No doubt about it, Germany is one of the most dog-friendly countries that I’ve visited, even amongst European countries. In Germany, dogs tend to be a normal part of society. It’s not uncommon for people to even take their dog along to work. However, dogs are also held to high standards of behaviour in Germany, to make this possible. Taking your dog to behaviour classes is quite common. So, if you’re heading to Germany, make sure your dog is similarly well-behaved, but know in advance that he’ll be welcome nearly everywhere. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting dog-friendly Germany with your dog.
Dining Out in Germany with a Dog
In Germany, most restaurants and cafes allow dogs, both inside and outside. However, there are some exceptions. Many kebab shops (quite common in some cities) don’t allow dogs inside. I was also surprised when trying to have burgers for lunch in the western city of Trier, that both burger restaurants we visited didn’t allow dogs inside. If in doubt, traditional brauhaus restaurants and small cafes are your best bet.
There’s also one unfortunate exception to this rule: the wonderful German bakeries found everywhere throughout the country. Bakeries in Germany are usually quite large, and often include cafe seating and excellent sandwiches for eat-in or take-away. They’re also usually the best spot to have a quick coffee or buy a take-away one. However, dogs are nearly always not allowed, with a sign at the door translating as “I must remain outside”. The one exception is that in train stations, where many bakeries are just a counter with no walls and doors, dogs are fine at the tables.
Shopping in Germany with a Dog
Dogs are nearly always allowed in shopping malls in Germany, and many types of shops. Just always check at the entrance for any no dog signs. The main exception are grocery and other food stores, plus the bakeries as mentioned above.
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Germany
No matter if you have a small dog or a large dog, I can’t think of any form of public transport in Germany where you can’t bring your dog along. As public transport reaches nearly every corner of Germany, this means it’s possible to travel easily without a car.
The main train operator in Germany is Deutsche Bahn. Click here to read the Deutsche Bahn pet policy (unfortunately and surprisingly, only in German). Here are the key points. On trains, small dogs in a container travel for free. For larger dogs, they require a reduced fare ticket for 2nd class, plus to wear a leash and muzzle.
Additionally, if buying the excellent value regional or Germany-wide weekday and weekend tickets, while children travel for free, dogs are counted as an extra passenger. So if there’s two of you and a dog, you need to buy a ticket for three people. When writing the names of the passengers on the ticket, write “Hund” instead. Sometimes on outings with our small dog, we didn’t take his container (as we didn’t want to carry it all day). In that case, we bought a ticket for him too, but based on the comments from a few ticket inspectors, we probably could have got away without paying for him.
When it comes to public transport, dogs are definitely fine to join you on local trains, metros, trams and buses. However, the pricing policy differs between the different cities. In most cities, dogs not in a container require a reduced fare ticket, but in at least 1 or 2 cities I visited, all dogs travelled for free. In Berlin, dogs not in a container generally require a reduced fare ticket. But if you buy yourself a day ticket, you can bring your dog along for free.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Germany
Most, but not all, hotels in Germany allow dogs to stay. (In my research into pet-friendly hotels in European cities, 70% of hotels in both Berlin and Munich allow pets.) Generally you’ll be charged a fee starting from around €8 per night. And there’s usually no issue taking them along to the restaurant or bar with you. Although most hotels I stayed at in Germany provide you with a door-hanger saying “dog in the room” (kind of like “do not disturb”, but for your dog), meaning you could have a dog-free meal as well. While leaving your dog alone in the room for the whole day would probably be frowned upon, generally there’s no rule stating you’re not allowed to leave them alone.
Some dog-friendly hotels around Germany that I recommend:
Arcona Living München (Munich) – A few kilometres from the centre of Munich, this 4-star hotel is modern and comes with amenities including a fitness room, sauna, free laundry room and restaurant. We stayed a week to recharge over the new year period (and get in some workouts despite the snow falling outside!) I recommend asking for a room with a kitchenette (including a coffee machine).
Hotel Theophano (Quedlinburg) – This historic town in the centre of Germany is tricky to reach by public transport (you’ll certainly need to change trains, plus make sure you’re in the right section when some trains split in half!) But its streets of half-timbered houses, with a castle towering above, will charm you (and have earned it a World Heritage listing). Hotel Theophano is directly on the main square, in an historic building. The rooms are charming, yet renovated, and spacious.
25 Hours Berlin – It was a bit pricey the weekend that we were staying in Berlin, but I’ve heard great things about multiple branches of this fit and funky hotel chain, including that it warmly welcomes canine guests.
Mövenpick Hotel (Hamburg) – This unique hotel is situated in the middle of Schanzenpark, making it so easy to walk your dog morning or afternoon (or both!) That park is also popular with other local dog owners, so your dog will have plenty of opportunities for play. Read more about the Mövenpick Hotel in Hamburg.
