 20/40 minutes to get from King’s Cross station to Edinburgh Weaverley. Dogs travel for free and you can carry up to two dogs per person (a fee applies if you carry more than two). So we booked our tickets and enjoyed the ride.
During the outbound stretch, Argo lied under the table between my and my husband’s seats for the whole time and we were lucky that the carriage wasn’t crowded and nobody else occupied the remaining two seats around the table. On the opposite, he had to squeeze a bit on the way back, since the train was very crowded.
From the train you can enjoy a very pleasant view and remember to look out after Newcastle: the railway runs close to the sea and it is such a peaceful view!
Exploring Edinburgh with a dog
We arrived in Edinburgh on Thursday night and left on the Sunday morning, so we had two full days to spend visiting the city and surroundings. Overall we found Edinburgh very dog-friendly: everybody around seemed to love Argo and we entered in many shops without any problem.
Royal Mile and Arthur’s Seat
My husband, Argo and I love exploring new places and we ended up walking more than 42 km (almost 27 miles) over the two days. Starting from the castle and the Royal Mile, we reached the Parliament and Holyrood Park and ventured up Arthur’s Seat, which offers a stunning view of the city. It was a lovely hike. If you go, don’t forget to wear appropriate shoes – especially if you take the steeper climb – and bring some water with you, because there is nothing on the top and you will need it!
Another great place where to have a walk is Calton Hill. We visited it at sunset and the light was magic. Although dogs are not allowed to enter Nelson Monument, you and your dog will revel in the scenic view of the city from the panoramic spots on the hill.
Cramond’s dog-friendly beach
On the second day we thought to take Argo to the sea so we got on the bus No. 41 (ticket costs £1.60 and you can buy it on board in cash – but have the monies ready because we were told from a local that they normally don’t give change -) and after half an hour ride and a few minutes walk we reached Cramond’s beach. It is a rather nice place where to have a stroll and we found loads of dogs roaming free and playing on the beach. If you get there with a low tide you can even walk to Cramond Island, but be careful, because there is only a two-hours window to get there and back before the tide eats the path again (there are signs on the beach telling when it is safe to cross and be careful because it can be slippery).
From there we walked all the way on the coast to the Gipsy Brae Recreation Ground, with a stop at the Boardwalk Beach Club, and then back to Edinburgh. I would recommend the seaside walk, but the way back to Edinburgh is pretty dull, so worth catching a bus instead, and drop off at Dean Village on the route back. There you can have another nice walk on the Water of Leith, if you fancy! Another great one for your dog.
Most shops, cafes and pubs we visited just loved Argo and this made our stay much easier. An app that a friend recommended to us was Dugs n’ Pubs, which features dog-friendly pubs, shops, dog walkers etc. In the end we didn’t use it much, but it is definitely a great one to download if you want to sniff out all the dog-friendly pubs and more (it costs £1.99 and has a great directory of places to take your dog to up North)!
On Saturday night we went to the Holyrood 9A pub, with Argo of course. Apart from being a lovely pub, they make absolutely glorious burgers and their sweet potato fries are delicious! Holyrood 9A is super dog-friendly and although it was quite busy when we arrived, they immediately brought Argo a water bowl without us even asking.
If you like seafood, another place we tried upon friends’ recommendation is the Mussel Inn, in Rose Street, and we were not disappointed (top quality and very affordable prices). Dogs are only allowed at the tables outside, so dress up in warm clothes and tell about your dog when making a reservation!
If you are a fan of tartan and feel like avoiding the touristic shops of the Royal Mile, an alternative is the Scotland Shop in Queensferry Street (close to the Water of Leith’s path), which sells authentic tartan garments and also offers a tailoring service; we paid it a visit (they are dog-friendly!) and they told us that a customer of theirs also ordered some tartan accessories for his dog. They can do almost anything on order. Good to know.
Two famous Edinburgh dogs
If you visit Edinburgh, you can’t miss two famous Edinburgh dogs.
The most famous one is certainly Skye terrier Greyfriars Bobby. In 1858, he followed the remains of his master to Greyfriar’s Churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death. His loyalty to his owner was celebrated with a bronze statue and drinking fountain erected in 1873 at the cross between Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge. It was said that rubbing his nose brings good luck and people have taken this very seriously and he actually had to have his nose redone after too much rubbing a few years ago; (update:) we have been asked to advise in this post not to rub it any more to avoid further damaging. You can also find some gadgets of Greyfriars Bobby at the Grassmarket (although dogs are not allowed inside).
A less known Edinburgh dog is Callum, the Dandie Dinmont terrier (see photo above). His owner, James Cowan Smith, donated £55,000 to the National Gallery of Scotland back in 1919 (at the time an enormous sum), on condition that Callum’s portrait painted by John Emms (1895) remained on permanent display. If you visit the Gallery, you can find it hanging on the wall in one of the rooms (dogs are not allowed in the gallery though).
Where to stay
You can easily find many dog-friendly accomodations with the help of mainstream websites such as Tripadvisor, Trivago and so on, look up pets friendly accomodations on Airbnb, or even use the Dugs N Pubs app or other dogs websites. A dog-friendly option is also Travelodge (affiliate link) and there are a few to choose from in central Edinburgh. They are dog-friendly and you can take your dog just adding an extra fee of £20 to the cost of your room.
We put together a handy guide where you can find all the hacks to find the best dog-friendly holiday accomodation to fit your needs, from hotels to cottages, b&bs to glamping.
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Oh please remove the line about rubbing Bobby’s nose for luck. This is a total myth invented by a tourist guide and as you said yourself, his nose is getting damaged so please don’t add to this by perpetuating the lie 🙁 (Also, it’s CALTON Hill, not Carlton)