No matter what part of the UK or Ireland you travel to, there’s some excellent boat trips to enjoy. Whether a cruise on a lake or a trip to one of the many smaller islands. And if you’re travelling with a dog, they don’t need to be left behind, with most of the boat trips being dog-friendly. Here’s my pick of the best dog-friendly boat trips in the UK and Ireland that you should add to your itinerary!
1. Cruise on Windermere
A cruise along Lake Windermere is one of the highlights of a visit to the Lake District in Northern England. And given that the area seems to be one of the most dog-friendly areas in England (I spotted many dogs accompanying their visiting owners), it’s no surprise that dogs are allowed on the Windermere Lake Cruises boats.
There’s a variety of cruise options available, from short return trips that start at 45 minutes, to open-ended passes. (Great if you are combining a cruise with hiking along the lake foreshore – dogs welcome, of course!)
Naturally dogs are required to be on a leash and well-behaved on the boat, but there’s no restrictions against them even coming inside the cabin. Although unless the weather is bad the best spot is out on the deck with the wind in your hair, taking in the peaks around you.
More Info: https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk
2. Day Trip to Aran Islands
Located off the west coast of Ireland, the Aran Islands are a wonderfully scenic and relaxing spot to visit. It’s also one of the few areas in Ireland where the locals mainly still speak Irish Gaelic as their first language. And given that many of the locals own dogs and need to take the ferries across to the mainland, it’s no surprise that dogs are allowed on the ferries.
The main year-round ferries run from Rossaveel to the west of Galway, but during summer there’s also multiple ferries that run from Doolin, to the south of Galway and close to the popular Cliffs of Moher. It’s possible to stay overnight out on the islands, or else do a day trip. We elected to do the latter to Inisherr, combined with a cruise past the towering Cliffs of Moher.
On Inisherr, our dog got plenty of friendly attention. Many visitors hire bicycles to easily get around the 2km by 3km island, but being accompanied by a dog, we just elected to walk to the scenic spots closer to town. All of the pubs and cafes had outdoor seating, which worked well with the fine weather during our visit, although if it was raining it might be a bit tricky.
As there’s multiple companies that cruise to the Aran Islands, check in advance that the company that you’re booking with allows dogs. Additionally, if you’re wanting to stay overnight, there’s limited dog-friendly options, so book that first.
More Info: https://www.doolinferries.com
Book a Great Value Trip through Viator: https://www.partner.viator.com/en/22941/tours/Western-Ireland/Inis-Oirr-Island-and-Cliffs-of-Moher-Cruise-from-Doolin/d23308-24984P3
3. Cruise on Loch Ness
Thanks to the legend of the Loch Ness monster, a cruise on Loch Ness is a popular part of a trip to Scotland. Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland, due to both its length and great depth. It’s not far to the west of the large town of Inverness, plus it’s within day trip distance of Edinburgh.
The cruises are run by a single company, Jacobite Cruises. They offer multiple cruise options, with the shortest being a one hour cruise from Clansman Harbour. This is the cruise we took, and on this cruise dogs are welcome. Note that it’s not possible to take a dog on the cruises that visit Urquhart Castle, as dogs are not allowed at that site.
It’s best to book in advance, as some cruises do get booked out by tour coaches. Although during the summer some cruise run hourly, so it’s not too long to wait on shore. Just one warning from Jacobite Cruises: keep an eye on them, in case Nessie is feeling pecked!
More Info: https://www.jacobite.co.uk
4. Day Trip to Orkney Islands
Located just off the northern tip of Scotland and a 3 hour drive north of Inverness, the Orkney Islands are another group of islands that you can easily travel to with your dog.
There’s a few different vehicle ferry options, plus a passenger ferry that runs from John O’Groats, the most distant point on Britain from Lands End in Cornwell. I highly recommend booking the combined John O’Groats ferry with their coach tour of the island. We found it to be very well organised and our bus driver kept up a constant and fascinating commentary.
Dogs are allowed on both the John O’Groats ferry and the coach tour. The only issue is if you elect to add on the coach trip from Inverness. We did this (to save on a 6 hour return drive), and on this long coach trip dogs are not allowed.
More Info: http://www.jogferry.co.uk/Home.aspx
Book the Maxi Day Trip through Viator: https://www.partner.viator.com/en/22941/tours/The-Scottish-Highlands/Orkney-Islands-Day-Trip-from-John-OGroats/d768-2746MAXIDAY