Exploring Europe With Your Dog
Traveling with your pet abroad has never been easier. Of course, there are some legal prerequisites before you can pack the car and your loved one (pet and, or other half) and take off for the continent. And for a successful trip, it is important to research and make plans before you go. Below you’ll find information and tips about traveling with your dog, and also a handy country guide to help you decide where to go!
I’d like to thank the author of this piece, fellow Romanian rescue dog owner, Graham Simm, for sharing his knowledge & experience of dog travel with us. If you are contemplating taking your four-legged friend on holiday with you, the excellent information he has provided will surely inspire you.
Before you Go
To start with your pet must be chipped (which is a legal requirement these days anyway) and they must have an in date passport which shows their rabies vaccination. It is also advisable to have pet travel insurance (this is usually just an extension of your normal policy) and flea protect your dog. The further south you go it is advisable to use a product that protects against mosquito and sand flies. We tend to use Advantix for this.
To round things off before you travel back to the UK you need to get your pet wormed by a vet and the passport signed. The medication must have a specific ingredient in to be valid and this must be administered between 1 and 5 days before returning. Over the years we have used Milbemax which is available at most UK vets and is usually cheaper to buy here than abroad.
Finding a vet can be very straight forward. Our normal approach is to use Google maps and find all the vets near where we are staying and find one which has an email address and contact them that way. It is always best to use the home language of the vet where possible and Google translate comes in handy for this.
If like us, you have a Romanian rescue dog from somewhere like Rags 2 Riches, your dog should already be chipped and have a passport. To check if your dog is chipped, or to get it chipped, consult your local vet.
For more information visit the Defra website.
Getting to The Continent
You can travel by air, ferry or Eurotunnel with your pet and this must be on designated routes. All ferries and the Eurotunnel are designated routes but air transport is a little bit more restrictive. Our preference has always been the Eurotunnel. Your pet stays with you at all times whereas on a ferry they may need to be left in the car or an onboard kennel for the duration of the crossing.
A bonus with the Eurotunnel is that your pet gets its passport checked before your return travel. On the ferry in the past, this was done once you arrived back in England. If there are problems then the pet may end up in quarantine at your own cost.
The continent tends to be much more dog-friendly than the UK where most things are concerned. Accommodation being no different. Most hotels and guest houses accept pets usually at an extra daily fee, which can be anywhere between €0 and €20 per day.
We normally use Booking.com as you can filter by pets and also the Accor chain of hotels are a good choice.
With its close proximity to England, most people will choose France as the destination for their dog’s first holiday. It is a good place to start as France is pretty dog-friendly.
Most public transport allows dogs but there are exceptions. In Paris, at one point you could not take your dog on the Metro however on our last visit I am sure we saw one on there. Some towns will only allow dogs of a certain size on their transport so it is worth checking before travel to see what the local restrictions are. In the larger cities, this can easily be done via the Internet.
Restaurants, cafes and bars are by and large dog-friendly allowing them inside as well as out. It is always worth asking to be courteous.
Shops are also dog-friendly. It is worth checking the doors to shops as if they are not allowed there will be a sign.
Accommodation again is normally dog-friendly. A charge per night is usually levied for this.
Some tourist attractions will also allow dogs to enter. As with the transport, it is always worth checking in advance via the Internet.
Don’t be fooled by the general view that Belgium is boring. Far from it. They have some lovely little towns and a fantastic coast line that has a tram service that runs the full length.
Our experience tends to be in the north of the country, Flanders for those who like geography. We have only ventured south once into Wallonia.
All public transport is dog-friendly with very little restriction.
As with France, restaurants, cafes and bars are dog-friendly along with most shops.
Again some tourist attractions will also allow dogs to enter and it is always worth checking in advance via the Internet.
The Netherlands are very similar to Belgium. Nothing more to say really.
The German speaking countries tend to be the most dog-friendly. The dog is classed as one of the family. It still amazes us even after traveling there for 13 years what you can do with them.
Public transport is dog-friendly, but you may need to pay. In some areas you can get a special dog ticket, in some you pay a child’s fare and in some, you can buy a day ticket that covers up to five people using one of those as a dog. These day tickets will tend to cover bus, train, and tram in the area it is for. All the transport areas have very good websites with loads of information.
The only shops you tend not to be able to go in are food (bakers, butchers, supermarkets, etc) and some toy shops. Basically, we got chucked out of the Lego store in Köln (Cologne) one winter.
We like to visit the Galleria Kaufhauf department stores as they do a mean breakfast in the restaurant. Yes, dogs are allowed.
Shopping centers are usually dog-friendly too. Just check on the entrance doors. If there is no “no dog” sign assume they are allowed.
Restaurants, cafes, and bars are again mainly dog-friendly.
A lot of tourist attractions also allow dogs. Those that don’t may have a kennel facility to allow you to leave your dog in. We have been to several theme parks (Europa Park, Phantasia land) which allow dogs, you just need to take turns on the rides. There are also plenty of animal parks (Tier parks) that allow dogs to visit.
