BringFido's Guide to Ireland

Posted by Billy Francis

The Republic of Ireland’s gorgeous countryside and vibrant cities make it a must-visit for travelers touring Europe, and it’s not just visitors with two legs who think The Emerald Isle is a gem. Home of the Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound and Irish Terrier, this verdant country is a magnet for mutts who can’t wait to experience “the craic.”

So, what are you waiting for? Fill Fido’s heart with the joys of Ireland while you fill your glass with Guinness on an awesome adventure to this pet-friendly isle.

Things to Do

Photo by Irish Rail

From Dublin’s historic landmarks to a pet-friendly movie theater in Galway, this spellbinding Irish itinerary is made even easier thanks to Irish Rail which accepts dogs on select trains and Intercity buses.

Tours and More in Historic Dublin

Fido’s Irish expedition begins in the bustling capital of Dublin, where pups can explore the grounds of historic Dublin Castle, constructed in the 13th century at the highest point of the city center. Afterward, Irish Water Spaniels can head to the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and hop in a kayak with their owners to paddle down the River Liffey in a rental from City Kayaking. Or, keep walking down memory lane at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, dedicated to Irish soldiers who died in World War I. Then, try to spot the Irish President and his Bernese Mountain Dogs through the fence of the palace at Phoenix Park, and enjoy miles of gorgeous trails together. Finish your self-guided walking tour on the paved pathways that wind around 124 acres at Glasnevin Cemetery and enjoy a pot of tea at The Tower Cafe.

You and your pooch can see a different side of Dublin on a pet-friendly tour. Secret Street Tours are led by guides who have experienced homelessness and will take tourists to some lesser-visited areas, while Alternative Dublin Street Art Tour is a chance to see and hear about the beautiful murals and street art dotted around Dublin. Your playful little friend can learn all about Ireland’s own mischievous residents at the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland. This pet-friendly museum boasts interactive exhibits like giant furniture that will make Fido feel like a leprechaun, and it operates tours that dig into the mystical world of Irish storytelling and more.

From Dublin to the Sea

Leave the big city behind to discover the isle’s natural beauty starting with off-leash fun in the fenced space at St Anne’s Park. Continue your journey east to the historic coastal village of Howth, where you’ll find peace and seclusion far from the crowds on A Tiny Hidden Beach. Then let a DoDublin tour guide lead the way on a Howth Hike Adventure along the coast. After Howth, head south to Killiney Hill where you’ll discover stunning views of Killiney Bay and can both enjoy a treat from Killiney Hill Tea Rooms. Now it’s time to venture inland to Wicklow to witness the oddities at Victor’s Way Sculpture Park, before spending time at St. Kevin’s monastic settlement at Glendalough, and on the pet-friendly trails at Ireland’s largest national park, Wicklow Mountains.

Ireland’s Oldest City Awaits

Fido’s journey continues south to the oldest city in Ireland, Waterford. En route, let your Kerry Beagle loose on the awesome agility equipment at Arklow Dog Park. When you finally arrive, learn about the city’s 1000+ year history with Waterford Walking Tours. This insightful tour led by experienced historical geographer, Jack Burtchaell, will guide you down a path that started with Vikings from Norway and leads to Waterford’s National Monuments, Cathedrals and more. Then, take a different kind of historic journey on board Waterford Suir Valley Railway, a 40-minute pet-friendly scenic train ride on a narrow gauge railway that runs alongside Kilmeaden Castle, lime kilns and a Viking settlement.

“Have you seen a big green ogre anywhere?” Photo by

Discover Cork

Begin your tour of Ireland’s second city at Marina Market, the largest indoor market in the area with over 35 full-time food vendors, and where pups can enjoy a refreshing bowl of water at one of the market’s hydration stations. If you want to keep shopping, snag vintage deals with your dog in tow at nearby Nine Crows Cork. Next, head out of the city to see the beautiful floral displays at Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens. Then, learn all about the Titanic’s final stop before its fateful journey to the U.S. on The Titanic Trail Guided Walking Tour in Cobh. Fido can leave Cork via Viking Longship or by riding shotgun in a rental van from Iconic Campervan Rentals in nearby Kinsale. Hop in your pet-friendly VW campervan rental and drive to your next destination on Wild Atlantic Way, the world's longest signed coastal drive at 1,600 miles. Be sure to stop at the Signature Discovery Point, Cliffs of Moher - Visitor Centre to see one of Ireland’s most breathtaking sights.

Meet Donkeys and Step Back in Time

If you want to take a more direct route to Limerick, split the journey up by visiting a selection of incredible pet-friendly attractions. Start with The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland where you can meet 150 donkeys and mules who currently call the sanctuary home, then continue to Old Irish Ways, a pet-friendly museum that reflects on life in the area over the past 200 years. You’ll want to pencil in more time to appreciate the incredible archaeological sites at Lough Gur, where leashed pups are welcome to explore The Great Grange Stone Circle, Ireland’s oldest and largest stone circle, Carraig Áille Stone Forts, Lough Gur Wedge Tomb, the remains of a chapel called Teampall Nua and the Spectacles Field Systems.