What about Airbnbs you may ask? Due to legislation restricting the rental of entire apartments on Airbnb in many cities (to keep rental prices affordable for residents), whole house Airbnbs at an affordable price aren’t as common as in many other parts of Europe. If you can’t up your budget, instead look at shared room options. Outside of the main cities, where this ruling doesn’t apply, you’ll also find more options.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Germany
Like in most other countries, most churches, museums and art galleries in Germany also don’t allow dogs to accompany visitors. (Although we were kindly allowed to carry our dog inside one famous church on a cold winters day, although I won’t name which one. And a few smaller museums allow dogs to be carried.)
However, there are many other options for sightseeing in Germany where dogs are welcome. It should also be noted that dogs are generally allowed in parks in Germany, unlike in France. Here’s ten ideas for dog-friendly sightseeing options.
1. Visit Sanssouci Park at Potsdam
A visit to Sanssouci Park at Potsdam, about an hour from central Berlin on the train, is an excellent day out. The park include many fine palaces, once the principal residence of the Prussian royal family, and is often called the German Versaille. While dogs aren’t allowed inside the palaces, they are allowed with you while you wander around the fine parks.
2. Cruise Along the Rhine River
If you’re going to cruise along a stretch of the Rhine River, make it the section between St Goar and Bingen. As well as being home to the famous Lorelei Rock, there’s many historic castles, cute towns and terraces of vineyards lining the Rhine along this stretch. We cruised with KD Cruises, and were just charged a small surcharge for our dog. The cruises run regularly in summer, but there’s also the chance of a winter cruise if there’s enough bookings.
3. Explore the Street Art of Berlin
Berlin is renowned for its street art. And while I haven’t yet met a dog interested in street art, they will enjoy walking with you through Germany’s streets while you spot new works and take photos. One of the most popular spots is the historic East Side Gallery. The courtyard at the Anne Frank Zentrum is also fabulous.
4. Visit Wartburg Castle near Eisenach
Looking just like the classic idea of a castle, Wartburg is also fascinating for its famous residents, from St Elisabeth of Hungary to Martin Luther (after he was ex-communicated by the Catholic Church and lying low). Dogs are allowed in the interior courtyards, plus on the walking trails around the hilltop location. They aren’t allowed on the guided tour inside or unfortunately inside the cafe. (Best to leave them behind if visiting on a snowy winter day like we did.)
5. Explore the Medieval Town of Quedlinburg
After spending two months travelling through Germany, I’d have to award Quedlinburg the prize for being the most charming medieval town I visited. Its narrow streets are full of historic half-timbered houses that have survived through the ages, plus above the town on a sandstone outcrop towers its castle and cathedral, both important to the history of Germany. Naturally dogs are welcome to join you on your wanderings!
6. Check out the Bauhaus Buildings in Dessau
If you love modern architecture, you can’t miss visiting Dessau (south of Berlin), home to the Bauhaus school during the 1920s. Highlights include the Bauhaus Building and the Masters’ Houses, but there’s also other works scattered throughout the town. While dogs aren’t allowed inside, they can accompany you while viewing the exteriors. And dogs are allowed in the cafe at the Bauhaus Building (if you alternate taking turns visiting the interior).
7. Visit Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel
Located in the centre of Germany, the superb Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe features cascades, lakes and wooded slopes. It comes alive every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon (except over winter) when the full water show is performed. Entry is free and dogs are welcome.
8. Explore Historic Bremen
Bremen is a charming historic town located in the north of Germany. It’s easily visited on a day trip from Hamburg, although staying 1 or 2 nights is warranted. Don’t miss wandering through the Schnoor Quarter or the Böttscherstrasse, or getting a photo of the Bremen Town Musicians with your dog. Plus the House of History Museum (Bremer Geschichtenhaus) allows dogs inside!
9. Visit Lorsch Abbey
Located in between Heidelberg and Frankfurt, this historic monastery is best known for its “Kings Hall”, an unusual building from the Carolingian era that has survived to this day, despite the monastery being dismantled. We took a guided tour of the Kings Hall, and our guide was fine with our small dog being carried along with us inside. The museum adjacent, with three collections covering the monastery, historic interior furnishings and tobacco, also allowed small well-behaved dogs to be carried inside. All dogs are also welcome to join their owners on the well-marked walk past the remains of the monastery.
10. Visit a Christmas Market or Two
Germany is synonymous with Christmas markets, and if visiting any part of Germany in December, a Christmas market isn’t far away. They’re great for visiting along with your dog, as many of the locals do. Buy a warming glühwein, enjoy the wurst and other hearty streetfood, or browse for gifts and decorations. Just a note: it’s best to avoid the more crowded ones (such as the main markets in Cologne and Heidelberg), at least during early evening, if you’re with a dog.