One thing to be aware of is that there are two possible “no dog” style signs. The subtle difference is that in one, the dog has a lead on, this is the classic “no dog” whilst the other has a dog with no lead. This means dogs are allowed but on a lead. These are usually used in public parks, etc.
Very similar to Germany. Pets are allowed on public transport but must wear a muzzle and in some areas, they will need a ticket.
Shops and restaurants are mainly dog-friendly and some tourist attractions are.
Many years ago we went on the Wiener Riesenrad (historic big wheel) in Vienna which at the time was a big surprise. Their official site states that “Dogs only get carried with leash and muzzle”.
We have also been to the Salzburg Zoo and the Schloß Hellbrun historical gardens and trick Fountains. Both are well worth a visit if you are in the area.
This is our favourite place to take our dog. Like Germany, the dog is part of the family, as it should be, meaning pets are welcome in most places (see Germany).
One thing to be aware of is public transport. Normally a dog requires a child’s fare.
Using the cable cars in mountain and ski areas are a bit different. Our main experience is in the Jungfrau region of Berner Oberland. Here during the winter season dogs travel free so you can get to the top of mountains easily. You will normally find that there are plenty of dog bins everywhere too.
Our recommendation is to try winter hiking or sledging with your dog, either sitting on the sledge with you (as long as it is not too big) or running along beside.
Home of the toy dog. Although that does seem to be changing lately. We are seeing more and more Italians with medium sized dogs.
There tend to be two types of dog in Italy. The guard dog that spends all its time in the garden or the family dog that goes everywhere with their owners. This does mean that most places are again dog-friendly; restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels and shops (except food shops and supermarkets).
Shopping centers may need to be checked first before you enter as we have been to some that do not allow dogs but others do.
On public transport, dogs must wear a muzzle unless they are a small dog, in which case they must be carried.
Not the first choice of place to take a pet, but Lake Bled and Ljubljana are both fantastic places to visit.
Slovenia is becoming more and more dog-friendly. On our first visit to Ljubljana dogs were not allowed in anywhere but now a lot of shops appear to have dog welcome signs.
Restaurants, cafes and bars tend to only allow outside seating which during the summer is usually not a problem.
Public transport can be a bit hit and miss. Trains do allow dogs but it depends on what area you are in for busses. As with everything Google is you friend to investigate this. Muzzles must also usually be worn when on public transport.
Tourist transport and sites tend to be more friendly. If the dog is not allowed in, some will provide kennel services when you visit.
One thing when traveling with your dog in Croatia is that everyone thinks you are German. When they find out you are English this tends to confuse them.
Croatia is similar to Slovenia but can be described as more “tolerant” than “friendly”. We have found however that Croatian people are dog lovers. Public transport wise, dogs are allowed on trains and ferries but not on busses. Tourist transport is usually more friendly, those little tourist trains that go around towns and boat trips tend to be welcoming.
In restaurants, cafes and bars dogs are limited to outside seating only. We have found quite a few will bring water for your dog during high temperatures before they take your order.
Czech Republic (Czechia as it is now called but no-one knows)
Not as dog-friendly as most of Europe. You can not take your dog into shops or most restaurants but you are allowed to sit outside. There are some restaurants etc in Prague and other towns that will allow dogs in but it is always best to ask first.
However, you can take your dog to Prague Zoo and we have also had our dog in a night club above Wenceslas Square.
You can use public transport but your dog must be muzzled.
Most of the time, when we visit the Czech Republic we meet local friends who know where dogs are allowed.
Like most other central European countries they are not quite as dog-friendly as Germany, France, Switzerland etc.
Some hotels are dog-friendly, especially the big chain ones. Dogs are not allowed in shops and only outside in cafes and restaurants. If visiting in the summer this should not be an issue.
Dogs are allowed on public transport but a muzzle must be worn and only one dog per carriage or bus is allowed. They must also have a ticket.
Some tourist services allow dogs like the boat tour of Lake Balaton and the boat trip in Budapest.
Dogs are not allowed on the funicular at Budapest castle but we managed to get our previous dog on as the cashier thought she was gorgeous and felt sorry for me as I was going to walk up to the castle whilst my wife used the funicular. The cashier did not let anyone else on the funicular mind so we had it to ourselves.
Dog Travel Summary
As previously noted Google is your friend. A lot of information can be found about places and transport and is always worth looking up before travel. When on holiday tourist leaflets often tell you whether it allows dogs. Never assume dogs won’t be allowed as over the years we have been astounded at some of the places we have been able to visit. If in doubt always ask and always carry a muzzle with you.
If you are thinking of taking your dog to a festival, in the UK or abroad, then make sure you do your research beforehand.
Thank you again to Graham for providing this information, it has certainly made me feel a bit more brave about taking Fifi abroad! If you have any questions for Graham, or if you’ve got any dog-travel experiences you’d like to share, please do comment below. If you’re looking to plan a trip a little closer to home, you can check out my trip to the Yorkshire Coast here.