Lope With Your Lab Around Limerick

There once was a dog called Fido who refused to simply lie low. Instead, he said, “Let’s go quick!” and dragged the whole pack to Limerick. This large city in Munster boasts a variety of activities to keep dogs and humans busy for a few days. Limerick Milk Market is an all-weather market under a canopy that welcomes pups to peruse the stalls for goods, including the fresh and delicious treats on sale from The Barking Baker. Once he’s fueled up, your pooch can bark encouragement as you cruise along Limerick Greenway in a bike and trailer rental from LiKe Bikes or Locomotion Bike Rental. As you head north from the city in search of more fun, pay a visit to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, home to a living village that features more than 30 traditional buildings.

“Can you please stop wagging your tail?” Photo by

Goldens Love Galway

Park up with your pooch in Galway, a historic harbor city on Ireland’s west coast at the confluence of the River Corrib and the Atlantic Ocean. See where the river begins on Lough Corrib during a lake cruise with Corrib Cruises which offers daily tours. Passengers depart from Ashford Castle and Lisloughrey Pier and can take in the sights on the lakeshore along the way. Follow the river to the ocean and enjoy an afternoon of play at Dog’s Bay Beach. This aptly named beach welcomes pups to wander in the golden sand of one of the country’s most picturesque stretches of shoreline. In the evening, settle down for a not-so-quiet pet-friendly screening at Pálás Cinema. This downtown movie theater near the docks hosts regular movie nights for canine cinephiles.

Take a Leap to the Aran Islands

Before you depart County Galway, pay a visit to the Aran Islands of Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer. The picturesque islands were used for filming for “The Banshees of Inisherin” and offer a scenic escape from the mainland. The coolest way to reach the islands is on a short but sweet scenic flight with Aer Arann Islands. Departing from Connemara Airport, the flight takes less than 10 minutes, or you can enjoy a longer scenic flight with views of Galway Bay, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher below. If you don’t like heights and don’t mind a boat ride, you can reach any of the islands year-round with your dog on board Arann Islands Ferry. When you arrive, take a traditional pony & trap tour of Inishmore, the biggest island, with Thomas Faherty Tours. Or, go on a self-guided journey in a bike and trailer rental from Aran Bike Hire instead.

Places to Stay

“Twelve is how many hours of sleep I’m getting tonight!” Photo by

Whether Fido wants to sleep it off in serene surroundings, stay in the city or take a step back in time in a pet-friendly Airbnb, there are lovely lodgings around Ireland to suit.

Delve into The Twelve

Give it up for the Galway getaway, The Twelve Hotel, which receives a mark of 12 out of 10 for pet friendliness. Pups who come to stay receive a doggy bag with a toy, treats and waste bags inside, a pet menu for room service, food and water bowls in the room with fresh mineral water and use of the Pet Concierge Service for all your local canine needs. People who book with a pup get a free upgrade to a Luxury Pet-Friendly Suite, which is “generously spacious” to give even Irish Wolfhounds enough room to sprawl out. The hotel also features a Dog Lobby downstairs and expansive grounds to explore together.

Hang Out in a Horsebox

Spend the night in a horsebox on the river and see how Thoroughbred horses are transported in a country famous for producing them. This unique Airbnb converted horsebox has been fitted with amenities like a wood-burning stove, running water and electricity. While the cozy interior is a great place to curl up at the end of the day, the outside has this property finishing a nose ahead of the competition. Guests can grill out and eat dinner overlooking the river, then head down to the water to enjoy a relaxing steam in the sauna.

A Deep Breath in The Big Smoke

Exploring a new city can be tiring work for Fido and finding a relaxing place to retreat to after a long day is important. The Morgan Hotel in Dublin provides exceptional respite, along with many amenities to make your pup’s stay memorable. He’ll snag himself treats at check-in and have use of bowls, mats and a plush bed during his stay. If he doesn’t feel like heading out again, you can order beef bones and bedtime biscuits from the in-room pet menu, too. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of some of the city’s best pet-friendly activities.

“Playing fetch at the thatch.” Photo by Airbnb

Play Catch at the Thatch

Approximately half of the Irish lived under thatched roofs in the 19th century. Nowadays, there aren’t many left, and even less that you can stay in with your dog. The Dunes Thatched Cottage gives you the opportunity to spend time in a 300-year-old thatched cob cottage with your furry best friend for company. This incredible house is surrounded by a beautiful enclosed garden that allows pups to sniff around leash free and Ballinesker Beach is just 70 steps and one sand dune away from the front door.

Roam The Estate

Built one year after the Irish famine in 1853, Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen started as the home of an aristocratic family and was turned into a country hotel in 1976. This Georgian country manor is surrounded by gorgeous gardens and places to wander with your pooch. Canine guests will receive a Garden House King room on the ground floor with easy access to the gardens and lawn outside. Pampered pups receive dog treats, water and food bowls and a blanket. If you need a new book to read in your room, visit Skibbereen Bookshop downtown.

“Speech, speech, speech!” Photo by

Wake Up to a Windswept Wonderland

Ocean Sands Hotel in Enniscrone provides the ideal place for Fido to rest his head after a day of exploring County Sligo in northwestern Ireland. In addition to offering eight dog-friendly rooms, travelers with pets can book self-catering apartments with patios on the ground floor and doors that open up to the outside. When dinner time arrives, your dog can join you at one of the pet-friendly tables in the lobby and can stay by your side on a sunset stroll along Enniscrone Beach.

Bluebell Shepherds Hut With Hot Tub

Bluebell Shepherds Hut with Hot Tub is a whimsical woodland home taken straight from a fairytale. Inside, there’s enough room to sleep four people in cozy corners and a wood-burning stove to keep Fido toasty. Outside, there’s a pathway that leads to a bathhouse and a hot tub to warm you up on chilly nights. Treat your dog to a day out at nearby Glengowla Mines. This "show mine" and family farm offers guided tours and a variety of activities like sheepdog herding and turf-cutting demonstrations, underground mine tours, farm walks and more.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

“This photo shows my emotional side.” Photo by @molliesanimalrescue

If you fancy a spot of tea, a pint of Guinness or a bite to eat with your pooch, these welcoming establishments go all out for four-legged visitors.

A Fantastic Fishy Spot

The Rusty Mackerel is a lively bar and restaurant in Carrick-on-Shannon, situated in County Donegal in the northwest corner of Ireland. Visitors to this local hangout can share food made with local ingredients and good craic next to Sliabh Liag Cliffs. Local bands provide the soundtrack for this lively hangout that welcomes dogs inside at select tables and outside in the beer garden, which features a retractable roof and heaters that make it an ideal place to grab a brew whatever the season.

You Had Us at “Dog Vending Machine”

PYE in Dublin is the place where "tails and tales collide" and that “tolerates humans but adores it when pups come to play.” Dogs will receive a treat upon arrival and are invited to hang out in the beer garden, in cozy kennel seats underneath indoor benches, or at the fireside in a cozy dog bed in front of a neon sign that reads "It's a dog's life." After their owners have sampled a few local brews and filled up on a pizza, burger or salad, pups can persuade them to whip out their credit card to splash the cash at Ireland's first doggy vending machine full of toys, treats and swag. There's even San Pawlegrino on draft and a chance to book a place on the Doggy Wall of Fame.

“That's funny, I don't feel the blues at all.” Photo by @thedoghousehowth

Dogs + Tea = Good Times

When you’ve finished walking the coastal pathways of Howth, head inside to warm up at Dog House & Blue’s Tearoom. Named after their late German Shepherd, Blue, this dog-centric tearoom goes all out to accommodate canine visitors. Even if Fido isn’t allowed on the furniture at home, he is welcome to curl up for an afternoon nap in this tearoom’s double bed in the outdoor living room or on any other furniture that he chooses on the premises. Dogs can enjoy water and treats, and humans can share a scrumptious wood-fired pizza.

5-Star Canine Cuisine

360 Cookhouse in Waterford is an award-winning restaurant and cocktail bar that welcomes your Cockapoo to join in the fun. Dogs are welcome in the Pergola or Castle Room, where they can peruse a menu full of delights like meat sticks, veal-filled hooves and more. While your furry best friend chows down, you and your crew can enjoy fish, pasta, burgers and a variety of vegetarian options like dahl.

Did Somebody Say Tails?

Tea and Tales in the historic market town of Abbeyfeale welcomes dogs and their owners passing through town on their way to Limerick and beyond to stop by for a spot of lunch and a pot of tea. Canine visitors will receive treats on the house and can lap up a “Doggychino” if they still have room left. Meanwhile, the light menu for humans includes sandwiches, soups and more.

“Please wipe your paws at the door.” Photo by @ruff_cafe

Home to a “Barkery”

Ruff Café invites people to spoil their dogs while they sip on delicious Ethiopian coffee. This pet-friendly cafe’s motto is “All dogs welcome. Humans allowed,” so it’s no surprise to see four-legged visitors catered to with a mouthwatering menu and lots of strokes upon arrival. The dog menu includes pupcakes, peanut butter doughnuts, blueberry crepes and more. Stuff your face with a sandwich while your pooch is distracted with her own treats.

Share a Snack in the Park

Located in Strokestown Park, the Woodland Cafe is a great place to fuel up before you begin the 100-mile journey along the National Famine Way, a pet-friendly trail that leads all the way to The Famine Memorial in Dublin. The trail traces the footsteps of the 1,490 famine emigrants who left Strokestown in 1847. Sample made-on-site brown bread with hearty soup and something sweet, then take a walk around the park together.

Is Ireland on your dog’s bucket list? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Getty Images/James O'Neil.